Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) is like a warm hug from Southern Vietnam—it’s been my go-to comfort food during my child hood.

Bowl of Hu Tieu Bo Kho: A delicious Vietnamese beef stew served with Hu Tieu noodles, carrots, and onions.

In this post, I’ll guide you through cooking Bò Kho using both the Instant Pot and stovetop methods.

You won’t need any specific “Bò Kho” seasoning, making this recipe easy to prepare even if you can’t find it locally.

🙋‍♀️ What is Bò Kho?

Bò kho (Vietnamese beef stew) is a rich and hearty soup, featuring succulent beef shank, carrots, and onions, all floating in a fragrant broth infused with mild citrus hints of lemongrass.

Bowl of Hu Tieu Bo Kho: A delicious Vietnamese beef stew served with Hu Tieu noodles, carrots, and onions.

Originating from South Vietnam, this beloved soup may have been influenced by the Chinese immigrant community during the 1950s.

It is quite similar to Bò Bía Spring Rolls and Bạc Xỉu (Saigon white coffee).

By infusing Chinese spices with local ingredients such as lemongrass and coconut water, the Vietnamese people have created a flavorsome and comforting soup which could brighten up even the dreariest of days.

Bò Kho can be enjoyed with Vietnamese baguette (Bánh Mì Bò Kho), egg noodles (Mì Bò Kho), or hủ tiếu noodles (Hủ Tiếu Bò Kho).

Bò Kho in the Northern Vietnam differs significantly. Northern Bò Kho refers to a caramelized braised beef served with steamed white rice.

Actually the northern counterpart to Bò Kho is Bò Sốt Vang (Vietnamese red-wine beef stew), a French-Vietnamese fusion dish.

Bò Sốt Vang could be served with bread or Pho rice noodles (Phở Bò Sốt Vang).

❤️ Why you will love this recipe

Bowl of Hu Tieu Bo Kho: A delicious Vietnamese beef stew served with Hu Tieu noodles, carrots, and onions.
  • Rich and Flavorful: The combination of seared beef shank, coconut water, lemongrass, ginger, and star anise creates a delightful and hearty soup, especially to warm up on a cool day.
  • Versatile Accompaniments: I love Bò Kho with hủ tiếu noodles but you could feel free to serve it with Vietnamese baguette (the one for Banh Mi sandwich) or egg noodles.
  • Easy and Quick: Thanks to the convenience of the Instant Pot, this recipe significantly reduces the cooking time. I will show you how to cook this stew on Stovetop also.
  • No “Bo Kho” Seasoning Required: suitable for those who can’t find this ingredient at their local Asian Markets.

🥩 Ingredients

You can find the ingredients at Asian markets. For precise measurements, refer to the recipe card at the end of this post.

THE IDEAL BEEF CUTS ?

Ingredients for Bo Kho Instant Pot: Get ready to cook a delicious Vietnamese beef stew with these essential ingredients

When preparing Bo Kho or any beef stews, I recommend to use the beef cuts that contain a generous amount of connective tissues since they could become tender and juicy when cooked for a longer period of time.

  • Opt for beef shank, beef chuck, beef brisket, oxtail, and bone-in short ribs.
  • Lean cuts like tenderloin or short loin are not suitable for this dish.
  • It is best to include some beef bones, as they help enhance the flavor of the broth.

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

Aromatic ingredients:

  • Lemongrass (the more the better)
  • Garlic
  • Shallot
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Star anise

Lemongrass is the heart and soul of Bò Kho, making it distinct from Bò Sốt Vang in the north.

Cinnamon and star anise, also popular in Vietnamese cuisine, are commonly found in the spices for Phở.

More recipes with lemongrass:

Spices: Vietnamese five-spice powder and Vietnamese curry powder (or Bò Kho seasoning).

Both Vietnamese five-spice powder and Vietnamese curry powder have a milder aroma compared to Chinese five-spice powder and Indian curry powder.

In Vietnamese cuisine, Vietnamese five-spice powder is a well-loved ingredient in braised and grilled dishes like Gà Roti (Vietnamese rotisserie chicken).

Vietnamese curry powder
A popular Vietnamese curry powder brand
Vietnamese five spice powder
A popular Vietnamese 5-spice powder brand

Coloring: annatto oil or paprika oil (check my Canh Bún recipe for the paprika oil).

Seasoning:

  • Coconut water: the secret tip to make an authentic Bò Kho in Vietnam.
  • Ketchup (or tomato paste)
  • Chicken powder
  • Salt
  • Fish sauce
  • Cooking wine
  • Rock sugar (or granulated sugar)

Vegetables: Carrots and onions (no potatoes in traditional Bò Kho)

Vietnamese herbs (rau thơm): Thai basil, sawtooth coriander and bean sprouts.

