Bo Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew Recipe

bo kho

Bo Kho (Vietnamese beef stew) is one of those comforting dishes that we love on weekend mornings when we’re in no particular rush so that we can savor and linger over bowls of aromatic and tender beef dipped with fresh hot out of the oven French baguettes.  For us, and many Vietnamese, bo kho is ultimate breakfast food. Not milk or cereal, not even fancy preparations of eggs, delicious as they may be can compare to the aroma of all the fragrant spices in bo kho.  Really, you can’t compare waking up to the lingering scents of lemongrass, ginger, chili, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and fresh basil –it’s just not fair.

But since bo kho is so delicious, Vietnamese don’t just eat this dish at breakfast alone.  We also serve it with rice noodles called Hu Tieu Bo Kho and enjoy it during lunch and dinner.  This way, one pot of bo kho can be enjoyed in several different ways for the entire weekend.

bo kho

The beef in bo kho is thick cuts of beef shank as well as tendons, both requiring long hours of cooking to become tenderized.  I love to make this using my slow cooker, letting it cook overnight and waking up to warm and ready to eat pot of bo kho.  However, if you don’t have one it’s not a problem at all.

bo kho

Just before enjoying bo kho, squeeze on lime and add fresh basil and pickled onions. The rich and fragrant beef flavors will be enhanced by the basil and perfectly balanced by the acid in the lime and pickled onions.   If only we could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday!



Bo Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew


2 lbs beef shank, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
1/2 knob of ginger, thinly sliced
2 beef tendon strips or about 1/2 lb
1 stalk of lemongrass (white end bruised and slice into 4-5 inch stalk and tie together)
2 bay leaves
3-4 star anise seeds, (toasted optional)
32 oz of beef broth
4 medium sized carrots
2 tbs annato seed oil (see cooks note)

1 tbs diced shallots
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs minced lemongrass
1/2 tbs fish sauce
1/2 ts red chili powder
1/4 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts clove powder
1/4 ts anise powder
1 ts ground pepper
1 ts sugar

Toasted French baguettes
Fresh Basil
Pickled Onions
lime/lemon wedges
Diced cilantro and green onions
Sliced jalapenos
Rice noodles


In large mixing bowl, combine the beef shank with the spice marinade for at least 2 hours.

Saute the beef with 1 tbs of annato seed oil until browned and seared under medium high heat. Transfer this into the slow cooker. Add the beef tendons, stalk of lemonsgrass, star anise seeds, bay leaves, and beef broth. You may need to add more broth or water to just cover and submerge the beef.

Set slow cooker to lowest possible setting and allow to cook covered for overnight or about 8 hours. About 1 hour before it's done, add the carrots. Just before serving add another 1 tbs of annato seed oil to the broth for a great red color. Make final adjustment and season to taste.

Cooks Notes:
You can also boil the tendon separately ahead of time on constant high boil for about 2 hours or until tender, then cut and add to the bo kho just before it's done.

If you don't have a slow cooker, simmer in big covered pot until beef is tender about 4 hrs.

To make annatto seed oil, heat 2 tbs of olive with 1/2 of annato seeds. The oil will be steeped with a red color. Do not allow oil to boil, when the color is steeped red, turn of heat and drain the seeds.
Pickle onions the same way you pickle the carrots and daikon with dilute vinegar, sugar, and salt.

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104 Responses to “Bo Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew Recipe”

  1. 1

    john@heneedsfood — March 14, 2010 @ 7:09 am

    I'm salivating. Vietnamese soups are one of the things very close to my heart. This looks delicious and thanks for sharing the recipe

  2. 2

    Yen@Foodforfour — March 14, 2010 @ 11:03 am

    Absolutely delicious! That is the ultimate wake up call – the aroma of freshly made bo kho in the morning!

  3. 3

    Ju (The Little Teochew) — March 14, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    Oooh NIIIICE!!! That's like pure comfort food. You're an excellent cook. BTW, I love the new pic of the both of you (the one that appears when you leave comments). :)

  4. 4

    Jenny — March 14, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

    My oatmeal was good, but now pales in comparison to this. I love being introduced to new concepts for breakfast. (Well, my kid just had leftover pizza for breakfast, though I don't think that qualifies as a new idea.)

