Bun Bo Hue is a spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup that is not quite as popular as Pho but should not be overlooked! This noodle soup is beefy, spicy & has a robust broth. If you love Pho and you love a bit of spice then definitely give Bun Bo Hue a try.

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In the past whenever I go to a Vietnamese restaurant, my go-to dish I almost always order is Pho. It’s simple and you can’t really mess it up. I use Pho to gauge how much I usually like a restaurant. What I found with time was Pho generally tastes the same everywhere and there was no distinct flavour to it. Some were greasier than others, some had more food to eat but generally still the same.


Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


Putting it nicely, I got bored with Pho so I decided to switch up my routine and went for something spicy instead and this hidden gem, Bun Bo Hue. I never looked back and I have never been bored since. To me, this is the ultimate Vietnamese noodle soup. Every restaurant has their own spin to it, no two restaurant tasted exactly the same but one thing they all have in common is the robust spicy broth. Think Pho on Crack. Seriously.


When you make this at home, you have the control to tweak this the way you want it. Is it 100% authentic? Probably not but food is meant to be enjoyed the way you like it and if you want to add something to your recipes to make you a happy duck then I say more power to you. As long as your taste buds are happy.


Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


Traditionally, Bun Bo Hue is served with coagulated pig blood cubes. I chose to omit this because I personally find it doesn’t add much flavour. However if you are a traditionalist then yes, go nuts and add it! πŸ™‚ A friend gave me a tip that they should be added at the very end so they don’t become rubbery – something to think about if you’re feeling adventurous if you’ve never tried it. πŸ™‚


For my recipe, I also added star anise and kaffir lime leaves. Again, not in traditional Bun Bo Hue recipes. I got the idea from my local Vietnamese restaurant. Their broth is absoultely heavenly and for years I could not pin point the exact spice that was in it that made it stand out from any other Bun Bo Hue I had. To get an extra set of taste buds, I went out with my bestie Susan (whom has never tried this amazing soup before) and what she said next blew me away, “It kinda tastes like star anise”. Β She was spot on and nailed it. After a several test batches, and much tweaking and experimenting, I finally produced that same broth at home.



Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


I added kaffir lime leaves for that boost in freshness and again added another layer of flavour. To me, it’s essentially lemongrass on steroids. If you are a traditionalist, you can choose to omit the star anise and kaffir lime leaves but add more lemongrass to compensate for the missing flavours.


Simplifying Bun Bo HueΒ 

This recipe is a labour of love. It takes many hours and a lot of ingredients to make a full bodied beef broth. The good news is, you can still enjoy this if you don’t have the time to make the broth – just use a good quality ready-made beef broth and cook it with the bun bo hue spices in the ingredient list below. It won’t be as full bodied or rich from the pork hock’s gelatin but you can still get a quick and delicious brothy noodle with the bun bo hue aromatics in a pinch! πŸ™‚




For this bun bo hue recipe, the list of ingredients may be intimidating and hefty, but trust me – it’s actually that bad. πŸ™‚ Most ingredients will be found at an Asian grocery store.


Broth Ingredients

Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


For the meats, I find that it is quite tricky to find beef shank at my local grocery store and it can only be found at an Asian grocery store. If you can’t find it, you can substitute this with beef brisket. It has the same beefy flavour and has a similar texture when sliced up thinly – just make sure you remove any excess fat from it since beef shank is quite lean.


I used pork hocks because I can use it both for the broth and eat it with the noodles afterwards since it doesn’t dry out from the long cooking time.


I used beef bones in this broth for a more robust flavour.


Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


I used yellow rock sugar for this recipe because it is less sweet and gives the soup a silky texture. If you can’t find rock sugar, you can substitute it with brown sugar.


Kaffir lime leaves and star anise is not tradtionally in Bun Bo Hue but they give the broth an additional layer of flavour. If you’re a traditionalist, omit it – else I highly recommend adding it in!


Spicy Sate Chilli Sauce Ingredients

Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


Tweak the amount of chili flakes to increase or reduce the spiciness. I found 2 tablespoons gave it a mild/medium spiciness.


For this recipe, I used fish sauce and shrimp paste. That stuff is potent and stinky. πŸ˜› Don’t be turned off by it. It is absolutely delicious in the broth and gives it a huge umami boost. If you don’t want to stink up the house, I would add it in the broth directly instead of toasting it with the sate oil at the end.


Annatto seeds are used to mostly make the oil red in colour.


Noodles & Meats

Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)

For the meats, you can use the pork hocks and beef shanks for some extra bits to eat with the soup after it has flavoured the broth. Yes! Double duty!


