Instant Pot chicken pho, anyone? Believe it or not, I found a Paleo-friendly, Whole30-compatible, and most importantly, authentic chicken pho recipe that you can make in a fraction of the time!

An overhead shot of a bowl of Instant Pot Chicken Pho on a dinner table

An authentic chicken phở recipe!

Close your eyes and imagine the most slurptastic bowl of chicken noodle soup from the bestest mom n’ pop pho joint in Vietnam, and you’ll get a sense of what this tastes like, ’cause it’s a recipe from Vietnamese cooking maven Andrea Nguyen’s latest cookbook, The Pho Cookbook!

Andrea Nguyen is the Queen of Vietnamese Cooking

As James Oseland has proclaimed, “Andrea Nguyen is the world’s greatest expert in Vietnamese cooking,” and I agree. Ten(!) years ago, I bought Andrea’s debut cookbook, Into The Vietnamese Kitchen; it showed me that I could finally recreate restaurant-quality Vietnamese food at home. I’ve been a super fan of Andrea’s ever since—cyberstalking her via her Vietworld Kitchen website and eagerly collecting all of her subsequent cookbooks.

Several years ago, Henry and I traveled to Vietnam with her (you can read all about my breathless fan-girling over here) as she and the equally awesome Karen Shinto shot photos and gathered inspiration for The Pho Cookbook. The results are to die for—especially for a pho junkie like me. This gorgeous collection of pho recipes is perhaps my favorite of Andrea’s single-subject tomes. Each page is packed with indispensable tips on sourcing the best ingredients and seasoning the broth just right.

A side shot of Andrea Nguyen's The Pho Cookbook cover.

“But rice noodles aren’t Paleo!”

You’re right. Technically, rice isn’t “Paleo” (according to earlier definitions, anyway)—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make this soup. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my personal Food Freedom, a lovely term coined by Whole30 headmistress Melissa Urban in Food Freedom Forever, includes occasional bowls of non-Paleo rice noodles.)

A shot of Nom Nom Paleo's Instagram photo of Chicken Pho from Rose VL in Portland.

Whole30 Pho Zoodles

Because rice and rice noodles can make me feel sleepy, though, I often swap out the rice noodles for zucchini noodles (a.k.a. “zoodles”), which is what I did with this chicken pho recipe. Zoodles add freshness and bonus nutrients, all without a side of narcolepsy.

Cook in a 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot

I initially made Andrea’s Pressure Cooker Chicken Pho recipe as written in my 8-quart stovetop pressure cooker, and it was perfect (of course—Andrea would never steer us wrong). Still, I wanted to adapt the recipe to work in my 6-quart Instant Pot electric pressure cooker because I’m lazy and I hate babysitting my food. Because the Instant Pot cooks at a slightly different pressure and takes much longer to depressurize than a stovetop pressure cooker, I modified Andrea’s recipe a bit to make Instant Pot pho: I decreased the amount of water by a cup, reduced the salt proportionately, and altered the cooking time.

Ingredients

For the chicken broth

  • Coriander seeds
  • Whole cloves
  • Fresh ginger
  • Yellow onion
  • Water
  • Whole chicken: No bigger than 4 pounds or it won’t fit in the Instant Pot!
  • Apple
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt: Make sure you use about half the amount of salt if using fine sea salt or Morton’s kosher salt.
  • Fish sauce
  • Maple syrup (optional)

For the bowls

  • Zucchini, spiralized and blotted dry with paper towels
  • Half the cooked chicken from the broth
  • Yellow or red onion
  • Green onions, green parts only
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, leafy tops only
  • Thai basil leaves (optional)
  • Pepper (optional)
  • Paleo sriracha (optional)
  • Paleo hoisin sauce
  • Lime wedges (optional)

How to make chicken pho (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

Let’s tackle the fragrant pho broth. Toss the coriander seeds and cloves in a 6-quart pressure cooker. Press the sauté button on your Instant Pot (or place a stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat) and toast the spices for several minutes, shaking or stirring, until fragrant. Throw in the ginger and onion and stir everything until aromatic, 45 to 60 seconds.

Overhead shot of toasting spices in an Instant Pot.

Pour in 4 cups (1 liter) of the water to stop the cooking process.

Pouring water into the Instant Pot to stop the cooking process.

Carefully place the chicken in the cooker, breast side up.

Placing a whole raw chicken into the Instant Pot, breast-side up

Add the apple, cilantro, salt…

Adding diced apples, salt, and herbs to the Instant Pot.

…and remaining 3 cups (0.71 liter) water.

An overhead shot Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Chicken Pho before everything is cooked.

Press the Cancel/Keep Warm button, lock the lid in place, and make sure the valve on top is in the sealed position.

Locking the lid on the Instant Pot to make Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Chicken Pho

Set the Instant Pot to cook under high pressure (~12 psi) for 14 minutes. (If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, bring to low pressure, 8 psi, over high heat on a gas or induction stove, or medium heat on an electric stove. Lower the heat to maintain pressure, signaled by a gentle, steady flow of steam coming out of the cooker’s valve. Cook for 15 minutes, or a few minutes longer if your cooker’s low setting is less than 8 psi. If your cooker only has a high-pressure,15 psi, setting, cook for 12 minutes.) Your aim to gently poach the chicken and not overcook it!

When done, turn off the Instant Pot and let the pressure decrease naturally for 20 minutes. Set a timer and if the pressure hasn’t completely released when it dings, turn the valve at the top to quickly vent the remaining pressure.  (If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, slide it to a cool burner and let the pressure decrease naturally, about 20 minutes.) Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to avoid the hot steam.

Wait another 5 minutes before using tongs to transfer the chicken to a large bowl; if parts fall off in transit, don’t stress.

Transferring the cooked chicken from the Instant Pot to a bowl with a pair of tongs

Add cold water to cover the chicken and soak for 10 minutes to cool and prevent drying.

Running cold water on the cooked chicken to stop the cooking.

Pour off the water, partially cover, and set the chicken aside to cool.

Skim some fat from the broth…

Skimming the fat off the top of Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Chicken Pho broth

…before straining it through a Chinois or muslin-lined mesh strainer positioned over a large pot. Discard the solids. You should end up with about 7 cups broth.

Straining Instant Pot Chicken pho broth with a chinois into a large stockpot

If using right away, season the broth with the fish sauce, extra salt, and maybe a smidge of  the maple syrup. Trust your taste buds! Or, partially cover the unseasoned broth and let cool, then refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months; reheat and season before using.

Use a knife or your hands to separate the breast meat and legs from the chicken. Set aside half of the chicken for another use, like Madras Chicken Salad. Reserve the remaining chicken for pho bowl assembly. The chicken can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months; bring to room temperature to use.

How to serve chicken pho

While the broth cooks, or about 30 minutes before serving, prep all the ingredients for your pho feast. Cut or shred the chicken into bite-size pieces.

Shredding the chicken for Instant Pot Chicken Pho in a large bowl

Discard the skin or save it for cracklings. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat as you are assembling the bowls.

Divide the zucchini noodles among four soup bowls. (If you like softer zoodles, use a mesh strainer to dunk them in boiling water until the desired softness before placing the drained zoodles into the soup bowls.) Top the zoodles with shredded chicken.

Check the broth flavor once more, raise the heat, and bring it to a boil. Ladle about 2 cups (480 ml) broth into each bowl.

Placing raw zucchini noodles in a bowl and ladling on hot pho broth and shredded chicken

Then garnish with onion, green onion, fresh herbs (e.g., cilantro, basil, or mint), fresh chili pepper, sriracha, and fresh lime juice, if desired.  You can also add bean sprouts or hoisin sauce. Serve immediately.

And that’s how you make Instant Pot chicken pho!

An overhead shot of a table filled with bowls of Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Chicken Pho

Stovetop instructions

To make this recipe in a 6- to 8-quart (6 to 8 l) stockpot, toast the coriander seeds and cloves over medium heat, then lightly cook the onion and ginger in the pot. Add 10 cups (2.5 l) water along with the chicken (breast up), cilantro, and salt. Partially cover, then bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, skim the scum, then lower the heat to gently simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours. At the 45-minute mark, if the chicken is not cooking through, use tongs to rotate it. The chicken should be cooked after simmering for 1 to 1¼ hours. Transfer it to a large bowl, flush it with cold water, drain well, then set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to cool. When the broth is done, let rest for 15 minutes, then defat, strain, and season. The rest of the recipe is the same.

How to save leftovers

I like to store the chicken and the broth separately from the vegetables. The meat and broth can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Adapted slightly with permission from The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Chicken Pho

4.84 from 36 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Guess what? I found a Paleo, Whole30 friendly, and most importantly, authentic Vietnamese chicken pho recipe that you can make in an Instant Pot!

Ingredients 
 

For the broth

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 inch fresh ginger peeled, thickly sliced, and bruised
  • 1 large yellow onion halved and thickly sliced
  • 7 cups water
  • 4 lb whole chicken no bigger!
  • 1 small Fuji apple peeled, cored, and cut into thumbnail-size chunks
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped cilantro sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1½ TEASPOONS fine sea salt or Morton’s kosher salt
  • Red Boat fish sauce
  • 1- 2 teaspoons maple syrup optional

For the bowls

  • 4 medium zucchini spiralized and blotted dry with paper towels
  • ½ small yellow onion thinly sliced against the grain and soaked in water for 10 minutes
  • 2 thinly sliced green onions green parts only
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leafy tops only
  • Thai basil leaves optional
  • Pepper optional
  • Paleo Sriracha optional
  • Lime wedges optional
  • Paleo Hoisin Sauce optional

Instructions 

  • Toss the coriander seeds and cloves in a 6-quart pressure cooker. Press the sauté button on your Instant Pot (or place a stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat) and toast the spices for several minutes, shaking or stirring, until fragrant. Throw in the ginger and onion and stir everything until aromatic, 45 to 60 seconds.
  • Pour in 4 cups (1 l) of the water to stop the cooking process. Carefully place the chicken in the cooker, breast side up.
  • Add the apple, cilantro, salt, and remaining 3 cups (0.71 l) water.
  • Press the Cancel/Keep Warm button, lock the lid in place, and make sure the valve on top is in the sealed position. Press the Manual button and set the Instant Pot to cook under high pressure (~12 psi) for 14 minutes.
  • If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, bring to low pressure, 8 psi, over high heat on a gas or induction stove, or medium heat on an electric stove. Lower the heat to maintain pressure, signaled by a gentle, steady flow of steam coming out of the cooker’s valve. Cook for 15 minutes, or a few minutes longer if your cooker’s low setting is less than 8 psi. If your cooker only has a high-pressure,15 psi, setting, cook for 12 minutes. Your aim to gently poach the chicken and not overcook it!
  • When done, turn off the Instant Pot and let the pressure decrease naturally for 20 minutes. Set a timer and if the pressure hasn’t completely released when it dings, turn the valve at the top to quickly vent the remaining pressure.  (If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, slide it to a cool burner and let the pressure decrease naturally, about 20 minutes.) Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to avoid the hot steam.
  • Wait another 5 minutes before using tongs to transfer the chicken to a large bowl; if parts fall off in transit, don’t stress. Add cold water to cover the chicken and soak for 10 minutes to cool and prevent drying. Pour off the water, partially cover, and set the chicken aside to cool.
  • Skim some fat from the broth, before straining it through a Chinois or muslin-lined mesh strainer positioned over a large pot. Discard the solids. You should end up with about 7 cups broth.
  • If using right away, season the broth with the fish sauce, extra salt, and maybe a smidge of  the maple syrup. Or, partially cover the unseasoned broth and let cool, then refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months; reheat and season before using.
  • Use a knife or your hands to separate the breast meat and legs from the chicken. Set aside half of the chicken for another use. Reserve the remaining chicken for pho bowl assembly. The chicken can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months; bring to room temperature to use.
  • Prep and assemble the bowls. Cut or shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Discard the skin or save it for cracklings. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat as you are assembling the bowls.
  • Divide the zucchini noodles among four soup bowls. (If you like softer zoodles, use a mesh strainer to dunk them in boiling water until the desired softness before placing the drained zoodles into the soup bowls.) Top the zoodles with shredded chicken.
  • Check the broth flavor once more, raise the heat, and bring it to a boil. Ladle about 2 cups (480 ml) broth into each bowl.
  • Then garnish with onion, green onion, fresh herbs (e.g., cilantro, basil, or mint), fresh chili pepper, sriracha, and fresh lime juice, if desired.  You can also add bean sprouts or hoisin sauce. Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

Andrea’s Notes On How Cook Chicken Pho On The Stovetop:
To make this recipe in a 6- to 8-quart (6 to 8 l) stockpot, toast the coriander seeds and cloves over medium heat, then lightly cook the onion and ginger in the pot. Add 10 cups (2.5 l) water along with the chicken (breast up), cilantro, and salt. Partially cover, then bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, skim the scum, then lower the heat to gently simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours. At the 45-minute mark, if the chicken is not cooking through, use tongs to rotate it. The chicken should be cooked after simmering for 1 to 1¼ hours. Transfer it to a large bowl, flush it with cold water, drain well, then set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to cool. When the broth is done, let rest for 15 minutes, then defat, strain, and season. The rest of the recipe is the same.

Nutrition

Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 17g | Fiber: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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49 Comments

  1. I LOVE this recipe. My kids love it, too! It is super delicious and I make it so often I bought a pho dish set to use just for this meal. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  2. I happen to only have a 5lb whole chicken in the freezer. Are there any adjustments I should make to water/time to be able to use this chicken? I don’t want it to go to waste!

    1. A 5 pound chicken is normally too big for a 6-quart Instant Pot. You can cook it in an 8-quart IP, or you can lop off a leg before you cook it!

  3. Would it work to double broth ingredients in an 8 qt? This just isn’t enough for my family of 6. 🙂 We love it though!!

  4. 5 stars
    Love this recipe!! It’s soooo good and so simple/easy.

    Could you find a way to add it to the nom nom paleo app though? I’ve tried searching for it in there and couldn’t find it to bookmark it.

    1. Not sure we can add older recipes to the app because of the way the photos are formatted. All new recipes are added to the app automatically, though.

  5. I looked but didn’t find a recipe for beef Pho. Any chance there’s one in your new cookbook or thoughts on creating one? Love all of your recipes that I’ve tried so far. 😋

  6. This is amazing. On regular rotation in our household. Thank you! I have some chicken breast (bone in) and I’m going to try it with that instead of a whole chicken.

  7. 5 stars
    Your recipes do not disappoint. I made this on a Saturday, so I had a little more time. It was my first time cooking a whole chicken, too. This Pho is delicious. We loved it. The chicken turns out amazing. I will use the rest for salads.