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Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe

Posted December 15, 2018 by Stephanie

It’s the most coziest time of the year which mean it’s time for soup. Noodle soup, of course! I love all noodle soups, but pho has got to be one of the most satisfying. We usually make beef pho (recipes here, here, and here) but sometimes chicken noodle soup is the answer because when isn’t soup the answer?

Typically pho is made by simmering bones for hours and hours, but because it’s the holiday season, we went the short cut way and used chicken stock souped up with extra chicken for a boost of extra flavor. When you need chicken pho and you need it fast, this Instant Pot chicken pho is the answer. Also, if you want fast, you can skip on down to the recipe, otherwise, read on to learn more about why we did what we did.

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Speaking of fast, it was one of our key goals when developing this recipe. We wanted four things:

  1. A deep and flavorful broth with a good amount of chicken fat.
  2. Tender chicken with good mouthfeel that wasn’t overcooked or stringy.
  3. Perfectly cooked rice noodles topped with what we consider essential garnishes.
  4. Ease/speed.

Mike’s the king of soup noodles, so he’s the one that figured out this recipe and more importantly, what I think is the essential part of any noodle soup: the fat. I know fat is something that most people are afraid of in food, but really, you need fat to add complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel. Fat in a noodle soup also clings to the noodles as you’re dragging them out of the broth, adding a layer of flavor to the noodles that you just won’t get with a fat free soup.

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Adding fat to store-bought chicken stock is easier than you think: just add in some chicken skin when cooking and the chicken fat will render out and leave you with little slick pools of flavor. We love skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, and they work perfectly in the recipe. For ease, we removed the skins off of the chicken before cooking and added in four skins – you want an fatty broth, but not that fatty, so don’t add in all the chicken skin unless you’re looking for an extra nourishing bowl.

While the chicken is coming up to pressure and cooking, take the time to prepare the aromatics and toppings. A large onion gets quartered: three-quarters are going to get charred and go into the soup and one quarter is thinly sliced for toppings. Char the ginger and onion at the same time, then lightly toast the spices. I love putting the spices into a giant tea bag because it means that you just pull them out of the soup in one go. Green onions, cilantro, and limes are prepped and by then your chicken should be done.

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Quick release the pressure, then carefully pull out the chicken and use tongs and a knife to cut the meat from the bones. You don’t have to do the greatest job because any meat that’s left on the bones will flavor the stock even more. Pop the bones back into the stock, along with the charred aromatics and spice bag, then set the pressure to 10 minutes. When it’s done, turn the Instant Pot off and let it natural release. You could do quick release, but you know how you smell amazing smells when you quick release something? Those amazing smells are flavors leaving your soup, so let it natural release as long as you can.

From there it’s just a question of cooking your noodles and popping them into a big bowl with chicken and soup. We like to strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve as we’re ladling into our bowls, but as long as you avoid the solids, you’re good to go.

Nothing beats a steaming hot bowl of pho after coming in from the cold, so I hope you guys give this a try. It’s easy, simple, flavorful, and delicious. Happy soup noodling!
xoxo steph

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Pho Recipe
serves 4

  • 8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 2 liters sodium free chicken stock
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 inches ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
  • 3 whole cardamom, optional
  • sugar, to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • 8 ounces pho noodles
  • thinly sliced green onions
  • roughly chopped cilantro
  • hoisin, sriracha, and limes to serve

Remove the chicken skins from the thighs. Place 2 chicken skins and all the chicken thighs into the Instant Pot insert, along with the chicken stock. Set on high pressure for 6 minutes. While the Instant Pot is coming up to pressure, prep the rest of your ingredients.

Quarter the onion – there’s no need to peel it, but if it’s dusty or dirty, give it a rinse. Thinly slice one quarter of the onion and set aside.

Place the remaining onion quarters, along with the ginger in a heavy duty pan and blow torch until charred and fragrant. Alternately, char on an outdoor grill, over a gas range, or in an oven broiler.

Use the blow torch to char the spices or lightly toast in a dry pan. Place in a large tea bag for easy removal.

By now the chicken should be done, so quick release the pressure then carefully remove the chicken, leaving the skins in the pot. Shred or chop the chicken, then add the bones back to the pot, along with the charred onion, ginger, and spice pack.

Set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 10 minutes, then turn off your machine and let it release naturally.

Season aggressively with sugar and fish sauce – start out with 1-2 tablespoons of each and go from there.

To serve: Prepare the noodles according to the package, strain and divide evenly into large, deep bowls. Add the chicken and top with a generous amount of broth – strain the broth through a seize if desired. Serve with limes, thinly sliced onions and cilantro and green onions. Have small dipping plates of sriracha and hoisin sauces for each person. Enjoy immediately!

Note: You might be tempted to not add the chicken skin in with the stock, but you need the fat from the skins to flavor your soup. If you want a more full bodied soup, go with four chicken skins, which is what we did and what you see in the photos.


  1. Claire Miller says:

    This looks great. I’ll be trying it this week!
    And…is that a glass of bourbon?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hahahah, yes! why not, right?

  2. Vi says:

    Wait, I’m guessing the broth goes in at the beginning with the chicken. I know it’s obvious but missing I think

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi vi,
      yup, right where it says to put the chicken in with the chicken thighs and stock!

  3. Shawn says:

    This is an amazing recipe! Cooking the chicken separately makes the best texture. Thank you!

  4. Scheherazade says:

    Is it 4 skins or 2? The explanation up top says 4 but recipe says 2. Thanks!

    1. Mike says:

      2 is what we recommend the average person, but 4 is what we used because we like a lot of fat in our soup. The amount of fat in 4 is what’s shown in the photos – and it’s closer to what you’ll find in a restaurant as well.

      1. Scheherazade says:

        Thanks Mike! Appreciate the speedy response; we’re having it for supper tonight to warm us up after some XC skiing!

  5. Delila says:

    I could only fit 3 quarts of stock in my pot with the 8 thighs – even then it was slightly over the max line on the instant pot. Am I missing something or did I just have extra large thighs?

  6. delila says:

    Never mind my last comment! I just realized I was thinking it was 4 quarts but 2 liters is totally different, and I should have used just 2 quarts. Oops.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hope it worked out in the end!

  7. Maria says:

    Do you have the recipe for those that dont have an instant pot?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi maria,
      try this recipe!

  8. Cindy says:

    Approximately how much fish sauce and sugar. Since I’ve never made Pho I have no idea and I don’t want to ruin my first batch. So, according to YOUR taste, how much do you add?

    1. Stephanie says:

      we normally put in about 1/4 cup of each into the whole batch, but I would start by adding it in tablespoon by tablespoon and tasting as you go. hope that helps!

  9. Megan says:

    How can I get your pho spice pack? Looks awesome!

    1. Stephanie says:

      aww thanks! we just made it for fun but it would be super cool to sell it too!!

  10. JohnB says:

    Made this today. Awesome. Next time I’m gonna add a chicken breast & maybe let the chicken cook about 2 minutes more but otherwise as is. Yummy.

  11. Mia says:

    I made this a few weeks ago and it didn’t have the taste I was looking for….something was missing.

    But, I made it again and doubled the spice, ginger, and onion and it was perfect!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi mia,
      so happy that you tweaked it to your taste!

  12. Emily says:

    Any recommendation on tweaking for cooking in a crock pot or on the stove?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi emily,
      please check out this recipe but use regular pho noodles :)

  13. Brian says:

    This was TOO easy using my instant pot and tasted ALMOST like i was at my favorite pho restaurant. Made me feel guilty haha. Thank you! SO good.

  14. lena nguyen says:

    5 stars
    As a Vietnamese person I was always ashamed that I couldn’t make a decent bowl of pho… but now I can thanks to this recipe!! I used 4 chicken thighs and 2 chicken breasts because it was what I hand on hand and it turned out great! :)

  15. Devora says:

    Love your blog so much and would love to try this. We have a fish allergy in the family. I know fish sauce is pretty important, but any chance you have an idea of something we can sub for it?

    1. Stephanie says:

      you can just go for salt or you can even buy vegan fish sauce that’s made from fermented soy beans :)

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