I used a Vietnamese pork sausage, which you can find at a Asian grocers. It comes packaged as a hunk in the refrigerator and is already pre-cooked. There are many types of sausages so I went with the Cha Lua, which is the most common one. Depending on where you get the sausage, it may come wrapped in a banana leaf. Discard the leaf and thinly slice it before adding it to the noodle bowl at the end.


For the noodles, go for the round rice noodles (not the flat ones used in Pho or Pad Thai). They look like spaghetti but white. They come in many thickness but Bun Bo Hue usually uses the thicker ones however switch it up to find your favourite! Try to find noodles that only contain rice and water as the ingredients.


AdditionalΒ Toppings & Garnishes

Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


This is the fun part! Experiment with your garnishes! A few ideas and things I commonly use are:


  • Thai Basil (or mint)
  • Green Onions (finely chopped)
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Lime Wedges
  • Bird’s Eye Chilli
  • Thinly Sliced Onions
  • Deep Fried Onions or Shallots
  • Thinly sliced Banana Blossoms
  • Cilantro
  • Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage




After that doozy of an ingredient list, I myself would be intimidated to make this but I swear it’s not complicated! πŸ™‚ It just takes a bit of time, and if you haven’t started running yet – let’s get started. To keep me on track I like to break it down into 3 parts.


Part 1 : Making the Broth
Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


To make a clear, clean broth it is crucial to clean out the meats we are working with before making the actual broth. Running with water doesn’t really do much when it’s raw so to clean out the blood and guck we will need to boil all the meats in COLD water for about 20 minutes. I use cold water so that the water slowly heats up which releases the blood and fats slowly. If you add the meat into hot water, the blood will instantly seize up and you won’t get as much as the gross bits out.Β Once you have finished boiling out the impurities, discard the water and clean out the pot and put the meat back in.


Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


Got frustrations? Now’s your chance to beat them out! πŸ˜‰ To release the lemongrass oils from the lemongrass, whack it a few times with a blunt object. (Use only the bottom parts of the lemongrass and not the dry tips.) We want to easily fish out the spices after broth is done so keep things as whole as possible.


Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)


Put all the broth spices in the pot, add in the water in and cook it for about 1.5 hours. Remove the beef shank and set it aside covered for later. Continue to cook the broth for another 1.5 hours for a total of 3 hours.


Note: Making this soup is a labour of love so feel free to double the amount to make more to freeze. If you choose to freeze the broth, don’t put the Sate sauce in it until you are ready to eat it. The Sate sauce takes 5 minutes to make, and doesn’t really freeze well.



Part 2 : Making the Spicy Sate Chilli Sauce

To make the sate chilli sauce, start off by heating up the oil in a pan and then adding the annatto seeds in. Once the oil is red, discard the annatto seeds and add the rest of the spices and chilli in and cook it in the red oil. When it is done, add it to the broth.


Danger!Β Let the oil cool before adding it to the broth so you don’t splatter it everywhere.


Important Note: The colour of the oil comes mainly from the annatto seeds. Be careful of getting this oil on your clothes (especially light coloured clothing), it can stain your clothing a pee pee yellow colour.


Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)




Part 3 : Prepping the Noodles and Meats & Building your Bun Bo Hue bowl

Make the noodles according to the instructions on the package. I always preach to never boil your noodles if you can avoid it but with thicker round rice noodles, there’s no way around it. To prevent the noodles from being soggy and over cooked I usually, cook it with a low rolling boil and subtract 1 minute from the instruction time and do a taste test to see if it is i the right texture. (You want it springy with a bit of bounce). If its still hard in the middle, I keep it in for another minute and test again. Rinse the noodles under cold water to remove the extra starch and to cool down the noodles to stop the cooking process.


Slice up the meats – the beef shank, Vietnamese sausage and pork hocks and place it in a bowl with the noodles and add in the broth and you’re done!


Add in the additional toppings and garnishes right before eating! πŸ™‚


A Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup (Bun Bo Hue) packed with flavour. If you love Pho, and you love a bit of spice the definitely give Bun Bo Hue a try. #noodles #vietnamesefood #noodlesoup #beefnoodle

A Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup (Bun Bo Hue) packed with flavour. If you love Pho, and you love a bit of spice the definitely give Bun Bo Hue a try. #noodles #vietnamesefood #noodlesoup #beefnoodle

I’m serious! This stuff is Pho on crack! πŸ˜‰ You’ll never go back once you’re hooked on this.


Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)

  • Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Category: Main, Noodles, Asian
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese


Bun Bo Hue is a Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup packed with flavour. If you love Pho, and you love a bit of spice the definitely give Bun Bo Hue a try.


