Banh Mi Sandwich

Instead of stuffing this banh mi sandwich with meat, I fill it with zesty marinated tofu. Pickled veggies and cilantro leaves take it over the top.

banh mi sandwich

When I lived in Austin, I got a tofu banh mi sandwich from two different Vietnamese restaurants as often as I could. Stuffed with sweet and tangy pickles, herbs, creamy mayo, and more, the sandwiches were hearty and comforting, but still refreshing. My mouth is watering just thinking about them! Since we’ve moved, I’m still searching for a great banh mi in Chicago (let me know if any of you have suggestions!). Until I find one, I’ll be making this yummy banh mi recipe to curb my cravings at home.

Banh mi recipe ingredients

What is banh mi?

Banh mi sandwiches are a Vietnamese street food that originated in Saigon. Served on soft French baguettes, they’re a delicious hybrid of French and Vietnamese cuisine. Typically, they contain pickled carrots, daikon, chiles, cucumber slices, cilantro, mayo, and a protein. Popular proteins include marinated pork, chicken, and paté, but I use tofu in this recipe to make it vegetarian.

Thinly sliced carrot and daikon on a plate

Banh Mi Sandwich Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Baguette – Look for soft baguette with a lightly crisp exterior. If it’s too chewy or crusty, the fillings will squish out of the sandwich!
  • Seared marinated tofu – The “meat” of this sandwich. I marinate firm tofu in a blend of tamari or soy sauce, lime juice and zest, garlic, ginger, and black pepper. It’s super savory and bright. Yum!
  • Pickled vegetables – These guys are key for giving a banh mi its signature sweet and tangy flavor. I pickle a combination of carrots, cucumber, jalapeño, and daikon in white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. If you can’t find daikon, red radishes taste great here too. And if you’re sensitive to spice, go easy on the jalapeño.
  • Mayo – A banh mi essential! It adds a delicious richness to this fresh sandwich. To make this recipe vegan, substitute your favorite store bought vegan mayo, or make your own.
  • Sriracha – For extra heat.
  • Cilantro – The perfect fresh finishing touch!

After the tofu marinates, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and sear the tofu on both sides. When it’s golden brown and caramelized, stuff it into the baguette with the pickled veggies, cilantro, a slather of mayo, and a squirt of sriracha. Enjoy!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Banh mi pickled vegetables in a jar

Banh Mi Recipe Tips

  • Plan ahead. For the best sweet and tangy flavor, you need to make the pickles ahead of time. They’ll taste good after an hour in the fridge, but they get better by the day. If you can, prep them a day or two before you make this recipe!
  • Don’t let the pickled veggies go to waste! You’ll likely end up with leftover pickles from making this recipe. Store them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Make more sandwiches later on, or pile them onto rice bowls, top them onto avocado toast, or stuff them into spring rolls!
  • Change it up. This vegetarian banh mi recipe is fantastic as written, but feel free to play with it. Avocado and sautéed shiitake mushrooms would both be excellent here, as would extra cucumber slices. Let me know what variations you try!

tofu banh mi recipe

More Favorite Tofu Recipes

If you love this tofu banh mi sandwich, check out this post for my best tofu-cooking tips! Then, try one of these delicious tofu recipes next:

Banh Mi Sandwich

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 66 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves 4
This yummy banh mi recipe is a vegetarian version of the popular Vietnamese sandwich. I stuff it with seared tofu, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, jalapeños, and more!

Ingredients

Pickled Veggies:

  • 1 small daikon, sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 small carrots, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/2 small cucumber, seeded & sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/2 jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, more as needed
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar, more as needed
  • Pinches of sugar
  • Pinches of salt

Tofu Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • Juice of 1/2 lime + a little zest
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Make ahead: Place the daikon, carrots, cucumbers, and jalapeños in a medium jar with the white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. If the liquids don’t cover the veggies, add about 2 tablespoons water and more vinegar if necessary. Let chill for at least an hour, or store in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Drain the tofu and slice it into 1/2-inch slices. Place it on a towel and gently pat dry to remove excess water.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, tamari, lime juice and zest, garlic, ginger, and pepper.
  • Place the tofu in a shallow pan and pour the marinade on top. Flip the tofu to fully coat it, adding more tamari if necessary. Let the tofu marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  • Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the pan and place the tofu pieces with enough space between each so that they’re not too crowded, working in batches if necessary. Without moving the tofu slices around too much, let them cook for a few minutes per side until they’re deeply golden brown and caramelized around the edges. Remove from heat and season to taste.
  • Assemble sandwiches with the baguette, mayo, tofu slices, pickled veggies, and cilantro, and serve with sriracha.

