My Instant Pot phở gà features a light and clean broth with notes of ginger and spices, springy noodles, and tender chicken. By using the Instant Pot, you get have a nourishing bowl of phở gà ready in just 30 minutes.
The weather has substantially cooled down for a change. We even had a few days of rain which made my plants extra happy. With the cooler weather, we're cooking soup just about everyday. Recently I experimented with my favorite Vietnamese chicken noodle soup recipe, also known as phở gà, and gave it an upgrade via the Instant Pot. With the Instant Pot, you can have a steaming bowl of phở gà in about 30 minutes!
Tips for Creating a Flavorful Broth
Similar to Vietnamese beef noodle soup (phở bò), my Instant Pot phở gà utilizes the same spices and aromatics to brings depth and flavor to the broth. Charring the ginger and shallots adds a smoky aroma resulting in a more complex broth. Toasting the spices also heightens their flavor and adds beautiful notes of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, and fennel. Those simple yet necessary steps will take the broth to the next level.
How to Char the Ginger and Shallot
I place the ginger and shallots directly over the burner grate of my gas stove for about 5 minutes making sure to char all the sides. If you don’t have a gas stove, you can use your oven to get the job done. Place the ginger and shallots on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and place it on the top rack in your oven with the broiler setting on. Char the ingredients for 10 minutes, turning them once to get all the sides. Peel and discard the blackened skins of the ginger and onions, then rinse and add to the broth later.
How to Toast the Spices
To toast all the spices, I put the cinnamon sticks, black cardamom pods, cloves, star anise, fennel, and coriander in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat and let them cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Once they're fragrant, I use a small piece of muslin cloth to make a little bag to put the cloves, fennel, and coriander seeds in. The larger spices like black cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise can go directly into the IP.
Tips for Making Pho Ga in the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot cuts down the cooking time to a fraction of what it would take on the stove. It takes about 30 minutes to make phở gà in the Instant Pot instead of 90 minutes on the stove.
- I used a whole, free range chicken for this recipe but you can substitute with your favorite cuts (thigh, drumsticks, breast). Free range chicken has a firmer texture once cooked.
- I have an 8-quart IP which holds about 12 cups of water. I used 10 cups of water for a 4 pound chicken. Avoid going over the maximum line.
- If you’re using a 6-quart IP, use a 3 pound chicken and about 8 cups of water.
- If the water goes over the line, make sure to ladle some out.
- Cook the chicken on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 20 minutes before manually releasing the rest of the pressure.
- Remove the chicken from the IP and let it cool down before preparing the meat.
- Strain the broth and discard all the solids.
- Skim off the fat at the surface if you’re concerned about the calories. I usually make the broth the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight to let the fat condense at the top. Right before rewarming the broth, I skim off the fat and discard it.
- Taste and adjust your seasoning right before serving.
A Note on Chicken
Growing up, my mom made phở gà with gà đi bộ which translates to "walking chicken." We use the whole chicken but you can use a combination of drumsticks, thighs, and breasts. These walking chickens are more lean with a slight yellow tinge to their skin as you can see in the pictures. Their meat is more flavorful compared to your typical chicken. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, you can either chop them into small pieces or shred them similarly to the chicken in my Vietnamese chicken noodle glass recipe. If you have children or elderly, it's better to shred the chicken and make it more manageable to eat instead of having them gnaw on the bones.
What to Serve Pho With
- Noodles: for the noodles, use either thin or flat rice noodles. Fresh is best! You can find fresh pho noodles at your local Asian supermarkets. Cook them right before you're ready to serve so they don't become mushy. My trick is to dip to noodles in a pot of boiling water for a minute and take it out immediate. Once the noodles go into your bowl, the hot broth will continue cooking it.
- Garnishes: with phở gà, we typically serve it with Vietnamese mint (rau răm), Thai basil (húng quế), chopped cilantro, and sliced scallion. Tear up the herbs and add them to your bowl. Vietnamese also enjoy phở with a handful of bean sprouts. You can leave them raw for a crunch or blanch the bean sprouts. Both ways are delicious and depend on your preference. For a citrus kick, squeeze in a bit of lime juice. I actually prefer to squeeze the lime juice into my condiment bowl, a trick I learned from my friend Thao in college.
- Condiment: the two must have condiments for phở are hoisin sauce and sriracha. You can squeeze them directly in your bowl or a small plate to dip your meat in. I prefer to leave them out since it changes the flavor of the broth. Some people like their phở extra spicy and adding a few slices of bird's eye chili will do the job.
After making phở gà in the Instant Pot, I don't think I'll ever go back to the stove. I love the light and clean broth with notes of ginger and spices, springy noodles, and tender chicken. It was pure joy to slurp up this hearty bowl of Instant Pot phở gà!
Instant Pot Phở Gà
- 8-quart Instant Pot
- 4-5 pound whole free range chicken
- 10 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 1 ounce rock sugar
- 2 ounces ginger, smashed and cut into small pieces, charred
- 2 medium onion, charred
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 5 star anise
- 5 cloves
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 pound fresh pho noodles
- ¼ cup sliced scallion, green and white parts
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro, leafy tops
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 bunch Thai basil, picked and washed
- 1 bunch Vietnamese mint, picked and washed
- 2 cups bean sprouts, washed
- 2 small limes, quartered
- 2 bird's eye chilis, sliced
- Hoisin sauce for serving
- Sriracha sauce for serving
- Char the onion and ginger pieces on both sides over a gas stove. If you don’t have a gas stove, broil them for a few minutes in the oven. Set aside.
- In a small frying pan over medium-low heat, toast the cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds for about 3-5 minutes until fragrant. Place the cloves, coriander, and fennel in a muslin cloth and tie the cloth with kitchen twine.
- Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towel.
- Transfer the chicken to the Instant Pot with breast side down.
- Place charred onion and ginger, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, and muslim cloth in the inner pot.
- Add 10 cups of water making sure the water level doesn't go above the maximum fill line. Take out some water if necessary. Add salt, fish sauce, and sugar.
- Lock the lid and pressure cook on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. Let the steam naturally release for 20 minutes before manually releasing the rest.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest until cool enough to handle. Separate the meat from the carcass and cut them into small pieces. You can also pull the chicken meat from the bones and place the meat on a plate and set aside.
- Strain the broth into a clean saucepan and discard all solids. Skim the fat off the surface.
- Cook the pho noodles according to package's instruction.
- When ready to eat, heat up the broth over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Taste the broth and season with additional fish sauce and sugar to your liking.
- Divide the noodles among serving bowls. Place sliced chicken over the top. Garnish with sliced red onion, sliced scallion, cilantro.
- Ladle the hot broth into bowls just enough to cover the noodles and some of the chicken.
- Serve immediately with garnishes and condiments.