Broth Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs beef bones
  • 1 1/2 lbs pork hocks cut into smaller pieces (ask your butcher to cut it for you)
  • 1 lb beef shank (or beef brisket)

Broth Spices

  • 12 cups water
  • 1 onion
  • 4 stalks lemongrass
  • 1-2 whole star anise (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 yellow lump rock sugar (3cmx2cm, or 2 tablespoons brown sugar)
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic (whole)
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves (optional, but highly recommended. Add more lemongrass stalks if you skip this)
  • 1 1/2 Β tablespoons shrimp paste (tweak up for a more flavourful broth)
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce (tweak up, for a more flavourful broth)
  • salt to taste (start with 1/4 tablespoon of salt and add up if you want it more salty)

Sate Chilli Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons oil (flavourless oils like canola, vegetable, peanut)
  • 1 tablespoon annatto seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chili flakes (add more to make it more spicy, less to make it less spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass (finely minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 3 shallots (finely minced)

Noodles & Meats

  • 1 package thick round rice vermicelli noodles (thick like spaghetti)
  • 1 package Vietnamese pork sausage (Cha Lua)
  • Cooked beef shank from the broth (sliced)
  • Cooked pork hocks from the both

Toppings & Garnishes (Pick and Choose!)

  • Thai Basil (or mint)
  • Green Onions (finely chopped)
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Lime Wedges
  • Birdseye Chilli
  • Thinly Sliced Onions
  • Deep Fried Onions or Shallots
  • Thinly sliced Banana Blossoms
  • Cilantro
  • Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage


Making the Broth – Cleaning the Meat

  1. In a large pot, add cold water into it and add all the meats.
  2. Set the stove to medium, to medium high heat and boil for 15-20 minutes until you see all the gross bits and frothy blood on the surface of the water.
  3. Discard the water and clean out the pot.
  4. Using your fingers, gently clean the meat off with water and remove any scum residue.
  5. Add the meat back into the clean pot

Making the Broth – Adding in the Spices

  1. Remove any dried outer leaves from the lemongrass and cut off the dried tips at the top. We want to keep the bottom 2/3 of the stalk.
  2. With a blunt object, smash the lemongrass stalks to release the oils. Keep the lemongrass intact and add to the pot
  3. Peel the onion and cut it in half, peel the garlic and keep it intact so you can easily fish it out later when the broth is done. Put them in the pot.
  4. Add in the ginger slices, sugar, lime leaves, star anise into the pot
  5. Add in 12 cups of water and set the heat to medium low and keep it at a low rolling boil.
  6. Mix the shrimp paste with 1/4 cup of water and add it into the pot.
  7. Add in the fish sauce (not all fish sauce is created equal, add in half the amount of fish sauce first and then do a taste test to make sure it is not overly salty. If it needs more salt, add in the rest of the fish sauce.
  8. Set a timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  9. You can make the sate chili sauce while you are waiting for the broth to cook and add it into the broth as soon as the sauce has cooled. (Sate Chili Sauce steps below)
  10. Once 1 hour and 30 minutes passes, remove the beef shank and set it aside covered for use later
  11. If your broth reduced a lot, add 2-3 cups of water back to the broth
  12. Set the timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes again and cook the broth for a total of 3 hours. It doesn’t hurt to cook this more than 3 hours though! πŸ™‚
  13. When the broth is done, discard the lime leaves, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, star anise and onion
  14. Do a taste test of the broth, to make sure it has enough salt. Add additional fish sauce to the broth for more flavour.
  15. Remove the pork hock and beef bones and set it aside covered for use later

Making the Sate ChiliΒ Sauce

  1. In a sauce pan, set the stove to medium heat and add in the annatto seeds and stir it for 3-5 minutes until the oil turns a bright red colour. Discard the annatto seeds
  2. Add in the chilli flakes, lemongrass, garlic and shallots and toast it in the oil for 10 minutes
  3. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool
  4. Once the oil has cooled, add it to the broth

Prepping the Noodles and Meat & Building the Bun Bo Hue Noodle Bowl

  1. Make the noodles according to the package. To ensure you have springy bouncy noodles and not over cooked mushy noodles, subtract 1 minute from the directions and try the noodles. If the noodles are still hard in the centre, add 1 more minute to the cooking time and taste test again
  2. Run the noodles under cold water once it is done cooking to remove the extra starches and to stop the cooking process.
  3. [Optional] I like to mix 2 teaspoons of oil into the noodles while I am running cold water through it to prevent them from sticking together later on
  4. Thinly slice the beef shank, Vietnamese sausage (discard the banana leaf if it’s wrapped in it) and chop the pork shank and add it all to the bowl
  5. Add in the noodles andΒ the broth
  6. Add in garnishes and toppings and enjoy hot! πŸ™‚