Notes

For seared tofu, I like to use West Soy Extra Firm Tofu. I find it to be a bit less watery (and easier to work with) than other brands of firm tofu.
For the pickled veggies: if you can't find daikon, use a few red radishes or just skip it. If you're sensitive to spice, go light on the jalapeños.

 

127 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Rhi
    11.12.2021

    I am making this recipe tonight, but I do live in Austin and was wondering which 2 restaurants inspired you, so I could try them out. Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.13.2021

      Elizabeth Street (although I think it’s not as good as it used to be!) and a truck called Lulu B’s that isn’t there anymore :/

      My favorite Vietnamese in town, currently, is Saigon Le Vendeur on East 7th – get the lemongrass tofu bowl and ask for extra sauce.

  2. Maddie
    11.08.2021

    3 stars
    This recipe was good, and I’m definitely going to make more pickled veggies for various things in the future! However, the heavy amount of oil and vinegar in the recipe just didn’t sit well in my stomach. I think with a few substitutions this will be really tasty.

  3. Elly
    09.24.2021

    5 stars
    Thanks so much for this amazing recipe – it’s a total flavour bomb!

  4. Krista
    09.14.2021

    5 stars
    So delicious! Highly recommend. My hubby who loves all Vietnamese food was thrilled.

  5. Silvia
    09.09.2021

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe twice now, and they are so good. I’ve never made tofu that tasted this amazing, and all the flavors together… so delicious. Thank you!

  6. Sarah
    08.27.2021

    5 stars
    These sandwiches amazing. We’re not even vegetarians and our whole family loves them. The pickled veggies are also good served with rice and a protein. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.28.2021

      I’m so glad these were a hit!

  7. dsigma_domega
    07.05.2021

    5 stars
    I can’t stop won’t stop making this. It’s so good. Can’t get enough. I made way more veggies than recommended. At some point, I’m not sure when, you can stop adding vinegars and just add water. I did about half water half vinegar, but I made enough pickled veggies for like 15 sandwiches.

  8. Cyrus
    06.02.2021

    5 stars
    This recipe kicks ass. I eat it every day. 5/6

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.03.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  9. mary
    04.12.2021

    5 stars
    Just looked this up again for the 5th time! I’ve been making it non stop.. keeping the pickled veggies on hand. LOVE THIS ONE! thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.13.2021

      I’m so glad you’ve loved it!

  10. Jen
    03.07.2021

    If you still live in Chicago, Bon Bon Sandwiches in Wicker Park has an amazing vegan classic banh mi. It has all the elements of a traditional banh mi veganized — Vietnamese ham, mushroom-walnut pâté, mayo, picked daikon and radish, etc.

  11. Maddy
    01.11.2021

    5 stars
    This recipe is BOMB. We absolutely loved it! There are so many bright and fresh flavors and I want to just keep a rotating jar of the pickles so that I can eat them all the time. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

  12. Julie
    01.10.2021

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe twice now, and I gotta say, I love it. It’s SO good. I skip the jalapenos because I don’t like cutting them, but it’s spot on. I used store bought vegan mayo and prepped everything ahead of time. Pre-match-sticked carrots are soooo convenient, and I threw the sliced pre-drained tofu in a bag to marinate in the fridge until it was time to eat. Heat up the skillet, add oil, add in the tofu, and while it’s cooking, assemble the sandwiches. SUCH a good prep-ahead recipe if you’re like me and have a ton of energy all day but then drop at dinner time and need something fast.

  13. LS
    01.09.2021

    Pho Phu Linh 4741 Main St, Skokie, IL 60076 just east of Evanston has a great vegan banh mi

  14. Paul G
    09.05.2020

    5 stars
    For me, any recipe that uses cilantro is a good recipe. Pair that with pickled veggies and you just took it to another level.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.