This classic Vietnamese noodle soup has a rich and complex broth and comes with vegan beef, rice noodles, tofu, mushrooms, and plenty of fresh herbs! Check out this in-depth guide on how to make the best vegan phở! Super flavorful, easy to make, and SO comforting!
⭐️ Why You Should Try this Recipe
- It's as close to authentic as possible: This recipe is based on the many different versions of phở I tried in Vietnam. As opposed to many Westernized recipes, this one is adapted from real Vietnamese recipes. I also got tips from locals on how to make vegan phở. This recipe is Vietnamese-approved!
- The broth is rich and flavorful. With the perfect balance of saltiness and sweetness, the broth has complex flavors with a smoky aroma.
- It's comforting, filling, and healthy!
🍜 What is Phở
Phở is one of the most popular Vietnamese noodle soup. It is said to have originated in the early 20th century, in the North of Vietnam. It consists of a broth infused with spices and served with rice noodles, beef or chicken, and fresh herbs.
It is usually enjoyed for breakfast, but can also be eaten for lunch or dinner. Vietnamese people do not often cook phở at home, hence it is usually bought on the street or from restaurants.
🥣 How to Make Vegan Phở
First, we start with the broth that is one of the most important part of the recipe. Here is what you will need:
- Radish - Daikon radish brings a lot of natural sweetness to the broth.
- Shallot and onion
- Salt and sugar - To season. You can use regular sugar, rock sugar, or coconut sugar.
- Vegan fish sauce - Optional, the addition of vegan fish sauce adds extra saltiness. If omitting, simply add more salt to taste.
- Mushroom seasoning - To improve the flavor, you can add some mushroom seasoning or glutamate. It is not mandatory at all, but helps increase the overall taste of the broth.
Note: I only went with carrot and radish as the main components of the broth mainly because these are available year round. Feel free to use corn as well, when it is in season, for a slightly sweeter and richer broth.
What is not used to make phở: Miso, soy sauce, or seaweed are not used to make authentic Phở broth. These ingredients are only used in Westernized recipes.
To prepare the broth:
Start by charring the onion and shallots in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Charred onions and shallots will deepen the flavors of the broth.
Next, peel and slice the carrot and radish and transfer to a large pot along with the charred onion and shallots.
Cover with water and season with the salt and sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer uncovered for 35-40 minutes.
Should I remove the vegetables from the broth? That's up to you! Usually, most of the vegetables are discarded. I personally only remove the onions and shallots from the broth and keep some of the carrots and radish.
Spices to Flavor the Broth
Next, we will infuse the broth with whole spices. The spices used differ depending on the region and the cook. Here, we will be using a combination of spices that are usually used in Southern Vietnam. Here are the spices you will need:
- Black cardamom - If there is one spice you should not omit, it's the black cardamom. It gives the broth a smoky aroma. You can buy black cardamom online or find it in most supermarkets.
- Cinnamon - I went with two cinnamon sticks here. I do not recommend using ground cinnamon for this recipe.
- Anise star
- Fennel seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Ginger - Fresh ginger is best, however dried ginger slices will work as well.
If you don't want to bother buying each spice individually, simply use a pho seasoning pack!
Toast the spices for 2-3 minutes in a non-stick skillet. This will help develop their aroma. Next, transfer the spices to a tea bag or a cheesecloth tied with a string.
Place the bag containing the spices in the broth and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I found that time enough to give the broth a rich flavor without adding any bitterness.
- Noodles - To make authentic phở, you will need thin and flat rice noodles (called "bánh phở" in Vietnamese).
- Vegan beef - In this recipe, I went with TVP imitation beef slices, but you can use any vegan "beef" alternative.
- Mushrooms - Sautéed mushrooms bring more texture and some fat to the broth. To prepare the mushrooms, simply sauté some oyster or cremini mushrooms in a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Deglaze with a teaspoon of soy sauce and remove from heat.
- Bean sprouts - Optional, for some crunch!
- Green onions - Also called scallions, for a vibrant green color and a sharp flavor.
- Thai basil - Different from regular basil, Thai basil has a licorice and anise flavor. It's also a bit peppery.
- Cilantro - And/or culantro. Cilantro is only used sparingly, it is not the main herb used to flavor the broth.
