Crock Pot Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

Crockpot Pho Recipe   

It’s no secret that good Pho broth requires a gazillion hours of simmering time. Time that I just don’t have. Tony, a boyfriend from a lifetime ago, told me his Dad used to simmer giant vats of pho broth overnight for his little pho restaurant in Houston. So, one day, I thought it would be really genius to do the same. Dump a bunch of beefy, tendony, knuckley, marrowey bones into the largest stockpot that I have and let it simmer away while I slept.

Crockpot Pho Recipe

It didn’t quite work out as I had intended:

11:30pm Initial hard boil of the bones to get all the yuck, guck and scum off. Char ginger and onion.

11:38pm Dumped out water, added clean water, the clean bones, spices, ginger and onion. Let the dance begin.

11:45pm Nighty-night

12:35am Is the flame low enough? Maybe I need to check to see.

1:23am Hmmm…I smell something funny. Go check.

2:41am What if it boiled over? Go check.

3:24am What if there’s a gas bubble in the pipe and the the stove spontaneously bursts out in big flames? Maybe I should sleep on the couch closer to the kitchen.

4:45am Gosh I’m hungry. Sneak a big spoonful of Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Ice Cream.

4:51am Did I forget to put ice cream back in freezer? What if the gas bubble really does happen and stove spontaneously bursts out in flames? Then sleeping on couch is a dumbass idea. Crawl back to bed.

6:00am Kids wake up. Jumps up and down on my belly trying to wake me up.


Enter the Slow Cooker

A few weeks later, I was contacted by the peeps at Crock-Pot® The Original Slow Cooker <- yes, they are insanely paranoid about me using their correct trademarked name, so much that they’ve given me very specific instructions 4 separate times on how to properly spell/mark their product names.) They sent me their new eLume Crock-Pot® Programmable Slow Cooker with Touch Screen Technology to test.

crock-pot-elume <- shiny, pretty and fancy. Oh crap, I forgot the ™ after eLume™.

It’s the perfect size (6.5 quarts) for a big mean mama pot of PHO!!!

Oh yeah, baby! It solves my problem of paranoia when leaving stove on all night.

What I love about the eLume™ Crock Pot® is© its™ lighted™© touchscreen®™©. Just a light tap is all that you need and it’s totally programmable from 30 minutes to 20 hours of cooking time. You can also set it to start cooking at a certain time, but when making my Crock Pot Pho Recipe, I don’t recommend a delayed start time since we are working with raw meat bones.

Crockpot Pho Recipe

How to make Crock Pot Pho

Whether you use the Crock Pot Pho method or the traditional stove top method, there are a couple of steps that you’ll need to do before throwing it all in the Crock Pot or slow cooker. Namely, toasting the spices, grilling the onion/ginger and pre-boiling the bones. These aren’t absolutely necessary steps…you’ll still make great pho…BUT these extra steps will make the difference between good pho and pho-bulous pho.

Toasting the Vietnamese Pho Spices

Toasting spices for Crock pot Vietnamese pho

You can buy Pho spices at most Asian supermarkets – you can buy the spices separately (coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel and cardamom pod) or purchase them already mixed up in a package (which also includes a small mesh bag). The quality of these pre-mixed spices are just okay – but sometimes it’s just convenient to pick up a bag, not to mention much cheaper if you don’t already have many of these spices. A Pho spice pack will typically sell for $1-$3.

This day that I made the Crock Pot Pho, I used individual spices. I didn’t have cardamom pod. So yes, if you are missing one of couple of the spices, it’s okay. To get the best flavor from these spices, you’ll toast them in a dry skillet.

Grilling Ginger and Onion

This is a totally optional step, but it really gives the ginger and the onion a deep, sweet, mellow flavor. When I’m making Pho the traditional stovetop way, I’ll char them in the broiler. But with the crock pot method, I didn’t want to use the oven at all. After toasting the spices (above) in a frying pan, I add a bit of oil and grilled the onion half and thick ginger slices.


