Vietnamese Chicken Sandwich (Bánh Mì)
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A homemade version of the ever so popular Banh Mi sandwich! This Vietnamese chicken sandwich is stuffed with tender sliced chicken, pickled carrots and daikon radish, cucumbers, and topped with sliced jalapeños, and cilantro. It is to DIE for!
Hello to all my chicken sandwich loving friends!
Today I’m sharing the most delicious Vietnamese chicken sandwich of your life. Please stop what you’re doing and scroll to the bottom of this post, grab the recipe, and promptly make it now. That way, we can obsess over this chicken banh mi sandwich together while you read the remainder of this post.
I’m not even going to try and pretend that this sandwich is something you can live without. You NEED this in your life. It’s a crispy toasted baguette loaded with super flavorful tender chicken, creamy mayo, pickled veggies, spicy sliced jalapenos, and cilantro — it’s basically EVERYTHING.
Every part of this sandwich is so tasty; you won’t be able to decide which component is your favorite part.
This Vietnamese Chicken Sandwich is what started it all. Since making these sandwiches, I’ve gone on to make things like fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, loaded with shrimp; noodles wrapped up in rice paper. And then I cooked chicken in the instant pot and turned it into a Crispy Chicken Banh Mi bowl. But the best thing I’ve ever done? Banh Mi Burgers — top 5 best burgers of all time. Especially when you top your burger with spicy sriracha mayo.
GOODNESS, that is a favorite around here.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MARINATE THE CHICKEN FOR VIETNAMESE CHICKEN SANDWICHES?
- Freshly grated garlic: all great recipes start with garlic
- Fish sauce: adds umami to the marinade. This ingredient is what makes the chicken so tender and extra flavorful.
- Low sodium soy sauce: adds saltiness to the marinade.
- Sugar: added to balance the umami and the saltiness of soy sauce
- Mayo: used as a tenderizer in the chicken marinade. It’s the secret ingredient that I use to tenderize my Persian chicken kabobs too.
- Lime zest: adds a note of bright, freshness to the chicken marinade.
- Sriracha: is optional. You can omit it from the recipe if you’d like to keep things on the mild side.
HOW TO MAKE THE CHICKEN FOR BANH MI SANDWICHES:
- Start by combining the ingredients for the marinade in a medium bowl.
- Add the chicken breasts/thighs/tenders and allow the chicken to sit covered in the refrigerator for 20 minutes – 24 hours. The longer the chicken sits, the more flavorful it will be.
- Cook the chicken on an indoor grill pan or a skillet until it cooks all the way through. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes then slice thinly on the bias.
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE PICKLED VEGETABLES FOR VIETNAMESE CHICKEN SANDWICHES?
- Equal parts: water, sugar, and rice vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Daikon radishes
- Persian cucumbers, optional
SHOULD I PICKLE THE CUCUMBERS?
This is entirely your call. When I shared the recipe a few years ago, I used to pickle the cucumbers along with the radishes and carrots. After enjoying a lot of Banh Mi sandwiches since then, I’ve stopped pickling the cucumbers and adding fresh spears into the sandwich. A local sandwich shop serves them that way, and I love the note of freshness that unpickled cucumbers add!
HOW DO YOU SHRED THE RADISHES AND CARROTS FOR THE PICKLED VEGETABLES?
The easiest way to shred the daikon radish and the carrots for this recipe is to use this little gadget. Sometimes I’ll cheat and grab a bag of shredded carrots from the store and think, why did I even waste the money when I have to shred the daikon anyway!
HOW LONG ARE YOU SUPPOSE TO LET THE VEGETABLES PICKLE?
You can pickle the vegetables for as little as 1 hour and even up to a week in advance. I’m usually not organized enough to pickle something a week ahead of time, so I usually get them going the morning I want to serve the sandwiches and store them in the refrigerator in these jars.
Usually, I like to pickle the veggies for at least 4-5 hours, that is where I like them best. However, you can do a quick 1-hour pickle, and that still makes this sandwich taste spot-on just like your favorite Vietnamese restaurants banh mi sandwich.
HOW TO PUT TOGETHER VIETNAMESE CHICKEN SANDWICHES (BANH MI):
Once the chicken is cooked, and the veggies are pickled, this process goes by super quickly.
- Toast the baguettes if you’d like. If they’re fresh from the store, you can skip this too if you don’t want the bread to be crisp. I lean towards a softer bread; I prefer it that way.
- Spread a thin layer of mayo on the bread. Top with sliced chicken. Follow that up with cucumbers, then the pickled vegetables, cilantro, and sliced of jalapeño.
- Top with the other sides of the bread and serve!
If you’re trying to make this recipe on a weeknight, I suggest letting the pickled veggies and the chicken hang out in the fridge from the night before. That way, it takes about 20 minutes to whip all of this up the next day.
If you like your Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches spicy, feel free to drizzle on a little sriracha for even more heat. I love the spice level and borderline obsessed with the flavor of freshly sliced jalapeños, so I skipped the sriracha all together.
One bite of this chicken banh mi and I’m floating on up to heaven. You get a little heat from the jalepeños, a slight earthiness from the cilantro, savory chicken, soft bread, and creamy mayo.
I could eat this Vietnamese sandwich for breakfast. Lunch. And dinner. Every day of my life for the next ten years and still not get tired of it.
*Original recipe posted July 2015, updated with new pictures and text May 2020.
- 1/2 cup EACH: water, rice vinegar, AND granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 ounces daikon, thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)
- 6 ounces carrots, thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)
- 2 Persian cucumbers cut into circles or spears
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
- 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 2 tablespoons EACH: fish sauce AND low sodium soy sauce
low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon EACH: granulated sugar AND mayo (plus more for spreading)
- ½ teaspoon lime zest
- 1-2 teaspoons sriracha (optional)
- 4-5 Vietnamese bread rolls or french baguettes
- sliced jalapeños or serranos + fresh cilantro
- PICKLED VEGETABLES: Combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the daikon, carrots, and cucumbers to a large mason jar. Pour the pickling liquid over veggies, screw on the lid, and allow the vegetables to pickle in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to 24 hours in advance.
- CHICKEN: Combine the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, mayo, lime zest, and sriracha (if using) in a medium bowl. Add the chicken, cover, and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. Cook the chicken on an indoor grill or a skillet until cooked through. The time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly on the bias.
- ASSEMBLE BANH MI: Toast the baguettes if desired, spread mayonnaise on bread and top with chicken slices, pickled vegetables, cilantro leaves, and jalapeño slices. Serve warm.
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