Essential Vietnamese Recipes

Pho Bo Soup (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Vietnam is a country with a rich, vast culture. Occupied by China, France, and even impacted by Russia, Vietnamese cuisine is a colorful blend of foreign influences as well as their own native flavors and techniques. Though, at the core of Vietnamese food lies a few repeat ingredients:
Nước chấm
, or fish sauce, pickled vegetables, rice and other rice-based creations like rice paper and rice noodles, lime, and fresh herbs like Vietnamese mint and Thai basil. Explore what this cuisine has to offer with our essential Vietnamese recipes.

  • 01 of 15

    Egg Coffee

    Vietnamese Egg Coffee

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

    Convenience is often the enemy of creativity and it’s rumored that the popular and very delicious, Vietnamese egg coffee, was created by a café owner when milk was in short supply during the 1940s. It’s made with Robusta coffee beans and a blend of condensed milk and egg yolk. The resulting cup of coffee is strong, yet creamy and sweet.

  • 02 of 15

    Coconut Chicken Curry

    Vietnamese chicken curry recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    If you know and love the flavors of Thai curry, Vietnamese coconut chicken curry will feel very familiar. The main difference relates to their respective preparations, as the Vietnamese style uses chunks of potatoes and onions for a more stew-like quality. It’s also often enjoyed with a crusty baguette, a relic of French rule in the country.

  • 03 of 15

    Classic Banh Mi

    Classic Banh Mi

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Ah yes, the wildly popular banh mi. This assemblage of pork, pickled vegetables, pâté, and mayo on a baguette is a quick and satisfying eat. You’ll want to use a Vietnamese-style baguette since it’s a much softer, chewier bread than the classic French baguette. If finding it proves difficult, a Mexican bolillo will do.

  • 04 of 15

    Lemongrass Tamarind Chicken

    Vietnamese Lemongrass Tamarind Chicken

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

    Aside from vinegar and citrus, tamarind is frequently used in Southeast Asian cuisine to add a sour kick. Though, this ingredient is also more complex in flavor than its counterparts, delivering fruity, almost caramel-like notes. Serve lemongrass tamarind chicken with rice and a tamarind tequila cocktail for a punchy, fusion style spread.

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  • 05 of 15

    Vietnamese Spring Rolls

    Vegan Tofu Spring Rolls

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

    When you want a light meal with a refreshing crunch, these Vietnamese spring rolls have you covered. Roll them up and serve them with the Thai-style peanut sauce used in this recipe, or with a tamarind dipping sauce which is more true to Vietnamese cooking.

  • 06 of 15

    Pomelo and Shrimp Salad

    Vietnamese Pomelo and Shrimp Salad

    The Spruce / Danielle Moore

    Pomelo is native to Southeast Asia and has made its way into many Vietnamese dishes. Its flavor is similar to a grapefruit, but a bit more mild and sweet. Pomelo
    and shrimp salad
    is one tasty example of how this ingredient is enjoyed, where its sweet and savory flavors are balanced with spices and a bevy of fresh herbs.

  • 07 of 15

    Vietnamese Fried Chicken

    Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Although fried chicken isn’t a staple in Vietnam, paired with the iconic nước mắm pha sauce it certainly takes on the right flavors. That’s why we feel justified referring to this recipe as Vietnamese fried chicken and for those who are new to the cuisine, it’s a great introductory dish.

  • 08 of 15

    Pho Bo Soup

    Pho Bo Soup (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

    That’s right, Vietnamese pho is pronounced as, “fuh” and it’s definitely not ramen. Classic pho is made with rice noodles, beef broth, and thin-sliced beef, whereas ramen is made with wheat noodles, a variety of broths, and typically packs on more toppings. Chicken and vegan pho are also frequently enjoyed, so there’s something for everyone in this dish. 

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  • 09 of 15

    Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Salad

    Vietnamese Noodle Salad With Lemongrass Beef (Bun Bo Xao)

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Vietnamese beef and noodle salad is a beautiful merge between flavors, textures, and colors. Between its tender beef, rice noodles, pickled vegetables, crisped shallots, and ever-present nước mắm pha, this dish feels very essential to Vietnamese cuisine. Toss in familiar herbs like basil, mint, and cilantro, or with one that you may not recognize: shiso.  

  • 10 of 15

    Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables

    Vietnamese Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

    Vegetables get the right treatment in this recipe for Vietnamese stir-fried vegetables. Crunchy, salty, sweet, and just a touch savory thanks to fish sauce, this side accompanies meat and tofu dishes alike. Stir-fry doesn’t need to be prepared in a wok but using one does provide a few nice advantages. 

  • 11 of 15

    Pandan Rice and Mung Bean Cake

    Vietnamese Pandan Rice and Mung Bean Cake Recipe

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Asian desserts are often very distinct from what we may be accustomed to in the West, and this recipe for pandan rice and bean cakes illustrates this perfectly. Instead of wheat, a rice and mung bean base is used and in place of rich chocolate or buttery flavors, lighter tropical notes pervade.

  • 12 of 15

    Cabbage Roll Soup

    Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Cabbage Rolls Soup)

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Cabbage rolls are sort of an omnipresent dish, eaten everywhere from Asia, Eastern Europe, to America. Between its simple ingredients and savory minced beef, this recipe for Vietnamese cabbage rolls soup conveys the power of simple, succulent flavor combinations.

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  • 13 of 15

    Lemongrass Marinated Lamb Chops

    Lemon Grass Lamb Chops

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    If you’re searching for an extra special dish to prepare from Vietnamese cuisine, these lemongrass lamb chops may be your ticket. Apart from many classic Vietnamese ingredients, this dish is dressed with mushroom soy sauce, whose earthy notes stands up to the distinct flavor of lamb.   

  • 14 of 15

    Vietnamese Fried Rice

    Vietnamese-Style Fried Rice

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Likely one of the more obvious culinary traces of Chinese rule in Vietnam, fried rice has been enjoyed for centuries. In this recipe for Vietnamese fried rice, the addition of fish sauce, fresh lime, and bright herbs bring out flavors vital to the country’s cuisine.

  • 15 of 15

    Stir-Fried Sweet Shrimp

    Stir-Fried Shrimp with Ginger and Garlic
    boblin / Getty Images

    Vietnam sports a coastline from north to south, so it makes sense that they eat a lot of seafood. This stir-fried sweet shrimp uses both peanut and sesame oil for a rich flavor and aroma, while Thai chile peppers bring the heat. That said, shrimp is not always a sustainable choice, so use Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to help guide you.