  5. 5

    5 Star Foodie — March 14, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

    I love that you marinade the meat before cooking the stew, fantastic flavors!

  6. 6

    MaryMoh — March 14, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

    Beautiful beef stew …. beautiful photo. Love the beef stew noodles…mmmm

  7. 7

    Jessica@Foodmayhem — March 14, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

    I've had Bo Kho at restaurants and find it so comforting because it's similar to a beef stew my mom makes. I didn't know that you ate it as breakfast though.

  8. 8

    sweetmango — March 14, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

    looks very yummy!!! your pictures looks delicious and want to eat it. Too bad we can't smell it and eat through the computer!!!Thank you for sharing your blog

  9. 9

    Jenn — March 14, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

    This reminds me of a similar stew made in a Philippines. Mmmm…delicious!!!

  10. 10

    Tammy — March 14, 2010 @ 11:35 pm

    What a magnificent collection of spices, all in one pot. Mm-mm good, is what I'm thinking. Handy to have the recipe as I'm making the hour-long drive to a big Vietnamese market day after tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm spreading the love: I've added you two onto my blogroll. Keep cooking!

  11. 11

    foodhoe — March 15, 2010 @ 12:40 am

    I love this dish and am definitely saving the recipe for future use. Mmmmm, wish I was able to enjoy that smell of freshly baking baguette in the morning too!

  12. 12

    Ravenous Couple — March 15, 2010 @ 2:28 am

    Sorry we weren't able to reply individually to your comments…we had a busy weekend looking for venues for the wedding!

  13. 13

    bluang3lbby — March 15, 2010 @ 2:32 am

    Man it has been a long time since we made bo kho at home probably years. But we always add potatoes in it to. The potatoes get so soft that they can be mashed with the carrots. drooling…

  14. 14

    Tiny Urban Kitchen — March 15, 2010 @ 3:08 am

    That looks fantastic! I especially want the bowl with the noodles. :) I bet if I ate this for breakfast I would be too full for lunch.

  15. 15

    Ravenous Couple — March 15, 2010 @ 4:24 am

    bluang3lbby: the starch from the potatoes does make bo kho into a thicker consistency that is also delicious!

    Tiny Urban Kitchen: Even though bo kho is quite hardy, whenever we order it in the restaurant, the serving and amount of soup is actually small.

  16. 16

    houstonwok — March 15, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

    Man I know the feeling,this looks so perfect.

  17. 17

    mycookinghut — March 15, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

    What a hearty dish, love this kind of food!

  18. 18

    krissy @ the food addicts — March 15, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

    hey guys – this is great! i needed this recipe because i wanted to make bo kho. i have a lot of lee's baguettes in the freezer and this would be perfect with it. this is such great comfort food!

  19. 19

    Ravenous Couple — March 15, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

    krissy: if you have a slow cooker to cook bo kho with, it's great..just leave it on and go to forget about it! :)

  20. 20

    pigpigscorner — March 15, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    OMG you have this for breakfast?! I'm so jealous.

  21. 21

    TripleScoop — March 15, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

    Looks good. I really enjoy a spicey bo kho!!

  22. 22

    Anh — March 16, 2010 @ 12:06 am

    Oh, there's a wedding bell ringing soon??? I am so HAPPY for you guys!

    Back to the topic: I love this stew. In the north, less spice is used and we eat with pho. They say they put red wine in it. No way!! :))

  23. 23

    noobcook — March 16, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

    I've never thought of having beef stew for breakfast, but after looking at the delicious pics, I am convinced ;) What a great way to start the day!

  24. 24

    Ravenous Couple — March 17, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    Anh: How interesting! bo kho with red wine! sorta of like beef bourguignon!

    Wiffy: typically the portions for bo kho in the morning is small, but it is filling!

  25. 25

    Ketchup — March 17, 2010 @ 12:54 am

    I love bo kho… your pictures are making me salivate. The more tendons, the better! I'll have to try out your recipe :) Thanks for sharing!

  26. 26

    tigerfish — March 17, 2010 @ 1:08 am

    The rice noodles must be absorbing all the essence of the stew. Makes slurping the rice noodles much more interesting….

    The beef stew more common to me is the Cantonese/HK style where they add daikon. This beef stew sounds as good.

  27. 27

    Tuty — March 17, 2010 @ 6:51 am

    Good luck with your wedding plans, guys. I hope you've found a venue.

