Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

Huddled in the bustling streets of Hanoi, or nestled within the vibrant hubs of Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find heartwarming wafts of a truly authentic, timeless classic of Vietnamese cuisine.

It’s more than just a soup. You may call it ‘Phở’, or as we affectionately christen it in this post, Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup.

A soothing, yet tantalizing dish that sings tales of the country’s rich heritage, one spoonful at a time. A recipe I am about to share, unraveling its vibrant layers, echoing its flavorful legacy, and perhaps, enticing you to recreate this aromatic extravaganza at home.

Woven into this humble bowl of Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup is a history, robust and rich, much like its exquisite blend of tastes.

It’s a culinary masterpiece born from the fusion of two cultures, French and Vietnamese, each lending its distinct charm to create an unpretentious delicacy that is celebrated the world over today.

So, fetch your apron, sharpen your knives, and light up your stovetop. We’re about to embark on a gastronomic adventure, one that promises a perfect balance of nutrition, robust flavors, and a generous sprinkling of culinary wisdom and insight.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup with Chop Sticks

The Benefits of this Recipe

When you mix your spoon around, playing with the noodles and chunks of beef, you’re not only giving your taste buds a treat. You’re also giving your body healthy fuel, combining fun and health in a tasty mix.

Each ingredient has a role, adding to the taste, and also bringing health benefits. That soft steak? It gives you top-quality protein, iron, and key amino acids that help muscle growth and boost your immunity.

The spices? They’re not only for flavor! Every bit of five-spice powder, fresh ginger, and garlic are full of antioxidants. All of which can decrease swelling and protect against sickness.

Then, feel that heat of the jalapeño pepper on your tongue. It’s rich in capsaicin, known to relieve pain and possibly improve metabolic health.

Now, look at the bright green parts of the dish. The bean sprouts and fresh herbs? They’re not just for looks or crunch, they are loaded with vitamins and fiber, promoting good digestion.

And the noodles, you wonder? Those yummy, smooth strands of rice noodles give you long-lasting carbs, providing energy that keeps you going all day.

This Vietnamese beef noodle soup provides you with balanced nourishment, a blend of proteins, carbs, and beneficial vitamins and minerals, in every spoonful. Each spoonful of this flavorful, nutritious meal is warming to the soul.

Rice Noodles

Ingredients and their Significance

Every ingredient, from the seemingly ordinary to the enchantingly exotic, holds a significant role in creating the symphony of flavors that we’ve come to love and appreciate in this culinary classic.

  • Canola Oil: This light and mildly flavored oil sets the stage for our soup, serving as the perfect medium for sautéing our aromatics without overpowering their delicate flavors.
  • Garlic, Onion, and Ginger: They form the foundation of our broth and give it an irresistible depth of flavor that is both calming and energizing. They are the holy trinity of aromatic ingredients.
  • Chinese Five-Spice Powder: This aromatic blend of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds introduces a warm, sweet, and subtly spicy undertone to our soup, creating a multi-dimensional flavor profile.
  • Beef Broth: The lifeblood of our soup, this rich broth provides a hearty, meaty flavor base and a vehicle for carrying all our wonderful spices and seasonings.
  • Hoisin and Fish Sauce: These traditional Vietnamese condiments bring a beautiful balance of sweetness, saltiness, and umami to our soup, ensuring every spoonful is bursting with flavor.
  • Flat Rice Noodles: Light yet satisfying, these noodles add body to our soup while their starchiness slightly thickens the broth, adding to its heartiness.
  • Boneless Beef Sirloin Steak: Thinly sliced, this premium cut of beef cooks quickly in our simmering soup, remaining tender and juicy while imparting its robust flavor into the broth.
  • Green Onions, Bean Sprouts, Fresh Cilantro, and Mint: These fresh ingredients offer a refreshing contrast to the warm, rich flavors of the soup, while also providing a delightful textural crunch.
  • Limes, Jalapeño Pepper, and Sriracha: These finishing touches allow each diner to customize their bowl, adding tanginess, heat, and extra depth of flavor as per personal preference.
Star Anise and Cinnamon


Now that we’re familiar with our ingredients, let’s talk about variations and substitutes. Although our Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup’s original flavor is definitely enticing, it’s acceptable to get inventive, play around with what’s in your pantry, or satisfy particular dietary requirements.

  • Protein: Beef may be traditional, but don’t feel confined to it. In this recipe, thinly sliced chicken or pork works fantastically. Tofu can be a wonderful addition if you’re seeking for a vegetarian option. It provides a tender, delicious bite by absorbing the flavors of the soup.
  • Noodles: Can’t find flat rice noodles? Thin spaghetti or vermicelli can serve as substitutes. For a gluten-free option, consider using shirataki noodles, made from the konjac yam.
  • Spices: Can’t get your hands on Chinese five-spice powder? Create your own blend using star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds. A pinch of each should do the trick.
  • Fish Sauce: If you’re allergic to shellfish or prefer a vegetarian version, use soy sauce or tamari for that umami flavor. Just keep in mind that these alternatives can be saltier, so adjust the quantity to your taste.
  • Hoisin Sauce: If hoisin sauce isn’t readily available, a mix of sweet soy sauce, some peanut butter, and a dash of vinegar can act as a makeshift substitute.
  • Heat: If jalapeños are too spicy for your liking, bell peppers can offer a milder crunch. Conversely, for those who like to flirt with fire, consider a spicier chili, like habaneros or Thai bird chilis.
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup in a bowl

How To Make Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Ladies and gentlemen, sharpen your knives, stir up your senses, and prepare to embark on a culinary journey that will leave your kitchen filled with the soulful aroma of a Vietnamese street-side eatery.