Pre-Boiling the Bones

Knuckles, leg bones with lots of marrow are the best for making soup. The marrow will also make the soup rich and thick. The bones are pre-boiled for a few minutes on high heat to clean the bones and get rid of the nasty scum.

You’ll bring a big stockpot of water to a boil on high heat. Add the bones and boil hard for 10 minutes. You’ll see brownish scum rise to the surface. If you hadn’t taken the time to pre-boil the bones, all that scummy stuff ends up in your soup.

crockpot-pho-beef_090418__003_scum-web <– nasty pho-reaky scum

Drain, discard the scummy water and briefly rinse the bones.

Now you’ll add the spices, ginger, onion and bones to the slow cooker.


Fill with fresh, clean, cool water about 1-1/2 inches below the surface. Set your slow cooker on low for 8 hours. I haven’t tried this method on high, but I’m sure it would be just fine.

So let this cook during all day while you’re at work or at night while you sleep and you’ll be rewarded with the cleanest, best tasting pho soups ever. Because the slow cooker doesn’t let the stock boil hard, it’s safe, easy and convenient.

Here’s what the stock looks like when it’s been cooking for 8 hours on low. Notice that the level of the liquid is still pretty high. The low, even setting doesn’t evaporate the precious liquid as much as a stove top can. The stock is strained before serving.

Crock Pot Pho Soup

Other Pho Ingredients

I used different ingredients than my previous version of traditional Vietnamese Pho and I wanted to highlight them. Instead of using dried rice noodles, I used fresh rice noodles found at Asian markets, in the refrigerated section because all these need is a quick dip in boiling water. Very fast!

Crock Pot Pho Noodles

I also bought a package of Vietnamese Beef Balls (called Bo Vien Dan). There are all sorts of balls – beef, pork, chicken, fish, crab, and my favorite – beef tendon. They come frozen in a package and they are pre-cooked, so all you need to do is throw the frozen balls into the same pot of boiling water as you cooked your noodles in. Just boil for a couple of minutes until the beef balls are heated through. I like cutting these beef balls in half, so make them easier to eat. It’s not so pretty trying to stick an entire beef ball in your mouth. Unless…you’re like really into that.

Crock Pot Pho Beef Balls


Crockpot Pho Recipe



Crock Pot Pho Recipe

Servings: 4 Prep Time: Cook Time:
crockpot vietnamese pho

This is a recipe for a 6.5 quart (or larger) Crock Pot. Any smaller really isn't that great - you won't get enough stock out of it...because the beef bones are really chunky and big. The thinly sliced meat for the bowls may be easier to slice if you freeze the chunk of meat for 15 minutes prior to slicing. You really want them as thin a possible. You can also do what I do - palm your butcher a $5 bill and he'll slice the meat for you on his fancy slicing machine


For the Pho Stock:
4 pounds beef bones
1/2 onion
4 inch section of ginger, sliced
1 package Vietnamese Pho Spices (or as many of these spices as you have: 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons whole coriander, 1 teaspooon fennel, 3 whole star anise, 3 whole cloves, 1 cardamom pod)
9 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
For the Pho Bowls
16 ounces fresh or dried rice noodles
1/2 pound flank, london broil, sirloin or eye of round steak, sliced as thinly as possible.
11 ounces Vietnamese beef balls, cut into half
For the table
1-2 limes, cut into wedges
fresh herbs: cilantro, Thai basil, mint
2-3 chili peppers, sliced
2 big handfuls of bean sprouts
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha hot chili sauce


1. Bring a large stockpot with water to boil over high heat. When it comes to a rolling boil, add the beef bones and boil vigourously for 10 minutes.

2. In the meantime, heat a frying pan on medium-low heat. Add the Vietnamese Pho Spices and toast until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Dump the spices to the empty Crock Pot or slow cooker immediately. Return frying pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger slices and the onion half. Cook until the ginger is browned on both sides and the onion half is nicely browned and softened. Add the ginger and the onion to the Crock Pot or slow cooker.