    The beef stew recipe is awesome. I really like the flavoring ingredients. Must try this soon.

    I don't mind having this for breakfast (even with steamed rice).

  28. 28

    Ravenous Couple — March 17, 2010 @ 8:23 am

    sophia: congrats on expanding your food blog! looking forward to reading it!

    tigerfish: the hu tieu bo kho with the rice noodles is really good, but it's hard to resist slurping up the broth with the bread!

    tuty: thanks! we'll be busy!

  29. 29

    lostpastremembered — March 17, 2010 @ 9:50 am

    I think I have everything I need but the tendons… is there a substitution for that? The flavoring and spicing is really over the top good.. great recipe!

  30. 30

    Ravenous Couple — March 17, 2010 @ 9:56 am

    lostpastremembered: not sure if there's adequate substitution..but try it without the tendon, it'll still be good! Let us know how the bo kho goes if you do make it!

  31. 31

    dave — March 17, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    I LOVE this dish, especially getting some extra tendon too! I've also added daikon as well sometimes.

    Thanks for posting this!

  32. 32

    Tammy — March 17, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

    Upcoming nuptials, how exciting for you two–congratulations! Have fun with it (I know how opinionated Asian mothers can be…) Is the wedding a year from now or sooner? (Is that too personal a question??)

  33. 33

    Divina Pe — March 17, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

    Did you say breakfast? YES Please. I've been eating other foods for breakfast, noodles or rice and this one is definitely a must have for breakfast most especially all the flavors that would wake up not only the palate but also the person eating ti.

  34. 34

    Michelle Reyes-Nguyen — March 17, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

    I think you've just inspired my hus to make this. Thanks!

  35. 35

    penny aka jeroxie — March 18, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

    Oh yes! I have tried the beef stew before. Yours look better :)

  36. 36

    That's Ron — March 18, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

    oh man.. its 930am here… n i've had my breakfast! … after looking at this.. am now really hungry

  37. 37

    Rizka — March 19, 2010 @ 4:10 am

    Oh my this beef stew looks soo delicious!! Im keeping this to try one day, will let u knw how i go ;D

  38. 38

    Ravenous Couple — March 19, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

    Dave: The tendons in bo kho are some of the best parts!

    Tammy: It will be next summer..we'll probably blog about it so you won't miss it!

    Divina: Noodles and rice make perfect breakfast, we agree!

    Michelle: let us know how bo kho goes for you!

    Ron and Rizka: Bo kho is not that hard, try it and let us know!

  39. 39

    Quyen — March 19, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    Yay! Bo Kho in a crock pot! I love it and can't wait to try it out!! Thank you for sharing!

  40. 40

    vincent — March 20, 2010 @ 10:21 am


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  41. 41

    Kung Food Panda — March 21, 2010 @ 1:20 am

    This is one of my favorites! Thx for the receipe. I should try this one day. I need a slow cooker!

  42. 42

    prashant — March 21, 2010 @ 3:39 am

    I love it and can't wait to try it out!! Thank you for sharing!
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  43. 43

    WizzyTheStick — March 22, 2010 @ 2:18 am

    You guys amaze me with all the work you put into this blog. every time I come here I am blown away by the fabulous recipes and the photos.

  44. 44

    Tammy — May 29, 2010 @ 6:55 am

    WOW!! I just made this and your recipe is so delicious! Tastes like the the restaurant. This is my all time favorite soup. I devoured a bowl for breakfast (after it cooked overnight)! Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

  45. 45

    Anonymous — August 28, 2010 @ 5:07 am

    I just start making the stew but instead of the beef broth I used beef stock and the smell of the stew is right but there is no flavor to the stew. Am I doing something wrong?

  46. 46

    Ravenous Couple — August 28, 2010 @ 5:13 am

    Anonymous: How long did you simmer the stew? as you can tell from the recipe, there is not alot of salt..we used fish sauce in the marinade. After stewing you need to adjust the seasoning to your taste by adding salt. Hope that helps!

  47. 47

    Kim Mai — January 24, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

    I would like to thank you for the bo kho recipe. I made bo kho over the weekend for brunch and had invited people over. It was a great success for the first time. The instructions were clear and easy to follow. The beef and tendon came out very tender and the broth was flavorful and sent a delicious and warm aroma around the house. If anyone is familiar with Le Croissant Dore in Little Saigon which is known for their bo kho which I love also. People who had this bo kho says it's better than Le Croissant Dore. Thanks again!

