This Gluten Free Pho is made with an easy and delicious homemade broth. Traditional Beef Pho can take hours to make, but this pho recipe is easy and flavorful in under one hour!
The colder weather of Fall and Winter pairs perfectly with this easy Vietnamese beef pho (pronounced fuh). And when I say easy, I mean EASY! It's a crowd-pleaser, really healthy and low-sodium!
Noodle dishes are harder to eat when following a gluten-free diet. But some of my favorite weeknight meals are gluten free, like my Soba Noodle Salad or Spring Vegetarian Pasta! Plus, rice noodles are really flexible and can be used in so many ways, from spicy noodles to adding into soups or even ramen!
My dad was the inspiration for this dish. He is a literal pho-natic ... Since moving to New York City my parents seemingly had to try a new pho restaurant every week!
In the Summer I lived there, I was definitely a bit judgmental because I couldn't stand the hot broth in the humidity of the city. We'd always gone to restaurants to get pho because I always assumed that it would be waaaay too difficult to make because of how many intense flavors there are.
Turns out it's quite simple! Now I understand why my dad loves pho so much and it's definitely already been requested as the first meal I make when I get home!
What is Pho?
Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup made with beef broth and flavored with spices such as ginger, anise, cinnamon and cloves.
Classic pho is made with beef or pork, but can also be served as vegan, vegetarian, or with chicken.
Is Pho Gluten Free?
Traditional pho is not certain to be gluten free. This is because you can never be sure that the recipe used doesn’t have hidden gluten-containing ingredients. Sometimes ingredients like fish sauce, soy sauce or even the rice noodles themselves can include gluten, so it’s better to have your own homemade pho recipe.
Beef Broth - To make this a quick pho recipe, using beef broth helps add flavor without taking hours. Substitute for chicken or vegetable broth. The chicken and beef broths will give the pho a richer, more in-depth flavor.
Beef - Because the beef is cooked after pouring the broth over, you want the thinnest sliced beef possible. I prefer to use sirloin steak and slice it on my own to ensure thinner slices. Hot tip! Freeze or chill the beef right before slicing it.
White Onion - Use any kind of onion, but white onion is the traditional.
Ginger Root - I recommend using whole ginger root as it is charred for extra flavor. Substitute for minced ginger, and add directly to the rice noodle soup.
Whole Spices - This pho recipe uses whole spices of cloves, cinnamon stick and star anise to impart extra flavor in a quick time. You will need to toast the whole spices first to release some oils. Substitute star anise for anise seeds instead. No substitute for cinnamon stick.
Rice Noodles - these should look almost like fettuccine noodles in that they are fat and long.
How to find Gluten Free Pho Noodles
The traditional pho recipe uses rice noodles which are already gluten free! You can typically find these in most grocery stores in the ethnic food section.
How to Make Pho
When I say this dish is easy, I really mean it! You char onions and ginger and then add it to toasted spices, beef broth and carrots. Simmer and then pour the homemade broth over noodles and very thinly sliced beef.
Prep the Broth
First things first, you’re going to simmer and add flavor to the broth. You’ll want to peel and quarter the onions and ginger, and cut the carrots into thirds.
Next, place all the onion and ginger on a baking sheet and put it under the broiler, about 7 minutes per side, until charred.
Make the Broth
Next, start to toast the spices of star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks in the pot you will use for the broth. Toast for two minutes, but shake frequently so the spices don’t burn!
Once the charred onion and ginger, along with the carrots and beef broth into the pot with the toasted spices.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for thirty minutes.
Prep the Toppings and Beef
While the broth simmers, slice the sirloin thinly. To do this I either cut it straight from the fridge or I even freeze it for a few minutes. This helps firm up the steak to slice even thinner with ease.
Set the pot for the noodles on to boil and prep your pho toppings - cut the lime into wedges, slice the scallion, wash and chop the cilantro, etc.
Cook the Noodles
Cook the noodles according to directions.