3. When the bones have been pre-boiled, drain, discard water and rinse bones briefly to clean them. Add the bones to the Crock Pot or slow cooker. Fill the Crock Pot with fresh, clean, cool water to just 1-1/2 inches below surface, add the fish sauce and sugar. Cover and set the Crock Pot or slow cooker to cook on low for 8 hours. Taste and season with additional fish sauce if needed.

4. When you are just about ready to eat, you'll prep the rest of the ingredients for the Pho bowls. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the beef balls and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove the balls, keeping the water boiling and now cook the noodles according to package instructions. If you are using fresh noodles, all they need is a couple of minutes. Drain immediately.

5. Strain the stock with a fine meshed sieve. Discard the solids.

6. Line up 4 large bowls on counter. Distribute the noodles, beef balls and thin steak slices evenly amongst the bowls. Ladle the hot Pho stock into each bowl. The hot stock should cook the thin steak slices. Serve with lime wedges, fresh herbs, chili peppers, Hoisin sauce and Sriracha hot chili sauce at the table.


vietnamese-pho-beef-noodle-soup-recipe Vietnamese Pho Recipe (cooked the traditional, long, slow, stovetop method)

vietnamese-chicken-pho-recipe Vietnamese Chicken Pho Recipe (Pho Ga)

Did not load Widget Area 5

Comments 204

  1. Lynn

    Thanks for the clear directions and pictures. Now I have no excuse to not make pho. The over the top trademarking made me laugh out loud.

  2. Hot Garlic / Natalie

    Hi Jaden,

    I just got your email, thanks so much for your patience and understanding.

    When I first started my blog, I didn’t know how to capture photos. Blogging was just meant to be a hobby, and mostly for myself at that time, so I decided taking photos was time consuming anyway.
    I did want pictures to go with each recipe, however, so I started going to google and typing in words to get a pic of ‘my recipe’. It sounds so stupid, but I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea I was stealing. I was just cutting and pasting from google. When I learned what I was infact doing, I immdiately stopped, taught myself how to capture a decent photograph, and set to work photographing new recipes and doing my best to replace almost a year’s worth of old recipes with pirated photographs. I’m not even close, I did so many posts over that year since blogging is a lot easier when you don’t have to capture a pic of it, that is half the work! Anyway, that is one that I just haven’t gotten to. There are several actually. I have pretty much given up, since I was offered a job from my blog and it has once again regressed into something that is pretty much just on online catalogue for me and my friends, rather than a blog for any other gain. As you can see, there are no advertisements whatsoever.

    However, since this is the first email of it’s kind, I would like to apologize and make amends by removing not just yours, but all of the remaining photographs that I haven’t replaced yet. As I said, I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but I especially didn’t know about it robbing your bandwidth.

    Thank you for making me aware of this situation. Consider your photo removed.



  3. BentoGirl

    Wow! That looks sooo yummy! I just may have to attempt making it sometime this month. BTW, I just love your writing style…you crack me up!

  4. Jude

    This might just be the recipe that makes me seriously think of getting a crock pot. Makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.

  5. Victoria

    Oh wow, this actually looks like something I could do. I’ve been curious about making pho before, but it always looked a bit too complicated for me (and there’s a great pho place near my house, so it’s kind of like “Why bother?”). However, this recipe doesn’t look that complicated, and yay! I can put my crockpot to work (it’s been sitting in its box for a couple months now, forlorn and underused).

  6. Gidds

    Hi Jaden!

    I love your blog and reading your Tweets! I live in a rural part of the South and can’t find most Asian herbs and spices. Maybe you are Eric from could team up and do something about growing your own Asian herbs and spices?

