A vegetarian twist on classic meat-filled banh mi! Follow these steps at home to make tofu banh mi with pickled vegetables and fresh baguette. Because the tofu is a stand in for meat in this banh mi, use firm tofu—it holds up best when fried.

vegetarian tofu banh mi on a rack.

I’ve been trying to eat a more vegetarian friendly diet recently by eating vegetarian 4 lunches a week. And one day, I took some leftover tofu, added it to a baguette with some veggies and sauces to create my own vegetarian tofu banh mi. It was so good I knew I had to share a recipe on the blog. I don’t think tofu could ever replace meat in banh mi, but I thought this was a very close second. The balance of flavors from the sauces to the herbs really make this veggie dish just as satisfying. 🙂

A close up of vegetarian tofu banh mi with tofu, pickled vegetables, and a baguette

What is banh mi?

Banh mi is the Vietnamese word for bread. I always laugh a little bit when people say “banh mi sandwich” because you’re really saying “bread sandwich”. Banh mi is another perfect example of the mixture of Vietnamese and French cuisine. Ingredients that come from French cuisine include the baguette, mayonnaise, and pate. The French brought over these ingredients during their colonization of Vietnam in the 19th century. The rest are either Vietnamese ingredients or come from both cultures.

What is traditionally in Vietnamese banh mi?

A traditional Vietnamese sandwich typically has a combination of meats, pickled vegetables like pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, and jalapeños. All of these ingredients are served in a baguette. Some popular kinds of banh mi are Vietnamese lemongrass pork banh mi and lemongrass chicken banh mi. For this version of banh mi, I chose to use tofu instead of meat to make this banh mi vegetarian!

ingredients in the vegetarian banh mi

Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments

  • Tofu – The tofu is a stand in for the meat in this banh mi. Make sure to use firm tofu, so it holds up in the fryer. Soft or silky tofu will break apart if you try to fry it.
  • Baguettes – Any type of baguette will work.
  • Sriracha, mayonnaise, and soy sauce – These sauces add spicy, salty, and sweet flavors to the banh mi. Feel free to adjust the amount of each ingredient to your tastes. A good substitute for soy sauce is tamari.
  • Pepper for seasoning
  • Cilantro, cucumbers, and jalapeños – These veggies and herbs add freshness to the banh mi which balances out the heaviness of the bread and fried tofu. Feel free to adjust the amount of each ingredient to your tastes. For the cucumber, I like to use Persian cucumbers because I love their flavor, but you can use any kind of cucumbers you want.
  • Pickled carrots and daikon – Adds a sour/tangy flavor to the banh mi. You can either pick these up at the store or learn how make your own with my pickled vegetables recipe.
fried tofu on a blue plate

Making my vegetarian tofu banh mi

This authentic Vietnamese recipe is simple to make. First prep the tofu. Put some paper towels on a plate. Follow that with the block of tofu. And then put some more paper towels on top followed by another plate. This will help you squeeze out all the liquid in the tofu. Let it sit for 30 minutes. While the tofu is sitting, prepare your other ingredients. Thinly slice the cucumbers and jalapeños. Next, cut the tofu into 1 inch x 2 inch pieces.

Heat neutral oil to 270 degrees F. Make sure the oil comes 1 inch up your pan. Fry your tofu in batches for 5-10 minutes until golden. If the oil doesn’t completely cover your tofu, fry for 5 minutes on each side. Put the tofu on a bed of paper towels to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle the tofu with salt while they are still hot. Let it cool for 5 minutes and then slice your tofu in half length wise.

Now it’s time to put together your sandwich! Slice the baguette in half. Toast your bread for a few minutes. Smear sriracha and mayonnaise on half the sandwich. Drizzle some soy sauce on the other half. Add the pepper as well. Next, add a few pieces of the tofu, cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeño, carrots, and daikon to the sandwich. Add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. Repeat this process for each sandwich. Enjoy!

A close up of vegetarian tofu banh mi with tofu, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and a baguette

Tips on how to make the perfect vegetarian tofu banh mi

Use firm tofu only for this recipe

Firm tofu is the only kind of tofu you should use for this banh mi because it is the only kind that cant hold its shape in a sandwich. Any other kind of tofu will fall apart.

Repurpose your pickled vegetables

You will definitely have pickled vegetables left over, so don’t let them go to waste! Put them in spring rolls or com tam.

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vegetarian tofu banh mi

Get the Recipe:
Homemade Vegetarian Tofu Banh Mi

A vegetarian twist on classic meat-filled banh mi! Follow these steps at home tomake tofu banh mi with pickled vegetables and fresh baguette. Because the tofuis a stand in for meat in this banh mi, use firm tofu—it holds up best when fried.
4.89 from 9 ratings

Ingredients
 
 

Instructions
 

  • First prep the tofu. Put some paper towels on a plate. Follow that with the block of tofu. And then put some more paper towels on top followed by another plate. This will help you squeeze out all the liquid in the tofu. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • While the tofu is sitting, prepare your other ingredients. Thinly slice the cucumbers and jalapeños.
  • Cut the tofu into 1 inch x 2 inch pieces.
  • Heat neutral oil to 270 degrees F. Make sure the oil comes 1 inch up your pan. Fry your tofu in batches for 5-10 minutes until golden. If the oil doesn’t completely cover your tofu, fry for 5 minutes on each side.
  • Put the tofu on a bed of paper towels to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle the tofu with salt while they are still hot.
  • Let it cool for 5 minutes and then slice your tofu in half length wise.
  • Now it’s time to put together your sandwich! Slice the baguette in half. Toast your bread for a few minutes.
  • Smear sriracha and mayonnaise on half the sandwich. Drizzle some soy sauce on the other half. Add the pepper as well.
  • Add a few pieces of the tofu, cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeño, carrots, and daikon to the sandwich. Add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. Repeat this process for each sandwich.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Use firm tofu only for this recipe. Firm tofu is the only kind of tofu you should use for this banh mi because it is the only kind that cant hold its shape in a sandwich. Any other kind of tofu will fall apart.
  2. Repurpose your pickled vegetables. You will definitely have pickled vegetables left over, so don’t let them go to waste! Put them in spring rolls or com tam.
Serving: 1sandwich, Calories: 806kcal, Carbohydrates: 131g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 2268mg, Potassium: 394mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 782IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 352mg, Iron: 9mg
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