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The classic Vietnamese sandwich is made vegan! Learn how to make rich and flavorful vegan banh mi with my in-depth guide! Filled with carrot and radish pickles, vegan mortadella, tofu, paté, and plenty of fresh herbs, you are going to love this popular Vietnamese sandwich!

Vegan banh mi sandwich with cilantro, paté, pickles, and meat floss.

After trying countless types of bánh mì from different parts of Vietnam and dissecting most of them, I wanted to share my guide on how to make the best bánh mì. This article is not only a recipe but also an in-depth guide on which type of bread to use, what are the best fillings, how to assemble it, and more.

There are many recipes available online for vegan bánh mì. Unfortunately, most are Westernized and incredibly far from the authentic Vietnamese ones. In this guide, I will share the basics to create delicious and flavorful bánh mì, along with a few tips.

⭐️ Why This Recipe Works

Developed after tasting hundreds of Bánh Mì.

I am not taking it lightly when I say this: I literally tasted hundreds of different bánh mì in Vietnam, whether it was in Saigon, Hanoi, Hue, or Danang, I had my share of authentic bánh mì.

My wife is Vietnamese, and we spend several months a year in Vietnam, so I am very familiar with how the locals prepare this delicious sandwich. The recipe I am sharing here is what I consider the BEST vegan bánh mì. Why? Because I took every single component I loved and assembled them together to create what I call an exceptional sandwich. It’s as authentic as it gets and as delicious as you would expect!

Not your Westernized version.

I see too many recipes for vegan bánh mì that are wrong on so many levels that it’s insane. It’s not because you put a few pickles and some thick slices of tofu in a loaf of bread that it becomes bánh mì. The Vietnamese sandwich is much more than that and has several key components that must be respected. I will develop on that later in this guide.

📘 What is Bánh Mì

Bánh mì is a type of Vietnamese sandwich that is said to have appeared during the French colonization, around 1880. French colonists brought baguettes as well as paté, coffee, crème caramel, yogurt, and more, influencing Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnamese then tweaked the sandwich to their taste by adding pickles, fresh herbs, paté, grilled meat, etc.

“Bánh” can be translated to cake, while “Mì” simply means wheat. The term “bánh mì” refers to both the bread itself and the filled sandwich. The bread alone, without any filling, is specifically called “Bánh mì không.”

Bánh mì is one of the most popular Vietnamese foods and is now considered one of the best sandwiches in the world. It is usually consumed for breakfast but can be found sold as street food at any time of the day.

Ingredients like bread, paté, pickles, mayo, cucumber, mushrooms, and cilantro.

🥖 Ingredient Notes

Before diving deeper into the ingredients needed to make vegan bánh mì, let’s take a look at what “authentic” bánh mì looks like. What you can see below are 2 types of vegan bánh mì from Vietnam (more particularly, Ho Chi Minh City).

From left to right: 1) Bánh mì filled with vegan mortadella, pickles, cucumber, vegan meat floss, cucumber, and croutons. 2) Bánh mì filled with fresh tomatoes, red cabbage, vegan mortadella, cucumber, and pickles.

This can give you a quick idea of what to expect in the vegan versions of bánh mì. Now, let’s dive into the ingredients you will need to make vegan bánh mì.

🥖 Bread

Many people get the bread wrong. The type of bread used to prepare bánh mì is extremely important. It’s one of the main components of this dish.

Vietnamese bread is very different from French baguette. It is much lighter and has a lot less crumb. It is usually around 8 inches long and weighs approximately 70 grams. If you were about to weigh a similar size of French bread, it would probably be around 1.5 to 1.8 times the weight.

Preparing bánh mì with a French-style baguette would yield a much heavier sandwich, and the ratio of filling to bread would be completely off. So please, do me a favor and DO NOT use regular bread to make bánh mì.

