Slow-Cooker Duck Pho features delicious, rich, broth accented by bright, fresh herbs. It's a great use of leftover roast duck.
My inspiration for slow-cooker duck pho came from a local pan-Asian restaurant.
However, their duck pho offering was actually hazardous to eat.
Someone had literally taken a cleaver to a duck carcass, so the soup was full of bones. But it was delicious. The broth was amazing—complex and rich.
We don't eat duck all that often. I'm not sure why: it's fairly economical and readily available here in the US.
For whatever reason, though, we only eat it 1–2 times per year for Valentine's Day or Christmas. I usually make Herbed Roast Duck.
Then, I save any leftover meat, the neck, and the carcass for soup.
Making the broth for slow-cooker duck pho
To recreate the rich broth of my first duck pho experience, I put the carcass and neck into the crockpot with spices and aromatics for a very long, slow simmer.
I've let it go for as long as 36 hours—I definitely recommend at least 12 to extract as much flavor as possible from the carcass.
Because of this long simmer, I use a work-ahead strategy to make slow-cooker duck pho.
- This recipe is written assuming you've got roast duck leftovers on hand. If you don't, I provide a simple method for roasting a duck in the recipe notes.
- The carcass simmers for a long time: 12–36 hours. Make sure to check your crockpot to see if you can set it for that long. For example, mine only goes up to 12. So, I simply reset the slow-cooker a couple of times.
- The stock needs to be strained. I also like to run it through a fat separator, but this is optional.
Strain the broth
After the long simmer, we have to strain the broth.
A neat trick we use for any bone broth is to scoop out all the bones with a skimmer and transfer them to a colander placed inside a bowl to catch any juice that drips out.
Then we rinse the bones with 2–3 cups of cold water and add the liquid in the bowl back to the broth.
Don't worry about diluting the stock: it's VERY concentrated after the long simmer because the collagen in the bones will have completely broken down.
Another trick that simplifies the broth making process is to do your straining and degreasing simultaneously. The skimmer I use is super fine-mesh, so I run the stock through the skimmer, straight into the fat separator.
The stock will almost certainly have some grit at the bottom. Sometimes—to be extra cautious—I'll run the last ~2 cups of stock through a strainer lined with paper towels.
Alternatively, you can opt to discard the final ~½ cup.
Because the straining can be a bit of a production, I often do this the day before we plan to eat our duck pho. In this case, I skip the de-greasing step because the fat is easy to skim off the top of the chilled stock.
Depending on the size of your slow-cooker, you'll get around 5 quarts of concentrated stock. You can freeze any stock that you don't plan to use immediately in freezer containers for up to 3 months.
Preparing the final duck pho soup
After that, it's a simple matter of simmering the soup with chopped cilantro stems and sliced shiitake mushrooms and onions. (Obvo, if you hate cilantro, leave that out.)
I add the cooked duck meat only for the last 5 minutes before we eat to heat it through.
I prepare the noodles and garnishes while the soup simmers.
Sure, slow-cooker duck pho is a bit more involved than a typical weeknight dinner.
But if you spread the steps over a couple of days, it's very manageable. Plus, this soup is totally worth the effort.
If you're a fan of pho, also check out my Slow-Cooker Rotisserie Chicken Pho Ga, Pressure Cooker Pho Ga, and Instant Pot Vegetable Pho Noodle Soup. I'm also working on TWO beef pho recipes, so stay tuned!
For more ideas on how to use up your leftovers, check out my post on Using up Leftovers!
FOR THE SLOW-COOKER DUCK STOCK
- 1 roast duck carcass, (see Recipe Note #1)
- ¼ cup dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
- 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed to 3 inches (including the bulb)
- 1 inch section ginger root
- 5 star anise pods
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 onion, halved
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 cups chicken broth
FOR THE SLOW-COOKER DUCK PHO SOUP
- 6 cups duck stock, (strained and degreased, from above)
- ½ onion, large, sliced into thin quarter rings
- 3 tablespoon cilantro stems, (optional, chopped)
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, (optional; sliced)
- 2 cups roasted duck meat, chopped (see Recipe Note #1)
- 16 oz pho rice noodles
FOR THE NUOC CHAM (optional)
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 4 tablespoon fresh lime juice, (you can also substitute or cut the lime juice with unseasoned rice vinegar)
- ½ cup water
- ½ tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves, (keep whole, then tear directly into the soup)
- 1 cup scallions, sliced
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (seed the chiles if you're heat-averse)
- hoisin sauce
FOR THE SLOW-COOKER DUCK STOCK
- Place duck carcass into slow-cooker with remaining duck stock ingredients. Add enough water to mostly cover the carcass (don't overfill your slow-cooker, though!). Set slow-cooker on low for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 36.
- Fish out bones and any large solids with a skimmer; place into a colander set inside a bowl. Rinse the solids with approximately 3 cups of cold water. Remove colander and discard solids. Add the liquid in the bowl to the slow-cooker.
- Working in batches, strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a degreaser. If you plan to refrigerate the stock before making the soup, pour the degreased stock into a storage container, cool, and refrigerate up to 3 days. If you are proceeding directly to making the soup, pour the degreased stock into a stockpot.
FINISHING THE DUCK PHO SOUP
- Heat the degreased duck stock in a stockpot with the sliced onions, shiitake mushrooms, and cilantro stems. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes and bring the water for the pho noodles to a boil. Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Mix the ingredients for the nuoc cham in a jar (see Recipe Note #2). Shake to combine.
- 5–8 minutes before serving, add the roasted duck meat to the simmering broth to heat through. Serve soup with noodles and garnishes to taste.
- This recipe was written to use up leftovers from my Herbed Roast Duck. If you're starting out by roasting a duck especially for this soup, this recipe by Mark Bittman is even easier. If you don't have any leftover duck meat, cooked chicken will also work.
- If fish sauce gives you the heebie jeebies, skip it and add a splash of tamari for more umami and salt. Squeeze a couple of lime wedges over the soup.
- If you can't find Thai basil, regular sweet basil works.
- To degrease the broth, you can (a) run it through a fat separator or (b) cool the broth and then refrigerate overnight. The next day, you can scrape or skim the fat from the top of the broth.
- Freeze any leftover duck stock in airtight freezer containers for up to 3 months. (Be sure to leave about an inch of space between the surface of the broth and the lid.)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl, about 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 500Total Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gSodium: 1300mg
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!