Gluten Free Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)

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My gluten free pho ga is an Asian chicken soup with rice noodles and homemade broth. Make this quick chicken pho recipe for dinner tonight!

woman's hands holding bowl of gluten free pho ga with rice noodles

Are you a pho fanatic? You’re not alone! I can’t get enough, and in my opinion, the spicier and creamier the broth, the better.

This twist on traditional chicken pho is also SUPER easy to prep, so it’s a great way to kick off easy prep month here on the blog!

All through the month of March, we’ll be posting tried and true recipes that are not only tasty, but are a cinch to cook. Preparing portions of a meal ahead of when you plan to serve it is a big time saver.

For example, I like to make the batter for my sheet pan protein pancakes the night before I cook them up.

What is pho ga?

Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup that is traditionally made with an aromatic beef-based broth that is flavored with spices such ginger, peppercorn, fennel, and anise.

Typically the noodles are served with slices of meat and a handful of fresh herbs, sliced peppers and scallions, and a dash of fresh lime.

While classic pho is usually made using beef or pork, this flavorful take uses chicken instead. The Japanese word “ga” translates in English to CHICKEN. Hence the name, pho ga.

While chicken broth is a bit lighter than beef, seasonings like fennel seeds, onion, fresh ginger, and star anise punch up the flavor.

An authentic recipe for pho requires a long simmering time. It can take hours to marry the flavors. But this is quick and easy meal prep month!

So, for this QUICK version of gluten free chicken pho, we added a bit of prepared chicken broth (along with water), which speeds up the process without losing that bold flavor. This is a soup you can’t help but slurp!

Oh, and I have other soup recipes that come together in super quick fashion too. Be sure to check out my recipe for Asian-Inspired Zoodle Flu Buster Soup, or use your blender to make a batch of Spicy Roasted Corn Vegan Soup.

dish of gluten free pho with chicken rice noodles

How to make gluten free pho

If you’re anything like me, going to a Vietnamese restaurant for a meal like this can be challenging. This is primarily because you can never be one hundred percent sure if the soup has hidden gluten-containing ingredients like soy sauce or other flavorings that may be hard to ask about when ordering.

Most of the traditional ingredients are free from gluten, such as rice noodles, meats like beef or chicken, and fresh vegetables. However, many times the broth contains soy sauce or other ingredients that may contain hidden gluten, like bouillon cubes or flavorings.

That’s why I’m super excited to finally perfect a from-scratch, completely gluten free pho ga using:

  • A homemade broth using wholesome, nourishing foods
  • Tamari sauce
  • Gluten-free fish sauce (yup, some brands have hidden gluten)
  • Gluten-free rice noodles (most should be free of gluten, but some aren’t made in separate gluten free facilities, so read the labels)

Ingredients and substitutions

In the soup:

  • Rice noodles – The foundation of pho ga, look for long, flat rice noodles (similar to a skinny fettuccine shape).
  • Chicken – Either chicken thighs or breasts will work in this recipe. However, if you use chicken thighs, be sure to remove the fatty scum from the top of the broth after cooking the chicken.

For the broth:

  • Broth – Either vegetable or chicken broth will work here, but chicken gives pho ga a richer flavor.
  • Onion – White onion is more traditional for flavoring the broth, but yellow or red onions will work as well.
  • Fresh whole ginger – I highly recommend using whole ginger root, if it’s available, as it provides a very strong flavor to the broth. However, minced ginger is a good substitute.
  • Whole black peppercorns – It’s key to use whole peppercorns in pho ga, as we will toast them over dry heat to bring out a deeper pepper flavor. Cracked black pepper could work as well, but avoid using ground pepper.
  • Star anise and Cinnamon– Whole star anise gives off a wonderful flavor (and smell!) when toasted, but you could substitute this with anise seeds if you have them. The Cinnamon complements star anise, definitely a must!
  • Fennel seeds – Another aromatic seed that shouldn’t be skipped. However, you can also substitute this with coriander seeds if you can’t find fennel.
  • Fish sauce – You might be thinking, “Why is there fish sauce in a chicken soup?” We highly recommend you do not skip this ingredient, as it provides a key flavor component that ties in all the flavors of the pho ga broth.
  • Tamari – A dash up levels the flavor of the broth, so don’t skip it! You can use gluten-free soy sauce if you prefer it.
  • Sugar (optional) – A small amount of sugar rounds out the bold flavors of the soup. It’s optional, but highly recommended.
  • Cilantro – Fresh cilantro provides a nice peppery flavor to pho ga, but if you don’t have it (or you’re one of the few who hate it) then substitute with Thai basil.

Recipe instructions

  1. Toast the spices. Arguably the most important step in building flavor is to heat the aromatic ingredients. In this case, you’ll toast some onion, fresh ginger, star anise, and fennel seeds.
  2. Build and simmer the broth. Next, add the raw chicken ,water and broth, cinnamon sticks, and a handful of fresh cilantro. Bring it all to a boil and then leave it to simmer.
  1. Remove and shred the chicken. Next you’ll remove and shred the poultry, and then it’s time to keep building flavor. Add fish sauce, tamari, and a bit of sugar.
  2. Garnish and serve! Simply add the cooked rice noodles to a bowl, top with shredded chicken, then pour in the broth. Top the soup with toppings of your choice and dig in!