  48. 48

    amish bed frame — March 16, 2011 @ 8:18 am

    Thumbs up for the recipe. I am really impressed with it. I can't wait to try this at home.

  49. 49

    Anonymous — April 18, 2011 @ 12:35 am

    If I add potatoes do I add them in with the carrots

  50. 50

    hong — April 25, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

    made it and love this!! wonderful recipe!

  51. 51

    anthony do — May 18, 2011 @ 1:15 am

    my mom is making a pot for overnight cooking right now!! another great meal i grew up on to bad she dont write down her recipe, but thanks to you guys ill have it forever

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — May 18th, 2011 @ 8:47 am

      thanks for the feedback, do let us know how it goes on our FB page!

  52. 52

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  53. 53

    theresa — June 27, 2011 @ 10:30 am

    Thx for sharing! Can you tell me how many servings does this make?

  54. 54

    Andy D. Recipe — August 30, 2011 @ 6:30 am

    Looks so flavourful, what a great stew. What is that on the side, looks like some sort of squash?

  55. 55

    Linh Quach — September 11, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    When do we put in the ginger? Marinade or while its cooking?

  56. 56

    Jos Basilio — September 25, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

    Looks fantastic. I was just wondering what size crockpot/slow cooker you used?

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — September 29th, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

      thanks, i think we have a 6 qt slow cooker

  57. 57

    Baz — September 29, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    Im an Aussie living in Vietnam, Bo Kho is my favourite Viet food here, I can buy it on the street in the mornings for about 15000 vnd (less than 1 Dollar).
    Your recipe here is the best I have found so far. I use a bo kho stock cube for stock, It is hard to replicate the flavour of the street cookers. I have experimented by using a couple of spoons of pan juices from Pork…I know thats cheating but there is very little fat on the beef here. Seems to add that little bit more flavour.
    Thanks again! Baz

  58. 58

    Amy — November 3, 2011 @ 9:10 am

    Hi, would love to try this recipe this weekend. Since we don’t have a slow cooker, do we simmer the beef in beef broth in the pot at the same time with all the ingredients? (lemongrass, star anise seeds, bay leaves)

  59. 59

    Amethystlananh — December 1, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

    Wonderful spices and flavoring to the broth! I tried making this, and my only problem was that the slow cooking time was a bit too long for my slowcooker. In the 8hrs it took my 7qt to simmer, the marinated meat fell apart completely. Perhaps you could give a recommendation to cut the beef into larger portions or shortening the cooking time, dependent on the slow cooker of course.

  60. 60

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  63. 63

    estienguyen2 — February 2, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

    Thank you for your Bo Kho recipe…I’m cooking it right now…this is gonna be my first pot…I’m using chopped beef instead…though I don’t have all the ingredients but so far it tasted very good…not bad for a first timer. :))
    Thanks again.

  64. 64

    sandra in asia — February 10, 2012 @ 10:32 am

    Great recipe will give it a try tonight! I didn’t think of marinating stew meat first, what a fantastic idea.

  65. 65

    Nan — March 4, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

    I followed your recipe for the beef stew, noodle soup (with egg), and the spicy lemon grass chicken. They all turned out very well! Your recipe is down to earth, easy to follow! I am so happy that I found your website!!

  66. 66

    ha — April 8, 2012 @ 12:34 am

    The Northern Vietnamese’s beef stew is called bò sốt vang (which translates into boeuf au vin, or boeuf bourguignon), a French influenced dish. It does have red wine but not as much as French’s boeuf bourguignon (of course during the war there was no red wine so Hanoians tweaked the recipe to look “red wined”. No anise, no clove, no paprika, no lemongrass, no ginger. Half the wine used as marinaded, half before serving. I love this style more than bò kho, which is Chinese influenced. But both are good.

    Glad to find people enjoying Vietnamese food. Great blog, Hong and Kim.

  67. 67

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  68. 68

    Darren — April 19, 2012 @ 8:43 am

    Quick question – “To make annatto seed oil, heat 2 tbs of olive with 1/2 of annato seeds. The oil will be steeped with a red color. Do not allow oil to boil, when the color is steeped red, turn of heat and drain the seeds.”