Serving Options: Hủ Tiếu Noodles (tapioca noodles), Phở Noodles (flat rice noodles), Egg Noodles, or Baguette

Delicious Vietnamese beef stew (Bo Kho) made effortlessly in an Instant Pot or on stovetop. Learn how to make this hearty Vietnamese stew, perfect for fall and winter seasons.

📝 Instructions with Instant Pot

MARINATING THE BEEF

  • Dice the beef into 4cm (1½ inch) cubes.
  • Sauté the seasoning powder (optional)
    • In a small saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil. Add minced garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add Bo Kho seasoning, or the combination of five spice powder and Vietnamese curry powder. Stir-fry the seasonings with garlic until fragrant.
    • This step elevates the flavor of your Bo Kho, but you can simply mix all the seasonings with the beef.
  • Marinate the beef with the seasonings, chicken powder, fish sauce, cooking wine, salt and annatto oil. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, or overnight for the best flavor.
Hu Tieu Bo Kho Instant Pot instructions: Learn how to make this flavorful Vietnamese beef stew using the Instant Pot.
Hu Tieu Bo Kho Instant Pot instructions: Learn how to make this flavorful Vietnamese beef stew using the Instant Pot.

PREPARING THE VEGGIES

  • Cut the lemongrass into 10cm (4 inches) sticks, keeping the leafy tops for cooking the broth.
  • Slightly pound the stalks to unleash their aroma and flavor.
  • Slice the ginger and onions. Finely mince the shallots.
  • Cut the carrots into 2.5cm (1 inch) chunks.
Hu Tieu Bo Kho Instant Pot instructions: Learn how to make this flavorful Vietnamese beef stew using the Instant Pot.
Hu Tieu Bo Kho Instant Pot instructions: Learn how to make this flavorful Vietnamese beef stew using the Instant Pot.

COOKING WITH INSTANT POT

  • Press the “Saute” button on the Instant Pot and select high heat mode. Add 1 tbsp of cooking oil to the pot, followed by star anise and cinnamon. Stir-fry until fragrant.
  • Add ginger, minced shallots and lemongrass, and continue stir-frying until they release their fragrant aromas.
  • Add all the marinated beef to the pot along with ketchup. Pan fry until the beef develops a nice color and caramelization. If you have beef bones, you can add them now. Pour in one liter of coconut water (or water).
  • Season the stew with ½ tsp of chicken powder, 1 tsp of salt, and 1-2 tbsp of sugar (if not using coconut water).
  • Press the “Cancel” button to reset the cooking program. Lock the lid and select “Pressure Cook” at high pressure for 14 minutes.  Let the pressure naturally releases until the float valve drops.
  • When the time is done, unlock the lid. The beef may still be slightly chewy at this stage. Discard the star anise and cinnamon. If needed, skim off any excess fat and scums, then add the carrots.
  • Press the “Cancel” button again to reset the cooking program. Press the “Saute” button on high heat mode. Cook the stew until the beef and carrots are tender to your liking (about 15 minutes). This allows better control over the tenderness of the beef and vegetables.
  • Add the sliced onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. The cooked onions add sweetness to the broth and thicken it without using cornstarch slurry.
  • Adjust the seasoning of the stew with salt, chicken powder, and annatto oil for a vibrant color.
Hu Tieu Bo Kho Instant Pot instructions: Learn how to make this flavorful Vietnamese beef stew using the Instant Pot.

SERVE

  • Cook Hủ Tiếu noodles or egg noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water.
  • To serve, place Hủ Tiếu noodles in a bowl and ladle the beef stew over the noodles.
  • Garnish with Thai basil leaves and serve with lime, mung bean sprouts, and sawtooth coriander.
  • Bò Kho can also be enjoyed with Vietnamese Baguette or toasted bread.
Bowl of Hu Tieu Bo Kho: A delicious Vietnamese beef stew served with Hu Tieu noodles, carrots, and onions.

COOKING ON STOVE TOP

  • After stir-frying the marinated beef with aromatics and adding coconut water, simmer the stew for 1 hour over medium-low heat. Then, add carrots and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
  • The remaining steps are similar to the Instant Pot method.

Thanks a bunch for giving my recipe a shot! If you enjoyed it, I’d truly appreciate a 5-star rating or a comment to let me know your thoughts.

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Bowl of Hu Tieu Bo Kho: A delicious Vietnamese beef stew served with Hu Tieu noodles, carrots, and onions.

