Trader Joe’s Beef Pho Soup Review

Trader Joe's Beef Pho Soup box
Trader Joe’s Beef Pho Soup box

Trader Joe’s Beef Pho Soup Review – I get excited when I see a new item at Trader Joe’s especially if it’s Asian I really love Asian food. I had never really had this type of soup before until about 10 years ago when here in the Seattle area Vietnamese restaurants started popping up everywhere.

I don’t know what made me go into one of them probably because I’m curious about new foods. So I decided to try some pho soup and I was hooked from that day on. It is a routine in my family to go at least once or twice a month to our local Vietnamese place and get a big bowl of soup any time of the year but it’s especially nice in the wintertime. Our local place serves a variety of dishes but it’s mainly for the soup that we go.

They have lots of options for Pho, chicken, and vegetarian and then like 10 different cuts of beef. Typically it’s served with basil and lime and some bean sprouts with some hot sauce or soy sauce on the side.  The beef is actually raw when they put it into the soup but the soup cooks it because it’s cut of meat so thin. 

In our local pho place, you can see them back there all day making broth in the kitchen and you can tell it’s authentic. It’s very rich and has that anise like flavor from some type of spice that I can’t recognize.


So I was excited to see Trader Joe’s have this in the frozen section. I’m always looking for something nice and hearty for lunch. I was a little disappointed to see that it was only 260 calories per serving and there’s only one serving in the container. But I said what the hell I’ll give it a shot and I’ll have something else along with it for lunch. There’s nothing to add to this you basically pop a hole in the plastic that covers the bowl and stick it in the microwave and heat it for six minutes it’s pretty straightforward.

Trader Joe's Beef Pho Soup
Trader Joe’s Beef Pho Soup

When I pulled the soup out it smelled pretty good but I was a little worried about the lack of anything I could see in the soup like vegetables or meat it looked a little watery to me. I stirred up the super little bit. I only found four small pieces of beef in there. There were some green bits that looked like green onions, but not many. There were noodles too.

I took a sip of the broth and I could barely taste anything. It vaguely tasted like my local pho place but watered down. The noodles were weird. They were stiff but I know they were cooked all the way because the soup was piping hot.

The meat, what little was there, was just OK. If you look at the Trader Joe’s website they have hot sauce and limes and basil and all that stuff I talked about earlier in their product shot but really the base soup and meat should be good. This was not. It just lacked any flavor. Don’t treat it like a stone soup where you have to add all the ingredients just to make it palatable.

I ate the whole thing but had to eat something else. This was bland, under salted, lacking in any real flavor. The noodles were awful. I am going to give it 2 Bells! Save yourself $3.49 and make your own faux (pho) ramen at home. It’s really easy and much better.



1 serving per container | Serving size 1 bowl (375g) | Amount per serving: Calories 220
Total Fat 4.5g (6% DV), Saturated Fat 1g (5% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 25mg (8% DV), Sodium 860mg (37% DV), Total Carbohydrate 34g (12% DV), Dietary Fiber 1g (4% DV), Total Sugars less than 1g—Includes 0g Added Sugars (0% DV), Protein 13g, Vitamin D (0% DV), Calcium (4% DV), Iron (8% DV), Potassium (6% DV).

The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

NOTE: Since posting, the details of this item may have changed due to fluctuating market prices, federal regulations, currency rates, drought, bandits, rush hour traffic, filibusters, zombie apocalypse, punctilious product developers… (Oh you Trader Joe’s people are soooo funny!)


  1. Agreed, just ate this myself and it was awful. Not the worst TJ’s frozen meal I’ve eaten but definitely in the top 5. The few pieces of meat were easily edible, unlike the absolute worst frozen meals.

    • I agree. I would probably put it up there in the top five (or bottom five) worst things I’ve had a Trader Joe’s. Not sure how they missed it so badly here.

      • I agree. I find that most of TJ’s attempts to create complete Asian dishes fail. Weak on taste, too high in salt, generally very poor imitations of the real dishes. To my wife’s question “what do you expect for $4?” I answer “a heck of a lot better.”

    • I agree with all of you. This was the absolute worst thing I have ever tasted (and smelled). I took one spoonful…yuck! Tried soy sauce, lime, Yatsu sauce…forget it. I threw it away. I wish I had read this before buying 2 of them. Nasty, nasty, nasty!

  2. I wish I read this review before trying the Beef Pho, I probably would not have purchased. Agree with this review of not having flavor and bland. I added sea same oil, tomatoes and fresh basil to make it palatable. I also ate something else .

