Chicken Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

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This soup, like the ubiquitous chicken noodle soup, just makes you feel good.

Phở Gà is classic Vietnamese cuisine at its very best. You have options on making the broth, but we love to start with roasted chicken bones and simmered with aromatics for several hours. And then poach a whole chicken for perfectly tender chunks of chicken. Finish it off with all the garnishes for something truly transcendent.

An overhead view of a bowl of chicken pho garnished with cilantro, peppers, and fried shallots, sitting next a platter of additional garnishes, including lime wedges and mung bean sprouts.

How To Make Chicken Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)


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The Ingredients You Will Need

The ingredients in this iconic soup are not exotic at all, and almost everything can be found in your local market. You may need to seek out Thai basil, although we provide alternatives below. Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand:

For the Stock:
Large onion – No need to peel before roasting.
Ginger – About 3 inches long, no need to peel.
Chicken bones – We use saved bones from rotisserie chickens, but any bones will work. See NOTES for other options.
Water – You’ll need about 6 to 8 quarts.
Salt – Sugar
Brown sugar – Or if you have access to it: Palm sugar.

For the Pho:
Chicken – 1 whole young chicken, usually 4 to 5 pounds.
Scallions – Whole.
Ginger – One thumb-size piece, smashed with the side of a large knife.
Salt – You’ll need to taste as you go. Fish sauce is commonly added to provide more salt.
Rice noodles – Vermicelli can be found in the Asian section of most well-stocked supermarkets, Asian markets, or online.

Jalapeño – Fresh, thinly sliced.
Cilantro – Fresh, chopped.
Scallions – Thinly sliced.
Shallots – Thinly sliced and fried in vegetable oil.
Thai basil – Found at Asian markets, or at Whole Foods or Sprouts. You can use regular sweet basil and mint as a close substitution.

EXPERT TIP: You’ll need to use a pot that is large enough to hold the whole chicken and enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring the water (with the bird in it) to a boil, and then only boil for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for 15 minutes. Placing the poached chicken in an ice bath ensures the meat won’t be overcooked.

A close-up view of a whole chicken in a large stock pot of boiling water with scallions and fresh ginger simmering, too.

Tips for Making Perfect Chicken Pho

Don’t Rush The Broth – The broth is probably the most crucial aspect of the soup. To get the deepest flavor, let the broth simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Roasted chicken stock (with cooked bones) delivers the deepest flavor, but there are other options (see NOTES).

Be Careful Not to Overcook the Chicken – The chicken in pho should be easily shredded and very, very tender. Rotisserie chicken will work in a pinch, but poaching a whole bird makes extremely tender chicken. The ice bath (after poaching) helps the chicken firm up a bit. The chicken can be made 1 to 2 days in advance.

Go Easy When Adding Garnishes – We recommend adding a small pinch of fresh cilantro and scallions before serving. Place all of the garnishes on a platter and allow guests to add them as they consume the soup. We don’t recommend dumping too many garnishes in at once. Add as you work your way through the soup.

EXPERT TIP: Fried shallots add wonderful taste and texture to the pho. No need to batter the thinly sliced shallot. Only fill about one-third (or one-quarter) of your pot with oil before heating and frying the shallots. If there is too much, the shallots could cause the oil to bubble intensely and flow over the sides of the pot.

A close-up view of a metal spider holding up about a cup of thinly sliced shallot that has been fried until golden.

How To Serve

First, you need to get your stock simmering away on the stove.

We recommend placing a nice pile of freshly cooked vermicelli in each soup bowl and then top with a handful of shredded chicken. Toss a little cilantro and green onions, and then ladle enough of the piping hot broth to just cover the chicken, allowing some to rise above the broth. Then top with a small pinch for fried shallots.

Make a large platter of all of the garnishes (including more cilantro, green onions, and fried shallots) and bring to the table. Or, make a small plate of garnishes for each guest or family member.

EXPERT TIP: The vermicelli will become very sticky soon after it is drained and rinsed. Therefore, we don’t recommend preparing the rice noodles (according to package instructions) until just before serving. If they have become so sticky that you can’t pull them apart, simply place them in a pot with water and they will no longer stick to themselves.

A large wooden ladle being used to pour chicken broth into a bowl of shredded cooked chicken and vermicelli noodles.

Other Amazing Soup Recipes To Try

There is just something extra comforting about a warm bowl of soup. Serve it with a nice salad, or a grilled cheese, or just a big bowl and nothing else. No matter how you serve it, these are always sure to please:

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
Ramen Soup with Spinach and Poached Soup
Chicken and Dumplings
Rustic Lentil Soup
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Tortilla Soup with Chicken
Pozolé (Pork and Hominy Stew)
French Onion Soup
Italian Wedding Soup
Broccoli Cheddar Soup

These are all so classic and incredibly delicious. But, in the meantime, isn’t this bowl of yumminess calling your name?

An overhead view of a colorful bowl filled with chicken pho that is garnished with sliced jalapeños, cilantro, and fried shallots, with a wooden spoon inserted.

There is something undeniably comforting about homemade Pho. Make this dish, and you’ll understand why. We followed the guidance from one of San Francisco’s most prominent chefs, Charles Phan, owner and chef of The Slanted Door.

Take the time to make the stock and even the fried shallots, and you’ll have one of the most satisfying soups you’ve ever had in your life. For a true Vietnamese feast, serve with a classic Banh Mi sandwich!