    Is it 1/2 tablespoon of annato seeds? The measurement size was missing on the recipe.


    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — April 19th, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

      doesn’t have to be too precise since you drain the annato seed and throw it away anyway…just to impart color. so 1/2tb should be fine

  69. 69

    Christine — June 9, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    When does the ginger go in?

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — June 12th, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

      it goes in at the beginning w/ the other spices

  70. 70

    Michelle — June 17, 2012 @ 3:22 am

    I just made this today and love it – absolutely delicious – whenever I go to a vietnamese restaurant, I have to have it but never thought I could replicate the flavour at home. Didn’t have annato seed so just left it out – having never used it before I don’t know if it would have altered the flavour, but I was very happy anyway. Thanks…will now have to try out your other recipes

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — June 18th, 2012 @ 10:32 am

      it’s mainly for color, so glad it turned out! thanks for the support!

  71. 71

    Hong — July 26, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

    I have never made or eaten one this flavorful. thank you soooooooo much!!! xoxoxo


  72. 72

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  74. 74

    Rochelle — January 24, 2013 @ 5:14 am

    I have a slow cooker chock full of this stew bubbling away for tomorrow. It’s one of my husband’s favourites from a trip to Vietnam but I haven’t made it before. Going to invite the kids over for dinner and have a Vietnamese feast!! Thanks guys -I love your recipes!

  75. 75

    Judith Peck — January 29, 2013 @ 8:21 am

    Best beef stew of any culture I have ever made. It will become a family staple! Thank you for this recipe.

  76. 76

    GIAPhan — February 14, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

    Wow your cooking look so good from now on I will looking your website to learn how to cool properly Vietnamese cook thank a lot :)))

  77. 77

    diane — March 7, 2013 @ 11:05 am

    do you leave marinade on beef while Browning. Do you leave sliced ginger in stew when served or remove like bay leaves. Thank you. Stew is delicious

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — March 7th, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

      you can leave the ginger or remove it, up to you. you can leave the marinade while browning.

  78. 78

    Deborah — May 1, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

    I’m making this for the fifth time, and it continues to be a family favorite! Thanks for your delicious blog :-)

  79. 79

    Allison — October 16, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

    I swear I make this at least once every 3 weeks in the slow cooker. I let it marinate for 24-48 hours and cook it overnight and it’s so damn good.

  80. 80

    Tom — March 18, 2014 @ 5:27 am

    I followed this recipe to the T with all the ingredients…I even marinated the beef for every a day even though it called for only a couple hours… When the final product came out, it tasted so bland it was like u just put the beef in the crock pot and added water to it…. I am vietnamese and am pretty sure what bo kho taste like…This was nowhere near it.

  81. 81

    Vivian — April 8, 2014 @ 11:07 pm

    I cooked this bo kho last week and it came out sooo delicious. My family all love it and I got a few hugs and thanks..Tonight I am cooking another pot in the slow cooker instead of stove top. I am a cook myself and I can see that the recipe is lack of saltiness if you follow it to the T. A cook has to constant taste the food and add flavour to the liking. I would suggested to use fish sauce to define this dish. Instead of individual spice like cinnamon.. I used 5 spices powder for marinate. Overall a very good recipes and thank you for a wonderful blog. I will try your other Vietnamese recipes. I also have read the blog on mien nga and I couldn’t help it but weeped a little,

  82. 82

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  85. 85

    Mark Tabler — December 4, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

    I have made this wonderful stew so many times now I can’t count..finally I found tendon to add so it will be super-authentic, Thank you!

  86. 86

    Hop — January 5, 2015 @ 10:33 pm

    wow this is one of my favorite vietnamese food ! I’m so glad I found this blog!

  87. 87

    pam — April 11, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

    I absolutely love your recipes. They are the most similar to my dad’s cooking. He never could tell me the measurements for any of his recipes, so I’m thankful for your site!.

  88. 88

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  92. 92

    Heather — September 8, 2015 @ 10:23 pm

    The recipe calls for a knob of ginger but the directions don’t say where it should go. In the marinade or do you just toss it into the crock pot with the rest of the ingredients??

    • The Ravenous Couple replied: — September 11th, 2015 @ 10:09 am

      slice it in large pieces and just throw it in the crockpot :)

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