Isn't making pho an all day process?
The stove-top method does take hours and hours of simmering to extract the flavor from the bones.
However, with the invention of the electric pressure cooker, making chicken pho is ridiculously EASY and FAST. You only need a few ingredients and you’ll have a steaming bowl of homemade pho in less than 3 hours. No need to go through the hassle of going to a restaurant every time you have a pho craving.
Even though it’s relatively fast in comparison to the stove-top or slow cooker method, it does take up to 3 hours from start to finish. And depending on the size of your Instant Pot, the pressurization process can take up to 60 to 80 minutes
There are some things that you can do to expedite the broth making process. Use hot water instead of cold water. With a big pot of broth, it will take some time to boil and then build pressure. In addition to hot water, help it come to pressure by using the saute mode at the beginning stage instead of waiting until you finish prepping all your ingredients.
What kind of chicken do I use?
The best thing about chicken pho is that it’s economical. Prices of a raw whole chicken ranges between $10-$20 depending on the quality and size. It is not necessary to use a whole chicken, you may use drumsticks or cut up chicken parts. And if you’re not not squeamish, chicken feet will give you collagen rich broth.
The key is not to overcook your chicken. With the Instant Pot, you only need 10 minutes of active pressure cooking to extract all the goodness from the chicken bones. Keep in mind, the chicken is cooking while it comes to pressure, as well as when the pressure is being released.
Where do I get pho spices?
Pho spice packets may be a bit hard to get if you don’t live near an Asian supermarket. However, there are online retailers on Amazon and Etsy willing to help you out. There are subtle variations of pho spices depending on what recipes you follow. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to use ALL of the spices that is called for, do the best that you can.
Another note about pho spices, read the ingredients carefully, you don’t need fillers like sugar or MSG. Check out my spice analysis where I show you the five essential pho ingredients that you can assemble yourself. Andrea Nguyen from Viet World Kitchen, explains the foundation of pho spices and may even answer questions you didn’t even know you had.
What vegetables should I use?
The next most important building block are the vegetables. Basic veggies like ginger, carrots & onions are used to add natural sweetness to the broth. I sometimes add jicama or daikon if I have those on hand.
According to The Kitchn, you need to char the onions and ginger to help add a smoky aroma that helps the broth develop a more complex and deeper flavor. No need to peel them, just cut them in half, and roast them in the oven for 10 minutes at 400F.
It’s important to wash your veggies well before placing them in your pot. Again, there’s no need to peel the carrots, just roughly cut into 3-4 inch pieces. You will be discarding the vegetables because it’ll be flavorless and mushy after it’s done cooking.
I don’t add rock sugar or MSG to my broth because I don’t think it’s necessary. The flavor comes from the bones, spices and vegetables.
Check out my Instagram post to see what my pho broth looks like.
What kind of noodles can I use?
When I went keto, I thought that I had to give up noodles for good. Luckily that’s not the case, I can still be low carb and eat my noodles too!
I had no idea that low carb noodles existed, and it’s not even a new thing. Japanese people have been eating shiratake for ages. Pogogi does an excellent job explaining what shiratake is all about.
There are a few low carb keto noodle options that are good substitutes to the traditional pho noodles. Shiratake noodles, not to be confused to shiitake, are my go to whenever I have pho cravings. I like the fettuccine style over the spaghetti version.
Kelp noodle is another noodle that I really like. I was first introduced to kelp noodles in an Asian Keto Facebook Group. If you’ve ever eaten glass noodles, it tastes exactly like it to me. It’s a little bit more fussy to prepare than shiratake, but well worth the effort. Kelp noodles are crunchy and rubbery when it comes out of the package. You have to soften it with baking soda and lemon for about 10-15 minutes. Very Well Fit explains the benefit of kelp noodles and its nutritional value.
Once you’ve mastered chicken pho, beef pho is not that much harder. The difference between beef and chicken pho is the type of bones used and cooking time. Ready to expand your pho mastery? Make my Low Carb Keto Instant Pot Beef Pho. I have a detailed You Tube video teaching you how to make beef pho from scratch.
Easy Instant Pot Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)
- Pressure Cooker
- Stainless Steel Basket (nice to have)
- 1 whole chicken drumsticks or bone in thighs
- 2-3 whole carrots cut in 1/2 or 1/3
- 1 whole onion cut in 1/2 or 1/4
- 1 whole ginger cut in 1/2
- 2-3 tbsp mushroom seasoning
- 2-3 tbsp fish sauce
- 3-6 whole star anise
- 3-6 whole whole cloves
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 1 pod cardamom
- 1 whole thinly sliced onion
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 package bean sprouts
- 1-2 whole lime or lemon wedges
- 1-2 whole thinly sliced green onions
- 1-2 tbsp sriracha
Keto Noodles Options
- kelp noodles (needs to be soften) soak in baking soda & vinegar for 10 mins
- shiratake noodles
- shredded chicken meat from the broth
Chicken Pho Broth
- Clean chicken well with hot water and scrub with salt to remove any unwanted debris. When the water runs clear, your chicken is ready to go.
- Fill the inner pot with hot water 3/4 of the way with the washed chicken. Press saute mode and allow the water to come to a boil.
- Cut onions & ginger in half with the peels on. Char in the oven for about 10 minutes @400°F
- Wash carrots and divide into 3-4 inch chunks
- Toast the pho spices in a skillet for a few minutes. You don't need all the spices, but do the best that you can. Remove spices from heat and let it cool. Once it's cooled, put the loose spices in a spice bag or tea ball.
- Place the carrots, charred onions & ginger and pho spices in the inner pot. Try to submerge all the ingredients.
- Close lid & cook on high pressure for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of chicken.
- Allow the broth to naturally release. In my 8 quart IP, it took about 40 minutes.
- Remove everything from the broth. Discard the veggies and spices.
- Shred the chicken when it's cool enough to touch. Reserve the bones for cook further in the broth.
- Place the bones back in the broth. I used a steamer basket to make it easy to remove the bones after it's done cooking.
- Add water to the max filled line.
- Season the broth with 1-2 tbsp mushroom seasoning and 1-2 tbsp of fish sauce. Taste and adjust more if it's too bland.
- Close the lid and cook on high pressure for 10 more minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release.
Pho Bowl Assembly
- Blanch onions & bean sprouts in boiling water for 10-20 seconds
- Layer the bowl with noodles, bean sprouts, onions, shredded chicken.
- Make sure the broth is boiling before ladling it in your bowl.
- Garnish with green onions, cilantro, squeeze of lemon juice & Sriracha.
- Enjoy while hot and steamy. It's okay to slurp and drink all the broth!
- Pho spice packets can be purchased at some Asian grocery stores for your convenience
- You don't have to have all the spices listed, it's okay to use what you got. If you're desperate, you can use bay leaf, but it probably won't have the authentic pho flavor.
- You can put in as much or as little garnish/toppings as you like, you're the boss of your chicken pho!
- You can also use regular pho noodles if you're not adhering to the low carb keto lifestyle.