It’s quite hard to find bánh mì baguettes outside Vietnam so if you really want to enjoy the true experience, I recommend baking your own. You can follow my recipe to make bánh mì bread here. It’s a recipe that took me way too many trials to get right, but I can assure you the results are totally worth it! The crust and crumb are totally on point when compared to the baguettes from Vietnamese bakeries.

🧈 Condiments

Next come the condiments. They usually consist of paté, mayo, and some kind of sauce. Sometimes, the paté is mixed with the mayo, and sometimes, there is just a sauce. It really depends on the cook. In my opinion, the addition of paté really takes bánh mì to the next level by adding flavor and meatiness. Here, I went with a combination of three condiments:

  • Vegan pâté – My homemade vegan pâté is made with mushrooms, cashews, and a few herbs. It’s hearty and adds a meaty texture to the sandwich.
  • Vegan mayo – For creaminess and richness. Any mayo will work, store-bought or homemade vegan mayo.
  • Homemade bánh mì sauce – A generous drizzle of sauce brings a ton of flavor and makes the sandwich juicier. You can find my recipe for bánh mì sauce here. This sauce is a bit spicy, a bit sweet, and lightly seasoned with a pinch of five-spice powder. The recipe I am sharing is also inspired by authentic Vietnamese recipes.

Maggi seasoning: For an even more authentic flavor, add a drizzle of Vietnamese soy sauce, also known as Maggi seasoning.

🍗 Protein

Most bánh mì sandwiches include some kind of meat. I recommend going with 2-3 different types of protein for a mix of textures and flavors. Here is what I am using in mine:

  • Vegan mortadella – One of the most popular types of meat added to bánh mì is Vietnamese mortadella, called “chả lụa.” It’s a pork sausage seasoned with pepper, sugar, and fish sauce, and wrapped in banana leaves before being steamed. While it’s easy to find vegan alternatives in Vietnam, it’s quite difficult to find them overseas. Don’t worry, I have got you covered with my homemade vegan mortadella recipe here.
  • Fried tofu – Unlike what many other recipes might tell you, regular tofu (the white one) is never used in bánh mì. It’s always the deep-fried kind. The reason is that deep-fried tofu tends to absorb the sauce much better than regular tofu. You can learn how to deep fry tofu here.
  • Vegan meat floss – Optional but recommended if you can find it. Vegan meat floss adds more texture. You may be able to find vegan meat floss (called “chà bông chay”) in some Asian or Vietnamese supermarkets. You can also check my recipe for vegan meat floss here.

The recommendations above are just a few of my favorite add-ins, but obviously, you can use any type of vegan protein, such as vegan sausages, vegan roast pork, seitan, or vegan chicken, so feel free to use what you have on hand.

🥬 Vegetables

Next comes the vegetables that add freshness and crispiness and make the sandwich healthier. Here is what I like to use:

  • Pickles – Carrot and daikon pickles are a must for freshness, crispiness, and tanginess. You can learn how to make your own Vietnamese pickles here.
  • Cucumber – I recommend using Persian cucumbers since this variety has almost no bitterness and a very thin skin. Slice your cucumber lengthwise into thick matchsticks.
  • Fresh herbs – There is no authentic bánh mì without fresh herbs, especially cilantro! Use whole fresh cilantro, including the stems. If you want to add more herbs, Thai basil is the second most used herb in bánh mì.
  • Chili – If you like your bánh mì on the spicier side, finely chop Bird’s eye chili and add it to your sandwich.
  • Mushrooms – Optional. I personally love using oyster mushrooms for their tender and meaty texture. You can also use shredded king oyster mushrooms like in this Pulled Mushroom Bánh Mì. Simply sauté sliced mushrooms for a few minutes and deglaze with a drizzle of soy sauce.

The add-ins below are a few more ideas. I rarely use them, but they are tasty additions:

  • Onions – You can add thinly sliced onions for a natural sweetness and a subtle crunch.
  • Tomatoes – Not very common, but you can incorporate a few tomato slices for some juiciness.
  • Croutons – I know, it sounds weird to add bread inside bread. But it’s not uncommon for bánh mì sellers to add small croutons inside the sandwich to add even more crunch.