Meal prep tips for gluten free pho ga

While making pho ga from scratch is actually super simple, there are a few ways to speed up the process to make the prep as easy as possible.

  1. Use store bought broth: While you can use water to make a completely homemade broth, I used packaged broth in this recipe to cut down on the broth cooking time.
  2. Use pre-cooked chicken: Using precooked chicken like a whole rotisserie chicken will cut about 15-20 minutes off of the prep time. Simply shred the chicken and you’re good to go.
  3. Prep ingredients ahead of time: Pho is a PERFECT meal prep recipe! Simply prep the ingredients and cook up the broth and chicken a few days ahead of time. Then, build the meal when you’re ready to serve.
chopsticks on bowl of chicken pho ga with rice noodles

Recipe Questions and Tips

Is gluten free pho healthy?

The ingredients themselves are generally rich in nutrients and nourishing for the body. However, when you don’t make it yourself, it can be high in sodium or contain fattier cuts of meat, so it’s important to consider portion sizes.

This is a healthier version of traditional pho ga because it is lower in sodium and uses chicken breast (a leaner meat).

How long can I keep pho leftovers?

Refrigerate any leftover chicken pho in a covered container. Leftovers should be used within 5 days. To store for a longer period, the soup can be frozen for up to 3 months.


woman's hands holding bowl of gluten free pho ga with rice noodles

Gluten Free Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)

  • Author:
    Lindsay Cotter

  • Prep Time:
    10 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    40 minutes

  • Total Time:
    50 minutes

  • Yield:
    4 servings

  • Diet:
    Gluten Free


My gluten free pho ga is an Asian chicken soup with rice noodles and homemade broth. Make this quick chicken pho recipe for dinner tonight!


Pho Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 1 inch whole ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 whole star anise, or 2 teaspoons anise seeds 
  • 1 teaspoons fennel seed (see notes)
  • 1 pound chicken skinless thighs or breast (see notes)
  • 6 cups (1 ¼ quarts) chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup cilantro, about one small bunch
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 teaspoons cane sugar, or maple syrup (optional) 
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 10 oz (250 grams) gluten-free flat rice noodles


  • Sliced jalapeño, or red chiles
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • Sliced green onion
  • Fresh torn cilantro and/or thai basil
  • Lime (fresh squeezed)


  1. Char and toast aromatics: Place sliced onion and ginger cut-side-down into a large soup pot and char on high heat until onions are slightly blackened and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes (turning onions once to brown on both sides). Add the peppercorn, star anise, and fennel seed to the pot and toast on medium with the onion and ginger until fragrant, around 1-2 minutes more.  
  2. Cook the chicken in broth: Place chicken, water, broth, cinnamon stick, and cilantro in the pot. Bring broth to a quick boil then cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken (internal temperature should be at least 160F). Set aside.
  3. Season the pho broth: Strain broth or use a slotted spoon to remove the solids from the onion, ginger, star anise, pepper, and cilantro. Add the fish sauce, gluten-free soy sauce (tamari), and sugar to broth. Keep at a gentle simmer for an additional 15- 20 minutes to allow pho to become seasoned, then taste and add kosher salt as needed.
  4. Shred the chicken and prepare the rice noodles: While broth is simmering, prepare the noodles according to package directions. Once cooled, use the tongs of a fork to shred the chicken and set aside.
  5. Assemble the pho bowl: Place cooked rice noodles into a large soup bowl and top shredded chicken. Add a few ladles of broth into the bowl and top with mung beans, fresh herbs, sliced green onions, sliced peppers, and a squeeze of lime.


Don’t have fennel seed? If you don’t have fennel seed, omit or use coriander seed. 

Remove the scum: If you are using chicken with skin on, be sure to remove scum on the top of the broth after cooking the chicken (scum is the fat from the chicken that is released when cooking).

Don’t have Thai basil? Feel free to use regular basil or fresh mint (or all three!).

Use store-bought chicken: Make this recipe faster by using pre-cooked store bought chicken. Simply shred and warm the chicken before adding it to the bowl.

Cooking tip: Charing/toasting the onion and spices first really helps to bring out bold flavors and makes for a tastier broth, so don’t skip this step even if you’re not making the entire broth from scratch.

Substitutions: Substitute the chicken for shrimp or make it vegetarian by using mushrooms. We tried both versions when recipe testing and they were delicious!

  • Category: Soups
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese-inspired

Keywords: gluten free pho, pho ga, chicken pho

I realize I’m sharing some non-traditional PHO options here, but I hope it helps the recipe seem less intimidating. It’s definitely a dish that’s too good not to try, real deal or quick version!



This recipe was originally posted in September 2016 and was updated with new photos and instructions in March 2021.


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