Bánh Mì

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich with meats, pickled veggies, and sauces in a short baguette.

Lastest Updated February 16, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
  • Fusion
  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional
Home » Dishes A-Z » Bánh Mì

Fact: “Bánh mì” entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011.

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Basic Information

Bánh Mì: Basic Information

Pronunciation

ˈbɑːn miː/, /ˈbæn miː/,
or /bahn mee/

Alternative Name(s)

No

Dish Type

Sandwiches

Course

Main Course

Mealtime

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Origin and Region

Bánh Mì: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Southern Vietnam

Associated Region

Unspecified
Vietnam Map
A Deep Dive

Popular Bánh Mì Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Bánh Mì: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Vietnamese-style baguettes and various ingredients for the filling

Main Cooking Method

Assembling

Preparation Process

Splitting a baguette lengthwise and filling it with various ingredients
A Deep Dive

Bánh Mì: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

A symbol of Vietnamese street food and culinary fusion

Taste

Savory

Texture

Crispy-outside, soft-inside baguettes with various textures from other ingredients

Aroma

Rich

Color

Golden baguettes with various colors from other ingredients

Serving Style

Wrapped in paper, cut into portions or served whole, and eaten with hands

Serving Temperature

Warm or at room temperature

Accompaniment

Beverages like coffee, tea, and soft drinks

Occasions

On any occasions

Seasons

Year-round

Special Diets

Non diet-specific

Calories

618 calories, according to data of Nutritionix for one serving of bánh mì with pork-based products and vegetables.

Popularity

Worldwide, especially in Vietnam and the US

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Khao Jee Pâté
  2. Num Pang
  3. Submarine Sandwich
  4. Po’ Boy
  5. Prawn Roll
  6. Milanesa Sandwich

Popular Dining Area

Street vendors, fast food chains, bakeries, and restaurants

Bánh mì, or banh mi, is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich consisting of a Vietnamese-style baguette and various ingredients.

Banh Mi Overview

Locals prepare it by splitting a baguette along its length and stuffing it with meat products (usually pork-based) or other fillings, herbs, and condiments.

Bánh mì means literally “bread” in Vietnamese. To distinguish between filled and unfilled baguettes, Vietnamese people usually refer to the filled variant by its main ingredients, such as bánh mì thịt nguội (“bread with cold cuts”).

Unfilled bánh mì is called bánh mì không (“plain bread”).

In an international context, the Vietnamese-style sandwich can be called bánh mì Việt Nam (“Vietnam-style bread”) or bánh mì Sài Gòn (“Saigon-style bread”).

Bánh mì is an immensely popular and convenient main dish and street food in Vietnam, where locals enjoy it for all meals of the day. Many people consider it one of the country’s national dishes.

This Vietnamese-style sandwich is also internationally famous, with many major countries having bánh mì shops or stalls. In 2023, bánh mì was ranked as one of the world’s 24 best sandwiches by CNN.

I will provide you with useful information about bánh mì, including its history, main ingredients, and variations.

I will also delve into the advantages and disadvantages of consuming bánh mì and recommend popular places to try it. Lastly, I will address commonly asked questions about this dish and suggest similar dishes.

Key Points

  • Bánh mì is a globally famous Vietnamese baguette-based sandwich.
  • Modern bánh mì was invented in the 1950s and introduced to the global audience after 1975.
  • A local type of baguette is used in bánh mì and contributes greatly to its flavor profile.
  • Popular filling ingredients for bánh mì are pork-based cold cuts, pâté, pickles, coriander, mayonnaise, and chili sauce.
  • There are many popular types of bánh mì with various fillings throughout Vietnam.
  • Bánh mì is an excellent main dish and street food for all meals.
  • Bánh mì can be easily found both in and outside Vietnam.

Bánh Mì Images

What Is the History of Bánh Mì?

Bánh mì is the result of the multi-decade fusion of Vietnamese and French cuisines. The ancestor of bánh mì is the baguette, a type of long, thin French bread introduced to Vietnam in the mid-19th century when the Southeast Asian country became a French colonial subject.

