Satisfying Vegetarian Banh Mi Bowls with delicious saucy jackfruit, pickled vegetables and a creamy 3-ingredient sauce. Finished with fresh basil and cilantro, these bowls are a healthy way to enjoy the beloved Vietnamese sandwich.

Photograph of banh mi bowls filled with rice, jackfruit, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and a creamy sauce, set on a light blue table.Before we dive into these Banh Mi Bowls (and believe me I want to) let’s talk about what a Banh Mi is. Technically meaning “bread” the term banh mi is actually in reference to a Vietnamese-style baguette that’s tender and fluffy with a crunchy crust. And more likely than not, you’ve probably seen “Banh Mi” used to reference the classic Vietnamese sandwich that’s served on this delicious bread.

Technicalities, right? Anyway, for today’s purposes, when I say “Banh Mi” I’m referring to the sandwich.

Photograph of banh mi bowls filled with rice, jackfruit, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and a creamy sauce, set on a light blue table.The components of a classic banh mi sandwich:

  • Vietnamese baguette (this sandwich has some heavy French influence)
  • Chicken liver or pork liver pȃté (again, hello French)
  • Minced or shredded pork
  • Pickled vegetables, commonly Daikon
  • Spicy sauce of some sort
  • Chiles
  • Fresh herbs

Photograph of banh mi bowls filled with rice, jackfruit, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and a creamy sauce, set on a light blue table.For these bowls I kept some things very classic, while bending the rules to a) make them weeknight friendly and b) make them delicious but approachable.

So what do we have going on in these Banh Mi Bowls? Let’s dive in!

Banh Mi Bowl Step 1: Pickled Vegetables

Pickled vegetables land themselves at step 1 because in order to get these bowls ready in a timely manner the pickling process should begin right away (it only takes 15 minutes so no worries).

Pickled vegetables, more specifically pickled Daikon, are classic on Banh Mi sandwiches. For these Banh Mi bowls I chose to pickle carrots, Daikon and English cucumbers, all of which are common on Banh Mi sandwiches.

Photograph of pickled carrots, Daikon and cucumber in a brown bowl. Banh Mi Bowl Step 2: The Rice Base

For these bowls I opted to use jasmine or brown rice. Jasmine is traditional in Vietnamese cooking and adds a wonderful fragrance to the dish. If you’re looking for something with a bit more protein, quinoa would also be a great option. If you want to keep it low-carb—or simply add more veggies—you can also use cauliflower rice.

Banh Mi Bowl Step 3: Saucy Protein

First off let’s chat about protein. Pork, in any form really, is classic on Banh Mi Sandwiches. But you can also whatever you have on hand whether that’s chicken, turkey, tofu, or even jackfruit, like we’re using here! 

Now about the sauciness—sauce is important here. And we aren’t talking about the spicy mayo yet, we’ll get there.

It’s a very simple sauce, but the components—fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger—come together to create something that’s dynamite. It isn’t a lot of sauce, just enough to coat the protein and add some bold flavor to the dish.

Photograph of jackfruit tossed with a banh mi sauce in a brown bowlBanh Mi Bowl Step 4: Spicy Mayo Sauce

This is the cowbell ya’ll! And it’s so simple. It takes just 3 ingredients, although you could also make it using just two ingredients, up to you!

For this spicy mayo I use half olive oil mayonnaise, half Greek yogurt (whatever % you want), and a few teaspoons of chili garlic sauce for spice and flavor. I like using a bit of Greek yogurt to make it healthier, but you can use all mayonnaise if you prefer.

Photograph of a spicy mayonnaise in a clear mixing bowl with a whiskBanh Mi Bowl Step 5: Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are essential to the Banh Mi, which means they’re also essential here. Cilantro and basil make a huge difference in how the dish comes together. If you don’t like cilantro, use chopped scallions or parsley instead.

Make it a meal!

Serve these Banh Mi Bowls with a fresh Vietnamese Mango Fruit Salad.

Photograph of banh mi bowls filled with rice, jackfruit, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and a creamy sauce, set on a light blue table.

Make sure to tag me @ZESTFULKITCHEN ON INSTAGRAM or comment below if you make these Banh Mi Bowls!

To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can click the button on any of the photos, or the red button on the side bar or below the recipe.  Happy cooking!

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Photograph of banh mi bowls filled with rice, jackfruit, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and a creamy sauce, set on a light blue table.

Banh Mi Bowls

  • Author: Lauren
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes (pickling time)
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (3 cups pickled vegetables, 3 cups jackfruit mixture and ½ cup sauce) 1x
  • Category: Lunch / Dinner
  • Method: Bowl
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

Description

Satisfying Vegetarian Banh Mi Bowls with delicious saucy jackfruit, pickled vegetables and a creamy 3-ingredient sauce. Finished with fresh basil and cilantro, these bowls are a healthy way to enjoy the beloved Vietnamese sandwich.


Ingredients

Scale

Quick Pickled Vegetables

  • ¾ cup white or rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced Daikon (or regular radishes)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber

Spicy Mayo Sauce

  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt  
  • ¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise  
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce

Banh Mi Jackfruit

  • 1 tablespoon *fish sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • Black pepper
  • 18 ounces prepared jackfruit (two 9-ounce packages)
  • 3 cups cooked jasmine or brown rice
  • Fresh basil and cilantro for serving

Instructions

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Whisk together vinegar, honey and salt in a medium bowl. Add carrots, Daikon and cucumber and toss to combine; let sit at least 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Spicy Mayo Sauce

Combine yogurt, mayonnaise and chili garlic sauce; set aside.

Banh Mi Jackfruit

Combine fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, oil, garlic, ginger and a few cracks of black pepper in a bowl. Add jackfruit and toss to coat.

Optional: heat jackfruit in the microwave for 1–2 minutes on high until heated through.

To serve, divide rice and jackfruit between serving bowls. Top with a few scoops of pickled vegetables and drizzle with spicy mayo sauce. Finish with a handful of basil and cilantro.


Notes

*to keep this vegetarian, use liquid aminos. Some vegetarians are willing to use fish sauce which is why I kept it in.

Make it vegan:

  • Use liquid aminos in place of the fish sauce
  • Use vegan mayonnaise instead of the regular mayonnaise and yogurt
  • Use agave syrup instead of honey

Use a different protein:

You can easily swap in cooked chicken (rotisserie for a super quick meal), shredded pork, ground pork, pork meatballs, turkey, tofu, etc.

Gluten-free note:

  • Just an FYI, not all soy sauces are gluten-free, if you need this to be gluten-free, be sure to seek out GF soy sauce.

Keywords: Banh Mi Bowl, Jackfruit bowl

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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