🥣 Assembling Bánh Mì

Now that I have shared some information about each component, it’s time to make bánh mì! Feel free to tweak it to your taste and with what you have on hand but try to follow the main guidelines.

  1. Start by cutting the baguette. Use a dented knife or a pair of scissors to slice the bread in half lengthwise. Do not slice it in half completely, keep one side unsliced. This will make it easier to close the sandwich.
  2. Spread about 3 tablespoons of pâté on one side of the bread. Next, spread a tablespoon of mayo on top. Alternatively, you can simply stir together the pâté and the mayo in a small bowl before spreading it inside the sandwich.
  3. Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons of the bánh mì sauce on the other open side of the bread. At this point, you can also drizzle it with a few teaspoons of Maggi seasoning.
  1. Add the vegetables. Next, add a generous amount of carrot and daikon pickles, a few slices of cucumber, and the sautéed oyster mushrooms if using.
  2. Add the protein. Garnish with 2-3 thin slices of vegan mortadella, a few slices of fried tofu, and a sprinkle of vegan meat floss.
  3. Garnish. Finally, garnish with fresh cilantro, Thai basil leaves, and some chopped chili if you want more heat. Enjoy immediately!

And there you have it! A delicious, flavor-packed bánh mì that has nothing to envy the authentic ones!

How to eat bánh mì

There is no right or wrong way to eat bánh mì but here are a few tips:

  • Wrap it in paper: Because my recipe yields a very juicy sandwich, I recommend wrapping your bánh mì in paper or paper towels before eating. This will prevent the sauce from dropping out of your sandwich.
  • Flatten it: Use your hands to flatten the sandwich! It makes it much easier to eat and also allows the sauce to combine with the other ingredients.
  • If you plan to eat it later: To prevent the sandwich from getting soggy, add all the add-ins except the sauce. Wrap the sandwich in paper or aluminum foil and store the sauce in a small container or freezer bag. Before eating, pour the sauce into the sandwich.
Opened vegan banh mi sandwich with pickles, mushrooms, paté, mayo, and cilantro.

📔 Tips

  • Prepare ahead of time. The vegan pâté, mortadella, fried tofu, meat floss, and sauce can all be made ahead of time and stored for a few days in the refrigerator. This way, you can just bake the bread and assemble it on the day you plan to make it.
  • Do not overfill: We are not making a Subway sandwich here, bánh mì contains many different add-ins, but each one is used sparingly.
  • Prepare bánh mì just before serving: For the best texture, serve bánh mì immediately after assembling.
  • Use fresh bread: No one wants stale bread that is either too hard or too soft. Use fresh loaves of bread for a crispy crust and tender crumb!
  • Use room-temperature ingredients: I recommend taking the paté, sauce, and pickles out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before using. Bánh mì is always served with room-temperature ingredients.

💬 FAQ

Can I use a French baguette to make bánh mì?

As mentioned above, if you want the true bánh mì experience, I advise against using regular baguettes. It is much heavier and has more crumb than bánh mì bread.

Where to find Vietnamese baguettes?

I’m not going to lie. It’s not an easy task, and that’s why I recommend making your own. A few options would be to check the Vietnamese restaurants around you to see if they have some for sale or check your local bakery or supermarket and try to find light and hollow bread.

Is this recipe authentic?

There is not one authentic bánh mì recipe. However, this recipe is based on the many vegan bánh mì I tried in Vietnam. So I would say it’s probably one of the most authentic recipes for a vegetarian bánh mì you will find!

How long does bánh mì keep?

Bánh mì is best served immediately. It will stay good for 3-4 hours, but after that, the texture won’t be as good.

Vegan banh mi sandwich filled with mushrooms, tofu, paté, pickles, and cilantro.