Once cooked, remove from the stove, strain and pour cold water directly over to prevent them from further cooking.
Place the noodles into each bowl for pho.
Finish the Pho
Once the broth simmers for at least 30 minutes, strain the broth.
Place the thinly sliced beef over each bowl of noodles.
Ladle the strained pho broth over each bowl of noodles and steak. It will cook the beef in front of your eyes! Make sure to ladle directly over the steak to cook it more.
Add toppings to your desire!
Best Pho Toppings
You cannot have a good pho without all the toppings! I like to serve my pho recipe with a plethora of options so that each person can have their choice of toppings. If you want to choose a few simple options, I’d say most important is lime wedge and cilantro.
Other options for pho toppings are:
- Sliced green scallions
- Thinly sliced jalapeño pepper
- Bean sprouts
- Fresh herbs like thai basil leaves
- Bird’s eye chilies
- Boiled egg
- Charred or slightly wilted bok choy
- Fresh sliced mushrooms
While I prefer to make beef pho, you can use a variety of protein options, both vegan and meat-based.
- Rotisserie chicken can make for a quick chicken pho.
- Fried tofu or even mushrooms can be added on top of pho for a vegan pho.
- Shrimp is a great seafood option!
Frequently Asked Questions
Pho should be gluten free, but there are always ingredients included depending on the recipe that may have hidden gluten contents.
Pho noodles are traditionally gluten-free. To double-check when making homemade pho, ensure rice noodles are labeled as such.
Pho is not typically spicy unless topped with chillies or sriracha. It is a pretty mild (but flavorful) Vietnamese noodle soup.
Making your own pho lowers sodium and makes the serving size a healthier portion.
How to Store Pho
Leftover pho can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days. Pho can also be frozen for up to three months.
Making Pho in Advance
To make pho in advance, you can always pre-make the pho broth. To do this, follow the steps for the broth and save in an airtight container. When ready to make the pho, reheat the broth over the stove and pour over cooked noodles and sliced beef.
More Gluten Free Meals
Gluten Free Pho (Beef Pho)
- 2 Large Yellow Onions
- 1 Piece of Ginger
- 3 Large Carrots
- 6 Cups Low-Sodium Beef Broth
- 2 Whole Star Anise
- 3 Whole Cloves
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 12 ounces Sirloin Steak
- 8 ounces Rice Noodles
Peel and quarter the onions and ginger, and cut the carrots into thirds.2 Large Yellow Onions, 1 Piece of Ginger, 3 Large Carrots
- Place all the onion and ginger on a baking sheet and put it under the broiler, about 7 minutes per side, until charred.
In a medium pot that you will use to make the broth, toast the star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks for about 2-3 minutes. Toast for two minutes, but shake frequently so the spices don’t burn!2 Whole Star Anise, 2 Cinnamon Sticks, 3 Whole Cloves
Once the charred onion and ginger, along with the carrots and beef broth into the pot with the toasted spices. Bring to a boil and then bring down to a simmer for 30-minutes.6 Cups Low-Sodium Beef Broth
As broth simmers, slice sirloin thinly. Either cut it straight from the fridge or freeze it for a few minutes. This helps firm up the steak to slice even thinner with ease.12 ounces Sirloin Steak
- Set the pot for the noodles on to boil and prep your pho toppings - cut the lime into wedges, slice the scallion, wash and chop the cilantro, etc.
Cook noodles according to directions.8 ounces Rice Noodles
- Once cooked, remove from the stove, strain and pour cold water directly over to prevent them from further cooking.
- Place the noodles into each bowl for pho.
Once the broth simmers for at least 30 minutes, strain the broth, removing the vegetables and spices. Add salt (add more to taste) and stir.1 teaspoon Salt
- Place the thinly sliced beef over each bowl of noodles.
- Ladle the strained pho broth over each bowl of noodles and steak. It will cook the beef in front of your eyes! Make sure to ladle directly over the steak to cook it more.
- Add toppings to your desire!