  7. MsRed

    I just recently became a fan of Pho. I love to cook and love my crock pot. So I will deffinitly be trying this recipe out. thanks

  8. Connie

    I never had/found a reason to purchase a crockpot…until now. Thank you for experimenting and posting the recipe 🙂 I wonder if one could make delicious pho using a pressure cooking pot.

  9. John

    I am excited to try this recipe.This dish looks really good. I am on a student budget, so I will be trimming this recipe :(.

    I have such a craving for Asian dishes, just like my spouse loves Mexican cuisine. I bought some rice noodles and eye of round to make this dish. The eye of round was missing the bone, so I will be using a beef bouillon for the stock. In our local grocer, they do not carry Vietnamese beef balls. So, I will be making them from scratch. I will be subbing some of the fresh herbs for dry spices based on the area I live in, they don’t carry that stuff at the store. Will write back to let ya know how it went….


  10. Are

    Not sure what went wrong, but this recipe did not work out at all for me. Followed the directions exactly, and after 8 hours I had only oily ginger water. I let it continue to go on low overnight and still wound up with the same thing. I think I may have used a bit too much water, but even if that was the case it still should have *some* taste to it; this really does not. Very disappointed as I was really looking forward to some pho – will have to hit a local restaurant until I figure out why this failed.

  11. Duyen

    I want that crockpot. So shiny and pretty! I also love this blog on PHO!

    As for the Pho, I did think of making it in a crockpot once before, but never attempted. I think I will now instead of starting the big stock pot at 10:30 and constantly getting up in the middle of the night worried to death something may go wrong (also continually skimming the fatty oils and any leftover gunk).

    You may want to add these to your pho recipe, it does make a difference and it is absolutely delicous!
    – Ox tails, same process as bones. Parboil to get rid of the gunk and cook overnight on low heat for meat to become tender. We usually snack on this before eating a bowl of pho. Dip with hoisin sauce.
    – rock sugar (candied sugar)

    You can also buy pho bouillon and add to your pho to give it the extra flavor some say they are missing.

    I hate eating Pho at restaurant now. It’s not the same and it always takes like water. LOL

  12. Erie

    Crock pot for Pho = genius! why didn’t I think of this after all these years? I will definitely try it out this weekend.

  13. ayan

    @Carrie et al. – “beef tendon” is really a piece of tendon from a cow. I was *very* dubious when boyfriend made me eat one, but the best way to describe it is a chewy, intensely beef-flavored al dente noodle. Not gross at all (but don’t ask me how to cook one!)

    now that’s the perfect way to describe!~j

  14. Jane

    I love to order Pho at a local Vietnamese restaurant. When shopping in an Asian grocery store, I found the package of spices. Unable to read anything except the word “Pho.” I went home, filled my crockpot with beef shortribs, water, and the spices (in the bag provided.) The result was delicious. Now I know that I probably should have toasted the spices and added fresh ginger. I will next time. Thank you so much for this information. It may have been on the package, but as I said, I was unable to read it. I love your step-by-step directions and photos, and I just love your personal commentary. Thanks again!


    I giggled threw you over night experience. I’ve been there. I am looking forward to trying your recipe thanks d

  16. Artsygal

    Dangit woman, now I want Pho. I have everything at home too (3 different kinds of balls yet!) but 103 degree temps are just too hot for a big steaming bowl of soup, you know?

    For the record, you’re behind on the times. My mom and I have both been using the crockpot to make our broth for about 10 years now. 😉

    As for overnight stock making – the first time I did it my night was pretty similar to yours but now.. bah! I am not afraid! Besides, I’ve decided that the risk is worth taking to make that pot full of stock, which I usually reduce all the way down to a mason jar of goopy thick stuff and add to just about everything I cook. Culinary GOLD I tell you!