Over time, the Vietnamese-style baguette underwent many changes that made it different from the original version. In 1958, a bakery in Southern Vietnam sold baguettes stuffed with cold cuts and pâté, creating modern bánh mì. Many other places followed suit and added even more ingredients to the filling.

After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Vietnamese refugees brought bánh mì to many countries around the world, especially the US. Thanks to its convenience and excellent taste, bánh mì has become more and more popular in many major countries.

The interactions between bánh mì and global cuisine have resulted in many creative fusion dishes. But Vietnamese people always use the core ingredients of bánh mì when preparing this sandwich.

What Is Bánh Mì Made of?

The most essential part of bánh mì is the baguette, while other ingredients are changeable and can be altered to suit personal taste. Below is the breakdown of the 4 most common types of ingredients in bánh mì.

IngredientsCharacteristics
Vietnamese-style baguettesSmaller than French baguettes

About 8 – 11.8 inches (20 – 30 centimeters) in length and 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7.5 centimeters) in width

Have a light, pillowy crumb and a crispy thin crust

Can be made from or mixed with rice flour
FillingsMeat products: cold cuts (such as roast pork belly, chả lụa – boiled pork sausage, Chinese sausage, ham, etc.), cooked pork knuckles, pork floss, char siu (Cantonese-style BBQ pork), grilled chicken, sardines, fried eggs, etc.

Others: butter, cheese, chopped scallions sautéed in oil, fried tofu (for vegan bánh mì), etc.

Pork is the most popular type of meat for bánh mì fillings
VegetablesSliced or julienne-cut cucumbers, coriander, pickled vegetables (usually carrots and daikon), scallions, sliced chili peppers, etc.
CondimentsCommon choices: pâté, mayonnaise (the creamy yellow stuff in bánh mì), chili sauce, soy sauce, salt and pepper mix, etc.

Signature sauces: depending on specific bánh mì vendors

Since bánh mì is very flexible in terms of ingredients, it comes in many variations throughout Vietnam.

What Are Popular Variations of Bánh Mì in Vietnam?

I will introduce you to the 30 most popular types of filled bánh mì in Vietnam in the table below.

Banh Mi Thit

Literally means “bread with meat”
Generic name for any type of bánh mì filled with meat products and other staple ingredients
Usually made with pork-based products

Banh Mi Thit Quay

Has sliced roast pork belly as the main filling

Banh Mi Thit Nguoi

Bánh mì filled with cold cuts, such as ham, pâté, sausage, boiled pork sausage, Chinese sausage, etc.
Made with other staple bánh mì ingredients
One of the most popular and diverse types of bánh mì

Banh Mi Nem Nuong

Has nem nướng (Vietnamese grilled pork sausage) as the main filling

Banh Mi Trung

Has scrambled eggs as the main filling

Banh Mi Xiu

Has xíu (pork braised in soy sauce) as the main filling
Can be made with cold cuts and vegetables
Popular dish in Central Vietnamese provinces like Quang Tri and Thua Thien – Hue

Banh Mi Xiu Mai

Bánh mì filled with xíu mại (pork meatballs in tomato sauce), vegetables, pork greaves, grilled pork, salty duck eggs (optional)
Can also be served by dipping sliced plain baguettes in xíu mại broth
Specialty of Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat city, with minor differences between the two versions

Banh Mi Bi

Bánh mì filled with shredded pork skin, cucumbers, pickles, and sweet and sour sauce
Easy to find in Ho Chi Minh City

Banh Mi Bo Kho

Plain bánh mì served with savory bò kho (braised beef stew)

Banh Mi Bot Loc

Bánh mì filled with bánh bột lọc (clear-looking tapioca dumplings with fillings), herbs, and sauce
Made with longer and denser baguettes
Popular in Da Nang, Thua Thien Hue, Nghe An

Banh Mi Ca Moi

Bánh mì filled with canned sardines in tomato sauce
Simple and popular breakfast dish

Banh Mi Ca Ngu

Has braised tuna and tuna broth as the main fillings

Banh Mi Cha Ca

Has fried fishcakes as the main filling
Popular in big cities and coastal province

