crockpot vietnamese pho

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.

6:15am PHO-KING TIRED

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.

crockpot-pho-beef_090418__004_onion-web

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.

crockpot-pho-beef_090418__008_pot-web

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

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Crockpot Pho Recipe

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Print

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

Ingredients:

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 sugarFor 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 halfFor 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

Directions:

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.

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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)

Comments 188

  1. Cristy

    Hmm….sounds delishh but a lot of work..I might try that with my handy dandy crock pot.I noticed you have most of the Asian country recipes but nothing from the Phillippines.Did you have any Filipino food before?Just wondering…you might like some.Have a good one!

  2. Wink Hobbs

    I am unclear as to when to introduce the thin beef slices into the soup . Please help ! Thanks in advance.

    1. SteamyKitchen

      In Step 6.
      The thinly sliced beef is added raw to the bowls – when you pour boiling hot broth over them, they cook in an instant. Make sure your broth is hot.

  3. Cathy

    I have to say, I literally laughed out loud when I read “Pho-king tired.” Thanks for that. :P And seriously, that sounds like something I would do and be paranoid about.

  4. Ericka

    I luuv pho!! The crockpot technique sounds like a cool way to go! But please…CAN SOMEOBODY PLEASE TELL ME HOW TO DO THOSE TASTY TENDON SLICES…you know, the ones you get in the Pho restaurants?? Tendon’s my fav in my pho. Beef balls are all right, but (sigh!!)they are not the same!!

  5. Julie

    Hey! Thanks for your wonderfully humorous approach to food writing! I’m making your Crock Pot version now. (I started to make it your traditional recipe and found this waaaay easier version while the bones were hard boiling!) BUT, when I went to balance the seasonings, I felt like it really wanted some salt. The fish sauce we have came from a Philippino market and looks very traditional but has little or no sodium, and there is none called for in your recipe. I added about a teaspoon of kosher sea salt at the end, which seems to have done the trick, but I’m really wondering when you recommend that the salt be added for the next time I make this. The house smells too good not to do this again!

  6. Jenny L

    I made this soup and it was wonderful! We used the Pho ‘boullion cubes’ in place of the actual spices and it came out great!

    My only complaint is that there were so many bones that took up the space in the crockpot we were left with very little broth. My husband was thinking we could just make the soup with the boullion cubes water the onion and ginger and get about the same result. I just am not sure how much flavor we actually got from the beef bones.

  7. Lynn @ Sit. Stay. Cook.

    God, I am such a sucker for pho. My favorite protein for pho is chicken, but it’s impossible to get the chicken breast cooked without drying out. Therefore – we got a sous vide supreme specifically for cooking chicken for pho (and now use it for all sorts for other good things, too). Not exactly the most traditional preparation, but we’ve got our version of pho ga down to a delicious science.

  8. Liz

    Try a local butcher shop or meet shop. They should either have them or be able to get them with advance notice.

  9. Geek Bombshell

    Jaden, you are cracking me up! I LOVE what you’re doing.
    I’m super excited to try this recipe and I have a quick question. Is it ok to boil the bones, char the onion/ginger, and toast the spices the night before – then start the crock pot in the morning?
    If not, this would probably be a weekend meal vs a weeknight meal.
    Thank you!!

  10. Jerry

    The aroma of the broth cooking in the crock pot is making me insane (in a good way). I would not cook this at night because I would not be able to sleep!

    When I went to the Vietnamese grocery to get bones and such, the very friendly clerk suggested a product made by Quoc Viet as a Pho base. She said it is good and that most Vietnamese people she knows use it to make Pho. I looked at the package and saw that it was salt, sugar, beef fat, etc., so I decided against it. Does anyone have any knowledge or experience with this product?

    Thanks!

  11. Zachary

    Not everyone might care, but my Chef of 20+ years roommate let me know that if you bring the water to a boil BEFORE putting it in the crockpot, it speeds up the proceed considerably. BONUS: don’t go the cheap route and forget to char the onions/garlic – that adds a *significant* part to the flavor. Please also consider roasting the bones in the oven for even more flavor! And on top of all that, make it into a food-cure by adding your favorite herbs. Because we have a library of Chinese tonic herbs, we threw in some blood building tonics. Tastes good and heals you simultaneously – now THATS dinner!

