Slow Cooker Vietnamese Chicken Pho Recipe (Pho Ga)
In this Slow Cooker Chicken Pho recipe, you’ll learn:
- The best types of chicken bones to use for slow cooker
- Trick to juicy, tender chicken meat for pho
- Why you should never cook pho noodles in the broth
Recipe originally printed in Bon Appetit Magazine. Thanks for featuring our Slow Cooker Chicken Pho recipe!
We are reprinting with additional step-by-step photos here.
Slow Cooker vs Stovetop Vietnamese Chicken Pho Recipe
The slow cooker version of Chicken Pho (or Pho Ga) is a bit different than the stove-top version. After testing numerous batches of broth, I found the best combination of chicken parts: 1 1/2 pounds any cut up chicken parts + 1/2 pound chicken wing tips. In fact, the more wing tips (or even feet), the better.
The reason why? Most slow cookers don’t hold that much, and my goal was to get maximum flavor from the least amount of chicken. Keep in mind: The bigger the mass (i.e. large chicken parts), the less broth you’ll have in the end. Enter the wing tips (not the whole wing, just the tips–a part that you never eat anyways), neck bones and even chicken feet.
Tip: Cook chicken meat separately
The secret to moist, tender and juicy chicken meat for eating in pho is to separate out the chicken bones from meat. Chicken bones are used for making the Chicken Pho broth. Chicken meat, for eating, needs to be cooked separately, and only for a short amount of time. Overcooked chicken meat is gray, tough, and tasteless.
Reserve a boneless chicken breast and/or chicken for eating with your Chicken Pho. You’ll gently cook the meat for 4-5 minutes, just before serving. Then, it’s thinly sliced and divided into bowls.
Chicken Bones for Slow Cooker Chicken Pho Broth
The best type of chicken bones for broth are wing tips, necks and chicken feet. The wings and feet have a high amount of gelatin, which makes the broth richer and more flavorful.
For Chicken Pho Broth: use 2 pounds of chicken parts. Of the 2 pounds of chicken, 1/2 pound of that should be wing tips. Most slow cooker have capacity of 7 quarts. The chunkier the chicken, the less room you have left for broth. This is important if you’re trying to make pho for 6 people! A 7-quart slow cooker will make enough Chicken Pho soup for 6 large bowls.
Chicken wing TIPS (the section that really has no meat anyways) have maximum flavor, minimum size. That’s why I love using wing tips. Or chicken feet, if you can find them (did I hear someone squeal?! chicken feet is great for soup!)
Add 2 pounds of chicken bones, whole coriander seeds, half an onion, ginger slices, whole cloves, star anise and a bundle of fresh cilantro to the slow cooker. Add water to cover.
Set your slow cooker to high for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. After cooking, use a strainer to remove as much solids as you can.
Then, strain through cheesecloth just to ensure that the broth is clean and clear.
Straining the broth gives you golden, richly colored, clean Slow Cooker Chicken Pho broth.
Noodles for Chicken Pho
Make It Low Carb!To make Slow Cooker Chicken Pho low-carb, substitute the rice noodles for Shirataki noodles, which are made from yam. Also, Korean sweet potato noodles make a fine low carb option, too! Here’s a recipe for Paleo-Friendly, low carb Vietnamese Pho (beef), and a recipe for Korean Japchae Noodles, which uses the sweet potato noodles.
Vietnamese rice noodles cook differently than dried pasta or other Western noodles. Soak the dried rice noodles in COOL water first then DRAIN. This helps makes them pliable, soft and will cook better.
To cook the noodles, bring a pot of water to boil and then lower the cool drained noodles into the hot water. Simmer for 1 minute. After 1 minute, the noodles are DONE!!! That’s it. Don’t overcook the rice noodles, they’ll get too soft and soggy.
Here’s an important tip: Don’t cook the rice noodles in the Slow Cooker Chicken Pho broth. I always cook noodles for soup separately, in water, and never in my precious broth. That’s because the dried noodles are starchy and release starch into the water while cooking. That’s why your pasta water is cloudy. You don’t want that extra starch in your soup!
Garnish for Slow Cooker Chicken Pho
I love garnishing with shaved onions, fresh bean sprouts, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. No Sriracha or Hoisin for me, though many people do enjoy those condiments in their Pho Ga, I think it totally overpowers the beautiful broth.
More Vietnamese Pho Recipes
- 2 pounds chicken bones
- 1/2 onion
- 3 inch piece of fresh ginger sliced
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems only tied with twine (reserve leaves for bowls)
- 2 tablespoons sugar or rock sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1.5 pounds chicken meat breast or thigh
- 1.5 pounds dried rice noodles about 1/4" wide
- 1 green onion, green tops only sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup very thinly sliced onions red onion or yellow onion
- 1-2 jalapeño or serrano chiles sliced
- 1 lime in wedges
- Sriracha hot sauce
- Hoisin sauce
To the slow cooker, add the chicken, onion, ginger, coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, sugar, fish sauce, and cilantro stems. Fill with water to the max level of your slow cooker. Turn slow cooker to high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Remove all chicken and cilantro stems, strain broth through cheesecloth. Taste and adjust with additional fish sauce and sugar if needed.
If using yellow onions, soak the onion slices in ice cold water for 10 minutes. I find that red onions are milder and do not need soaking. Prepare the rest of the ingredient for the table, including bean sprouts, sliced jalapeño and sauces.
Chicken Pho is best when the broth is boiling hot, and the noodles are freshly cooked. When you're ready to cook the chicken meat and noodles, go ahead and put the Chicken Pho broth back on the stovetop and turn the heat to low, so that it's ready. Alternatively, you can return the broth to the slow cooker and turn onto "simmer" if you have that function.
Soak rice noodles in cool water for 10 minutes. Drain. In the meantime, bring a big pot of water to a boil and then turn to low. Add the chicken meat and let cook for 1-3 minutes or until cooked through--timing depends on how thin slices are. Remove the chicken slices, and set aside. Next, add the rice noodles to the water and cook for 1 minute. Remove noodles and divide amongst 6 serving bowls. Also, add to the bowls, the chicken meat, green onion and cilantro leaves.
Ladle hot Chicken Pho broth into each bowl and serve immediately.
To the slow cooker, add the chicken, onion, ginger, coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, sugar, fish sauce, and cilantro stems. Fill with water to the max level of your slow cooker. Turn slow cooker to high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Remove all chicken and cilantro stems, strain broth through cheesecloth. Taste and adjust with additional fish sauce and sugar if needed. Soak rice noodles in cool water for 5 minutes. Drain. In the meantime, bring a big pot of water to a boil and then turn to low. Add the chicken slices and let cook for 1-3 minutes or until cooked through--timing depends on how thin slices are. Remove the chicken slices. Next, add the rice noodles to the water and cook for 1 minute. Remove noodles and divide amongst 4 serving bowls. Fill each bowl with chicken slices, bean sprouts, cilantro leaves, red onions and broth. Have the lime, Sriracha and hoisin at table as condiments.