Instant Pho

This instant pho recipe builds a flavorful broth in more than half the time of a traditional pho, but it delivers a similar experience.
4 servings
Wait Time
45 Mins
Active Time
15 Mins

There are so many things going on in pho. You've got sharp but subtle savoriness from the broth and spices, freshness from the herbs—and that's not even all of it. This complexity is achieved through hours of building the broth. But you don't always need to leave the pot on for seven hours just to get the Vietnamese soup. This instant pho gets you a light, flavorful pho, except it only takes 45 minutes to put together.

Granted, any instant pho, including ours, won't replicate the exact same experience as traditional pho. But what this recipe promises is a similar experience; one that mimics traditional pho, without the same time-consuming process. And we do this through a bouillon cube and a ton of aromatics and spices to make up for what's lost in the time.


  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 3-inch piece ginger
  • 6–8 cups water
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 3 pcs star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ⅛ tsp coriander seeds, optional
  • 3 pcs cloves, optional
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar


  • 2 bundles flat rice noodles


  • 20 pcs sirloin, thinly sliced
  • 1 pc medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 pieces red chili, sliced and optional
  • ¼ cup Thai basil, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup spring onions, chopped
  • lime or lemon, sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • hoisin sauce, to taste

Place ginger and onion on an open burner and roast until charred. Set aside.


In a large pot, add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the bouillon cube and dissolve in the liquid.


Add the charred vegetables, star anise, cinnamon, coriander seeds, cloves, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30–45 mins.


Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package instructions. Set aside.


Once done, adjust the broth's seasoning with more brown sugar and fish sauce.


To assemble, divide noodles, thinly sliced beef (about 5 pieces each), onions, red chilies, spring Thai basil, and spring onions between four bowls.


Pour hot broth over the beef to cook it, filling bowls enough with the soup.


Garnish with lime and cilantro and serve with Sriracha and hoisin sauce on top.


You can use beef broth instead of water.

To make instant chicken pho, swap beef bouillon cube with a chicken bouillon cube (and beef broth with chicken broth, if using) and use thinly sliced chicken instead of sirloin.

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