  12. HL

    Hi Steamy Kitchen,
    I’ve become very interested in pressure cookers and I love Pho. Can Pho be made in a pressure cooker rather than a slow cooker?

    Thanks,
    HL

  13. Leah

    This was my first attempt at making Pho I was impressed good base recipe with a few adjustments and some extra seasoning to make it my own. If i can make this anyone can :) easy to make and it turned out fantastic

  14. Eileen

    Thanks so much, this is literally the BEST pho recipe I have found and I make it over and over!!! Crock potting is a GENIUS way to make the best pho broth, yay!

  15. Liz

    This is great! I love your humor as well! My best friend is from Vietnam and her mom makes the most amazing Pho, so I’m excited to give this a whirl!

  16. HArdRvKllr

    there are two types of tendon, the flat and the honey comb, you can purchase the honey comb which is usually what you will find in the restruant mixed in the pho,

  17. Jan

    My food always has a strange taste when I cook in the crock pot.

    What am I doing wrong. I have used two or three different brands of crock pots.

  18. Danielle

    I must have messed up by using oxtail alongside the knuckles. Darn…my soup turned out muddy and extremely oily. :(

  19. TJR

    Hi! I just bought a crock pot specifically to make this. It’s 10:50pm And currently cooking. I can’t wait to try this in the AM and will report back.

    Also, would you be able to do more Asian based crock pot recipes? I’ve searched around and haven’t found much.

  20. Becka

    I used your recipe and LOVE it!!! I did not have an Asian food store close by, so I have to do my best with the ingredients I found and the regular food store! It turned out good! But I plan on finding an Asian store so I can do it the right way next time! And thank you for saying that I could use the crock pot! It worked out great!!!

  21. Patrick

    If you strain the stock anyway, why go through the step of “cleaning” the bones? Seems like you throw away some of the goodness. Scum isn’t necessarily bad!:-)

  22. Raj

    Actually you can fix the oiliness bit. Just refrigerate the strained bone broth. When its cooled down, the fat should rise to the top. Skim off how much ever you want and reheat again!

    Maybe straining the broth through a coffee filter or fine muslin cloth will help with the muddiness?

  23. sashi

    hi jaden, i just followed this recipe on the stove (instead of your crockpot) but i am still lacking some depth to my soup! is there a reason behind the depth? i bought about 4lbs of beef bone and my pot was about 6 quarts of water. please let me know if the amount of bones to water ratio makes any difference? or can it be the kind of beef bone?

  24. Georginne

    Hello Jaden,

    This recipe is wonderful. I used beef neckbones for mine. Howeve, my crock pot is only 5 quartz size so I had to minimize the bones to only 3 pounds and I added 2 boullion cubes (I placed mine in high for 4.5 hours which really needs a boost since time really cannot be substituted for a good broth.) Anyway, I love this recipe so much. My husband even had 2 servings of it plus 1 to bring to work. Too bad. My area is in the border of Mexico that I am glad I was able to get most of your ingredients. (So hard to get Asian ingredients unless I go out of the RGV). More power to you. I hope to see more things to do with my crock pot.

    P.S. For those looking for a short cut in scum removal. Jaden suggested the most easiest way for the soup not to taste like scum. I tried the Japanese paper where the scum would attach to the paper while cooking. Sadly, does not work. I am still stuck with the scum. The other time, I just put the meat in the slow cooker with water (making nilaga that time) then I saw my meat all with scum after 1 hour. I got to throw the whole soup, wash the meat and wash the crock pot container again.

  25. Chevelle

    We’re trying out this recipe right now! ;D But while we were searching for ingredients we found that “Safeway” had the beef already sliced thinly at a fair price. If that helps your readers! (I live in Canada and I am unsure if Safeway exists in the states, but still!)

    Anyways, it smells excellent so far! Excited to see how it goes.

  26. Shawna Lay

    Thank you so much for this Pho recipie! My boyfriend’s ex was vietnamese and her dad used to make Pho for my boyfriend alot. I love to cook so I thought I would give this recipe a try. It was a big hit with my boyfriend who said it was perfect and just like he remembers it. I also added a bit of yellow rock sugar for some more flavor. I’ll be making this recipe many times over.