I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to make delicious vegan bánh mì! It’s loaded with flavor and textures and has the perfect balance of sweet-salty-spicy! Definitely my favorite sandwich!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Vegan banh mi sandwich with cilantro, paté, pickles, and mushrooms.
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Recipe

How to Make The Best Vegan Bánh Mì

5 from 2 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Super rich and flavorful vegan banh mi made with carrot and daikon pickles, vegan sausage, sautéed mushrooms, vegan paté, cucumber, and plenty of fresh herbs!
Prep Time : 15 minutes
Cook Time : 10 minutes
Total Time : 25 minutes
Servings 1 bánh mì

Ingredients
 

Condiments

Filling

Instructions
 

  • Start by cutting the baguette. Use a dented knife or a pair of scissors to slice the bread in half lengthwise. Do not slice it in half completely, keep one side unsliced. This will make it easier to close the sandwich.
  • Add the condiments. Spread about 3 tablespoons of pâté on one side of the bread. Next, spread a tablespoon of mayo on top. Alternatively, you can simply stir together the pâté and the mayo in a small bowl before spreading it inside the sandwich.
  • Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons of the bánh mì sauce on the other open side of the bread. At this point, you can also drizzle it with a few teaspoons of Maggi seasoning.
  • Add the vegetables. Next, add a generous amount of carrot and daikon pickles, a few slices of cucumber, and the sautéed oyster mushrooms if using.
  • Add the protein. Garnish with the vegan mortadella, fried tofu, and vegan meat floss if using.
  • Garnish. Finally, garnish with fresh cilantro, Thai basil leaves, and some chopped chili if you want more heat. Enjoy immediately!

Notes

  • To sauté the oyster mushrooms: Slice 3-4 mushrooms in half lengthwise. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Deglaze with a teaspoon of soy sauce and sauté for another 15-30 seconds.
  • Prepare ahead of time. The vegan pâté, mortadella, fried tofu, meat floss, and sauce can all be made ahead of time and stored for a few days in the refrigerator. This way, you can just bake the bread and assemble it on the day you plan to make it.
  • Do not overfill: We are not making a Subway sandwich here, bánh mì contains many different add-ins, but each one is used sparingly.
  • Prepare bánh mì just before serving: For the best texture, serve bánh mì immediately after assembling.
  • Use fresh bread: No one wants stale bread that is either too hard or too soft. Use fresh loaves of bread for a crispy crust and tender crumb!
  • Use room-temperature ingredients: I recommend taking the paté, sauce, and pickles out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before using. Bánh mì is always served with room-temperature ingredients.
Course : Entree, Main Course
Cuisine : Vietnamese
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

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Cant wait to make all soon for me i never had vegan banh mi before Thanks for the recipes perfect for my after office meals love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work

There used to be a Vietnamese food truck here in Tucson, Arizona That made an outstanding bánh mì. The chef added sliced jalapeño to the sandwich which added a great spiciness and complemented the whole sandwich and it already has a long relationship with cilantro after years of being added to many Mexican Food dishes here in the Sonoran desert southwest. I love your recipe and as usual your photography is excellent. I wish I could have that sandwich in the picture right now. Thank you Thomas for all the recipes you share with us

Bonjour Thomas,
Je tenais à te remercier pour tout le travail que tu nous partages.
Ton blog est parfait, tes recettes innovantes et tes photos superbes.
J’apprécie de venir régulièrement lire tes nouveaux articles et à chaque fois, je me dis que tu as bien de l’énergie et du courage 🙂
A bientôt.

5 stars
Dear Thomas, I found your blog thanks to the aubergine dip recipe (that is amazing and always gets SO many compliments at picnics) and have now discovered a whole world of Vietnamese vegan recipes. For me is getting two of my passions together (Vietnamese and vegan kitchen), the best of two worlds!!!! I can’t wait to try this one! So grateful to have discovered your blog! Cảm ơn rất nhiều 🤗

5 stars
This was sooo good! Not just for a vegan sando but it was one of the best sandwiches I have had. Thank you.