Chicken Pho Recipe: Authentic Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup (Pho Ga)

Pho Ga, also known as Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup, is a comforting and aromatic dish that has woven itself into the fabric of Vietnamese culture. Originating from Northern Vietnam, Pho Ga is a lighter, chicken-based version of the popular Pho Bo (beef pho), and is known for its delicate yet rich flavors that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

The importance of Pho Ga in Vietnamese cuisine cannot be overstated. It’s more than just a dish; it’s a reflection of the country’s history, values, and traditions. The way the chicken is simmered to create a clear, flavorful broth demonstrates the Vietnamese philosophy of maximizing flavor while minimizing waste. The use of fresh herbs and spices showcases the country’s biodiversity. And the custom of adding garnishes to one’s taste symbolizes the individuality and freedom that is valued in Vietnamese culture.

The process of cooking Pho Ga involves several steps, each crucial to achieving the perfect bowl of soup. It begins with preparing and cooking the chicken, followed by making the broth infused with traditional Vietnamese spices. Concurrently, rice noodles are prepared and then everything is assembled together in a bowl. Garnishes like lime wedges, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs are added last, allowing each person to customize their bowl to their liking.

Join us on this gastronomic journey as we delve into the heartwarming world of Pho Ga, exploring its ingredients, cooking methods, and the unique stories that make this dish so special.

Related: Pho vs Bun Bo Hue: Which One Is the Best Vietnamese Noodle Soup?

vietnamese chicken pho recipe

What Is Pho Ga?

Pho Ga is a Vietnamese chicken noodle soup. The name “Pho Ga” simply translates to chicken rice noodle soup. It consists of soft, slippery pho noodles, sliced or shredded chicken meat, and a flavorful broth. The broth is typically light and clean, with notes of ginger and spices, making it much lighter in flavor compared to its beef counterpart, Pho Bo.

The magic of Pho Ga lies in its aromatic broth, which is usually made by simmering chicken with various spices and aromatics like star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, ginger, and onion. The result is a rich, flavorful broth that forms the base of the soup.

The soup is then served with a variety of garnishes such as bean sprouts, fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, basil), thinly sliced onions, and lime wedges. These garnishes not only add color and texture to the dish but also contribute to its distinctive flavor.

Despite being a simple dish, authentic Pho Ga requires attention to detail and time to prepare. However, it’s worth the effort as it’s considered one of the world’s greatest chicken noodle soups.


For a traditional Vietnamese Pho Ga, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  1. 1 whole chicken (about 3-4 pounds)
  2. 1 large onion, halved
  3. 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, halved lengthwise
  4. 2-3 star anise
  5. 3-4 cloves
  6. 1 cinnamon stick
  7. 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  8. 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  9. 1 tablespoon salt
  10. 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  11. 1 pound dried rice noodles
  12. Fresh herbs for garnish (cilantro, basil, mint)
  13. Bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced jalapenos for serving
  14. Hoisin sauce and Sriracha for serving

Some of these ingredients might be unfamiliar or hard to find in non-Asian supermarkets. Star anise, for instance, is a unique spice that has a sweet, licorice-like flavor and is crucial for the broth’s distinctive taste. Fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, and mint add a refreshing touch and are a staple in Vietnamese cuisine.

If you’re having trouble finding some of these ingredients, there are suitable substitutes. For example, if star anise is unavailable, you can use anise seed or Chinese five-spice powder as alternatives. The fresh herbs can be replaced with whatever is locally available to you, though the flavor profile might change slightly. If rice noodles aren’t accessible, other thin noodles like vermicelli or angel hair pasta can be used instead.

Preparation of the Chicken

Cleaning and Preparing the Chicken

The first step in making Pho Ga involves careful preparation of the chicken. Start with a whole fresh chicken, preferably free-range for the best flavor. Rinse the chicken thoroughly under cold running water, ensuring to clean the cavity well. Some cooks in Vietnam also recommend briefly blanching the chicken in boiling water to remove any impurities, then rinsing it again before cooking.

Cooking the Chicken

To cook the chicken for Pho Ga, place it in a large pot and fill it with enough water to cover the chicken completely. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface.

The chicken should be cooked gently for about 1 hour or until it’s fully cooked and the meat is tender. Remember, the goal is to create a clear, flavorful broth while also cooking the chicken.

Saving and Using the Chicken Broth

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and let it cool. The resulting broth forms the base for your Pho Ga. Strain the broth through a fine sieve to remove any remaining impurities and set it aside.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the bones. The shredded chicken will be added back into the soup later, while the bones can be returned to the broth and simmered for an additional hour to extract maximum flavor. Be sure to strain the broth again after removing the bones.

