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A quick Paleo Beef Pho recipe that's Whole30 compliant and completely delicious. It uses zucchini and kelp noodles to keep it gluten free, and it's full of flavor!
Even if you're not doing a Whole30, I think you're going to love this paleo beef pho. I've made it many times, and it really hits the spot when I'm craving an easy pho recipe.
What exactly is pho, you ask? Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that's pronounced "fuh" (not "faux"). My Recipes has a pretty good article on specifically what it is, but essentially it's soup made up of noodles, thinly sliced meat, spices, and broth. Aka, all the good stuff!
Of course I love my spicy sausage potato soup and my Instant Pot vegetable soup, but this beef pho is obviously different than those, though just as healthy! If you're looking for a warm, cozy soup recipe, you must give this a try.
- It's loaded with flavor
- It's hearty and light at the same time thanks to the beef and zucchini noodles
- It serves 2-4 people, so you may have leftovers (I love leftovers!)
Beef - I used beef that's already cut -- At most grocery stores, it's normally called "beef stew meat". If you don't want to go that route, simply buy your favorite cut of steak and thinly slice it.
Zucchini - Since this is a paleo recipe, the zucchini replaces traditional rice noodles; you'll need a spiralizer to create zucchini noodles.
Kelp noodles - Kelp noodles make this dish a little more hearty than it would be if it only used zucchini noodles. You should be able to find them in the Asian food aisle at the store.
Spices - Cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves -- all three are going to give this broth the BEST flavor -- don't skip any of them!
Step 1: Broil the onion and ginger. Add the diced onion and sliced ginger to a baking sheet, then broil them for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts turning golden brown on the edges. This step helps to bring out their flavor even more!
Step 2: Simmer the broth. Next, add the cinnamon stick, star anise and whole cloves to a large saucepan and heat over medium for 2-3 minutes, then add the broiled onion and ginger, and finally the fish sauce and beef broth. Simmer the broth for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Cook the beef. Season the beef with salt and pepper, then pan-sear it for approximately 2 minutes per side, then set it aside.
Step 4: Make the noodles. Run the zucchini through your spiralizer, then set it aside. Cook the kelp noodles according to the package instructions. Once there's only 1 minute left, add the zucchini noodles in with the kelp noodles. We want them to be slightly soft, but not soggy, so only cook them for 1-2 minutes.
Step 5: Assemble. Strain the noodles, then divide them equally into serving bowls, then add the cooked beef on top. Strain the broth, discarding the chunks, then pour the strained broth over the noodles/beef. Top with mint/fresh basil/lime juice, and optionally sriracha.
Tips and tricks
- To make this recipe even quicker, you can cook the beef ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before using. Same with the zucchini noodles: feel free to spiralize them ahead of time.
- Want to make this even quicker? Pre-cook the kelp noodles, and buy pre-spiralized zucchini (I won't tell!).
What toppings should I use?
Normally, pho is topped with any of the following: fresh mint, fresh basil, lime wedge/juice, bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapeño, and/or sriracha. So, any combination of those will work!
What makes this Paleo?
Normally, pho is made with rice noodles. But, since rice isn't paleo, I opted to use zucchini noodles and kelp noodles instead.
Do I have to use kelp noodles?
Nope! You can use only zucchini noodles if you prefer. Or, if you're not paleo, opt for rice noodles instead.
How should this be stored?
Store pho in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days; the zucchini will get soggy the longer it sits in the refrigerator, so the sooner you consume it the better.
More Paleo dinner recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Paleo Beef Pho
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4" fresh ginger sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 star anise
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 32 oz. beef broth
- 1/2 lb. kelp noodles
- 1 large zucchini spiralized
- 1/2 lb. beef sliced
- Salt and pepper
- fresh mint, fresh basil, lime juice, sriracha, etc. for toppings
- Place onion and ginger on a baking sheet and broil on high for 5 minutes or so, or until onions start turning slightly golden.
- While they're broiling, place cinnamon, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan and heat over medium-high.
- Transfer broiled ginger and onion to saucepan; add fish sauce and beef broth and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place beef, salt and pepper in a skillet and cook beef for 2 minutes per side.
- While beef is cooking, make the kelp noodles according to instructions on the package, and spiralize the zucchini. Once kelp noodles are almost cooked, add zucchini noodles to pot and cook for 2-3 minutes. You want the noodles to be softer, but not soggy.
- At this point. strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer, removing all of the "chunks" and stuff.
- Strain the noodles and place into a bowl (or bowls). Add beef to bowls and then pour strained broth overtop. Add toppings and enjoy!
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in December 2016. It was updated with new text and photos in January 2021.