Instant Pot bo kho is a Vietnamese stewed beef dish complete with warm savory spices and paired with delicious chewy noodles, resulting in the ultimate comfort food.
This dish can be cooked in a fraction of the time using an Instant Pot, but stovetop ingredients are also included.
🍳 Why Make This Recipe
Instant pot bo kho is one of my favorite healthy Vietnamese recipes to make.
- Easy to make – Using an Instant Pot to make this dish requires very little effort compared to traditional slow cooking methods
- Amazing flavor with low calories – The usage of fragrant Vietnamese herbs and spiced beef results in a delicious aromatic broth that is healthy and low in calories
- Many Ways to Eat – You can eat it as a noodle soup or dip it in some crusty Vietnamese baguettes
💭 What Is Bo Kho?
Bo Kho is a Vietnamese beef stew dish. It traditionally consists of beef shank or beef chuck stewed with a variety of spices and root vegetables, such as carrots and daikon, to create a hearty stew with a lot of flavor. It is often served with a side of baguette (french bread) or with egg noodles.
It is often served with a side of baguette or with egg noodles.
In Vietnamese, the word "Kho" refers to a dish that is braised. My Ca Kho To recipe (Vietnamese Caramelized Fish) is another example of a "kho" dish.
🍏 Is Bo Kho Healthy?
Bo kho is a very healthy dish given that it contains ample protein content from the beef, packed with nutrients from the vegetables, and is balanced with a serving of carbs. A serving of instant pot bo kho contains 510 calories with 33 grams of protein, 19 grams of fat, and 54 grams of carbs.
The key to making this dish healthy is to portion the higher calorie ingredients mindfully.
🍎 Calories and Nutrition – How To Make It Healthy
In this healthy instant pot bo kho recipe, I portioned ingredients to make a more macro-friendly and calorie-conscious dish. Here are some key tweaks I made:
- Beef – Used 4 ounces of beef chuck as the base of the protein content while keeping calories at a minimum (200 calories). Be sure to trim off the excess fat before weighing.
- Portion the noodles – I used exactly 3 ounces of egg noodles, which only adds about 180 calories. This is a good portion of carbs that will give me enough fuel for my workouts without blowing my calorie budget.
- Portioned the stock ingredients mindfully – Using the portions below, the soup ingredients only add about 50 calories.
- Use cooking spray – Traditional oil adds a whopping 120 calories to the dish, whereas cooking spray is 0 calories.
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredient, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of the instant pot bo kho noodle recipe, refer to the table below:
📋 Ingredient Notes
To make the instant pot bo kho, you will need the following key ingredients:
Beef Chuck– I used 4 ounces of beef chuck. You can also opt to use beef shank. I like using this cut as it has some fat so that it will give the soup a delicious flavor, but not so much that it would blow the calorie budget out of the water.
Noodles – I used a serving of egg noodles. You can also opt to use rice noodles or baguettes.
Tomato Paste – Essential for the soup base. It gives the soup a deeper tangy flavor that adds a beautiful depth.
Carrots and Daikon – These root vegetables are often simmered in the soup, resulting in a delicious balanced flavor. Daikon can be found at your local Asian grocery store. If you can't find it, feel free to omit.
Fresh lemongrass, bay leaf, star anise, annatto, and five spice – Help the soup achieve the optimal flavor and accentuates the meat flavor. The annatto also gives the soup a vibrant color. Five spice can also be substituted with cinnamon.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
📖 Substitutions and Variations
With Baguette – This dish is also often paired with a crusty baguette that is dipped in the stew
With rice noodles – This would also be delicious with flat rice noodles
Make it a pasta – For a more experimental and fun recipe, this stewed beef makes for some delicious Bo Kho Pasta
Switch up the fresh herbs – Bo kho is also served with Thai basil and/or mint.
With Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven – You can also braise the beef in a slow cooker or dutch oven if you don't have an instant pot.
Coconut water – Some recipes call for using coconut water, which gives the dish a slight sweet taste.