  3. Completely agree with all the reviews here. I mean, the first sip I had tasted like salt water and i was completely shocked since it had the Trader Joes branding on it. The only way i could finish this bland monstrosity was to throw in half a bottle of Chili oil I had and guzzle it down. Will definitely stay away form this one.

  4. When I jazzed it up, the TJ Beef Pho became passable. I added an onion I charred under the broiler & then chopped; some chopped Thai basil; chopped Italian parsley leaves; a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil; some minced garlic; and a tablespoon of Thai fish sauce. After all that, I probably could have made the pho from scratch myself.

  5. I bought 2. Decided it wasn’t worth the calories so I froze it to add as beef stock in a future recipe. Then that day came and I had no beef stock, broth or bouillon in the house and tried substituting with this. It just tastes like water. So I ended up going to the store. It’s pretty bad when soup isn’t good enough to make soup….so bland I nearly fell asleep by how boring it is.

  6. Ugh, just tried it tonight, it was awful. I never had Pho before, so didn’t know if this was normal, but after reading these reviews I realize I’ll have to give it another try at a respectable restaurant.

  7. I read these reviews after I purchased two of these yesterday, but I hadn’t tried them yet. I was left feeling nervous! I had shredded carrots and scallions on hand so I added those to the pot I was heating up the soup in on the stove. I tried a bite expecting this to taste disgusting, but it was not. Yes I agree it is lacking in flavor, but to me it is able to still be enjoyed. I added some crunchy chili onion (a Trader Joe’s product) for a kick and an extra dash of salt, and it made a great lunch. This definitely won’t be a must-have for me again though.

  8. I just finished this pho. I thought it was ok. It was a little bland, so I added my own flavors. For $3.69, I thought it was a good deal! If I had to do it myself, I’d have to roast the anise, cinnamon, etc. I’d have to boil the meat bones for hours. If I’m lucky, I’d have all the ingredients I need, but usually don’t…so, you get the idea. This was good enough to satisfy my appetite and I don’t have to go find the necessary ingredients or drive around town hunting for Vietnamese restaurants. Four stars **** out of 5.

    • I didn’t think it was even close to that. I can buy noodles and prepared pho stock at the Asian grocery store and have a better experience than this. Making faux pho with ramen noodles is quite easy…

  9. Wish I’d seen this before I bought some last weekend – luckily I only bought one thing. Heated it for lunch today with high hopes and now I’m just sad. I love good pho, and even ok pho makes me happy. But this is Bad pho. I may choose not to finish it.

  10. just tried it today… this doesn’t taste like the pho you find in your local restaurant. buy the Quoc Viet Beef Pho Soup Base from your asian supermarket.. taste legit..

  11. Just (tried ) to eat it I absolutely love Traders Joes, but they dropped the ball on this soup. Bland, rubbery, weird tasting.. They should have included a joint with it because that is the only way this could ever taste good. Yet they still sell it!?

    • I can’t understand this product unless they contracted to buy X amount of units and need to get rid of it one way or another. This is the most universally hated product I have ever reviewed.

  12. I bought two. The first I microwaved and thought was terrible like everyone else. The second I just had, heated on the stove, with some boy choy leaves cut from the garden and a tablespoon of Mom’s Mala Sauce, and it was delicious. Just what I needed with a cold coming on. I am sure it changed the flavor profile from the mainly black pepper I saw at the bottom of the bowl, but quick, easy and satisfying under some circumstances.

  13. Wish I’d read these reviews before I bought the beef pho soup. Noodles and beef were okay, but the broth was awful. Never again.

  14. Agree that it’s the worst product I ever purchased from TJs. Tasted like dirty dishwater. Surprised they’re still selling it…

  15. 2023 here… The negative reviews are all accurate. Watered down broth, small serve, not much ingredients. I added basil, sriracha and a diced serrano pepper. Made in palatable, if not a bit too hot for me. I will not buy this product again. And I do like many other TJ’s products.

    • This product is by far the most commented on. It’s been 2 and a half years since I wrote the original review and Trader Joe’s is still selling this crappy product. It has to be one of their biggest failures of all time.

  16. Mostly watery soup, very little beef and a few short noodles. Beyond that, tasteless. I’m returning the pkg to the store to ask for a credit. Hopefully TJ’s will remove this item. Not their usual quality.

  17. Given all the previous comments, I have little to add, except that while I wasn’t repulsed by it, it is surely something I won’t buy again. I had hoped for so much better.

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