  17. Dano

    I’m going to give this recipe a shot. I just ordered a 6qt crockpot and googled slow cocker pho and found this site. I am allergic to seafoods and can’t eat at pho restaurants, everything has fish sauce. My mother always made it in a giant pot and nursed it for hours. I don’t know if she did the preboil to get rid of the gunk, will ask her about it…My mother also froze the left over pho soup stock. Strain it and place it in the ziplock bags with the zipper. The pressing seal zip lock bag types will leak when defrosting in fridge.

  18. michelle

    so….when you slice the steak to place it in the finished product, do you cook the steak before you put it in the soup?

  19. Nell

    Hi there. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. When I travelled around Vietnam 4yrs ago I tried Pho and loved it. At the time the bird flu was rampant and I don’t eat seafood, so the majority of my meals there were either pork dishes or Pho. I have been too scared to try to make it myself, but now I have a slow cooker I will give it a go. Thanks so much 🙂

  20. Mike G

    I have been making Pho for years, and you and I make it nearly the same.
    I don’t use ginger or mint, or cilantro. And I never have pre-cooked the soup bones. I have always wanted to use tendon in my soup, but never think of it before it is too late. I know it must be cooked for many hours, so it cannot be added later. I also have used ox tail sometimes to make the soup. A little different taste, maybe better. I also slice the beef meat balls because that is the way I have always seen it done. ALWAYS keep the slow cooker on low temp or the boiling action will make the soup cloudy. So when ready to serve be sure to turn up the heat so as to cook the raw beef in the bowl. Here is another tip, add a can of beef broth in place of some water in your soup. It available in any Asain store and it’s cheap.

  21. Tanya

    I would like to know what kind of beefs so that I can buy for Pho Beef, because I am confused about flank, london broil, sirloin or eye of round steak, sliced as thinly as possible. Should I buy any kind of beef bones, right? I have aten the Pho Beef before when I was a kid. I missed it so much. I want to learn to cook at home. I will look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

  22. Hang

    I’ve considered using a crockpot for the Pho but was always hesistant for fear that something would get lost in transalation, despite the fact that I use it to make great chicken stock. After seeing this I gave it a shot. I asked my daughter this morning how it was and she looked at me and said, ” Do you not hear the slurping? “. Enough said. She also stared quite a while at my son eating muffins and asked me whether I was sure he was my child. (Hmm…well he doesn’t look asian… but then again neither does she!) Thanks! It came out great and was very convenient.

  23. Carol

    I discovered a way to cook it overnight without worrying about it. Stick it in the oven at the lowest temperature ~210-225 degF. Perfect Pho without boiling over. yummy

  24. Jeremy

    Ok you have outdone yourself once again with this one Jaden. I have been excited to try this crock-pot method and it came out delicious. Followed very closely to Jaden’s. Totally forgot to buy the beef balls and used the pre-made pouch of spices (was way too excited to find the pouches to use my own spices) but the rest was exact. It came out even better than I get at restaurants because I made it myself but it was authentic. Next time, beef balls, individual spices and a bigger group of people. It’s on!

    Thanks Jaden!

  25. Liz B

    Hi Jaden,

    I made the Pho a few months ago and love it! I wonder if Pho can be made with a pressure cooker? And if so what if any adjustments would need to be made?

  26. FlamingoGal

    My son lived for several years near the “Little Saigon” area of Orlando and Pho is one of his favorites. I’ve made once before and he loved it. Right this moment I have bones in oven roasting and went online to check for other ingredients so I wouldn’t forget anything. Yup, sure did….charred onion and ginger. Better get those going :oD Serving for Sunday dinner tomorrow, maybe with spring rolls and cucumber salad. Maybe I’ll try the Chicken version next!
    PS: I intend to simmer overnite and will sleep quite soundly, thank you very much ;o)

  27. Rienna

    Thank you so much for the recipe, I cooked it today and all my friends loved it. All had double helpings. Even my husband who normally does not like soup noodles said it is good!
    I used ox tails instead of bones. I made the stock the day before for 5 hours. Then the next day removed the oil and spices, filtered the soup and continue for another 3 with the fish sauce and rock sugar.

