Vietnamese Pho Tai (beef noodle soup) Recipe

Vietnamese Pho Tai (beef noodle soup)


  • 5 lbs of good beef bones (oxtail is better)
  • 1 lb of beef meat (I like chuck)
  • Mesh spice bag filled with 1 cinnamon stick, half tbsp coriander seeds, 5 whole garlic cloves (peeled), half tbsp fennel seeds, , 1 cardamom pod, and 4 star anise
  • 1 large onion (unpeeled)
  • 3″ chunk of ginger (unpeeled)
  • 1oz of regular sugar
  • 1/8 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 32 oz pho rice noodles (I prefer thin noodles but flat wide ones are traditional)
  • 1 lb flank or round, sliced as thin as possible (have your butcher do it and keep it refrigerated until ready to eat)
  • 1 bunch diced green onion (store unused)
  • 1 white onion thinly sliced (store unused)
  • big bunches of mint, cilantro, basil, bean sprouts
  • some lime wedges
  • Hoisin sauce and Sriracha sauce (to taste)

How to make Vietnamese Pho Tai (beef noodle soup)

I'm working hard on getting Pro status here people so help me out. I don't often make this because it's very time consuming but I do love making it for friends. This recipe was taught to me by my mother who makes the best pho in the world. Yes I'm biased but it really is the best!

Thanks Guys!

Char broiling (important)

On a gas stove, place your unpeeled ginger and onion right over the flame turning every 2 minutes or so. The outside should blacken. That's okay because you're going to peel them before adding to the broth. Takes about 10 minutes.

Broth prep
Fill a large 12-qt pot with water. Bring it to a boil and then add the bones. After about 15-20 minutes, drain, rinse the bones and discard water from pot. Put bones back in pot, pour in about 6 qts of clean water and bring it to a rolling boil.  Using a ladle or a fine mesh strainer, remove any scum that rises to the top. Turn it down to a simmer. Whew!

Peel the charred ginger and onion. Add it along with the mesh spice bag, beef round, salt, sugar, fish sauce and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Remove the beef meat and set aside (I discard this meat since I don't like it but many people cut it up and eat it along with the sliced flank). Continue simmering for another 2 hours. Get rid of the ginger, onions, and spice bag. Strain broth of all the scummy stuff on the surface. At this point you can add a few more splashes of fish sauce and a few pinches of sugar.

Follow package instructions to cook rice noodles. Add handful noodles into bowl. Top with raw beef slices green onion, and white onion.

When broth is back to a boil, ladle into bowl until it covers everything. The heat will cook the raw beef in minutes which is why it needs to be super thinly sliced.

Garnish with mint, cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, squeeze of lime, hoisin sauce, and hot sauce.

Vietnamese people usually enjoy this hardy dish with Cafe Sua Da which is an iced coffee concoction thanks to the colonial French. I'll post that recipe up soon. I personally eat pho with Vietnamese lime soda. That recipe soon to follow too!
  • Jaylene
    Jaylene says

    Delicious. A pho recipe that finally looks promising. =D gonna try it out~

  • worldpeas
    worldpeas says


  • tRexie
    tRexie says

    Absolutely yuuummyy! Thanks for sharing your Mama's recipe with us. ^.^

  • Pachinko
    Pachinko says

    I love it!

  • ltam68
    ltam68 says

    I love Pho. Had it once at a friend's house. It was awesome. I can't wait to try this.

  • OneLDesigner
    OneLDesigner says

    This recipe looks so delicious. I've been looking for an authentic pho recipe to make. I know it's shunned upon but can I make this using chicken just as easily? I used to get the best Pho when I used to live in Upstate NY and haven't found anything as good since I've moved to NYC strangely.

  • theory
    theory says

    Congratulations on the Pro status!

  • girlindirt
    girlindirt says

    Okay, I registered with this site for the sole purpose of commenting on this recipe. Tonight I prepared it for my husband’s birthday. I had never tried pho but my husband is a huge fan, such a fan that as soon as we arrive in a town he is looking for the best bowl of pho he can find. I stumbled across this recipe and thought wouldn’t that be a great thing, if it worked. We are only two people so I halved it and made a few other adjustments these are them – first off I forgot to halve the fish sauce (scary but it was pretty good) next time I’ll use the quarter cup (full recipe amount) in the half recipe. I didn’t have star anise so I upped the fennel seed, I used a full cardomom pod and 2 oz. of ginger (4" nub to hard to measure) and for the meat; I used oxtail for the broth for the additional broth meat I picked up a beef shin with the bone – mmm mmm good. My husband, the trained chef, was excited at my attempt but when he tasted it he was giddy. He says it was as good as the best bowl of pho he ever had, which if you’re wondering he had in Windsor Ontario. Now my husband is not one for false compliments we discuss our meals quite openly the good the bad the ugly in an attempt to refine and improve but there was very little to discuss other than darn that’s delicious and next time a little less fish sauce. My final thought, you mentioned not making this often because of the lengthy process. Here at my house we keep chicken stock in the freezer. I think the broth for this recipe could be prepared, bagged and frozen for later use. I wonder about the freshness of the flavor particularly the fish sauce. I might hold off the fish sauce and add that in after. Anyway, I can’t thank you enough you have made me a hero to my husband.

