Cauliflower Banh Mi

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Plate displaying two gluten-free vegan Cauliflower Banh Mi sandwiches

Friends, behold: The Vegan Banh Mi.

Consider this my spin on the popular, classic Vietnamese sandwich. So many versions I’ve seen rely on tempeh or tofu as the main filling. But I couldn’t help but wonder if the humble cauliflower could step in and take its place, because it’s fast to prepare, absorbs flavors well, and is so delicious when stir-fried. Spoiler alert: It totally worked.

Wood cutting board filled with ingredients for making our Cauliflower Banh Mi recipe

This recipe comes together in 30 minutes! Yep, that fast, which means it’s lunch- and dinner-friendly (quick meals for the win).

It starts by quick-pickling radish and carrot in vinegar, a little salt, and sugar. This makes them crispy, salty, tangy, and a little sweet. Next comes the main event: the cauliflower.

Using a spoon to mix spices with cauliflower for Cauliflower Banh Mi

Origins of Banh Mi

While the literal translation of bánh mì is “bread,” the term is commonly used to refer to a Vietnamese sandwich served on a baguette or similar French bread.

It’s believed that the bánh mì sandwich originated in the late 1950s in Saigon, Vietnam (source). There are now several different variations of banh mi, but common among them are pickled veggies, fresh herbs, cucumbers, and chilies. You can learn more and find some authentic recipes here.

Our version is not authentic, but a plant-based take that incorporates similar fresh ingredients, pickled veggies, spicy condiments, and herbs on a crunchy baguette.

How to Make a Vegan Banh Mi

First, we marinate the cauliflower in a simple, spicy, savory sauce. Then we sauté and finish by roasting in the oven until tender. Mmm, roasty.

Cooking cauliflower in a cast-iron skillet for delicious gluten-free vegan sandwiches

Once the 3-ingredient sriracha mayo is made and the bread is toasted, it’s time to assemble! First aioli, then cauliflower, then pickled vegetables and garnishes. That’s it!

Open-faced Cauliflower Banh Mi sandwiches resting on a wood cutting board

We hope you LOVE this vegan banh mi. It’s:

Hearty
Crunchy
Savory
BIG on flavor
Quick to make
& SO satisfying

This would make the perfect meal when you’re craving a sandwich but want something more than PB&J. It’s the perfect marriage of textures, temperatures, and flavors. Enjoy as is or pair with these Vietnamese-inspired Spring Rolls!

If you’re into cauliflower, also check out our Curried Cauliflower Wings, Cauliflower Rice Stir-Fry, Gochujang Cauliflower Wings, Curry Roasted Cauliflower Kale Salad, and The Best Whole Roasted Cauliflower.

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Close up shot of two Cauliflower Banh Mi sandwiches on a metal tray

Cauliflower Banh Mi

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich made with savory, caramelized cauliflower, sriracha mayo, and quick-pickled vegetables. Just 30 minutes to make this hearty sandwich!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Tray displaying two gluten-free vegan Cauliflower Banh Mi sandwiches with a jar of pickled veggies behind it
4.97 from 97 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 (Sandwiches)
Course Entree
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vietnamese-Inspired
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2-3 Days

Ingredients

PICKLED VEGETABLES

  • 2/3 cup rice wine vinegar (or sub apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp organic cane sugar (or stevia to taste)
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced or shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced or shredded daikon or round radish

CAULIFLOWER

  • 2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 5 Tbsp coconut aminos (or sub tamari and reduce quantity to taste as it’s saltier)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp sesame or avocado oil (if avoiding oil, omit)
  • 4 cups (heaped) cauliflower florets (cut in bite-size pieces)

AIOLI

  • 1/2 cup Vegan Mayo (or store-bought)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha (or other hot sauce of choice)

