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.
  • Spicy mayo – A banh mi essential! This sauce, made from mayo, sriracha, lime juice, and sesame oil, adds delicious richness and heat to this fresh sandwich. To make this recipe vegan, substitute your favorite store bought vegan mayo, or make your own.
  • 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, and a slather of spicy mayo. 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!
  • Press your tofu. This simple, hands-off step only takes an extra 20 to 30 minutes, and it will give your tofu an amazing chewy texture! I love the Tofuture Tofu Press, which is easy to use and captures the excess water from the tofu, making cleanup a breeze. You can get it on Amazon for $25.95. Want to look at some other options? Check out my guide to the best tofu presses!
  • 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:

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Banh Mi Sandwich

rate this recipe:
4.98 from 130 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
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 radish, sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 small carrots, sliced into matchsticks
  • ½ small cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • cup rice vinegar, plus more as needed
  • cup water, plus more as needed
  • Cane sugar
  • Sea salt

Tofu Marinade:

Instructions

  • Make the pickles ahead: Place the daikon, carrots, cucumbers, and jalapeños in a medium jar with the vinegar and water and pinches of sugar and salt. If the liquids don’t cover the veggies, add more water and 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 ½-inch slices. Place it on a towel and gently pat dry to remove excess water.
  • Make the marinade: 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 on the baguette with the spicy mayo, tofu slices, pickled veggies, and cilantro.

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.

 

154 comments

4.98 from 130 votes (87 ratings without comment)

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  1. Shae
    02.23.2019

    I’m not sure where in Chicago you live, but I love the lemongrass tofu bahn mi from Bon Bon in Bucktown! Angelic Organics is a great CSA too if you’re looking for one! 🙂 That’s how I discovered daikon!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.23.2019

      I will have to try that, thank you!! I’ve heard of Angelic Organics – thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Matt
    02.02.2019

    5 stars
    Really solid recipe. I followed the marinade recipes for both the pickled veggies and the tofu, and they were excellent. (note I am a full-fledged carnivore foodie, I just like good eats, and this is it)

    On the sandwich construction, the only things I did differently were to pre-mix the sriracha and mayo, add some red onions, and squeeze some lime on top, all of which are minor edits. Fantastic recipe

  3. Laks from theuncertain.net
    05.31.2018

    Wonderful recipe. Have you tried flavoured tofu? Have you any alternative suggestions to frying tofu? I try avoid using oil. Perhaps baking?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.31.2018

      I like to drizzle tofu pieces with tamari (and a little olive oil) and bake for about 20 minutes until the tofu has firmed up around the edges. Toss with a little sriracha as it comes out of the oven. I also really like baked tofu that you can get ready-made (the Wildwood brand is really tasty and easy to find).

      Any of the above would work well on these sandwiches!

      • Laks from theuncertain.net
        06.02.2018

        Thank you very much for your suggestion. The description alone is mouth watering.

  4. Amanda
    10.19.2017

    I used this recipe to make bahn mi spring rolls. They were delicious! I used a lettuce leaf to hold all the ingredients before wrapping it in the rice paper. I didnt have sriracha so I mixed garlic chili paste with mayo and put a little bit of that in the roll. I also figured out that chilling the tofu before putting it in the roll makes it better. Yum! 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.21.2017

      Hi Amanda, I’m so glad you enjoyed these as spring rolls!

  5. Dara
    08.31.2017

    Been craving this sandwich for days.bought one at a local pho plave for $7! And it wasn’t worth it. Pickling and marinating for this recipe right now! Thank you! Can’t wait(but i have to!)

  6. Susanna
    06.25.2017

    Instead of mayo, try a more vegan variation, soft tofu whipped with crunchy peanut butter, sesame oil, lime juice and sriracha. Yum.

    • Susanna
      06.25.2017

      sorry, whipped silken tofu

  7. Zoe from be.net
    05.09.2017

    LOVED the pickled veggies! Used a shredder instead of chopping into matchsticks and it was so easy I quickly went overboard and ended up with nearly 4 cups of veggies. Hanging onto the extra to make the banh mi spring rolls this week!

  8. Nikolai
    03.22.2017

    Making this tonight, chicken for the family and tofu for me. I’ve been making Bahn Mi for years and my recipe is a bit different, but I came across this and knew it would be a perfect meal.

  9. anonymous
    10.31.2016

    how long does it trake for prep and make time?

  10. Cait
    09.24.2016

    Hi, I’m just wondering if the tofu marinade could be made ahead of time/how long it will keep in the fridge? Thanks!

  11. Mona
    08.02.2016

    My mostly Vegan family loved these sandwiches! We ate these 10 years back in Sydney, Australia. Amazing, another lunch sandwich for my picky 11 year old.

    Thanks.

  12. Rachna
    03.09.2016

    5 stars
    Tried these sandwiches and loved them. I skipped the mayo and added hoisin sauce instead. Thank you for posting it.

  13. Debra
    02.28.2016

    Thank you for posting this recipe! I substituted sugar syrup for the oil in the marinade since I am on an oil free diet. I also skipped the mayo on mine but put it on my husband’s. It was delicious even with those substitutions. My iPad won’t let me give it stars, but it deserves 5!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.28.2016

      Hi Debra – so great to hear – glad you and your husband loved them!

  14. Carmen
    02.08.2016

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday for the Superbowl and it was so good! My husband loved it so much he asked if there would be seconds today, but all I have left are extra pickled veggies. Looks like I’ll be busy cooking more tofu tonight! Can’t wait…

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.28.2016

      Hi Carmen – glad you both loved them! (sorry for my slow reply :))

  15. jenny
    01.18.2016

    5 stars
    how long does the pickle last in the fridge?

    • jeanine
      01.18.2016

      at least a couple of weeks

  16. Jess
    08.24.2015

    This looks amazing!
    If I can’t find daikon, is there anything you recommend as a substitute?

    • jeanine
      08.24.2015

      Hi Jess, you could use radishes, or you could just skip it and just use the carrots & cucumbers – it would be good either way 🙂

  17. Monica from yaplog.jp
    04.09.2015

    5 stars
    Thank you for good recipe. I introduce your recipe on my blog in Japan.
    I didn’t wait 1week, so only 3hours put vegetables in vinegar. But I can eat them 🙂

  18. jeanine
    04.04.2015

    Hi Teri – so glad you liked them! Hum, your mayo sounds super delicious!

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.