  • Be careful with light coloured clothing around the oil after you infuse the annatto seeds into it and it turns red. It may dye your clothing.
  • This recipe doubles, triples, quadruples well. You can make a big batch and freeze it for another day. Just make sure not to add the Sate Chilli Mix into the broth, that doesn’t freeze well. Make the Sate Chilli Mix, fresh the day you want to have it. It only takes a few minutes.


  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 1801 kcal
  • Sugar: 20 g
  • Sodium: 2689 mg
  • Fat: 116 g
  • Carbohydrates: 136 g
  • Protein: 72 g

Keywords: bun bo hue

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites, however I provide these links to make items easier to find if you cannot purchase this locally and I would never recommend anything I don’t own myself or highly recommend. I would prefer you buy your items locally if possible to support your local shops (and chances are they are cheaper locally as well!) πŸ™‚


34 thoughts on “Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)”

    1. If he loves Pho he definitely should try this, he will never go back to Pho! πŸ™‚

  1. I once had a Vietnamese soup similar to this one and it was damn good. Lots of ingredients and steps in there but seems worth everything. I would have to skip the pork but like the aromatics in this recipe.

    1. It’s the flavour! I love the aromatics and flavours from Vietnamese food! πŸ™‚

  2. This looks incredible and so awesome to make at home! I love the photos and especially the “gross bits” call out hehe.

    1. haha thanks! πŸ™‚ It’s always nice to see how the process works especially if its gross! haha πŸ˜€

  3. What a gorgeous meal…I know my family would absolutely love this. Such a flavorful and mouthwatering recipe. Pinning for later!

  4. I’m still a pho addict but I like a good bun bo hue too! Great tip on the quick boil then clean the bones before actually making the stock. That’s critical no matter what Asian broth you are making. Ramen, pho or bun bo hue – that’s just good advice.

    I’d be beside myself happy if you could find a way to make this with pre-fab beef broth. Good luck!

    1. I will definitely be trying out the easy way in the near future πŸ™‚

  5. i’ve never had bun bo hue before!! tbh, i usually skip even the pho and go for the cold vietnamese noodles (a girl’s gotta have her pickled vegetables!). but this sounds so tasty that as soon as i get back to socal where the cheap vietnamese restaurants are, i’m ordering bun bo hue. and then probably procrastinating by making this lol

    1. You must! πŸ˜€ But yea, in hot weather my go-to is usually a cold Vietnamese noodle bowl too haha πŸ˜€ I’m addicted to those pickled veggies!

  6. I used to keep ordering pho before until I tried my friend’s bun bo hue and I was blown away. It was so good, so many different flavours in one bowl.

  7. I followed this recipe almost to the T and it turned out great – thanks for sharing!

    One thing though – it always seems to me the cooking time suggested in these vietnamese broth recipes are significantly shorter than needed – I served it for dinner after cooking for 3 hours, but the broth was very light. I left it for next morning and it was just right. Also, I had to put a lot more fish sauce and shrimp paste than suggested after tasting. Did I miss something or is my taste bud spoiled by the MSG in asian restaurants?

    1. Hi Annie,

      I’m so happy to hear from you and I’m super thrilled you tried this and liked it! πŸ™‚ There are often times I wonder if MSG and salt has ruined me too haha πŸ™‚ If I had to make a guess, I would guess 1 of 2 things may have happened. Either our stoves are very different so my 3 hours might be slightly different than your 3 hours if mine is running hotter. If my stove was running hotter, my soup may have had a lot more water evaporation (and water loss) which would make it more concentrated.

      My second guess would be, different brands of fish sauce and shrimp pastes have different saltiness so it may be possible the brands I am using are slightly stronger. With anything salt related ingredient (soy, fish sauce, shrimp paste) I usually tweak down slightly down, so I can give you some room to tweak to what your preference of saltiness. You can always add more, but you can’t take out once you put too much. I definitely like my food on the saltier side though haha! πŸ™‚ OH! …and I definitely agree with you, the soup is always better the next day! To be honest, with any broth type soups I have noticed that there’s no such thing as cooking it too long! πŸ™‚ It just gets more flavourful the more you cook it, so one thing to try is to cook it a bit longer to condense the flavours even more! πŸ™‚

  8. I’m making this recipe right now. I hope it comes out as good as it looks. 🀞thank u for sharing this recipe. πŸ™I’ve always wanted to learn how to make this dish. One of my fave Vietnamese dishes, I always order in the restaurant.