Banh Mi Chao

Plain bánh mì served in a large pan with cold cuts and other staple ingredients
First appeared in the 1970s in Hanoi

Banh Mi Coc

Means literally “toad bread”
Made with a round, burger-like baguette
Can feature many types of fillings
Mainly found in Ho Chi Minh City

Banh Mi Dau Hu

Vegan bánh mì filled with fried tofu and other plant-based ingredients

Banh Mi Hen

Has cooked shucked clams as the main filling

Banh Mi Kep Kem

Has ice cream and peanuts as the main filling
Savored as a dessert and snack
Very popular in the 1980s and 1990s

Banh Mi Kho Bo

Bánh mì filled with shredded dried beef, peanuts, laksa leaves, and a flavorful black sauce based on soy sauce
Served as a breakfast dish and snack
Mainly found in Ho Chi Minh City

Banh Mi Pha Lau

Bánh mì filled with phá lấu (braised pork offal stew with fragrant spices), cucumbers, chili sauce, and phá lấu broth
Very popular in Ho Chi Minh City

Banh Mi Cay

Bánh mì filled with pâté, fragrant herbs, and hot sauce
Has a small, short, stick-like shape
Also known as bánh mì que (“stick bánh mì”)
Invented in the 1980s in Haiphong
Specialty of Haiphong

Banh Mi Than

Made with a type of black baguette dyed with squid ink or activated charcoal
Typically filled with pounded and grilled squids, fragrant herbs, and a special vegetable-based sour sauce
Originally invented in Quang Ninh province for miners
Popular in Hanoi
Also known as bánh mì bóng đêm (“midnight bread”)

Banh Mi Top Mo

Has pork greaves and cold cuts as the main fillings

Banh Mi Yeu Nuoc

Literally means “patriotic bread”
Features red baguettes (colored with beetroot juice) with a golden star made of turmeric flour to mimic the Vietnamese flag
Can be filled with staple bánh mì ingredients
First appeared in 2020 in Hanoi

Banh Mi Nuong Muoi Ot

Made by roasting baguette slices with chili salt and topping them with various savory ingredients
Derived from Khmer cuisine in An Giang province

Banh Mi Pate

Has pâté as the main filling
Can incorporate other staple bánh mì ingredients

Banh Mi Xa Xiu

Has char siu pork as the main filling
Can incorporate other staple bánh mì ingredients

Banh Mi Cha Lua

Has boiled pork sausage as the main filling
Can incorporate other staple bánh mì ingredients
Also known as bánh mì giò lụa

Banh Mi Op La

Bánh mì filled with fried eggs
Can be made with other staple bánh mì ingredients or a simple mix of salt and pepper
Popular breakfast dish

Banh Mi Ga

Has chicken as the main filling
Can incorporate other staple bánh mì ingredients

The exceptional diversity of bánh mì is a notable merit of this Vietnamese sandwich. Read on to discover other upsides and possible downsides of this dish.

Pros and Cons of Eating Bánh Mì

Bánh mì has the following positive and negative attributes.

Pros

  • Diverse flavor profile: Bánh mì offers complex flavors thanks to featuring a variety of ingredients, such as cold cuts, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and creamy condiments.
  • Affordability: Bánh mì is generally inexpensive and accessible to many people.
  • Customizability: Numerous bánh mì types come with various filling options that suit many dietary preferences, from vegetarians to keto diet followers.
  • Convenience: Bánh mì is widely recognized as a portable and quick meal convenient for people on the go.
  • Balanced nutrition: Many essential nutrients are present in bánh mì, such as carbohydrates (from the bread), protein (from the meat products or tofu), fat (from pâté or mayonnaise), and vitamins and fiber (from the vegetables).
  • Cultural experience: Eating bánh mì is one of the easiest to explore typical Vietnamese cuisine.

Cons

  • Caloric content: Sometimes, bánh mì sandwiches can be high in calories, especially if they include generous amounts of meat, pâté, and mayonnaise.
  • Dietary restrictions: Not all bánh mì are suitable for people following a plant-based or gluten-free diet.
  • Perishability: Bánh mì is relatively easy to spoil since there are many fresh and protein-rich ingredients in bánh mì, which are ideal environments for such organisms.