There’s nothing much more comforting than a homemade bowl of soup, and it honestly doesn’t get much better than this one. Every bite is a true revelation of taste and comfort.

A wooden spoon being used to lift up a helping of chicken pho that is loaded with thin noodles, shredded chicken, herbs, and fried shallots.

Ready to make one of the most comforting bowls of soup in the world? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

An overhead view of a colorful bowl filled with chicken pho that is garnished with sliced jalapeños, cilantro, and fried shallots.

Chicken Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

Pho truly is great for the soul. It is just so comforting and will make you feel great. The stock/broth and the chicken can be prepared 1 to 2 days in advance. This is comfort soup at its very best.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: how to make authentic chicken pho, Pho, Vietnamese cuisine
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 159kcal


  • 1 Roasting pan or baking dish
  • 1 large stock pot


For the Chicken Stock

  • 1 large yellow onion unpeeled
  • 1 3" piece ginger fresh, unpeeled
  • 3 lbs chicken bones such as legs, wings, or whole carcass
  • 6 quarts water plus more, if needed
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar

For the Fried Shallots

  • vegetable oil for frying, see NOTES
  • 2 shallots large, thinly sliced, about 1 cup

For the Pho

  • 1 4 to 5 lb whole chicken giblets removed
  • 6 whole scallions
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger smashed
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt plus more, to taste
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 16 oz. package dried rice vermicelli cooked according to package directions
  • 1 bunch scallions trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • cups cilantro chopped
  • Crispy fried shallots for garnish
  • Thai, or Chinese basil for garnish, see NOTES
  • Mung bean sprouts for garnish
  • 2 Limes cut into wedges, for garnish
  • 2 Jalapenos stemmed and thinly sliced into rings, for garnish


Make the Stock

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place onion, ginger, and chicken bones in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour, moving the vegetables and bones around in the pan after about 30 minutes. . Remove from oven and let the onion and ginger cool.
    1 large yellow onion, 1 3" piece ginger, 3 lbs chicken bones
  • Peel the onion and cut it in half. Slice the unpeeled ginger into thin slices (no need to peel).
  • Place the onion, ginger, bones, water, salt, and brown sugar in a large stock pot.
    6 quarts water, 1 tbsp Kosher salt, 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours, adding another quart (4 cups) of water if needed (the water line should remain about 1 inch above the bones).
  • Use a large slotted spoon to remove most of the bones and chunks of onion from the stock. Then, strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl or pot. Cover and let chill for at least one hour, or, overnight (preferred). Remove the lid and use a spoon to skim most of the congealed fat from the surface of the stock.

Make the Fried Shallot

  • In a medium saucepan, add enough oil to come up less than 1/3" up the pan (about 1/4" is enough). Heat the oil over medium-high until it registers 340°F on a deep-fry thermometer.
    vegetable oil
  • Carefully add the shallots to the hot oil and fry them, stirring, until light golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes (watch closely, don't let them burn!)
    2 shallots
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set aside.

Make the Pho

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the chicken, scallions, ginger, and salt and boil for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let stand for 25 minutes.
    1 4 to 5 lb whole chicken, 6 whole scallions, 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • Just before the chicken is ready, prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl.
  • When the chicken is done, carefully use tongs and a large spoon to remove it from the pot and immediately submerge it in the ice-water bath, which will stop the cooking and give the meat a firmer texture. Discard the cooking liquid, or store (chill or freeze) it for another use.
  • Let the chicken chill for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cool enough to handle easily, remove from the water, and pat dry.
  • Pull the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Shred the meat with your fingers; you should have about 4 cups (this step can be done a day ahead).
  • In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over medium-high heat. Taste and add more salt (or fish sauce) until you reach the correct balance of seasoning.
    3 quarts chicken stock
  • Prepare the rice noodles according to package directions and distribute them evenly among soup bowls.
    1 16 oz. package dried rice vermicelli
  • Prep the garnishes and arrange the basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, jalapeños, and fried shallots on a platter and place them on the table.
    1 bunch scallions, 1½ cups cilantro, Crispy fried shallots, Thai, or Chinese basil, Mung bean sprouts, 2 Limes, 2 Jalapenos
  • Top each serving with about ¾ cup of the shredded chicken, then divide the scallions and cilantro evenly among the bowls.
  • Ladle the hot stock over the top, dividing it evenly, and sprinkle with the fried shallots.
  • Serve at once, accompanied with the platter of garnishes.


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. 
You have options for making the stock. Our favorite is what's in the recipe card. However, you can also simmer uncooked chicken parts (thigh, legs, breasts, etc) with vegetables. And then even use the meat from the simmered chicken for the pho. Follow our recipe for Homemade Chicken Broth, but substitute roasted ginger and onion for the mirepoix in the recipe. If you do this (and use the chicken),  there's no need to poach the whole chicken (as we do in the recipe). 
Be careful to not add too much oil for frying the shallots. The shallots will cause the oil to bubble a lot and will overflow if the oil is more than one-third of the way up the side of the pan. 
If your rice noodles start to stick together, simply place them in a pan with warm water. They'll un-attach,  no problem.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. Pho freezes beautifully for up to 2 to 3 months. 


Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 2292mg | Potassium: 476mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 290IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This post was originally published in November 2016, but was update with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in January 2024!


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