Pho Spices

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 09/11/2022 Updated: 01/12/2023
Prep 1 minute
Cook 5 minutes
Total 6 minutes
Here is an all-inclusive essential guide to all the pho spices! You can make your very own flavorful and comforting homemade pho from scratch by creating your own roasted pho spice packet.
Pho Spices

Here is an all-inclusive essential guide to all the pho spices! You can make your very own flavorful and comforting homemade pho from scratch by creating your own roasted pho spice packet.

Lookid down at the spices and aromatics needed to make pho.

The secret to an unforgettable pho broth is without a doubt the spices. Each spice plays a pivotal role in contributing different aromas and flavors to create a layered, multi-dimensional flavored broth.

The spices in pho create warm, sweet, earthy, smoky, and floral flavors which make pho so iconic. This pho spices recipe is also very versatile! You can use these pho broth spices in both your homemade chicken pho and beef pho.

This pho spice packet is extremely easy to source now with the internet and can be easily made in bulk for future batches. If you loved this guide to pho spices recipe, check out my Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon and Vietnamese dipping sauce recipes for more essential guides to Vietnamese cooking.

Someone lifting up noodles from a bowl of chicken pho.
Try these spices in this homemade Chicken Pho.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Make ahead and in bulk. When you buy all of these pho spices individually, you will end up with a lot of pho broth spices. You can easily divide and portion these spices into little pho spice packets that you can toast and steep in your pho for later!
  • Best flavor for your pho. For the best results and the most flavorful broth, make your homemade pho spice packet the way to go. This ensures that you are using super fresh spices for the most delicious pho broth taste.
  • Easy to source the ingredients. All of the spices you need to create this homemade pho seasoning packet can be sourced from Amazon or your local Vietnamese grocery store.
Looking down at a table setting with bowls of Pho Ga ready to eat.

Kitchen Equipment

All you need to create this pho spices recipe is a spice bag and a medium skillet.

  • Reusable Spice Bag: or a tea filter. You will need some kind of spice bag or tea filter to steep your toasted spices and remove them after 45 minutes.
  • Medium Skillet: you will need a medium skillet to toast your pho broth spices.

Ingredients

I highly recommend buying fresh spices and making this pho spices recipe to ensure a fresh and aromatic seasoning packet. All of the spices in pho can be found at your local Vietnamese or Chinese grocery store or online.

  • Whole coriander seeds: coriander seeds are little round seeds that are floral like cardamom and adds citrus, and curry flavor to the pho broth.
  • Whole fennel seeds: fennel seeds are slender pale green seeds roughly the shape of long-grain rice. Fennel seeds provide a subtle licorice flavor with faint notes of sweetness while still keeping the dish savory.
  • Vietnamese Saigon cinnamon stick: Saigon cinnamon adds a warm, sweet, and earthy aroma.
  • Black cardamon pods: black cardamom pods look like large wrinkled almonds. Black cardamon adds a smoky, earthy, and floral flavor.
  • Whole cloves: cloves look like small dark brown pins that have a really robust flavor. They are strong, sweet, and fruity while also spicy and pungent.
  • Whole star anise pods: star anise pods resemble a small starlike flower. Star anise adds a very sweet licorice-like flavor. It is one of the most important spices in pho.
All the spices for making a pho spice bag organized and labeled in small bowls.

Substitutions and Additions

There are dozens of different family pho spice recipes out there and each varies by how much of each spice they add-in. I’ve included some variations below.

Substitutions

  • Cassava Bark: instead of a Vietnamese cinnamon stick you can substitute it with cassava bark which has a similar earthy, sweet, and nutty, with a touch of bitterness.
  • Ceylon Cinnamon: another alternative to the cinnamon stick is Ceylon cinnamon. It has an extremely mild and delicate flavor with more floral notes. This is another option if you want a less intense cinnamon flavor.

Additions

  • Whole White peppercorns: if you add white peppercorns, I recommend only adding 1 teaspoon. White peppercorns add a musty, grassy, and slightly fermented flavor with notes of ginger and heat.
  • Licorice: if you opt for adding licorice I recommend adding only 2 pieces. Licorice has a similar profile as star anise and fennel so adding it would only amplify those flavors.

How to Make a Pho Spice Packet

Making your own homemade pho seasoning packet is super easy! The hardest part is gathering all the spices.

  1. Roast the spices. Place the spices on a medium skillet over medium heat. Lightly toast the spices, stirring occasionally until fragrant about 3-4 minutes.
Toasting the spices for a pho spice bag in a large skillet on the stove.
  1. Set aside to cool, then place the spices in a tea bag.
Someone adding a pho spice bag to a bowl of pho broth.

Tips for the Best Spices

  • Use whole dried spices. When purchasing your individual spices, make sure to use “whole dried spices” and not ground or powdered spices. You will need whole spices that can be steeped and easily removed. Any powdered spices will cloud the broth and make it taste overly spiced.
  • Check the shelf life. Make sure to use freshly dried spices that are not expired. Expired spices lose their aromas and flavors over time. Most spices have an optimal shelf life of about 2-3 years.
  • Toast immediately before use. If you want to make your pho spice packet in advance you can. However, I recommend toasting the spices right before you steep them in your pho broth for the best results.
  • Only add the spices to the last 45 minutes of simmering. The spices are meant to be a finishing touch to your pho broth! Only steep them in your broth the final 45 minutes of simmering. This way the pho broth spices are bold and flavorful but not overpowering.

Storage Instructions

You can store your raw pho seasoning packet in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 years! Make sure to toast the spices before using them in your pho broth for optimal flavor.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

What types of pho can I use this pho seasoning packet with?

This pho broth spices packet is incredibly versatile! You can make chicken pho (pho ga), beef pho (pho bo), and beef meatballs pho (pho bo vien) with this pho spices recipe.

Where can I buy spices for pho?

I recommend buying whole fresh spices. You can buy all of these pho broth spices at an Asian supermarket (Chinese, Vietnamese, South Asian) or online on Amazon!

How long do I steep my pho spice packet in my broth?

No longer than 40-45 minutes! 45 minutes is the maximum amount of time your pho seasoning packet should stay in your pho broth. Any longer and the spices in pho will overpower the broth.

Did you make this Pho spice packet?

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Recipe

Lookid down at the spices and aromatics needed to make pho.

Pho Spices

4.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Here is an all-inclusive essential guide to all the pho spices! You can make your very own flavorful and comforting homemade pho from scratch by creating your own roasted pho spice packet.
Servings: 1 Spice packet
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Roast the spices. Place the spices on a medium skillet over medium heat. Lightly toast the spices, stirring occasionally until fragrant about 3-4 minutes.
  • Set aside to cool, then place the spices in a tea bag.

Notes

  • Use whole dried spices. When purchasing your individual spices, make sure to use “whole dried spices” and not ground or powdered spices. You will need whole spices that can be steeped and easily removed. Any powdered spices will cloud the broth and make it taste overly spiced.
  • Check the shelf life. Make sure to use freshly dried spices that are not expired. Expired spices lose their aromas and flavors over time. Most spices have an optimal shelf life of about 2-3 years.
  • Toast immediately before use. If you want to make your pho spice packet in advance you can. However, I recommend toasting the spices right before you steep them in your pho broth for the best results.
  • Only add the spices to the last 45 minutes of simmering. The spices are meant to be a finishing touch to your pho broth! Only steep them in your broth for the final 45 minutes of simmering. This way the pho broth spices are bold and flavorful but not overpowering.

Nutrition:

Calories: 93kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 379mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 51IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 229mg | Iron: 7mg

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