You can greatly negate the shortcomings of bánh mì by buying this sandwich from reliable sources, so read on for suggestions on the best places to try bánh mì.

Where to Find the Best Bánh Mì?

Many excellent destinations for bánh mì lie in Vietnam and the US. Here are the 8 widely praised dining establishments for getting this sandwich.

In Vietnam

Bánh mì Hòa Mã: This place is considered the birthplace of modern bánh mì and one of the top-rated destinations for Saigon-style bánh mì.
Address: 53 Cao Thang Street, Ward 3, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Bánh mì Như Lan: Bánh mì Như Lan is another famous shop in Ho Chi Minh City, with many diverse variations. It also has branches in a few US states.
Address: 68 Ham Nghi Street, Ben Nghe ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Bánh mì Đức Phát: A bánh mì chain with many shops in Southern Vietnam, Bánh mì Đức Phát offers many delicious and affordable bánh mì sandwich dishes.
Bánh mì Madam Khánh: Many tourists visiting Hoi An Ancient Town stop by this place for tasty bánh mì bites in many forms.
Address: 115 Tran Cao Van Street, Minh An ward, Hoi An city, Quang Nam province
Bánh mì Phượng: Bánh mì Phượng is also an icon of Hoi An and has welcomed many celebrities seeking to try its famous fare.
Address: 2b Phan Chu Trinh Street, Cam Chau ward, Hoi An city, Quang Nam province

In the U.S.

Bánh mì Ba Lẹ: Bánh mì Ba Lẹ is a famous bakery and delicatessen opened by a Vietnamese family with a long history of making bánh mì in Southern Vietnam.
Lee’s Sandwiches: Lee’s Sandwiches is a California-based Vietnamese-American fast food restaurant chain known for serving Vietnamese dishes, especially bánh mì.
Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery: A combo of both bakery and restaurant, this place delivers high-quality bánh mì made from premium Vietnamese-style baguettes and filling ingredients.

Now that you know about these places, let’s complete your understanding of bánh mì by moving on to the FAQs section.

Bánh Mì FAQs

Yes, most types of bánh mì are considered healthy, offering a balanced mix of nutrients. Of course, you can make bánh mì even more wholesome by increasing the amount of greens and decreasing the content of processed meat.

Bánh mì is suitable for enjoying both warm and cold, but locals often serve bánh mì at room temperature.

Bánh mì is best consumed within the day it is prepared, but you can put it in an air-tight container and refrigerate it for 1 – 2 days or freeze it for 2 – 3 months. Be mindful that those ways of storage may compromise the texture of the baguette, so you should reheat it in an oven.

No, bánh mì is typically not gluten-free since its baguettes contain wheat, but you may find bánh mì made entirely from rice flour or alternative sources of starch.

Whether pregnant women can eat bánh mì or not depends on the content of the sandwich. Pâté, an important bánh mì ingredient, isn’t safe for expecting mothers, so they can’t eat classic bánh mì. But if this ingredient is omitted, then bánh mì will be a nutritious dish for them.

No, most bánh mì variations don’t have nuts of any kind, though some sweet variations of bánh mì for desserts may have peanuts in them.

No, bánh mì isn’t typically spicy, but many Vietnamese people love to serve their portions with extra chili peppers or hot sauce.

Truc Tran (Kris)

Truc Tran (Kris)

Senior Food Editor

Expertise

Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Vietnamese Food Evaluation Expert

Education

  • Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at TasTAFE
  • Culinary Arts at Kendall College (Australia Branch in Sydney)
  • Vietnamese Cuisine Head Chef at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Truc Tran (Kris), an experienced food writer and editor, is great at exploring and describing global cuisines, from simple street food to fancy dining. In her writing, she skillfully mixes different flavors, cooking methods, and culinary traditions, showing the unique character of various cultures through their food and drinks. On azcuisines.com, Kris highlights her knowledge, especially in Asian cuisine and worldwide traditional dishes.

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