SANDWICH

  • 2 small baguettes* (use gluten-free bread to keep gluten-free friendly, such as New Cascadia)
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Fresh cucumber (optional)
  • Sliced jalapeño pepper (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (232 C).
  • Prepare pickled vegetables first by adding vinegar, hot water, salt, and sugar (or stevia) to a glass jar and shaking or stirring vigorously to dissolve salt and sugar. Then add carrot and radish, stir to coat, and push down to submerge. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill, where they will “quick pickle” until sandwich is ready. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week (sometimes more).
  • To a medium mixing bowl, add chili garlic sauce, coconut aminos (or tamari), maple syrup, lime juice, and oil and stir to combine. Then add cauliflower florets and toss to combine.
  • Heat a large rimmed oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, use a slotted spoon to scoop the cauliflower into the pan, reserving most of the liquid in the bowl.
  • Sauté, stirring semi-frequently, until slightly browned on the exterior. Then add most of the reserved marinade (saving a little for serving) and toss to coat. Transfer pan to the oven and bake until crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside – about 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare aioli by adding vegan mayo to a small mixing bowl with maple syrup and sriracha. Stir to combine. Then sample and adjust flavor as needed, adding more sriracha for heat or maple syrup for sweetness. Set in the refrigerator until serving.
  • Slice the baguettes in half and toast in the oven (facedown directly on the oven rack) or on a hot grill pan until slightly browned. Then assemble: To the baguette, add aioli to both sides of the bread. Then to one side, add the cauliflower and brush on any leftover cauliflower marinade for more flavor. Last, add pickled vegetables, cilantro (optional), cucumber (optional), and jalapeño (optional).
  • Enjoy. Best when fresh, though can be made in the morning and enjoyed for lunch – just refrigerate to keep fresh. Store leftovers separately in the refrigerator (except any un-toasted bread) up to a few days. Not freezer friendly.

Video

Notes

*Our recipe is not traditional, but is our plant-based take on the concept of banh mi.
*You could also swap the bread for lettuce cups or a collard green wrap to keep this grain-free!
*Inspiration taken from the New York Times
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 sandwich calculated without optional ingredients or toppings. 

Nutrition (1 of 2 servings)

Serving: 1 sandwich Calories: 719 Carbohydrates: 64 g Protein: 7 g Fat: 44 g Saturated Fat: 5 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 3046 mg Potassium: 876 mg Fiber: 7 g Sugar: 26 g Vitamin A: 7130 IU Vitamin C: 115.7 mg Calcium: 108 mg Iron: 1.9 mg

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My Rating:




  1. Hazel says

    So easy and delicious! Love the hint of spiciness. I didn’t have baguettes so I used the artisan burger buns from Costco that I had (similar to Ciabatta) and it was a hit! Love the simplicity and versatility of the pickled veg (I used carrots, cucumbers and red onions). Definitely making this again!

  2. Coby says

    This is, hands down, one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten! I loved the combination of the spicy cauliflower, jalapeno, and the pickled veggies. I have an aversion to mayo, so for the aioli I used plain vegan yogurt instead. I can’t wait to make this again!

  3. Kie says

    I love this recipe. I’ve made it a couple of times and it’s a hit each time. The flavors are sweet and spicy (a little) and wildly satisfying.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Kie. We are so glad you enjoy the recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! xo

  4. Gabby says

    Delicious. I had some pickled carrots on hand, so just used those and skipped the radish, and used 3 tbsp of tamari in place of the coconut aminos + sambal oelek in place of the sriracha for the aioli. Cauliflower’s one of those vegetables I don’t eat nearly enough of, so I’m stoked to add a recipe centered around them to the rotation that really hits the spot!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Gabby! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications! xo

  5. Donna says

    Made these sandwiches a couple of nights ago. We all loved them! After dinner I read the nutrition information, which I found that the sodium level is pretty high. So in the future I am going to try and reduce the aminos to maybe 4 tablespoons. We’ll see how that goes. We had leftovers which I used some of the cauliflower and aioli in a salad. Very tasty! Then I used the rest of the leftovers to make wraps adding some avocado and a mix of greens. They turned out wonderful! Thank you for such a versatile, tasty recipe! Your style of cooking is just what we like. Fewer ingredients, with lots of flavor, and simple to make.

  6. Robin Miller says

    This was absolutely delicious, we love regular Bahn mi, but this will now be our go-to at home. I think toasting the bread is key! Next time I will use even less liquid with the cauliflower, so it is more “dry roasted” and will maybe get some more browned bits. I also slivered the jalapeno and added it to the quick pickle.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Ooo yum! Love the idea of pickled jalapeño! Thanks for the great review, Robin, so glad you enjoyed!

  7. Amy says

    This recipe is amazing. Flavor pops in your mouth. I didn’t know if I’d like the cauliflower, but wow oh wow, the texture after baking is so delightful and when you mix the spicy sweet of that with the tanginess of the radish/carrots and the coolness of the cucumbers/cilantro and the spicy mayo to top it off — it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted and definitely falls into my list of top recipes of all time. Daughter is coming home from college this week and I’ve promised to make it for her — she’s excited. Thank you for this recipe!