  28. Becca

    So I made this recipe exactly as specified. (I must add that I just love your website! I was very excited for this recipe!) However, I thought I had coriander at home, when I didn’t, but I thought that with all the other spices, I wouldn’t be missing much.

    I must say that is was so incredibly fragrant. The house smelled amazing! However, I found the broth itself rather bland. The taste didn’t live up to the smell, though a bit of beef bouillon boosted it a bit, but it lacked a lot of the body and richness I was expecting. I used plenty of marrow/bones and even some knuckle and it just didn’t turn out right. Did the missing coriander having something to do with it?

    Do you have any suggestions for the next time I try it? (I looked for oxtail by my local super grocery, Wegman’s, didn’t have any! I was in shock.) I really love Pho and other people seemed successful in their attempts, so I suppose I’m wondering what I did wrong.

    – Becca

    1. SteamyKitchen


      Anytime the broth lacks depth – add a teaspoon to a tablespoon more of fish sauce!

      I just taught a class a couple of nights ago – I made the students taste the broth before fish sauce…and after adding a tablespoon of fish sauce. MASSIVE difference.


  29. Clemen

    If u want to add book tripe to the recipe, do u add at the end like the rest of the meat or does it need to be pre-cooked?

  30. Brent

    I just made this and had the same problem as Becca. I’m not sure which bones I had, I got them in a pack from the asian grocery. Plenty of marrow in there.

    The soup, even though I kept adding fish, sauce just was very underseasoned. I had to use some philipino flavor stuff(not exactly sure what it was LOL) With that extra flavor the broth was actually verytasty.

    I used my 7qt crock pot with 4 lbs of bones. I tried adding a couple extra tablespoons of the fish sauce but it wasn’t helping.

  31. Jon Babila

    My wife and I love Pho! But there’s also Bo Kho too that we love just as much…..Can you post a how-to for this “Bo Kho?” There is a product on the shelf in the asian market made by quocviet ( which we bought to try and make this wonderful dish but there is’nt enough directions or too much I should say because I only need to cook for two. Can you help?

    Thank you from Seattle WA

    Jon & Verlyn

  32. Michael

    Okay, Christmas meal is put away, but what to do with the standing rib roast chine? Making Christmas Pho in the crock pot. Smells better than the original meal.

  33. Mac

    Help I tried this recipe but no matter how long I cook it just seems to have no taste in the broth just water with a slight beefy spices flavour. I know i am doing something wrong i just dont know what 🙁 I cooked it for around 8 hours on high in my slow cooker maybe the stove top method is better as it helps to reduce the stock more and whats left is packed full of flavour

    Did you use the spices? Did you use the right bones? How much bones are you using? ~jaden

  34. Jamie

    soo funny! I cook my pho the same way too, in a crock pot. I would cook it Friday night before bedtime and wake up to a delicious home made pho for breakfast that my husband and daughter just love every weekend. No more having to go out Saturday morning for a bowl full of artificial flavored and MSG pho at the local restaurant. It’s so practical and so much better home made.

  35. Danny

    This made an incredible broth. After reading the comments that it was bland I did as suggested and added a Pho boullion cube. I wish I had not– if anything the broth is too strong flavored. I would follow the recipe as directed. My bones were a little fatty so I am chilling broth now so I can degrease– and then Pho! Danny

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Thanks Danny! Yes, follow the directions as-is. I think the people who thought the broth was bland might not have been using enough bones or good bones. -jaden

  36. Monica

    I know you said not to use the jar of spices, but that’s what we got (before reading your blog lol), how much of that would be equivalent to a spice packet? I can’t wait to try this! Thank you so much!

  37. Jason


    I just made the pho broth in my crockpot, and I have one question. There’s no mention of salt in the recipe and the broth definitely tastes like it needs salt. Is this for a reason or was it inadvertently omitted? Great recipe, I’m so excited to have some pho today!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *