Vietnamese Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)


An easy Chicken Pho recipe (Pho Ga) with step-by-step photos, just like my mother’s recipe. Make an authentic and delicious Vietnamese Chicken Pho in less than 30 minutes with your Instant Pot or pressure cooker! Instructions for stovetop, Instant Pot and pressure cooker.

chicken pho recipe with vietnamese chicken pho in bowl on metal tray with fresh herbs and lime wedges

Pho Noodle Soup

A fragrant and soul-soothing Beef Pho Noodle Soup is often what I crave when only a steaming bowl of noodle soup will do. But when time is sparse and I don’t have 3 hours to potter about in the kitchen, a Chicken Pho is a rather wonderful alternative. For that reason, this Chicken Pho recipe (called Pho Ga in Vietnamese) is a handy one to have in your repertoire.

What is Chicken Pho?

According to Tracey Lister and Andreas Pohl in their delightful cookbook on Vietnamese cuisine, Real Vietnamese Cooking, Chicken Pho was invented during the Japanese occupation of Vietnam in the 1940s when beef was in short supply.

The broth is lighter and sweeter, but with a familiar nod to the traditional beef version, thanks to the use of the same fresh herbs and spices.

Easy Chicken Pho Recipe

I make chicken soup at home quite frequently; it’s almost my default menu when I don’t have a lot of time to cook because I can just let the chicken simmer gently on the stove while I’m tending to something else. At other times, I simply stick the chicken in the oven to roast.

But if you are in the habit of frequently making your own chicken soup or stock, turning it into a Chicken Pho soup is a nice way of varying the menu a little. While it’s hard to beat a chicken noodle soup in any form, I’m rather impartial to a chicken pho soup.

chicken pho recipe with vietnamese chicken pho in bowl on metal tray with wooden chopsticks and white tea towel

How to Make Chicken Pho

Chicken Pho uses similar spices and aromatics as a Beef Pho. But unlike a beef pho broth recipe which uses beef bones and oxtails, a Chicken Pho is much quicker to cook because it takes much less time for the chicken to work its magic on the broth.

Step 1

To make the Chicken Pho broth, place a whole chicken (preferably organic) into a large pot, and fill it with cold water until it barely covers the chicken.

When making soups and stocks, I like to use a tall and narrow pot so that the chicken sits snugly inside.

The secret to making a flavourful broth is to start with only enough water to cover the ingredients in the pot. This is likely to produce a broth with a concentrated flavour, but you can dilute it later with more water until you have the right balance. If you start with too much water, you might create a broth which is too diluted in flavour.

raw whole chicken in large pot

Step 2

While the chicken is simmering, chargrill the onions and ginger on a grill pan or over an open flame.

You can chargrill the onions unpeeled; the skins will give the broth a lovely, rich colour. However, I prefer to peel my onions to get more “chargrilled” flavour.

chargrilled onions and ginger on large grill pan

Step 3

Once the water has come to a simmer, add the chargrilled onions and ginger to the pot, together with the cinnamon and star anise.

Allow everything to simmer together for about an hour, or until the chicken is tender and the meat falls away easily from the bones.

large pot with chicken, onions, cinnamon and star anise, filled with water

Step 4

Carefully remove the chicken to a large bowl or plate, and let it cool for a few minutes before using your hands or two forks to shred the meat.

cooked whole chicken on large plate with cinnamon and star anise

Step 5

Strain the broth through a fine sieve into another large pot. Add the sugar, salt and fish sauce, and taste for seasoning. If the broth is too concentrated, add some boiling water until you have the right balance.

Let the broth simmer gently for about 10 minutes before serving as per the recipe.

large pot of chicken pho broth with small dishes of seasoning

Using An Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker

Most Chicken Pho recipes take at least an hour for the broth to be ready.

But if you own an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, making Instant Pot Chicken Pho is super quick! You can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes, which is pretty impressive for a mid-week dinner.

In fact, I love that the broth can be ready in the time it takes me to cook the noodles and prepare the garnishes. Also, the chicken becomes incredibly tender and succulent, and you know that the broth is just full of golden goodness.

Once you have tried making Chicken Pho in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, it is hard to go back!

The only “drawback” to making Chicken Pho in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker is that the broth will be a bit cloudy compared to one made on the stovetop. But the taste should still be just as delicious.

chicken pho recipe with Vietnamese chicken pho in bowl with fresh herbs and chillies with lime wedges and bowl of sauce

Ingredients for Chicken Pho

When making any Asian dish, I always like to make a trip to my local Asian grocer. Not only is the produce often cheaper than the main supermarkets, but the brands they stock are often better quality.

I like to use Squid brand fish sauce in my cooking. I find it to be a fairly mild fish sauce which is not too pungent. It’s also what my mother always cooked with when I grew up, so I just use what she does!

Fresh pho noodles are always best, if you can get your hands on some. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with dried pho noodles. These days, even my local supermarket (in Switzerland!) stocks dried flat noodles which I think is a handy alternative when there is an unexpected craving for pho.

Pho noodles come in varying sizes and my preference are for the wider noodles. Whatever size you buy, just make sure they are the flat rice noodles (not round).

The classic sauce accompaniments to pho always include hoisin sauce and Sriracha sauce.

In my family, we never added these directly to the broth; it was always served on the side to dip the meat into. But I’ve seen friends mix the sauce directly into their soup – do as you please!

bowl of instant pot chicken pho with lots of fresh herbs and small bowl of hoisin sauce

More Pho Recipes

If you love pho, you might also be interested in the following pho recipes:

Sticky Chicken Pho

Vietnamese Beef Pho Noodle Soup


Vietnamese Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)

5 from 4 reviews

An easy Chicken Pho recipe (Pho Ga), just like my mother’s recipe. Make an authentic and delicious Vietnamese Chicken Pho in less than 30 minutes with your Instant Pot or pressure cooker! Instructions for stovetop, Instant Pot and pressure cooker.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Soups
  • Method: Stove, Instant Pot, Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese


For the broth

  • 8 shallots or 2 small onions, peeled and left whole
  • 4cm (1½ inch) fresh ginger, unpeeled but sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 whole chicken, about 1.5kg ( lb)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 scant tablespoon Maldon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus more to taste

To serve

  • 800 g (28 oz) fresh rice noodles
  • spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
  • coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • Thai basil, roughly torn
  • red chillies, finely chopped
  • lemon or lime wedges
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha hot sauce


Instructions for Stove Top

  1. Place the chicken in a large pot and add just enough cold water to just cover the chicken. Bring to the boil and remove any impurities.
  2. Meanwhile, chargrill the shallots (or onions) and ginger on high heat, or over an open flame if you have a gas stove, until they are slightly charred.
  3. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the chargrilled onions and ginger, as well as the cinnamon stick and star anise.
  4. Simmer for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is tender and the meat falls away easily from the bones.
  5. During this time, skim off any impurities from time to time, and top up with boiling water if the broth has reduced a lot. I try to maintain the same water level from start to finish.
  6. Remove the chicken to a large bowl, and let it cool a little before shredding the meat.
  7. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a clean pot and return to the heat.
  8. Season the broth with the salt, sugar and fish sauce. Taste for seasoning. If the broth is too strong or concentrated, add some boiling water.
  9. Bring a pot of water to the boil and soften the fresh rice noodles for just a few seconds.
  10. Divide the noodles between 4 large bowls with a handful of shredded chicken on top of each.
  11. Ladle the hot broth into each bowl and serve with the fresh herbs and accompaniments.

Instructions for Instant Pot

  1. Follow the instructions as for the stove top until Step 4.
  2. Press the Manual button and cook under high pressure for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off the Instant Pot and let the pressure decrease naturally for 10 to 15 minutes. If the pressure hasn’t been completely released after this time, turn the valve at the top to release any remaining pressure.
  4. Skim off any excess fat.
  5. Follow Steps 6 to Step 11 as for the stove top.

Instructions for Pressure Cooker

  1. Follow the instructions as for the stove top until Step 4.
  2. Make sure that there is enough water to just cover the chicken, but that the liquid not does reach the 2/3 level mark, i.e. the pot should not be more than 2/3 full.
  3. Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but it should take about 15 minutes at high pressure.
  4. After this time, carefully release the pressure before removing the lid.
  5. Skim off any excess fat.
  6. Follow Steps 6 to Step 11 as for the stove top.

Kitchen Notes

You will need roughly 200 g (7 oz) of fresh rice noodles per person, but use more or less as you wish.

If you cannot find fresh rice noodles, you can also use dried rice noodles and rehydrate them as per the packet instructions. Make sure they are the flat noodles (not round).

To ensure that you have a flavourful broth, use a pot which will comfortably fit the chicken and pour in enough water so that it is only just covering the chicken.

If you later find that the broth is too concentrated, simply dilute with some water. Usually, my method creates a fairly concentrated broth, but it is much easier to dilute a strong broth than to add flavour to a weak broth.

For more details and information on serving pho, please see my post on Vietnamese Beef Pho Noodle Soup.


  • Serving Size: Serves 4
  • Calories: 409
  • Sugar: 4.4g
  • Sodium: 1250.8mg
  • Fat: 6.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 60g
  • Fiber: 1.3g
  • Protein: 25.1g
  • Cholesterol: 74mg

Did you make this recipe?

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This recipe was first published on 13 May 2014. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe instructions.

The post Vietnamese Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) appeared first on Eat, Little Bird.

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