Instant Pot Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

Tender beef pieces cooked in a rich and savory broth that will melt in your mouth.

I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! The broth is savory with a hint of sweetness from the carrots and coconut juice. Served with a Vietnamese baguette, noodles, or a side of rice. How I would eat it would be over rice noodles and a side of bread. It is like the best of both worlds! Like many broths, this is even better the next day!

Your family and friends would never know you made this whole dish all in an hour!

I made this dish from using my instant pot! Surprisingly, it tasted like I was in the kitchen all day long! When in reality, the only hard labor was cutting the vegetables and meat. The instant pot really did most of the work!

I was not a believer on owning an instant pot.

There was no way that this little thing was going to have the same flavors as cooking it the old fashioned way! Finally, on one lazy day, I decided to give it a try. I was shocked… what great amount of flavor my broth had with such little time! My meat was incredibly tender and juicy! What normally took me hours to make, only took me 1 whole hour! I was sold! Extra points for less pots to wash as well! I was so upset with myself for never investing in one!

Now, just because I made this in an instant pot, doesn’t mean you have to.

You can cook this the traditional way. It would just take you about 4 hours to achieve the tenderness of the beef. You would also have to marinate your beef for at least an hour – over night to give it the best flavors. So plan accordingly.

What type of meat to use?

Let’s talk about the right cut of meat. I’ve seen it all. Flank, chuck roast, beef shank, etc. The idea is to use a cut that has a little bit of fat on it or you will end up with an incredibly dry meat. You can also add beef tendon to give the broth a richer taste. Nobody in my family eats tendon, so I just left it out. But if you want a thicker rich broth, go for it! Okay, now enough of me rambling. I want to show you how I beautifflly made this meal in less than hour.

Ingredients for beef:

  • 2 – 3 pounds of chuck roast (or your choice of cut) cut about 1 inch cubes length and width
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chicken powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 packet of dry “BO KHO SEASONING

Ingredients for broth:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon grass (finely minced) or 5 lemon grass stocks bruised
  • 1/4 cup red onions or shallots (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 beef cubes 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups of coconut water or coconut soda (if you use coconut soda, hold off on the sugar until you taste the broth to adjust)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp of annatto seeds for coloring (optional) and 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds of carrots

Equipment used:

Recipe feeds approximately 4-5 people


  1. In a large boil combine the seasoning and meat together and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. Massage the meat to incorporate everything together.
  2. Next, set your instant pot on “sauté” mode and let it heat up. Once heated up, add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Sauté your lemon grass, garlic, and red onions with a pinch of salt and black pepper until it becomes translucent.
  3. Once translucent, add in your marinated meat. Sauté until it shrinks. We’re not looking to cook the meat, the goal is to brown the outside. If it is too much meat to get a good sear, you may want to work in batches. (That was my mistake, I decide to dump everything in.)
  4. When the meat is browned, add in your tomato paste, 2 cups of coconut water and fill the instant pot with water to the max line. Place beef cubes in the stock. Don’t worry about adding the rest of the seasonings just yet, we will add it when it’s done.
  5. Lock your instant pot, and set to 25 minutes on pressure cooking. While this is cooking, you can prepare your carrots, Cut them to desired length and shape and set aside.
  6. About 5 minutes left into cooking, in a separate pan (this is the only time you will use a separate pan) heat 2-3 tbsp of oil on medium heat. Add in the annatto seeds and carefully stir around. You don’t want to step away during this process or it will burn. It should only take about 30-40 seconds to brown up and release the natural food coloring. Strain out the sees and set the oil aside.
  7. By now the pressure cooker should beep that it is done. unplug your instant pot. With caution, bring it outside to release the air. Place a clean damp kitchen towel over the venting knob and let it air out until you don’t hear it hiss.
  8. Bring back your instant pot and open it up. Season the broth with the rest of the seasonings, gently stir it around and taste the broth. Season as needed and adjust to your liking.
  9. Now we’re going to add in only the annatto oil and carrots into the pot and set the time for 5 minutes. When it beeps, repeat the steps of airing out the pressure cooker. Taste and adjust if needed.
  10. To assemble your soup, ladle hot soup over rice noodles or ladel in a bowl and eat it with a side of Vietnamese Baguette. Garnish with red onions, spring onions, cilantro, fresh chili peppers, and a squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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