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

Famous aromatic and tender beef stew served with crusty banh mi made with slow cooker.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: beef stew, bo kho, stew
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 251kcal
Author: Hong and Kim



Beef Marinade

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

Bo Kho

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


  • baguettes toasted
  • Thai basil
  • Pickled onions
  • Lime wedges
  • cilantro chopped
  • green onions chopped
  • jalapenos sliced
  • vermicelli noodles optional


  • 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.


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 neutral with annatto 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.


Sodium: 398mg | Calcium: 56mg | Vitamin C: 7mg | Vitamin A: 10364IU | Sugar: 4g | Fiber: 2g | Potassium: 760mg | Cholesterol: 53mg | Calories: 251kcal | Saturated Fat: 2g | Fat: 6g | Protein: 39g | Carbohydrates: 10g | Iron: 4mg
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