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This Vegan Tofu Banh Mi is my take on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich. It’s made super flavorful by marinading tofu overnight, then topping with quick pickled vegetables, cilantro, sliced cucumbers, jalapeños, and vegan spicy mayo – all on a delicious baguette! Just 30 minutes of prep required to have this amazing sandwich!

Tofu banh mi sandwich on wood cutting board with jar of quick pickled vegetables behind it.

This particular banh mi version is inspired by the vegan banh mi sandwich at Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market. The tofu was so flavorful and tender. Some of the best tofu I had ever had at a restaurant!

Since trying that banh mi sandwich, I began experiencing with marinating tofu and I think I’ve cracked the secret!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Pressing the tofu before marinading allows it to absorb the maximum amount of marinade.
  • Pan frying the tofu slices helps crisp up the tofu and takes far less time than baking.
  • Quick pickling the carrot and daikon give this sandwich the perfect sweet and sour profile!
  • Vegan spicy mayo adds the perfect spice and creaminess.

Ingredients and Substitutions

This tofu banh mi recipe has 3 components:

  1. The quick pickled vegetables.
  2. The tofu marinade.
  3. The sandwich toppings and spread.

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Ingredients needed to make quick pickled vegetables measured into glass bowls on cookie sheet.
  • carrots and daikon – My recommended vegetables for pickling!
  • rice vinegar – I like to use rice vinegar when pickling the vegetables as I find it less sour than regular vinegar.
  • cane sugar – Needed to balance the sourness of the pickling liquid! You could try substituting maple syrup but I have not tried it.

Tofu Marinade

Ingredients needed to marinade the tofu for pan frying measured into glass bowls on cookie sheet.
  • extra firm tofu – You do want to use extra firm tofu in this recipe. Anything softer is going to break when marinading and be difficult to pan fry later.
  • vegan hoisin sauce – Great vegan substitute for fish sauce. Gives this tofu marinade great flavor! If gluten free, I recommend the Coconut Aminos Hoisin Sauce by Coconut Secret.

Sandwich Toppings

Ingredients needed to make a homemade tofu banh mi sandwich including baguette, cilantro, tofu, quick pickled vegetables, cucumber slices, and aioli.
  • vegan mayonnaise – I use the brand Follow Your Heart, but almost all store bought versions are very similar. If you prefer an oil free version, I’d try this Vegan Aquafaba Mayo by My Quiet Kitchen.
  • sriracha – Gives this tofu banh mi sandwich the best spice.
  • lime juice – My favorite addition to homemade vegan spicy mayo!
  • baguette – I used store bought baguettes, but if you would like to make them at home, follow this article: How to make Banh Mi (Vietnamese Baguette).

Step by Step Instructions

The Night Before

  1. Press the tofu. Remove the tofu from packaging and wrap the tofu in a clean tea towel. Place it on a cutting board, then place a heavy object like a cast iron pot or large book on top of tofu to help it drain excess liquid.
Step by step process of how to press excess liquid out of block of tofu.
  1. While tofu presses, prepare the quick pickled vegetables. Mix the water, rice vinegar, cane sugar, minced garlic and kosher salt in a 16 ounce jar with lid.

    Add the julienned carrot, daikon, and thinly sliced jalapeno (if using) and submerge completely in liquid. Add the lid and place in fridge to pickle for at least 8 hours.
Step by step process of pickling the vegetables.
  1. Next, prepare the tofu marinade for the “meat” of the sandwich. In a large shallow dish, mix together the sesame oil, low-sodium tamari, hoisin sauce, and minced garlic.
Hoisin sauce, water, garlic, low-sodium tamari mixed together in shallow glass dish.
  1. After tofu has pressed for at least 20 minutes, slice each block into 4 even slices longways resulting in 8 slices.
Step by step of how to slice the tofu to prepare for marinading.
  1. Place the tofu slices in the marinade and marinate in refrigerator overnight for up to 24 hours. I like to flip the tofu in the marinade in the morning to ensure each side marinades evenly.
Tofu slices marinading in mixture in shallow glass dish.

Making the Sandwiches

  1. Prepare the vegan spicy mayo by whisking together the mayonnaise, lime juice and sriracha.
  1. Pan fry the tofu for a few minutes on each side until slightly crispy and brush with excess marinade to increase flavor.
Tofu slices pan frying in large cast iron skillet on stove.
  1. Spread vegan mayo on both sides of baguette and layer in tofu slices, pickled vegetables, sliced cucumbers, jalapenos, and cilantro.
Step by step process of how to make sandwich.