This chicken preparation process is key to achieving the signature clean yet full-bodied taste of Pho Ga. It’s a testament to the Vietnamese culinary philosophy of extracting maximum flavor while minimizing waste. In the next section, we’ll delve into the process of infusing broth with traditional spices to create a distinctive Pho Ga aroma and taste.

pho ga vietnam

Making the Pho Ga Broth

Step-by-step guide to making the broth

  1. Start by placing your cleaned chicken in a large pot. Cover it with water and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Once boiling, skim off any impurities that float to the top to keep your broth clear. This is an important step in achieving the right look and taste for your Pho Ga.
  3. Add aromatics to the pot. This typically includes star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, ginger, and onion. Allow these to simmer with the chicken for about an hour.
  4. After an hour, remove the chicken from the broth and let it cool. Strain the broth to remove the spices and any remaining impurities.
  5. Debone the chicken and shred the meat. Set it aside for later.
  6. Return the chicken bones to the broth and continue simmering. The longer you simmer, the more flavorful your broth will be.

Tips for getting a clear, flavorful broth

  • Always skim off the impurities: As the broth starts to boil, impurities from the chicken will float to the surface. Skimming these off will result in a clear, clean-tasting broth.
  • Don’t skip the aromatics: While it might be tempting to leave out some of the spices or aromatics, each one adds a layer of flavor to the broth that makes Pho Ga distinct.
  • Simmer, don’t boil: A rolling boil can make the broth cloudy. Instead, aim for a gentle simmer.
  • Strain the broth: After simmering the broth with the spices and chicken, strain it to remove any solids.

Adjusting seasoning to taste

Once your broth has simmered to your liking, it’s time to season. Add fish sauce for umami and saltiness, a bit of sugar for sweetness, and lime juice for acidity. Remember, always season to your preference. Start with small amounts, taste the broth, and add more if needed. The goal is a balanced flavor that’s neither too salty nor too bland.

Preparing the Rice Noodles

Choosing the Right Kind of Rice Noodles

The key to a great bowl of Pho Ga starts with choosing the right kind of rice noodles. Traditionally, Pho Ga uses Bánh Phở, which are flat rice noodles. They come in different widths – narrow, medium, and wide. The medium width is most commonly used for Pho Ga as it provides a satisfying, chewy texture that pairs well with the tender chicken and rich broth.

Cooking Instructions for the Noodles

To cook the rice noodles, follow these steps:

  1. Place the noodles in a large bowl.
  2. Pour boiling water over the noodles until they are fully submerged.
  3. Let the noodles soak until they become soft. This usually takes around 20-30 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure they cook evenly.
  4. Once the noodles are soft, drain them in a colander.

Preventing the Noodles from Sticking Together

Rice noodles have a tendency to stick together after cooking. To prevent this, rinse the cooked noodles under cold water immediately after draining them. This stops the cooking process and rinses off excess starch, which can cause the noodles to clump together. After rinsing, give them a good shake to remove any excess water.

Another tip to prevent sticking is to avoid cooking the noodles too far in advance. It’s best to prepare them just before you’re ready to assemble the bowls of Pho Ga. This way, they stay fresh and won’t have time to stick together.

Assembling the Pho Ga

Once you have your cooked chicken, flavorful broth, and prepared noodles, it’s time to assemble your bowl of Pho Ga. Here’s the recommended order to layer the ingredients:

  1. Noodles: Begin by placing a generous handful of the cooked rice noodles at the bottom of the bowl. The noodles form the base of your dish and will absorb the delicious broth.
  2. Chicken: Next, add slices of the cooked chicken on top of the noodles. You can use either the breast or thigh meat, depending on your preference.
  3. Broth: Pour the hot broth over the noodles and chicken. The broth should be piping hot as it will continue to cook the ingredients in the bowl, melding everything together.
  4. Garnishes: Now comes the fun part – garnishing your Pho Ga. Traditional garnishes include fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, and basil, as well as thinly sliced onions and green onions. Add these to your liking, but remember that these herbs are not just for decoration; they add significant flavor to the soup.
  5. Extras: Finally, serve your Pho Ga with a side plate of extras. This usually includes bean sprouts for a crunchy texture, lime wedges for a zesty kick, and sliced jalapenos for those who like it spicy. These extras are meant to be added in by each person as they eat, allowing everyone to customize their bowl to their taste.

