Fake Pho

This fantastic easy Fake Pho makes a simple, delicious and hearty dinner, inspired by the the traditional (and more labour intensive) Vietnamese breakfast dish.

A bowl of easy meatball pho in a black bowl on a grey background

OK, let’s get this sorted straight away, it’s pronounced, “fuh”. If you’re in he UK and have ever been to the restaurant named Pho, they pronounce the restaurant itself, “fo”. Not sure if they’re being ironic, or if they made that decision so they could make their takeout service rhyme as, Pho to Go!”.

In any case, I have that restaurant to thank for my love of pho.

Pho for Breakfast

Pho (the dish) has been a favourite in our household as a dinner menu for some time now. It was only recently that I learned it’s served as a breakfast dish in Vietnam where it originates from. Another interesting factoid is that ‘Pho’ refers to the noodles, not the soup itself.

I’m excited to one day get to sample this as a breakfast dish in Vietnam, but for now, I love making this dish every couple of weeks or so. Sometimes I do a chicken version with skin-on chicken thighs in the slow cooker. And then of course there’s this version with the meatballs.

Traditionally you’d use strips of beef, partially cooked, so the broth continues to cook them as it’s being eaten and served.

A bowl of easy meatball pho in a black bowl on a grey background

For the Pho Broth

Whichever version I’m making (chicken or beef) I’ll use this Organic Pho Broth, which is a chicken based broth. You could of course make your own pho broth, from beef or chicken bones. If you’re making the broth for pho from scratch, add in these ingredients at the start:

  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Ginger
  • Fish Sauce
  • Cinnamon
  • Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Coriander Leaves
  • Star Anise
  • Cloves

How to Make Easy Meatball Pho

Here are some tips for making this fantastic Easy Meatball Pho. For the full instructions, refer to the complete downloadable pho recipe below.

  • Meatballs: I bought organic beef meatballs from Waitrose. You could also make your own. It would be nice to mix it up and make your own chicken, turkey or venison meatballs too! Like to 6 meatballs per person. I feel like anywhere between 4 to 6 per person is a good amount.

    If you have an air fyer, I highly suggest cooking the meatballs with it. So easy!
Overhead shot of meatballs in an air fryer before being cooked
Meatballs in the air fryer before being cooked.
Overhead shot of meatballs cooked in an air fryer
Meatballs cooked in the air fryer, ready for the pho.
  • Spinach: Not traditionally used as far as I can tell, but we love adding it. Seems to give a much more satiating dish that feels even more nourishing. It’s also never a bad thing to add greens in to your diet.
Overhead shot of spinach and white rice noodles in a pan with pho broth
Spinach, white rice noodles and broth in the pan.
  • Tamari & Worcester Sauce: The pre-made Pho Broth I mentioned earlier is fantastic on its own. But it you want a little extra flavour, add in a splash of each of these.
  • Sriracha: If you want to add a little extra spice to your pho, you’ll want to use sriracha. Having a bottle at the table as you’re eating will allow each person to chose their sauce / spice level.
  • Noodles: It’s really important to use white rice noodles for an authentic pho. I like to cook these first and then run them under a cold tap to stop them from cooking further. Overcooked rice noodles lose their pleasing texture. When I’m ready to serve, I add them to the pho broth to warm through again.
    The other reason I like to rinse them after cooking is so the surface starch gets rinsed off.
Pack of white rice noodles on a grey background
White rice noodles are essential for pho.
Add the already cooked meatballs to the pho before serving.
  • Beansprouts: I haven’t added any here, but feel free to throw in a handful for each person when ready to serve.
Rate This Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Easy Meatball Pho

This fantastic Easy Meatball Pho makes a simple, delicious and hearty dinner from this traditional Vietnamese breakfast dish.

Nutrition (For one serving)

Sodium: 1140mgCalcium: 113mgVitamin C: 38mgVitamin A: 5746IUSugar: 1gFiber: 2gPotassium: 998mgCholesterol: 108mgCalories: 610kcalSaturated Fat: 12gFat: 33gProtein: 30gCarbohydrates: 46gIron: 4mg


  • 100 g white rice noodles
  • 300 g beef meatballs (or try pork, chicken, turkey or venison)
  • 500 ml pho broth
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 tbsp ginger (peeled & minced)
  • 120 g spinach


  • Bring a 1 litre pan of water to the boil and cook the noodles to the instructions on the packet. This is likely to be 10 minutes. You can time this to finish when the rest of the dish is ready, or you can get them done straight away, running them under cold water when done, so they can be added to the broth to warm up when serving.
  • Cook the meatballs according to the cooking instructions. In my Ninja Air Fryer I like to do them at 200C (390F) for 5 minutes, give them a shake so they all turn, then give them another 5 minutes at the same temperature.
  • Start to warm the both in a large pan.
  • Bring another pan to a medium heat with a little coconut oil in it. Toss in the chilli, spring onions and ginger. Cook for 2 mins, then transfer to the broth. I like to keep some reserved for garnishing.
  • If you're adding in tamari and Worcester Sauce, do that now.
  • Add the noodles and meatballs to the broth, so the noodles get warmed through. This should only take a few minutes.
  • Add the spinach to the broth to wilt down. This should only take about a minute.
  • Serve immediately.
Rate This Recipe
5 from 3 votes
Did you make this recipe?Tag @eatlikeanadult on Instagram or hashtag it #eatlikeanadult!
A bowl of easy meatball pho in a black bowl on a grey background
Russell James

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June 17th, 2020