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pho bo recipe

Pho Bo - Beef Noodle Soup

Making this popular Vietnamese noodle soup is easier than you think.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 6


Pho Spices

  • 1 (4" piece) ginger, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 extra large shallots, peeled
  • 1 (1.5 oz.) packet "Gia Vi Nau Pho Bac" seasoning packet OR 1/4 C. TOTAL of anise seeds, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, clove seeds, coriander seeds, in even amounts
  • 1 additional cinnamon stick
  • 3 additional anise seeds

Additional Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs. beef oxtails
  • 2.5 lbs. beef chuck soup bones, preferably with some meat pieces attached
  • 6 quarts water
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/4 C. rock sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 lb. "bo vien" (Vietnamese meatballs)
  • 1/4 C. fish sauce
  • 2 (16 oz.) packages of "banh pho tuoi" (fresh pho noodles)
  • fresh bean sprouts, cilantro, green onion, basil, mint, white onions, jalapenos, limes, hoisin sauce, sriracha hot sauce, for garnish
  • 1 lb. beef ribeye or eye of round, thinly sliced



  1. Set a toaster or conventional oven to 300 degrees.  Place the ginger and shallots in the oven.  Pour the remaining Pho Spices onto a piece of foil, and crumple the foil around the spices to make a ball.  Place the foil ball into the oven.  Toast for approximately 15 minutes while you start the next step.


  1. Fill a large stockpot halfway with water. Bring to a boil.

  2. Add the beef oxtails and soup bones to the boiling water and stir for one minute.  Pour the stockpot contents into a colander over your sink to drain.  Rinse the drained meat well to wash off any scum.  Set aside.  Rinse the pot well to use for the broth.


  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in the stockpot.  Add the blanched beef oxtails and soup bones to the boiling water.  Turn heat down to as low as possible.

  2. Remove the toasted Pho Spices from the oven.  Gently smash the ginger with the base of a frying pan.  Place the ginger, cinnamon sticks, and shallots directly into the stockpot.  Pour the small Pho Spices into the enclosed sachet or a cheesecloth, tie tightly, and add to the stockpot.

  3. Add 2 Tbsp. salt, 1/4 C. rock sugar, and 1 Tbsp. sugar to the broth.

  4. Cook broth for one hour at a very low heat level that maintains just below a simmer.  During this time, skim any scum that rises to the surface, to keep your broth clear.

  5. After the first hour of cooking time has passed, add 1 lb. of "bo vien" Vietnamese meatballs to the broth.  Remove these meatballs after 30 minutes, and set aside.

  6. After the meatballs have been removed, add to the broth 1/4 C. fish sauce. Cook the broth for another hour. (While waiting, cook your noodles and prepare your garnish.)

  7. After a total cooking time of 2.5 hours, the Pho Bo broth is ready.  Remove the tender soup bones from the broth and set aside to cool.  Any chunks of meat from those bones can be pulled off and used as "well done" meat for your Pho Bo.

  8. To assemble, place noodles in a bowl and top with choice of meats, chopped onions, green onions, and cilantro.  Make sure to bring the broth to a boil before ladling over the noodles & meat.  Top with hoisin sauce, sriracha, jalapenos, fresh lime juice, bean sprouts, and fresh mint.  Enjoy!