When serving Pho Ga, it’s customary to also provide Hoisin sauce and Sriracha so that each person can adjust the sweetness and spiciness of their soup. Some people like to mix these sauces directly into their soup, while others prefer to dip their chicken into the sauces.


We’ve walked through the process of making traditional Vietnamese Pho Ga, from preparing and cooking the chicken to creating a rich, flavorful broth infused with aromatic spices. The final result is a warm, comforting bowl of noodle soup that showcases the delicate balance of flavors that Vietnamese cuisine is known for. With tender pieces of chicken, soft rice noodles, a fragrant broth, and fresh herbs for garnish, it’s a dish that’s sure to impress.

Cooking a traditional dish like Pho Ga might seem intimidating at first, but I encourage you to give it a try. The process is straightforward and the ingredients are simple, yet the result is a complex and satisfying meal. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to explore a new cuisine and culture from the comfort of your own kitchen.

I’d love to hear about your experiences making Pho Ga at home. Did you stick to the traditional recipe, or did you add your own twist? Perhaps you discovered a new favorite herb for garnish, or found a creative use for leftover broth. Whatever your story, I invite you to share it. After all, one of the joys of cooking is the endless opportunity for creativity and sharing. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions About Vietnamese Pho Ga Recipe

What is Pho Ga?

Pho Ga is a Vietnamese chicken noodle soup that is flavored with various spices and served with fresh herbs. It’s an iconic dish from Vietnam known for its fragrant broth and tender chicken.

What kind of chicken should I use for Pho Ga?

A whole fresh chicken, preferably free-range, is typically used in Pho Ga recipes to get the best flavor. The chicken is boiled to make the broth and the meat is shredded and added back into the soup.

What spices are used in Pho Ga?

The spices used in Pho Ga usually consist of star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, ginger, and onion. These contribute to the unique flavor profile of the dish.

How long does it take to cook Pho Ga?

The cooking time for Pho Ga can vary, but generally, it takes about 1-2 hours. This includes the time to simmer the chicken and spices to create the flavorful broth.

How can I make my Pho Ga broth clear?

To achieve a clear broth, it’s important to regularly skim off any impurities or foam that rise to the surface during boiling. Also, a gentle simmer rather than a rolling boil helps to keep the broth clear.

Can I use store-bought chicken broth for Pho Ga?

While you can use store-bought chicken broth, homemade broth made by simmering a whole chicken will give your Pho Ga a much deeper flavor.

What kind of noodles are used in Pho Ga?

Pho Ga traditionally uses Bánh Phở, which are flat rice noodles. They come in different widths, with the medium width being the most commonly used in this dish.

What toppings go well with Pho Ga?

Common toppings for Pho Ga include fresh herbs like cilantro and mint, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced chili peppers. You can also add hoisin sauce or sriracha for extra flavor.

Can I prepare Pho Ga in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the broth and chicken in advance. However, it’s best to cook the noodles right before serving to prevent them from getting soggy or sticking together.

Is Pho Ga gluten-free?

Pho Ga can be gluten-free, as long as the rice noodles and all other ingredients used do not contain gluten. Always check the labels of any pre-packaged items to make sure they are gluten-free.

Yield: 8

Authentic Vietnamese Pho Ga Recipe

Authentic Vietnamese Pho Ga Recipe

Drawing from multiple sources, here's a comprehensive recipe for Pho Ga, the traditional Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds)
  • 2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
  • 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, halved lengthwise
  • 4 star anise
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pound dried rice noodles
  • Fresh herbs for garnish (cilantro, basil, mint)
  • Bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced jalapenos for serving
  • Hoisin sauce and Sriracha for serving


  1. Rinse the chicken under cold running water, cleaning the cavity well.
  1. Place the chicken in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Skim off any impurities that rise to the top.
  2. Add the onions, ginger, star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and cinnamon stick to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool. Strain the broth to remove the spices and any remaining impurities.
  4. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, debone it and shred the meat. Set it aside for later.
  5. Return the bones to the broth and continue to simmer for another hour to extract maximum flavor. Strain the broth again after removing the bones.
  6. Bring the broth back to a simmer, add fish sauce, sugar, and salt to taste.
  7. Prepare the rice noodles as per package instructions and divide them among serving bowls. Top with shredded chicken and pour hot broth over the top.
  8. Serve Pho Ga with bean sprouts, fresh herbs, lime wedges, jalapenos, hoisin sauce, and Sriracha on the side for each person to add according to their preference.

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