Here’s our detailed step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect bowl of Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup, a comforting, deeply flavorful, and nourishing delight.

Step One

In a large pot, let the canola oil shimmer over medium heat. Slide in your minced garlic, thinly sliced onion, and grated fresh ginger.

Sauté this aromatic trio for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re beautifully fragrant, and the onions have turned translucent, setting the tone for our flavorful broth.

Step Two

Now, sprinkle in your Chinese five-spice powder. Let it sizzle for a moment, stirring it into the aromatics to release its intoxicating aroma.

Pour in the beef broth, and add the hoisin sauce and fish sauce. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients, and let the magic unfold as you bring the broth to a boil.

Once boiling, allow it to bubble away for 5 minutes, absorbing the flavors of our aromatic foundation.

Step Three

Gently, almost lovingly, add the dried flat rice noodles to the bubbling broth. Let them boil for about 5 minutes, just enough time for them to soften yet retain a delightful, chewy texture.

Remember, nobody enjoys mushy noodles, so be sure to keep an eye on the clock!

Step Four

Now comes the star of our show, the boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into very thin slices.

Immerse the beef into the boiling soup, stirring gently to separate the slices. Boil until the noodles are tender and the beef is hot. This won’t take long, as our beef slices are thin and will cook rather quickly in the boiling broth.

How To Serve

With the foundation of our aromatic Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup ready, it’s time for us to serve up this gastronomic spectacle.

The joy of this dish lies not only in its preparation, but also in its presentation, and how each person can make their bowl their very own.

  • Garnish Galore: Ladle your hot soup into large bowls, ensuring a good mix of noodles, beef, and broth in each. Sprinkle the surface with a confetti of green onions, bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, and mint. This medley of fresh garnishes introduces a delightful contrast of textures and a refreshing brightness to our warm, hearty soup.
  • Personal Touch: Place a plate in the center of your table, stacked with lime quarters, jalapeño slices, and a bottle of Sriracha. These are more than mere condiments! They’re an invitation to each diner to customize their bowl of soup. For those who like their food spicy, a couple jalapeño slices, and a drizzle of Sriracha for an added layer of spice and some kick.
  • The Perfect Spoonful: To get a taste of everything from the tender meat to the savory broth, encourage your fellow guests to really dig in with their spoons. That’s the perfect spoonful, one that sings the complete symphony of flavors that our Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup promises.
Pho in a bowl


Before you store, it’s crucial to separate the components. Keep the broth in one container, the noodles in another, and the fresh garnishes in separate airtight containers as well.

This ensures that the noodles don’t continue to cook in the hot broth and turn mushy, and the garnishes remain crisp and fresh.

Once you’ve divvied up the components, let everything cool to room temperature. Then, stick them in the fridge. The fresh garnishes should be used within a day or two. While the broth and noodles can stay fresh for up to three days.


  • Broth and Beef: Pour the broth with the beef into a pot. Heat it on medium, letting it come to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally to ensure even heating.
  • Noodles: Although the noodles can be heated in the broth itself, it’s advised to reheat them separately in boiling water for just a few seconds. Or until they are well heated but still have some bite.
  • Combine: Once everything is heated, assemble your soup bowl just as we did before. Ladle the soup over the noodles, and garnish as per your preference.


Can I use a different cut of beef?

Absolutely! While sirloin steak provides a nice balance of flavor and tenderness, other cuts like flank or round steak, or even brisket can be used. Remember to slice them thinly for quick and even cooking.

I can’t find flat rice noodles. What can I use instead?

Vermicelli or thin spaghetti are acceptable alternatives. You may also use konjac yam-based shirataki noodles for a gluten-free alternative.

Can I make this soup vegetarian?

Of course! Swap out the beef broth with vegetable broth, use tofu or mushrooms instead of beef, and substitute the fish sauce with soy sauce or tamari.

Can I make the broth ahead of time?

Yes, the broth can be prepared in advance and kept for up to three days in the fridge. Or even up to a month in the freezer. Only add the steak and noodles when you’re ready to serve!

My broth lacks depth of flavor. What can I do?

Try adding a little additional fish or soy sauce if your soup seems a little bland. The flavors can also be enhanced with a dash of salt.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Gwen Xavier
This shortcut version of Pho, comes together quickly for a delicious bowl of goodness.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 5
Calories 540 kcal


  • 1 Tbsp Canola oil 
  • 3 Garlic cloves Minced
  • 1 Onion  Thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 Tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 8 Cup Ready-to-use beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • 8 Oz Dried flat rice noodles
  • 1 Lb Boneless beef sirloin steak Cut into very thin slices       
  • 2 Green onions Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Cups Bean sprouts
  • 1 Cup Chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped fresh mint or basil
  • 2 limes
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper Thinly sliced (optional)
  • Sriracha


  • In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion and ginger for 5 minutes.
  • Add five-spice powder, broth, hoisin sauce and fish sauce; bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Add noodles and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in beef and boil until noodles are tender and beef is hot. (Be careful not to overcook noodles, or they will become mushy.)
  • Ladle soup into large bowls and sprinkle with green onions, bean sprouts, cilantro and mint.
  • Serve with lime quarters, jalapeño slices (if using) and Sriracha. 
Keyword Pho, Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

More Soup Ideas

Photo of author

Gwen Xavier

Gwen Xavier, the culinary genius behind Finding Sanity In Our Crazy Life, initially crafted her food-focused website out of a necessity to find joy in cooking. Over the years, her relationship with the kitchen transformed from a mere duty to a fervent passion. Today, Gwen shares a variety of recipes on a daily basis, curating meals that cater to diverse tastes and family preferences, proving that cooking can indeed become a love affair!

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating