I’m no expert in Vietnamese food, but I am a big fan. In fact, trying dishes from other cultures is something we love to do to get more variety in our diets. When we discovered pho, we knew we had a new family favorite on our hands.
Despite its short name, pho is big on flavor and tasty, healthful ingredients. Pronounced “fuh” (yes, I had to look this up and was totally saying it wrong at first!), pho is basically a delicious bowl of noodles inside a warm bowl of broth. Authentic pho usually has very thinly sliced raw beef which is then cooked right in the bowl by pouring hot broth over the top.
This version can hardly be called “authentic” since it’s served with zucchini noodles and made in a pressure cooker, but hey… it still tastes amazing!
Quick and Easy Pho for a Family
We don’t order take-out much (ever?) these days, but pho doesn’t have a reputation for being the easiest dish to make at home. Part of the reason for this is the broth is usually made from slow-roasted bones so it has lots of depth of flavor.
As a shortcut, this recipe calls for a whole chicken in the pressure cooker (Instant Pot) along with the other ingredients so you still get that rich stock taste all in one step (and one pot).
However, you can also make this recipe in your slow cooker for a warm nourishing meal that can be put together in the morning and left to simmer all day. Take a look at the notes section of the recipe below for instructions.
Pho gets its fresh element from lots of tasty garnishes. Build your bowl with fresh cilantro, basil, and green onions along with a splash of sriracha and a squeeze of lime… delicious!
A Note on Zoodles
“Zoodles” are zucchini cut into noodle shape with a spiralizer. It’s super easy to do with the right equipment. I use this spiralizer with three different settings for various size noodles.
Use zoodles to make this dish fit paleo and autoimmune diets, or try rice noodles if you tolerate grains well. Another option might be shirataki noodles, although I haven’t tried them in this recipe (yet).
Healthy Pho Recipe for Instant Pot or Slow Cooker
- 4 medium zucchini (spiralized or 14 ounces rice noodles)
- 1 small red onion (thinly sliced)
- 2 green onions (green parts only, thinly sliced)
- ¼ cup cilantro (coarsely chopped)
- If using noodles, place them in a bowl of warm water to soak.
- Turn the Instant Pot on Sauté.
- Add coriander and cloves and cook about 3 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add sliced ginger and yellow onion and saute an additional 4 minutes or until onion is translucent.
- Add the water to the pot along with chicken, apple, ½ cup of the cilantro, salt, and fish sauce.
- Secure the lid.
- Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
- When finished, let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then manually release any remaining pressure.
- Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
- Strain the broth and skim fat off the top.
- Once chicken has cooled, remove from bone and shred.
- Divide chicken between 4 bowls, or 6 for smaller servings or for kids.
- Add zoodles or rice noodles evenly among bowls.
- Fill each bowl with broth and top with sliced red onion, green onion, cilantro and any desired additional garnishes.
- Sauté spices for 3 minutes in a skillet on the stove with a tablespoon of coconut oil.
- Add ginger and yellow onion and sauté for an additional 4 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add 1 cup of water to the skillet to deglaze it, stir, and carefully pour the contents into the slow cooker.
- Add the remaining 5 cups of water, chicken, apple, chopped cilantro, salt, and fish sauce to the slow cooker.
- Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours for best results or 4 hours on high. Follow the remaining instructions listed above for serving.
Have you tried pho? Have any shortcuts? Please share!