    1. Woohoo!! πŸ™‚ I am always happy to share happy eats! πŸ™‚ This is definitely my fave as well, I don’t think I ever order pho anymore! haha πŸ™‚ Just a heads up, when you do a taste test and prefer a stronger tasting broth, tweak the recipe by adding more time to the cooking time to reduce it so it becomes more concentrated. πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy!

  9. I’m making this recipe right now. hope it turns out as good as it looks🀞one of my fave dishes to order, when I go to my fave Vietnamese restaurant. thank u for sharing this recipe.πŸ™

    1. Hi Shawn,

      You can definitely omit the pork sausage and substitute it with something like deep fried tofu balls, or any kind of meat.
      I have not tried making the broth, without pork though so I am not 100% sure how the changes will affect it however if I was to try to do it without pork, I would probably double up on the beef bones and beef shank.
      The pork hocks give the broth a thicker more silky feel, so you might lose a bit of that silky broth texture but if you are okay with that then yes, I definitely think the pure beef bones and shank route would work!
      I find the soup’s flavour mostly come from the shrimp paste so you won’t lose out of flavour.

      Hope this helps! πŸ™‚

  10. I was served this soup in a country eating place in Lam Dong and I have never been the same after. At last I found the right recipe! Thank you so much!

    1. This is so wonderful to hear! πŸ™‚ It makes me so happy to hear whenever we can re-create something we had outside right at home! and I’m super happy to hear it’s the recipe that you have been looking for! πŸ™‚ Happy eats! πŸ˜€

  11. Hi Joyce,
    I do know cooking since a young kid being forced into it by my mom as her helper. I hated w/ passion then but now thanks God for my mother’s foresight :). That was 55 years ago. Then I was an VNAF aviator traveling all 4 military zones, eating Vietnamese foods from fancy to primitives. Today in America, I’m the family chef making foods of the bygone area for my children then & now when they come home to visit the downhill people.
    As original recipe way back then in Vietnam my time, they have only beef shanks as the main meat hence the name Beef Noodle Hue -directly translated. In the south they add Gio Heo (pork hock) and HuyαΊΏt (pork blood) so the dish became Bun Bo Gio Heo (no Hue string attached). As a result, in Vietnam back then, both versions were served every where but making sure you ordered the right stuffs. There is no Cha Lua, Cha Que whatsoever served in the food with exception of some versions of Banh Cuon & Banh Mi (Banh Mi Cha Lua is a poor man dinner then) or side dish by itself but these 2s started showing up almost in all dishes after 1975. I speculate it’s the cheap filled in (cheap pork fat & meat to fill in for the lack of real meats needed in noodle soups) due to the 15 years of poor economy conditions of Vietnam after 1975. Side note: Do you know Pho Bo Vien (Meat Ball Pho) was mostly served by Chinese Vietnamese Pho but not in authentic Vietnamese Pho?
    That’s the reference recipe I’ve known of minus the star anise (your stated intention) and Cha Lua/Cha Que. The rest is probably the best Bun Bo Hue recipe how to I’ve seen so far in addition to the best flow format & structure. Thanks for all the works.

    1. Wow I loved learning from you the history and different ways to prepare this dish from different regions! Thank you for this, I always love learning these things! πŸ™‚ I have seen Pho Bo Vien in restaurants but I had no idea it was a Chinese Vietnamese version of Pho! Learn something new everyday! πŸ™‚ Isn’t it funny how different our food and cooking views become when we get older? As a kid, I learned to cook because my mom didn’t cook much (my dad was the home cook but he would work late hours often and wouldn’t be home for dinner much) so your kids are very lucky to have you cook such delicious things for them! If I was your kid, I would definitely visit you ALL THE TIME to have home cooked meals – those are very comforting times! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your kind words about the recipe and the structure, it means a lot to me and I am very happy and touched by it. πŸ™‚

  12. Your photos of this dish are absolutely gorgeous! This is by far one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. I loooove how spicy it is and the combination of beef and pork gives such a rich and delicious broth! Well done girl!!

  13. I am on my way to purchase the additional ingredients I need to prepare this. I would like to thank you for simplifying this recipe for me and for the humorous commentary!

    1. Yay!! πŸ™‚ I am so happy you are preparing this! I think you’re the first person that finds me humorous and not odd! haha! πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy the noodles – now I want a bowl too! heehee!

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