Bò Kho – Vietnamese Beef Stew (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

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Bò Kho: Effortless, authentic, and bursting with flavor—Vietnamese beef stew featuring tender beef, carrots, and onions in a broth infused with lemongrass. Quick and easy with the Instant Pot or on the stovetop.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • 6-quart Instant Pot (6-liter)
  • 1 mixing bowl

Ingredients
  

Marinating the beef

  • 2.2 pound Beef shank (Beef chuck, beef brisket, oxtail) (1 kg)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese 5-spice powder (you can substitue all 5-spice powder and Vietnamese curry powder with 2 tsp Bò Kho Seasoning Powder)
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese Curry Powder
  • 1 tbsp chicken powder
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cooking wine (optional)
  • 2 tbsp annatto oil

Aromatics, Vegetables, and Seasonings

  • 5 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots (optional)
  • 1 thumb-sized piece ginger
  • 1 tbsp ketchup (optional)
  • 2 small sticks cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ large onion
  • 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 4 Cup coconut water (or water) (1 liter)
  • Chicken Powder, Salt, Sugar (adjust to taste)

Serving:

  • Hu Tieu Noodles (Egg Noodles, Baguette)
  • Thai Basils
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Lime
  • Sawtooth coriander (optional)
  • Vietnamese lime pepper dipping sauce (muối tiêu chanh)

Instructions
 

Marinating the beef

  • Dice the beef into 4cm (1½ inch) cubes.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a small saucepan. Sauté garlic until it becomes fragrant. Add Bo Kho seasoning or a blend of five spice powder and Vietnamese curry powder. Stir-fry the seasonings with garlic until they release their aromatic flavors. This step is optional to enhance the taste of your Bo Kho.
  • Allow the seasoned mixture to cool down slightly, then use it to marinate the beef along with chicken powder, fish sauce, cooking wine, salt, annatto oil, and paprika powder.
  • Let the beef marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator, or for optimal flavor, marinate it overnight.

Preparing the vegetables

  • Trim the lemongrass into 10cm (4 inches) sticks, keeping the leafy tops aside for later. Gently pound the meaty stalks with a mallet to unlock their fragrance and flavor.
  • Thinly slice the ginger.
  • Dice the carrots into 2.5cm (1 inch) chunks and thinly slice the onions.

Cooking with Instant Pot

  • Press the "Saute" button on the Instant Pot and set it to high heat mode. Add 1 tbsp of cooking oil to the pot, then add star anise and cinnamon. Sauté until they become fragrant.
  • Add ginger, minced shallots, and lemongrass, and continue sauteing until their delightful aromas are released.
  • Add all the marinated beef to the pot, along with ketchup. Pan fry the beef until it achieves a desirable color and caramelization. If you have beef bones, you can add them at this stage. Pour in one liter of coconut water (or water) to the pot.
  • To season the stew, add ½ tsp of chicken powder, 1 tsp of salt, and 1-2 tbsp of sugar (if you're not using coconut water).
  • To reset the cooking program, press the "Cancel" button on the Instant Pot. Ensure the lid is securely locked, and then select the "Pressure Cook" setting at high pressure for a duration of 14 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally until the float valve drops.
  • After unlocking the lid, you may notice that the beef is still slightly chewy. Remove the star anise and cinnamon from the pot, and if needed, skim off any excess fat or scum. Then, add the carrots to the pot.
  • Reset the cooking program by pressing the "Cancel" button once more. Activate the "Saute" mode on high heat. Allow the stew to simmer until the beef and carrots have reached the desired level of tenderness (approximately 15 minutes). This method provides better control over the texture of the beef and vegetables.
  • Add the sliced onions to the stew and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. The cooked onions infuse the broth with sweetness and naturally thicken it (no need to use cornstarch slurry).
  • Adjust the seasoning of the stew by adding salt, chicken powder, and annatto oil for color enhancement. If the soup tastes too salty, you can dilute it with a small amount of water.
  • Prepare Hu Tieu noodles or egg noodles by following the instructions on the package. Cook the noodles then drain and rinse with cold water.
  • To serve, place a portion of Hu Tieu noodles in a bowl and generously ladle the flavorful beef stew over the noodles.
  • Garnish with fresh Thai basil leaves and serve alongside lime wedges, mung bean sprouts, and sawtooth coriander. You also could enjoy Bo Kho with Vietnamese Baguette or toasted bread.

Notes

No Instant Pot? You can still prepare Bo Kho on your stovetop.
  • Start by stir-frying the marinated beef with aromatics and adding coconut water.
  • Allow the stew to simmer on medium-low heat for 1 hour.
  • Then, add the carrots and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes.
  • The remaining steps closely mirror the Instant Pot method.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
5/5 - (36 votes)

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