  • tranism
    tranism says

    OneLDesigner: You can totally use chicken! girlindirt: Welcome to the site and my hat tip to you for trying it. I'm happy you and yours enjoyed it so much. I actually have an arsenal of traditional Vietnamese recipes learned from my mother but most are incredibly time consuming. I'll try and post more of those. Thank you again.

  • piyawan
    piyawan says

    I used to eat :) But it was pork. But that time there was less vegetable. I want more vegetable~~

  • azngel
    azngel says

    are you sure this is your mother's recipe b/c this is the EXACT same recipe that appearance in the book "Into The Vietnamese Kitchen".

  • tranism
    tranism says

    Yup I'm positive. The measured ingredients aren't even the same and anyone that cooks pho knows each family has its own variation on how they make it.

  • azngel
    azngel says

    ahhh! sorry about my previous comment. i was looking at a completely different page and somehow mixed up my comments. >.

  • aliciakay444
    aliciakay444 says

    I had lady tell me to put the mesh bag in 30mins before its ready otherwise it would be to much. Ive also been told to add a package of that instant pho seasoning to my broth. Ive made pho a couple of times and it doesnt ever taste like what I get at the resturant, idk what im doing wrong. Ive figured out that the ginger is a lot of times over barring. Any of you heard about the instant pho or putting the mesh bag in 30mins before complete?

  • Jaylene
    Jaylene says

    Note: What to do if you don't have a gas stove? >:

  • tranism
    tranism says

    You can use the oven broiler. Just watch it until it becomes charred.

  • marykal77
    marykal77 says

    What is the best fish sauce to use? How many people does this serve (BIG bowls)? If I want to cook over night what would you do different with the broth preparation? Thank you!!! :-)

  • Raachie
    Raachie says

    They sell the baggies of PHO seasoning at this Asian grocery store near my house. I've never actually had Pho (I'VE BEEN DYING TO! We have one of the best Pho places in our area I've heard but I still haven't tried it) Just thought I'd share that they do sell Pho seasoning thingies. Haha.

  • irishred
    irishred says

    Made this and it was phenomenal! Thank you so much I live in a small city without a real Vietnamese restaurant. You may have saved my hungry little soul! Thank you, thank you.

  • irishred
    irishred says

    P.S. Please post more Vietnamese receipts when you can....I don't care how long it takes for me to actually prep or cook it. Totally worth it.

  • YenNguyen239
    YenNguyen239 says

    Thank you for the Pho recipe. I used to labor for hours to make Pho and it still doesn't taste good. But I found this awesome new Pho-making kit called Happy Pho by this woman who used her grandparents' recipe to make them. They come in a box with a spice packet and a pack of pho noodles for 2 people. I was skeptical at first, but they have a simple recipe at the back that takes 15 mins. All I need to get is some chicken or beef broth and fresh ingredients, and the Pho that came out is absolutely delicious! It's also all natural and organic and made with brown rice. Check out their products here I got them from Whole Foods in SoMa. But you can also get them from I think. I've also joined their facebook page!/pages/Star-Anise-Foods/111447418877428 -- and just went to their product demo for some free tasting of all flavors. Love it!

  • grizz050
    grizz050 says

    joined this site just to comment on this recipe. i had my first ever pho today in Parramatta. it was amazing.. iv been looking for a good looking traditional pho all day and came across this one. my whole family enjoy pho and i am very keen and excited too try this recipe tonight for them all for hopefully a very nice dinner. hope all goes well.. ill let you know.. thank you! (:

  • SirDennis
    SirDennis says

    Thank you so much. I'm a pho addict. Always wanted to try it at home but not from a kit. @girlindirt: Yes Windsor Ontario has a couple great Pho places (the best in Ontario in fact). A small town near there called Leamington has one pho place and usually it is to die for.

  • losolivos
    losolivos says

    Today I made my way to several stores looking for Oxtail (an organic butcher in our area) and world market for star anise. I had everything else on hand since we cook Asian fare frequently. My french cuisine background simply would not allow me to use the bones raw in water. I had to brown them first, I've noticed several vietnamese recipes do not brown the bones which results in a richer base...I can't stand the nasty froth that comes off raw bones in boiling water, it's disgusting. The ingredients were accurate, the cinnamon was a bit pungent, I used whole cardamon pods. The end result was very aromatic. Brown the bones. It makes a huge difference.

  • Campfirewoman
    Campfirewoman says

    Thank You for the recipe. I am of Polish heritage. This not the type of food that I was ever exposed to. A wonderful friend turned me on to Pho Tai a couple of years ago. It was a wonderful thing to happen in my life! Anyway, I finally wanted to make it for myself, and I found your recipe. It really turned out great!!! I don't have a gas stove so I laid a diffuser over the electric coils on my stove and blackened my ginger on there. It worked really good. My questions would be: Where do I find cardamom pods and 4 star anise. Oh, I bought a thin cut chuck steak and sliced into slivers. It worked very well. So yeah! Thank You so much for the recipe

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