Lunch, Dinner, Side Dish, Snack
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Paleo, Whole30, Kid-Friendly, Soy-Free
Brown / White, Green, Red
Under 15 Minutes (Over 1 Hour)
In the mood for an easy-to-make Asian treat? This Healthy Instant Pot Pho Recipe won’t disappoint!
Pho, pronounced as “fuh,” is a Vietnamese soup that’s made from a rich broth, rice noodles, beef or chicken, herbs, and spices. In some regions, lime and charred ginger roots are added to the mixture, especially to further enhance the meaty, umami nature of the broth. A lot of recipes will include cinnamon and star anise, as this soup is also believed to be an outstanding hangover cure.
The addition of apples in this recipe might be unique, but it adds depth by bringing in some sweetness to the dish without overpowering each flavor note. In fact, it joins all the flavors that are featured in this recipe; from the delicately savory broth, the spices and aromatics, to the earthy, peppery, and nutty flavors of cilantro, basil, and other herbs. That bright, nuanced broth will remind you of your favorite Pho restaurant without leaving your home.
Apples are everywhere in the US so they are readily available no matter your location. However, that’s not always the case with coriander seeds, fresh cilantro, mint, and especially Thai basil. There’s no need to be frustrated as there are several ways to substitute these.
While coriander and cilantro come from the same plant, they vary slightly in flavor which leads them to have different substitutes. The best replacement for coriander is cumin while the best alternative for cilantro is parsley. Note that dried cilantro isn’t the best substitute for the fresh ones as it’s one of those herbs that loses a lot of its flavor when dried.
As for mint, you may substitute the fresh leaves with other types of mint such as peppermint or spearmint. You can also use extracts but use them in smaller amounts. For example, use 1 tablespoon of mint extract to replace ½ cup of fresh mint. To substitute fresh mint leaves with the dried ones, use half the amount needed. Thus, if a recipe calls for half a cup of fresh mint leaves, replace it with a quarter cup of dried mint.
Last but not least is Thai basil. This type of basil has a distinctive taste that’s more suitable for Asian dishes compared to the sweet Italian variety commonly found in pesto. However, if that’s all you have, then you can replace Thai basil with Italian basil. Just note that it won’t have the same punch of flavor that the Thai basil brings. It might be necessary to add some other fresh herbs like mint or cilantro to help brighten up the dish and get that flavor punch.
And, of course, let’s not forget that Pho is usually served with hoisin and Sriracha in the US. But, if you’re a health enthusiast trying to eat organic and avoid gluten, soy, corn, potatoes, MSG, lactose, and high histamine foods, you may opt for this hoisin and Sriracha instead. Needless to say though, a homemade sauce will always be the best choice. Check out this gluten-free and soy-free hoisin sauce that only takes 5 minutes to make!
Nonetheless, it’s a highly nutritious, filling, and low-calorie meal. The only thing that’s holding back a lot of people, myself included, is the time and effort that it takes to make pho. Typically, you would have to roast the broth bones, toast the spices, char the vegetables, and simmer the mixture for 12 hours or more. I don’t always have this amount of time to spend cooking this delightful meal. Working parents need quick and easy meals!
Then, I saw my Instant Pot. What if I can reduce the time needed but still can indulge the wonderful flavors of pho?
Several trials and errors later, I’ve come up with this recipe. With the help of my Instant Pot, it took me just a little over an hour from gathering my ingredients to serving the dish! This pho came out super tasty and it always does every time I make this recipe.
I also love how I can easily switch my Instant Pot to “saute,” allowing my veggies to get nicely charred and fragrant. Thawing out the meat is also unnecessary as you may simply toss frozen chicken directly into the pot. Then, add in all the remaining ingredients, do some “manual” pressure, and voila! 30 minutes later you have a flavorful soup to serve to your family – all done with just one appliance!
Best of all, the broth without the noodles can be refrigerated for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 3 months! So, consider making a large batch when making this recipe. Enjoy!
Love this recipe? Share your experience with us in the comments section below! Stay Healthy!
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