Pho is a delicious Vietnamese dish, made with rice noodles, meat, vegetables and beef broth. But, is Pho gluten-free?
Traditional Vietnamese pho is gluten-free. The vegetables, rice noodles, meat and broth used to make it are all gluten-free. But, some variations of pho may have gluten-containing ingredients. So, you need to be careful where you order pho or avoid pho with any ingredients you aren’t sure about.
We aim to help people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease, make the right food choices. To this end, we share informative guides, providing information on the type of foods that are safe to consume as well as those they should avoid. And, all these guides are created by our in-house team, comprising health experts and other professionals in the field. Therefore, you can always trust the information you are getting from our resources.
Vietnamese cuisine has gained a lot of prominence in the US. Some restaurants in the US will make you feel like you have visited Hanoi, and they will give you a complete Vietnamese cuisine.
Therefore, you do not have to go to Vietnam in order to have a first hand experience about what the country can offer.
Pho is a delicious, spicy soup, considered the national dish of Vietnam. If you were to visit any Vietnamese restaurant today, you can almost be certain that Pho will be on the menu. States such as Texas and California have a long history with pho, and the food has spread its tentacles throughout the country.
It mainly contains meat, rice noodles, beef broth and vegetables. A plate of various garnishes such as cilantro, chilies, basil, lime, bean sprouts, and radishes also accompany it. The herbs that come with pho are very healthy and will enhance your health especially when you take the diet at least once in a while.
However, it may also contain other ingredients and condiments, since it exists in numerous variations.
Pho is the ideal noodle soup to get you through those cold, winter days. But, you can still enjoy it year-round, as well as any time of the day, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch.
A Primer on Gluten
Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein found in wheat, barley, contaminated oats, rye, and triticale. It acts as the binding agent, which helps to hold these grains together and maintain their shape. It characterizes the dough when one is dealing with wheat products.
The majority of people can safely consume gluten and foods with gluten-containing ingredients. But, some people have gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. Also, people with celiac disease have to stay away from anything containing gluten.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for celiac disease and it can be a very stubborn condition to live with. The only solution is to prevent consuming foods with gluten, and do so faithfully.
If they were to eat anything that contains gluten, they will experience negative digestive issues, including vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. In addition to that, one may constantly experience a bloated stomach which affects one’s ability to work. Celiac disease reduces the quality of living.
They may also experience a runny or stuffy nose, skin rash or hives, stomach cramps, flatulence, headaches, tiredness, anxiety, and constipation, just to name a few.
Therefore, anyone with gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease will have to live gluten-free or follow gluten-free diets. Failure to do so will mean living with symptoms that are associated with celiac disease and other forms of gluten sensitivity.
Does Pho Have Gluten?
We’ve earlier mentioned that people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity will have to avoid certain foods, particularly those with gluten-containing ingredients. Simply put, this group of people has to be extremely cautious of what they eat.
And, if you fall in this group and you are looking to try out Vietnamese pho for the first time, you may be probably asking yourself, is pho gluten-free? Does pho have gluten? Is pho safe to consume for people with gluten allergies?
The short answer is yes. Pho is mainly gluten-free. The rice noodles, vegetables and beef broth used to make pho are gluten-free. Therefore, pho should be safe to consume for people with gluten allergies and celiac disease.
Ingredients in Pho that May Contain Gluten
As we’ve highlighted above, Vietnamese pho is mainly gluten-free and safe to consume for people with gluten sensitivities.
So, if you’ve been wondering whether pho is gluten-free or whether it’s suitable for people on a gluten-free diet, now you have the answers.
But, some ingredients used to make certain iterations of Vietnamese pho may contain gluten, meaning the entire dish won’t be gluten-free. Some of the ingredients in pho that may contain gluten include:
While this Vietnamese noodle soup should be made using naturally gluten-free soy sauce like hoisin sauce, some pho restaurants will go for the cheapest and most readily available soy sauce.
Unfortunately, the cheapest varieties of soy sauce are mainly made with wheat. And as we pointed out earlier, almost all wheat products have gluten, meaning such pho is not suitable for those on a gluten-free diet.
Beef Stock and Fish Sauce
While the beef stock is gluten-free in its original form, it may sometimes contain wheat, meaning it’s not gluten-free.
Also, the fish sauce used to make this Vietnamese food may also contain gluten-containing ingredients. So, make sure you ask the chef or the pho restaurant whether the beef stock in the pho is wheat-based or not before you proceed to eat pho.
We earlier mentioned that pho is usually served with various condiments like cilantro, sprigs, lime, bean sprouts, chilies, jalapeno peppers, and saw-tooth leaves. And, these condiments are gluten-free.
However, some pho restaurants also offer egg noodles as part of the condiments. And unfortunately, egg noodles are made using wheat flour and eggs, meaning they are not gluten-free.
Also, as much as the egg noodles may not be offered as part of the pho, they may end up cross-contaminating it, if everything is prepared using the same set of pots.
How To Enjoy Gluten-Free Pho
As much as pho is gluten-free, some of the ingredients used to make it may contain gluten, making it unsafe for people with gluten allergies. It is not easy to determine if a certain food is gluten free. But, you can still enjoy gluten-free pho from a pho restaurant.
Ideally, you should only have your pho from an authentic Vietnamese restaurant. The pho you get here will likely be prepared using gluten-free ingredients.
On the same note, you should avoid American-style Vietnamese restaurants. There’s a high chance their pho won’t be gluten-free.
Also, make sure you ask the chef or the server how the pho has been prepared. Ask about the ingredients used as well as the preparation process. Many restaurants have adopted a transparent process where consumers can ask any question that they may have and there will be comprehensive answers.
If you’ve confirmed that there are no harmful ingredients or any risk of cross-contact with gluten-containing foods, then you can go ahead and enjoy your pho.
Alternatively, you can also prepare your own pho at home, meaning you will be in control of the entire process. Food prepared at home gives one the liberty to choose the desired ingredients.
And, there are hundreds of recipes online which you can use to prepare gluten-free pho. You just need to ensure you read the ingredients labels carefully to make sure you don’t buy anything that has gluten.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker