How to Make Pho Without Really Making Pho (Faux Pho)

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Pho is a popular Vietnamese soup. Traditional preparations can be time-consuming. Learn how to make faux Pho, a quicker yet still very tasty version.

If you follow my blog regularly you know I have a fascination and love for Southeast Asian cuisine that originated with my travels to Thailand and Burma.  There’s something about the classic southeast Asian combos of salty (fish sauce and soy sauce), spicy (chilis and chili sauce), sour (lemon and lime) and sweet that I find absolutely magical. 

And addicting.

My latest addiction is Pho, a popular Vietnamese noodle soup.  Though I’ve never been to Vietnam, Pho combines all those classic southeast Asian flavors into a unique and utterly delicious dish.

I include the recipe below in my ebook, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution.  This is not because Pho is some mystical, ancient cure-all for heartburn.  Rather, it’s because Pho is made with beef stock and homemade stocks are an essential part of all traditional diets.  Homemade stocks work wonders for our digestion and I include them regularly in all my digestive protocols with clients, which of course includes heartburn.

Pho Basics and a Traditional Recipe

Pho is basically three things.  The first is an incredibly fragrant beef broth infused with some aromatic spices and roasted onion and ginger.  Second, the broth is poured over thinly sliced beef and rice noodles.  And third, it’s topped with a variety of garnishes including sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, lemon or lime and herbs like cilantro and basil.

When I made Pho for the first time I of course consulted Google for some recipes.  Man it was a lot more time-consuming than I thought!   So I did what I usually do.  I improvised my own quicker version.

More traditional versions call for the spices to be toasted and the onions and ginger to be roasted.  They’re then added to the stock simmered for 4 – 10 hours.  But seriously, who has time to do that?!  I sure don’t.

How to Make Faux Pho

My faux Pho version skips roasting the onion and ginger, toasting the spices and simmering them for the duration of the beef stock.   Of course, cooking the beef stock from scratch will take time so if you’re doing that you could certainly add the spices, ginger and onion in the beginning.  But that also means you have to use your entire stock for Pho.  That would be A LOT of Pho!

So what I do is I just throw the spices in after I have the stock and simmer for a much shorter time period.  I also add in some sliced ginger here too.  I’ll simmer this for 30-60 minutes depending on how much time I have (rarely more than 30 mins).

Though this broth certainly won’t take on the complexity of flavor of a more traditional one, it’s still really good!

And you can more than make up for a perfect broth with the garnishes.  For me, that’s where the magic really happens.

Pho is a popular Vietnamese soup. Traditional preparations can be time-consuming. Learn how to make faux Pho, a quicker yet still very tasty version.

So we got sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce, lime, bean sprouts, fish sauce and mint or basil.

My Favorite Faux Pho Garnish

Fish sauce baby!

You can add as much or as little as you want to get the flavor profile you want.  Drizzle in a little at a time, adjusting as you go.  For me personally, I LOVE salty and add generous amounts of it.

Here’s a better pic of the fish sauce I HIGHLY recommend.

Pho is a popular Vietnamese soup. Traditional preparations can be time-consuming. Learn how to make faux Pho, a quicker yet still very tasty version.

This fish sauce is the real deal.  It’s made in Vietnam and contains no MSG, sugar or preservatives.   It’s pretty tough to find a fish sauce of this quality in stores.

If you can’t find it locally in a specialty food store, you can find it on Amazon here.

After I get the exact amount of saltiness I want, I’ll then I’ll add a squeeze of lime, about a half teaspoon of sriracha, a full teaspoon of hoisin sauce, a handful of bean sprouts and some mint.  Most recipes call for basil or cilantro but I love mint here.  Use whatever works for you.

I was amazed how closely my faux Pho version came to the more traditional one.  Purists would surely disagree but I’m not interested in being a purist.  I’m interested in quick, simple and delicious.  My Faux Pho fulfills all three.

Faux Pho Recipe


1 quart beef broth

Flank steak, sirloin or London broil, sliced as thinly as possible

2 inch piece of ginger, diced

Fish sauce

Rice noodles, optional if you’re on a grain-free diet


3-4 whole star anise, whole cloves, whole cardamom pods, black peppercorns

½ tsp fennel seeds and coriander seeds


Sriracha sauce ¼ – 1 tsp

Hoisin sauce, ¼ – 1 tsp

Fresh mint, basil and/or cilantro, handful each

Bean sprouts, handful

1 lime wedge


1. Put spices in a small mesh bag, tea bag or any thin piece of cloth that you can tie up and secure the spices inside.  Alternatively, you can just add them loosely to the broth and strain them out later.

2. Simmer beef stock with ginger and spices for 30-60 minutes.  Keep lid on pot, otherwise the stock will evaporate.

3. Prepare rice noodles according to package directions and set aside.

4. Put rice noodles and thin beef strips in bowl.  Pour hot broth over them.  The heat will cook the beef.

5. Add fish sauce to taste.

6. Add sriracha and hoisin sauce to taste

7. Top with mint, basil and/or cilantro and bean sprouts and a squeeze of lime.


Pho is a popular Vietnamese soup. Traditional preparations can be time-consuming. Learn how to make faux Pho, a quicker yet still very tasty version.

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  1. Courtney Polivka says:

    Craig, what I like to do is make a big pot of pho broth and then freeze the extra. It makes for quick pho later! 🙂 We love the Red Boat fish sauce, too. Cheers!

  2. Thanks for chiming in Courtney! Good idea…obviously 🙂 It’s still a lot of pho broth for just me. I’d rather freeze just the beef broth and have the flexibility to use it for whatever I want. Of course, the more I get addicted to Pho the more I’ll probably try a more advanced version like yours. And yeah, that Red Boat stuff is just fantastic. Love it.

  3. Craig,

    Thanks for the recipe. Lat year, I went to a local Vietnamese restaurant, and enjoyed the delicious meal. At the end of the meal, I started to feel a strange buzz. So, I asked the waitress, “was there MSG in the soup?”. She replied, “Yes, a little. . . all Asian restaurants put MSG in their food, and if they tell you otherwise, they’re lying!!!” Well, I haven’t been back to that restaurant since!

  4. Jessica Waters says:

    hey, thanks for this!! I LOOOOOOVE Pho and am always scrounging around for a quick & easy recipe. When printing it out, I just substituted zucchini noodles for rice noodles as we are back on 4HB.

  5. Good quick and simple recipe. 🙂
    One note for those who are gluten free… Most hoisin sauce contains gluten so you will need to make your own or try to find a gluten free one.

  6. Тhnks for finally tаlking about > How to Make Pho Without Rеally Makіng Pho (Faux Pho) | Pionеer Valley Nutritional
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  7. I made this last night. Very quick and easy to make. I did add anise stars simply because I love that taste. This will be my go to when I make a quick and easy pho soup. Thanks.


  1. […] Faux Pho: Make a simpler version of Pho by slow-cooking the broth and beef in your crock pot. Add your prepared rice noodles just before […]

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