  8. Andrea says

    This was incredible!! I only had frozen cauliflower – roasted that in the oven – about 15 minutes from frozen then pulled it out and tossed with the sauce and back in to finish roasting until a little roast char and done. I also swapped the aioli for Sriracha hummus and it was so glorious! This is one I want to invite friends over to make this so they can taste how good it is!

  9. Kaila says

    Amazing!! Will 100% make again, Bahn Mi is one of the only foods I’ve missed since going vegetarian and this recipe is a game changer! Thank you!!

  10. Heather says

    We make this literally every other week, it’s our favorite recipe! We use slices of tofu instead of cauliflower. Love!

  11. K says

    I made a version of this recipe recently with extra firm, pressed tofu instead of cauliflower. Used the same marinade and let it sit for about a half-hour before pan-frying what I needed for one sandwich (the rest marinated until the next day and was even better!) Made the pickled veg with half rice wine vinegar and half ACV and added sliced Persian cucumber to the mix. I wouldn’t personally recommend the ACV as it made it very vinegary and not as light as I would have liked it or as it probably would be with just the RWV. Overall, for an altered version of this recipe, I liked it but can’t wait to make it again so I can do it better than my Frankenstein version this last time around. Thanks again for another great recipe, MB!

  12. Jamie says

    This recipe is fantastic. I didn’t even marinate the cauliflower, only roasted with some salt and pepper and it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten. Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Kai Lindsay says

    Amazing! I used hummus instead of the vegan Mayo simply because I didn’t have any and I also put it on your gf flat bread 🤩 the best !! I can’t recommend this enough.

  14. Luke says

    Made it using daikon, and used light soy sauce instead of the coconut aminos. It was so delicious, the 4.97/5 rating is not an exaggeration. Will definitely be making this a million more times.

    Really great recipe, thanks very much!

  15. Steff says

    This recipe is amazing, total flavour bomb. Took me about an hour total, but well worth the time. I only used about 1/3 of the sriracha mayo and pickled veggies, so next time I’ll either make sure I have a 2nd head of cauliflower to do up another batch the next day, or cut those parts in half. Or, perhaps I should try this with tofu the second day (marinade in probably half a batch of the sauce, then bake?), hmmm…

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Ooo – such a good idea! Thanks for the lovely review, Steff, let us know how your tofu experiment goes! xo

  16. Inge says

    I made this today for Fathers Day lunch. It was delicious! I had to triple the recipe so pre-sautéed the cauliflower in batches and then roasted it all together in a large roasting pan. I subbed the baguettes for ciabatta. Everyone (even the non-vegans) loved it. It was perfect.

  17. Ashley says

    Really loved this recipe. The flavors were so balanced and overall definitely a favorite.

    The only thing (for me) is that I could not get the cauliflower crispy in the oven, it seemed like the amount of marinade I added to my cast iron was very excessive and didn’t allow for any crispness to happen!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Ashley! It won’t get super crispy, but should have a crispy exterior. You can definitely experiment with using less marinade (saving more for brushing at the end) to see if that helps.

  18. Eileen says

    I served this over rice rather than on a baguette, added more vegetables (watercress, micro-greens) – delicious!

  19. Elaine says

    One of my favorite recipes. I stopped eating meat almost two years ago. I loved traditional Banh Mi sandwiches and never imagined a vegetable version could replace the intensely delicious flavor. This one does. I couldn’t believe it the first time I made it. Now I have it marked as “Fav” in my recipe book and make it often. Incredible.

  20. Jennie says

    Bahn Mi’s are one of my favorite foods and definitely my favorite sandwich. After my favorite vegan Bahn Mi shop closed down, I’ve had a hard time finding a replacement. I was *so delighted* that this one hit the spot and that now I know how to make my favorite sandwich!

    The first time I made it completely as is, the second time I made a batch of Viet Vegan’s vegan pate for some added protein. I highly recommend this step but either way the sammy is delicious and one of my meat eating fiance’s favorite vegan meals as well! Thank you Dana.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you both enjoy it, Jennie! Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  21. Julia says

    Arguably one of the best things I’ve ever made! Ticks all the boxes, wouldn’t change a thing! I’ve probably made it 20+ times now because it is THAT good! Thank you for another great recipe.