- Onion - Raw onion slices add some crunch.
The addition of sautéed mushrooms and vegan beef bring that fatty component to the broth, making it even richer, so do not skip on those!
🥢 How to Assemble
Once your broth and add-ins are ready, it's time to assemble!
- Arrange a handful of bean sprouts in a bowl.
- Top with cooked rice noodles, fried tofu, vegan beef, and sautéed mushrooms.
- Garnish with green onions, Thai basil, cilantro, and raw onion slices.
- Pour in the piping hot broth into the bowl and serve immediately!
Phở is always served with extra condiments:
- Hoisin sauce - Called "Tương đen" in Vietnamese, this sauce is salty and slightly tangy. Want to make you own? Check out this easy hoisin sauce recipe!
- Sweet chili sauce - For some spiciness, use homemade sweet chili sauce, or the Cholimex brand.
- Saté - Saté is also sometimes added to the broth for a hint of lemongrass and some heat.
- Lime juice - For a zesty flavor and a subtle tanginess.
- Do not discard all of the vegetables used to prepare the broth: leave some of them in the broth, it will taste even better the next day! I would advise against leaving them all though as it will soak up some of the broth and you will end up with less liquid. I usually just keep about ⅓ of the carrots and radishes.
- Make sure the broth is salty enough. Taste before serving and do not hesitate to add extra salt if needed.
- Do not omit the herbs. Fresh herbs are essential to make a good phở!
- Should I drink the broth? Usually, most people will not drink the broth and just have a few tablespoons here and there between eating the noodles and the beef. That's up to you though!
- Does this version taste similar to the non-vegan phở? No, it doesn't taste like the non-vegetarian version as the broth here is not made from beef bones. It does have a similar aroma though thanks to the spices.
- How long does the broth keep? The broth will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. It tastes even better the next day!
- How many servings does this recipe yield? This recipe serves about 3 bowls of phở. Feel free to double the recipe if you want leftovers!
I hope you are going to enjoy this vegan phở as much as we do! It's a Vietnamese-classic that is SO delicious, filling, and quite easy to prepare!
- 7 and ½ cup water
- 1 onion halved
- 3 shallots halved
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into 1-inch thick slices
- ½ daikon radish peeled and cut into 1-inch thick slices
- 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 and ½ tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon mushroom seasoning optional
- 2 teaspoon vegan fish sauce optional, add more salt to taste if omitting
- About 10 ounces dried flat rice noodles
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- ½ cup sautéed mushrooms
- a few slices of fried tofu
- ⅓ cup chopped green onions
- a handful of Thai basil
- ½ onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro or culantro
- Start by charring the onion and shallots: heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the halved onion and shallots, cut-side facing down. Char them for 3-5 minutes, or until almost black. Note: you can also char them under the broiler, in an oven.
- Transfer the charred onion and shallots to a large pot. Add the sliced carrots, daikon radish, salt, and sugar. Cover with the water and bring to a boil. Let simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes.
- In the meantime, char the sliced ginger in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the whole spices and toast them for about 1 minute. Transfer the spices and ginger to a tea bag or cheesecloth closed with a string.
- After the 30-35 minutes, turn off the heat and add the spices tea bag to the broth. Let infuse for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the spices bag, onions, and shallots from the broth. Add the mushroom seasoning and vegan fish sauce if using. Taste and adjust the saltiness and sweetness if needed.
- At this point, you can also remove the carrots and radish, or leave them in the broth to serve later. Note: If planning to keep for broth for one day in the refrigerator, I recommend removing all of the vegetables, otherwise they will soak up some liquid and you will end up with less broth.
- Drain the vegan beef slices and rinse them under cold water a couple of times. Squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Transfer the beef slices to a bowl and add the sugar, soy sauce, and ground black pepper. Stir to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the vegan beef slices and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until slightly golden brown.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions and drain well.
- Add a handful of raw bean sprouts to each bowl. Top with the cooked rice noodles, sautéed vegan beef slices, fried tofu, and sautéed mushrooms if using. Garnish each bowl with 2 tablespoons of chopped green onions, a few leaves of Thai basil, onion slices, and chopped cilantro. Pour in the piping hot broth over the noodles and serve immediately!
- The broth will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.