This article was updated on the 10th of August 2023 for clarity and freshness.
If you’re wondering what to serve with your pho, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I list 39 of the most popular side dishes for pho.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best dishes to serve with pho include cucumber salad, gyoza, and garlic chili spicy edamame. For more traditional Vietnamese dishes, go for Vietnamese spring rolls, Vietnamese pancakes, or a lotus stem salad. For something filling, I like scallion pancakes or Thai-style smashed potatoes.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
Classic Vietnamese dishes
Pairing pho with traditional Vietnamese side dishes is a sure way to enjoy a complete, authentic meal. You can never go wrong with fresh spring rolls, they’re always a guaranteed hit. But if you’re up for a challenge, why not make crispy fried dough sticks?
Fresh Vietnamese spring rolls
This is probably the most traditional side dish on our list (and my personal favorite). No Vietnamese feast would be complete without it.
These rolls are made with vermicelli noodles, sweet shrimp, fresh lettuce, and herbs wrapped in soft and chewy rice paper. And if that’s not enough, this recipe includes an addictive peanut dipping sauce that ties everything together.
But another thing I love about these rolls is you can make them interactive. Set out the noodles, rice paper, and the rest of the fillings, and let your guests make their own rolls. It’s a fun activity, plus, it means less work for you!
Pro-tip: if you’re on a budget, you can use crab sticks instead of shrimp for your spring rolls
Lotus stem salad
Lotus stem salad, also known as Goi Ngo Sen, is a vibrant salad straight from the streets of Vietnam.
It consists of pickled vegetables, sweet prawns, toasted peanuts, and fried shallots coated with a sweet and salty fish sauce dressing. The acidity you get from the salad helps liven up the heart-warming pho broth and keeps things fresh.
For extra texture, follow the recipe’s lead and crumble some prawn crackers over the salad.
And a final tip: can’t get your hands on any lotus stem? Jicama is a good substitute.
When you think of Vietnamese food, three things come to mind: pho, spring rolls, and Vietnamese pancakes (otherwise known as banh xeo).
Most people think these pancakes are made with eggs because they’re so yellow, but there’s no egg in sight — they get their vibrant color from the addition of turmeric powder.
You can customize the fillings but Marion stuffs her pancakes with chicken, chopped raw veggies, and fresh herbs (yum!).
Fried dough sticks (quẩy)
In Northern Vietnam, pho is typically served with these fried dough sticks. They’re perfectly golden and crisp on the outside, with soft, fluffy insides that are to die for. I love dipping them into my pho broth to soak up the savory goodness.
Delightful Plate recommends using bread flour in making the dough for the best results. This specific flour has a high protein content and produces more gluten, which is what you need to achieve the right texture for these dough sticks.
The only catch with these is they need an overnight rest, so you’ll need to plan ahead if you want to try them.
Other Asian favorites
While pho comes from Vietnamese cuisine, you can easily enjoy it with popular dishes from other Asian countries. Adding dumplings, scallion pancakes, or a side of kimchi introduces new flavors and textures that can work well with your pho. Plus, it’s a fun way to mix flavors and explore more of what Asian cuisine offers.
Though Gyoza dumplings originate from Japan, they make for an excellent side dish to accompany pho.
The toasted bottom of the dumplings complements the soft rice noodles of pho, and the filling adds a delicious umami kick.
The Woks of Life’s recipe features a classic combination of pork and napa cabbage as the filling for these gyoza dumplings. But you can play around with other proteins like seafood or chicken and even mushrooms for a meatless dumpling.
Scallions are a common garnish for pho to add a fresh crunch, but these pancakes make them the star of the show.
And despite the name, these pancakes aren’t your fluffy breakfast favorites. They’re crisp and golden on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The scallions also add a subtle peppery twist to every bite.
They’re typically served with a dipping sauce, but I always save my last bite to mop up every drop of my pho broth.
Roasted peanuts are a popular bar snack, but I bet you’ve never tried fried peanuts.
This popular Chinese dish is super easy to make. You simply need peanuts, oil, and salt. With the hot oil, the peanuts develop a crunchy texture that you can enjoy in between bites of your pho’s tender noodles.
And for even more flavor, you can fry the nuts with garlic or fresh chili. It may be bad for your breath, but it’s great for your taste buds.
Psst… China Sichuan Food adds vodka to keep the nuts crispy, but you can skip this if you’re making a small batch.
Thai-style smashed potatoes
These spuds require extra work because you have to boil them, smash them, and then sear them to get that crunchy crust, but they’re worth it. Especially when they’re drenched in a lovely Thai yellow curry sauce. This vibrant sauce infuses them with just the right amount of heat, perfect for complementing your pho’s savory, meaty notes.
Psst… you can also switch it up with a red or green curry sauce, whichever one is your favorite.
Vegetables and salads
Veggie sides and salads are a great way to cut through the rich, savory flavor of your pho broth. Fresh bean sprouts are commonly served as a topping, but you can also switch things up with a zingy cucumber salad or grilled bok choy for a fun twist.
Garlic chili spicy edamame
Edamame is so fun to eat and you can get them on the table in under 10 minutes, making them a great option when you need a last-minute side dish.
I especially love chili-coated edamame because they have the right amount of heat. Although if you’ve already got a spicy pho broth, you might appreciate milder flavored edamame like with this garlic butter edamame recipe.
Psst… you can use frozen edamame to make these garlic chili edamame. No one will know the difference, I promise.
Stir-fried bean sprouts
Bean sprouts are usually served raw as a topper for pho, but try out this stir-fry recipe if you want something different.
Aside from the bean sprouts, you only need three other ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. Plus, they only take an extra 15 minutes to make.
The trick with cooking the sprouts is to fry them over very high heat so you can draw out their extra moisture quicker and ensure they maintain their crunch.
Wakame salad is a low-carb side that’s also brimming with nutrients.
Some people might turn their noses up at eating seaweed, but this dish will convert them. It’s not slimy at all, and the vinegar in the dressing adds a nice tartness to contrast the richness of your pho broth.
Pro-tip: make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the rehydrated wakame to prevent watering down your dressing.
Grilled bok choy
Grilling isn’t a common cooking method for bok choy, but you’re missing out if you haven’t tried it. Like any other veg, grilling helps draw out the natural sugars in your bok choy, making it sweeter. It also helps infuse the bok choy with a delectable smoky taste.
And if you’re looking for more flavor, follow Slender Kitchen’s lead and drizzle the grilled bok choy leaves with a sweet chili sauce before serving with your pho.
Asian cucumber salad
Want a fresh bite with your pho? Try pairing it with a side of this cucumber salad.
It’s not authentic, but it’s light and crisp, with prominent zingy and acidic notes to offset the rich, beefy flavors of your pho.
Mira recommends using Persian cucumbers, although this recipe works for any variety. They’re especially great for salads because of their delightful crunch.
What To Serve With Pho [39 Ideas]
- 1 portion banh xeo
- 1 portion fresh Vietnamese spring rolls
- 1 portion garlic chili spicy edamame
- 1 portion scallion pancakes
- 1 portion asian cucumber salad
- 1 portion fried bean sprouts
- … and more
- Prepare your cube steak according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Side dishes include: Asian cucumber salad, fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, garlic chili spicy edamame, lotus stem salad, Japanese gyoza, scallion pancakes, stir-fried bean sprouts, banh xeo, wakame salad, fried peanuts, and Thai-style smashed potatoes.
- Serve immediately and enjoy.