  27. Mary

    so, i followed this recipe to the “t” i currently have 2 hours left of cook time…and the broth tastes like herbed water. i am no slouch in the kitchen and ive had enough pho to know that this is not what pho broth is supposed to taste like. boiled the bones, toasted the spices, ginger and onion. added all to crock pot (filled with water up to about 1 1/2 inch from the top) and left it on low for the first 4 hours. is giving off a wonderful aroma but absolutely no taste. have turned it up to high for the last 4 hours of cooking. what went wrong?

  28. Shawna Lay

    Hi Mary I read that you’re not getting much flavor from the Pho. I cooked my Pho for 16 hours straight. Everything I’ve read online says that 8-12 hours is preferred and more would probably be better. I also added double the spices noted for more flavor. I put in approx 1/4 cup of fish sauce. I also made new onions and caramelized them on the stove which added a lot of flavor.

  29. Lisa D

    Love this recipe and have made it on a number of occasions. I have been to Pho restauraunts in the Washington DC area, and one had a great hoisin-type sauce. Anyone know how to make it?

  30. Kelli

    Thank you for this exceptional use of trademarks: eLume™ Crock Pot® is© its™ lighted™© touchscreen®™© – They can’t comlain about that, surely. LOL!

  31. Jim F

    For those of you that have leftovers, I recommend storing the broth, noodles, and condiments all separately.

    I sometimes toss the remaining beef in the pot so the beef keeps, but if you’re going to eat it the next day, you can just heat to boiling and do everything the same. Noodles seem to recover just fine if you cool them and pack gently. I warm the noodles for 20 seconds in the microwave if I’m going to pour the broth over the noodles and raw beef.

  32. Rianty

    Thank you for the recipe, I believe it’s great, unfortunately it didn’t work for me. The aroma was so great, everybody couldn’t wait to eat, but when we tasted, it was so bland and oily (;_;). I tried to put more fish sauce, triple from what you suggested but it still didn’t work and I don’t know what was wrong.. maybe too much water less bones, and I used all marrow bones.

  33. Esme

    Made this recipe as written and it was delicious. I cooked it on low for 8 hours overnight and then strained and refrigerated the broth in the morning. When I came home from work all the fat had risen to the top and solidified. It was very easy to discard of and left a clean flavourful broth. I will make my pho stock with the slow cooker from now on. Thanks for the great recipe!

  34. Mattie J. Risher

    “Pho-king tired”! :-) LOL!

    By the way, I enjoyed the recipe. I love Beef Pho and now I know how to make it at home! Definitely will cook this here. It’s also good to add fresh basil leaves on the soup before you serve it. It adds to the flavor.

    Another one I love is seafood pho, will the procedure for the seafood pho the same? If I simmer the seafoods for sometime it will get overcooked and turn to bits right?

    Thanks and more power to your site!

  35. Kathleen Reaves

    Thank you so much for publishing this!! I so love Pho. Tried to make some on my own with no idea of what I was doing. It was a nightmare. Going to try this…this week!! Thank you!

  36. mi

    Followed this recipe to a T. Broth was aromatic, however, I knew there was something wrong as soon as I began to ladle it into our serving bowls. Broth was almost pure oil, greasy and flavorless. My wife and I could only take a few bites before giving up and throwing it in trash. Recipe needs to specify if the broth needs to be cooled first and skimmed of fat before serving.

  37. Ali

    Where can I get the bones? Can I just ask at the meat counter in my local grocery store? I can’t say I remember ever seeing bones for sale at Kroger/Meijer/etc.

  38. Laurel

    This is the first pho recipe I’ve ever tried to make at home, but def not the first bowl I’ve eaten. Just like everyone above, the broth was very aromatic but way too greasy and the taste was a little off.

  39. kari

    Oh my gosh, too Pho-king hilarious. I totally enjoyed your Overnight Pho redition and the actual recipe. You kill me!!

  40. Becky

    FINALLY! A pho recipe that looks fairly easy and time saving!! I CANNOT wait to try this! Thank you so much for posting :) You possibly just saved me several hours of driving time just to get some pho (I have to drive 1 1/2 hours away at about twice a month from where I live just to get some).

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