Pho is a popular Vietnamese noodle soup, and this easy homemade Instant Pot Chicken Pho brings it right to your table! The delicately fragrant chicken broth is spiced with anise and cinnamon, and perfectly balanced by yummy rice noodles plus shredded dark meat chicken thighs.
AN EASY INSTANT POT CHICKEN PHO RECIPE
Some versions of pho are made with a deeply flavored beef bone broth that can take hours, if not days, to create. This version, however, uses ingredients that are easy to keep on hand, like bone-in chicken thighs, instant rice noodles, and pre-made broth or stock, along with an array of delicious spices.
It’s so fun and delicious, and comes together incredibly quickly in your Instant Pot!
WHAT IS PHO?
The “original” pho was, and is, a very simple Vietnamese dish of beef bone broth, flat rice noodles, and thin slices of beef. Other versions soon appeared that involved additional spices and flavors, chicken instead of beef, and even vegetarian pho!
These days, pho is everywhere, with more variations and topping ideas than you can shake a stick at. These creative versions might not be exactly “authentic,” depending on who you ask, but they are absolutely crave-worthy!
CHICKEN PHO INGREDIENTS
- Vegetable Oil: For sauteing the spices and aromatics.
- Star Anise, Cloves, a Cinnamon Stick, Coriander, and Whole Black Peppercorns: These fragrant spices give the broth its famously sweet, spicy, almost Christmas-y flavor.
- Fresh Ginger: You’ll need a two-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced.
- Onion: I use 1 small yellow onion chopped, in this recipe. White or sweet onion can also be substituted.
- Fresh Garlic: Mince the garlic, or put it through a garlic press.
- Chicken: Chicken thighs shred nicely and add a richness to this dish. You’ll need about 1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs.
- Broth: You’ll need a quart of good broth. I like to use low-sodium chicken broth in this recipe, but homemade would be even better!
- Fish Sauce: A little goes a long way, but don’t leave it out! Like anchovies in Caesar dressing, fish sauce adds an important note of salty umami flavor to the broth.
- Rice Noodles: Like fish sauce, instant rice noodles are usually found in the Asian foods section of your grocery store. You can also order them online.
- Garnishes: Bean sprouts, carrot sticks, sliced red chile, mint or cilantro, and lime wedges are all great garnishes for pho.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN PHO
- Saute the Spices and Aromatics. Press “Saute” on the Instant Pot, and heat up the vegetable oil. Add the star anise, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, and peppercorns; cook for 3 minutes. Then stir in the ginger and onion, and cook for 3 more minutes. Finally, add the minced garlic and cook for 10 seconds.
- Add the Remaining Ingredients, Except Noodles. Add the bone-in chicken, chicken broth, water, and fish sauce to the Instant Pot. Cover, and lock the lid. Select “Manual” and set to cook on HIGH pressure for 18 minutes. Then, do a quick release.
- Cook the Noodles. Remove the Instant Pot lid, and transfer chicken to a plate. Set aside. Strain the broth through a large mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Return the broth to the pot, and add the noodles; loosely cover with the lid – don’t lock it – and let sit for 3 to 4 minutes, or until noodles are tender.
- Shred the Chicken and Return to the Pot. In the meantime, shred the chicken, discarding the bones. Stir chicken back into the pot.
- Garnish and Serve!
TIPS FOR THE BEST PHO
- Trim the Chicken. A good pho broth has little to no grease or oil on the surface, so always use skinless chicken. If you can’t find skinless bone-in thighs, trim the skin away yourself, and remove any excess fat as well.
- Sweet and Spicy: If you’re looking for an extra dimension of flavor, try adding a little bit of your favorite sweetener to this dish. Yellow Rock Sugar is the traditional sweetener of choice for pho, but if you don’t have that (or don’t wish to use it), you can try any sweetener you like. Start small, and add more to taste.
- Variation Ideas: You can also make this recipe using shrimp or thinly sliced beef instead of the chicken, but be careful of the cook times, as those ingredients cook much, much faster than bone-in chicken. Additionally, you can put hoisin sauce, sriracha, green onions, and all kinds of other toppings out for guests to try.
- Drinks: Pho is really a meal in itself, so it doesn’t really need any side dishes, per se. However, it can be really nice to start the meal with a special drink, like a Coconut Mojito, or a refreshing Black Cherry Spritzer.
- Salads: You can also start this meal off with a beautiful fruit salad, like my Rainbow Fruit Salad with Honey Orange Yogurt Dressing. Healthy, and delicious!
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVERS
- To refrigerate: Remove the noodles, veggies, and chicken from of the broth with a slotted spoon, or by pouring through a sieve. Store the broth and other ingredients in two separate airtight containers or freezer bags. The broth and noodles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To reheat: Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. When the broth is boiling, add the other ingredients and heat through. Do not overcook.
Can You Freeze Chicken Pho?
- Yes. Store the separated broth and noodle mixture in freezer bags, pushing out as much air as possible before sealing. This will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.
- Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
Tools Used in this Recipe
Instant Pot Chicken Pho
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 star anise pods
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 8 ounces rice noodles
- Garnishes: Bean sprouts, carrots, sliced red chile, mint or cilantro, lime wedges, etc...
- Press Saute on the Instant Pot and heat up the vegetable oil.
- Add star anise, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, and peppercorns; cook for 3 minutes.
- Stir in ginger and onion and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Stir in garlic and cook for 10 seconds.
- Add chicken, chicken broth, water, and fish sauce.
- Cover and lock the lid.
- Select “Manual” and set to cook on HIGH pressure for 18 minutes. Then, do a quick release.
- Remove lid and transfer chicken to a plate. Set aside.
- Strain the broth through a large mesh sieve, discarding the solids.
- Return broth to the pot.
- Add the noodles to the broth; cover with the lid - don’t lock it - and let sit for 3 to 4 minutes, or until noodles are tender.
- In the meantime, shred the chicken, discarding the bones.
- Stir chicken back into the pot.
- Ladle soup into bowls.
- Top with garnishes.
- Serve with lime wedges.