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
Marinate the beef – Cut the beef into small, bite-sized pieces. Marinade with soy sauce and salt for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Gather and cut the vegetables – Gather the vegetables and aromatics. Cut the carrots and daikon into bite-sized chunks. Mince the garlic, onion, and ginger.
Sauté the aromatics and paste – In the instant pot, spray cooking spray and turn on sauté mode to sauté the garlic, onion, and ginger until golden, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the beef, tomato paste, and spices – Add in the beef and brown all the sides. Add in the tomato paste, annatto powder, star anise, bay leaf, lemongrass, paprika, and 5 spice. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until toasted.
Pressure Cook – Turn off sauté mode, add in the stock or plain water, carrots, and daikon, and cook on high pressure for about 45 minutes. Let it release natural pressure for about 10 minutes for fork tender beef.
Cook the noodles – While the stew is cooking, prepare the egg noodles and set them aside.
Season to taste – Add the fish sauce and sugar to the stew. Taste and adjust if needed.
Serve and enjoy – Add the noodles into the stew, garnish with cilantro and chili flakes and lime wedges, and enjoy!
🍳 Stovetop Instructions
Follow the instructions above. When you reach the pressure cooking step, cook the beef with the stock on the stove top on low heat for 1-2 hours, or until the meat is at the desired tenderness.
Be sure to add additional stock and/or water so that there is more liquid to cook, as cooking stovetop often requires more cooking liquid.
Taste Test And Season to Adjust – Adjust the stew with sugar, fish sauce, or water to achieve the desired flavor.
If it is too salty, add some sugar.
If it is too sweet (unlikely to happen with this recipe if the portion sizes are followed), add some fish sauce or more water.
Marinade the beef overnight – This allows the flavor to fully seep into the beef.
Brown the beef – Before beginning the stewing process, toss the beef pieces in the pot on sauté mode to brown the sides. Browning the beef gives it an optimal flavor and removes impurities.
💭 Recipe FAQs
I used beef chuck for this recipe. For a richer broth, add in beef cuts that have connective tissue, such as oxtail. Check out my oxtail health tips post to learn more about the benefits of oxtail.
The baguette is actually a common food item in Vietnamese cuisine, due to its legacy as a French colony. Bo kho is actually a great example of a dish that was created with the influence of both cultures.
You can store the instant pot bo kho in the fridge for up to 2-3 days in an airtight container. You can also freeze the stew without the noodles for up to 3 months.
🍽 Related Recipes
If you like instant pot bo kho or Vietnamese food in general, check out the following posts:
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Bo Kho Recipe (Instant Pot and Stovetop)
- 1 Instant Pot
Beef and Marinade
- 4 oz Beef Chuck
- 1 tablespoon Soy sauce
Stew and Noodles
- 3 oz Egg noodles
- 1 Carrot
- ⅓ Daikon
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Ginger
- 1 Star Anise
- ¼ teaspoon Cinnamon or Five Spice
- 1 Bay leaf
- ⅛ teaspoon Annato
- ¼ teaspoon Paprika
- 1 stalk Lemongrass
- ¼ cup Chicken stock
- ¼ Yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon Fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- Marinate the beef – Cut the beef into small, bite-sized pieces. Marinade with soy sauce and salt for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Gather and cut the vegetables – Gather the vegetables and aromatics. Cut the carrots and daikon into bite-sized chunks. Mince the garlic, onion, and ginger.
- Sauté the aromatics and paste – In the instant pot, spray cooking spray and sauté the garlic, onion, and ginger until golden, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the beef, tomato paste, and spices – Add in the beef and brown all the sides. Add in the tomato paste, star anise, bay leaf, lemongrass, paprika, and 5 spice. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until toasted.
- Pressure Cook – Turn off sauté mode, add in the stock, carrots, and daikon, and cook on high pressure for about 45 minutes. Let it release natural pressure for about 10 minutes.
- Cook the noodles – While the stew is cooking, prepare the egg noodles and set them aside.
- Season to taste – Add the fish sauce and sugar to the stew. Taste and adjust if needed.
- Serve and enjoy – Add the noodles into the stew, garnish with cilantro and chili flakes, and enjoy!