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The Best Noodles For Pho – Essential Guide

Norah Clark
The Best Noodles For Pho – Essential Guide

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

The best noodles for Pho is Banh Pho, also known as thin rice noodles. You can use sweet potato, rice vermicelli glass noodles, and mung bean thread noodles as well as tapioca noodles. In terms of soups with noodles, Vietnamese Pho has fast become one of North America’s most sought-after food items. It’s not surprising!

The soup is made from the most basic of ingredients: noodles, broth, seafood, and meat. However, it is bursting with flavor and has an extremely satisfying texture.

Although pho broth is certainly the main attraction, this soup wouldn’t be the same without the inclusion of delicious, chewy noodles to absorb the broth, and add to the meat and herbs.

Find out more about what pho actually is and where it originated, the best noodles to make with pho, as well as an easy and delicious recipe for pho.

What Is Pho?

In its most basic form, it’s a meal consisting of hot soup, rice noodles and beef, however Vietnamese chefs have been trying out and adapting various techniques and ingredients for years.

Pho is a Vietnamese dish that was first introduced in northern Vietnam capital city of Hanoi in the late 19th/early 20th century. It has since been introduced worldwide.

Pho made from chicken first appeared in 1939, in response to the government’s ban on the sale of meat on Fridays and Mondays. Since since then, it’s become an extremely popular and delicious variant to the classic beef pho.

The French are often credited with including beef in their dish.

The most popular spices to see in the pho bowl include:

  • Charred onions as well as garlic and ginger (charring these spices will give the broth a remarkable richness of flavor)
  • Star anise
  • Fennel seeds
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom pods
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Full black peppercorns
  • Fish sauce

The tanginess that comes from the fish sauce is what makes the broth, and the star anise imparts a licorice flavor. 

Northern Vietnamese pho is quite simple to make with few condiments, aside from chili and lime slices.

The most popular version we’re familiar with is that from the south of Vietnam which includes basil, mint and lime. It also has chilies, lime hot broth, and a variety of cuts of meat.

The Best Noodles For Pho

Let's look at the best noodles to accompany your pho dish.

These are only suggestions, so please feel free to come up with your own ideas.

1. Banh Pho – Flat Rice Noodles

These rice noodles are lengthy, chewy and have a wonderful texture that is well-suited when soak up the broth. 

The length of these noodles could differ slightly, however, so you’ll need small or medium in size so that they will absorb all the flavorful broth of your pho.

Consider fettuccine or linguine. 

2. Sweet Potato Glass Noodles

They are definitely not traditional as they are usually use in salads, or in hot pot dishes. But, the texture is quite pleasant and they’re very durable in hot soup like pho.

Glass noodles can be made of the sweet potato’s starch, and water. When cooked they are almost transparent and hence the name “glass noodle” and have an appealing firm, springy texture.

Similar to rice noodles however, they don’t possess a strong flavor, ideal for eating in a large bowl of pho.

3. Mung Bean Thread Vermicelli (aka Glass Noodles, Cellophane Noodles)

They are made from the starch of Mung beans Vermicelli or glass noodles and are another option to put in your bowl of Pho.

They’re quick and simple to cook. just boil them for 3 minutes and then add them to soup.

The noodles have a similar texture as the glass sweet potato noodles.

They might not appear the most appealing when they’re packaged as they are a grayish hue prior to cooking. But once cooked, they’re beautiful and clear with a slick and flexible texture.

4. Bun – Rice Vermicelli

Although this noodles aren’t typically used in pho dishes, they remain delicious.

It is common to see rice vermicelli in salad bowls, noodle rolls and cold salads but I’ve enjoyed it in many bowls of homemade pho whenever I’ve ran out of flat rice noodles.

The noodles in Pho are thin and round and stands up to the competition. Many like the feel of thinner noodles, so it all depends on your individual preference.

I like them since they don’t require lengthy cooking time, just a couple of minutes.

Similar to flat rice noodles they’re not very flavorful by themselves This makes them ideal to be used in pho. 

5. Banh Canh – Tapioca Noodles

They have a distinct texture to other noodles on this list, and are an appealing alternative.

Tapioca noodles tend to be slightly more slender than the other types and can provide another layer of flavor to the pho. They are usually made using tapioca flour in its pure form with water or a mix of rice flour and tapioca.

They’re comparable to Japanese Udon noodles, and they are available in different sizes and thicknesses. I love the vermicelli type, however, you can also find flat noodles as well as other varieties for those who want to be inventive.

6. Ramen Noodles

The texture and taste of ramen noodles is a perfect accompaniment to the spicy broth of the perfect bowl of pho.

The noodles are made of salt, wheat, and water. They have more of a soft feel as compared to Italian wheat noodles.

The majority of ramen noodles are made using wheat flour. However, there are now rice flour alternatives too if you’d like to give them a try or if you are unable to eat gluten/wheat.

I like the squiggly, silky texture Ramen and the fact that they absorb flavor very well.

7. Mi – Egg Noodles

A different, non-traditional style of noodle that could add a unique twist to your traditional Pho are Vietnamese egg noodles, commonly referred to as mi.

They are like the Chinese lo mein kind of noodles. They are a form of egg-yellow noodle that is made of wheat flour.

They are commonly used in stir-fries, however, they could also be a great ingredient in pho noodle soup because of their distinct texture and mild taste. They have a little more bite and taste than rice noodles.

Simply submerge in boiling water for five minutes and then wash them in cold water and then toss in a bit of oil to keep the pho from sticking. 

8. Soba Noodles

Another type of noodles that isn’t typically used in pho, however, they can provide a wonderful texture and add a twist.

They’re a kind of Japanese-style noodles that are typically made of buckwheat flour and water, and are available in many varieties.

These noodles are fantastic in soups since they are soft and slurpable. Additionally, these noodles have a sweet taste due to the buckwheat which is great with the strong spice and aromatics of a well-cooked pho broth.

They look a bit like spaghetti, in terms of the length and thickness, although there is lots of variations in both size and shape.

9. Udon Noodles

Another amazing Japanese noodle, Udon is chewy, thick and fantastic in all soups.

Typically they are served in a basic Dashi broth, however, they can also be used in a large batch of pho. They are made using grains of wheat and salt and water and are round or flat.

Their chewy, nutty texture make the perfect companion for an omelet that is stuffed with spices, herbs, and seafood or meat.

How To Make Pho Broth

After you’ve learned which noodles taste best in Pho, discover how to prepare a simple and delicious broth that can be customized using different meats, sauces and noodles – not forgetting you could use a noodle board for extra authenticity.


  • 1 lb. bones of chicken or beef
  • 1 White Onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 inches ginger
  • 6-star anise bulb
  • 1 tbsp. whole fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Nutmeg
  • 1-2 tsp. cardamom pods
  • Four cinnamon sticks, or one teaspoon. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 8-10 cups water


  1. Cut the onion in half, then into quarters, making sure to keep their skins on.
  2. Split the garlic bulb and smash each clove, retaining their skins on.
  3. Cut the ginger into smaller pieces and smash them using the blade that is flat.
  4. Put the bones, garlic, onions, and ginger in the large cast-iron skillet and put it in the oven.
  5. Mix with a spatula once every few minutes. You want to see burnt skins as well as browning of bones as well as aromatics.
  6. As the aromas cook take your spices out and tie them in small pieces of tea bag or cheesecloth. Put them in your large stockpot, crockpot, or instant pot.
  7. After the aromatics have brown and blackened, around 5-10 minutes according to the oven, add them to the pot.
  8. Fill the container with water and add salt from the sea, fish sauce along with sugar.

Instant Pot:

  1. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and ensure that you have set the vent to “Sealed”
  2. Click the manual button, and set the timer for 40-60 minutes. The longer it takes to cook, the more intense the flavor.
  3. Once the broth has completed cooking, let the steam naturally release (unless you’re trying to eat dinner in a hurry and need to eat fast, in which case you’ll be able to let the pressure go).
  4. Blend the soup, then season it according to your preference. If the broth is very heavy, reduce it with boiling water.

Slow Cooker:

  1. Turn the heat up to high and let the broth simmer for 6-8 hours. It is possible to add additional water in the next four hours to ensure that it doesn’t evaporate completely.
  2. Strain the broth, and then season it with pepper and salt to your preference. If the broth is thick, don’t hesitate to reduce it a little by adding hot water.

Saucepan On The Stove:

  1. Place the lid on top of the saucepan, and make sure the water boiled.
  2. Simmer the mix for six to eight hours.
  3. Strain the broth and add seasoning. Dilute the super rich-flavored broth using water until you have the flavor you want.

Keep the broth inside mason jars that are kept in the refrigerator. If you plan to freeze any broth left over, make sure to leave a quarter inch space on top to avoid an explosion in the jar. Broth can last for approximately one week in the refrigerator.

Frequently Asked Questions

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