FAQs

Can you eat tofu uncooked?

Yes. Raw tofu is perfectly safe to eat.

What sides go with banh mi?

Banh mi on it’s own is filling, but I like to pair it with fries, a side salad, or cucumber salad.

Can I make this banh mi sandwich for meal prep?

Yes! Store all of the ingredients separately. I would not marinade the tofu for longer than 24 hours, but once cooked it will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

How long will my pickled vegetables last?

2-3 weeks in an airtight preferably, glass container. Although, the amount of vegetables called for in this recipe is just enough for 4 banh mi sandwiches so if you want it to last longer, consider doubling or tripling the recipe.

Closeup view of banh mi sandwiches.

Expert Tips

  • Don’t skimp on the marinading time. The shorter the marinade time, the less flavorful the tofu banh mi will be.
  • Use the right bread! You want a really nice baguette for this tofu banh mi sandwich. Regular sandwich bread does not do this tofu banh mi sandwich justice.

More Vegan Lunch Ideas

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Tofu Banh Mi with Quick Pickle Recipe

5 from 5 votes

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 day 35 minutes
This vegan sandwich is made super flavorful by marinading tofu overnight, then topping with quick pickled vegetables, cilantro, sliced cucumbers, jalapeños, and vegan spicy mayo – all on a delicious baguette! Just 30 minutes of prep required to have this amazing banh mi!

Ingredients
 

Tofu Marinade

Quick Pickle Vegetables

  • 1/2 cup carrot julienned
  • 1/2 cup daikon julienned
  • 1/2 jalapeño deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Morton kosher salt

Vegan Spicy Mayo

Banh Mi Toppings

  • 4 baguettes
  • cilantro
  • 1/2 cucumber thinly sliced

Instructions

Marinading Tofu and Quick Pickle Instructions

  • Remove tofu blocks from packaging and wrap in clean tea towels. Place a heavy object on top of them, like a cast iron skillet or large book, and allow water to press out of tofu for 20 minutes.
  • While tofu presses, prepare the quick pickled vegetables. Mix the water, rice vinegar, cane sugar, minced garlic and kosher salt in a 16 ounce jar with lid. Then add the julienned carrot, daikon, and thinly sliced jalapeno and submerge completely in liquid. Add the lid and place in fridge to pickle for at least 8 hours.
  • Next, prepare the tofu marinade. In a large shallow dish, whisk together the sesame oil, low-sodium tamari, hoisin sauce, and minced garlic.
  • After tofu has pressed for at least 20 minutes, slice each block into 4 even slices longways. You should have 8 total.
  • Place the tofu slices in the marinade and marinate in refrigerator overnight for up to 24 hours. I like to flip the tofu in the marinade in the morning to ensure each side marinades evenly.

Making the Banh Mi Sandwiches

  • Prepare the vegan spicy mayo by simply mixing the vegan mayonnaise, lime juice and sriraca together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.
  • Pan fry the tofu for a few minutes on each side until nice and crispy. Be careful of hot oil splatter. You will likely need to do this in two batches. I also like to brush the tofu with any excess marinade to maximize flavor.
  • Spread vegan spicy mayo on both sides of baguette, then add tofu, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and sliced cucumber.
  • Enjoy immediately.

Storage

  • Pickled vegetables will last 2-3 weeks in an airtight, glass container.
  • Tofu will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator, but don't marinade it for longer than 24 hours.
  • If making this recipe for meal prep, store all tofu banh mi ingredients separately and make sandwiches right before eating.

Notes

  • Don’t skimp on the marinading time. The shorter the marinade time, the less flavorful the tofu will be.
  • Use the right bread! You want a really nice baguette for this sandwich. Regular sandwich bread does not do this sandwich justice.

Nutrition

Calories: 679kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 39g | Sodium: 1975mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g

Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian Inspired

Did You Love This Recipe?

Rate the recipe here and make sure to leave a comment below!

5 from 5 votes

This recipe was originally published on July 9, 2020 and was updated on June 9, 2021 to include new photos, step by step process photos, ingredient notes, FAQs, expert tips and an improved recipe.

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One Comment

  1. Debra Peterson says:

    5 stars
    Just had these for dinner and they were fantastic! I wasn’t sure what to expect but the flavors work magically and we both thought they were very different but delicious. I’m so glad I tried your recipe, thank you!

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