Banh Mi and Cheese: A Match Made in Heaven or a Culinary Crime?

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Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that has gained international popularity in recent years. It’s known for its unique combination of flavors and textures, featuring a crispy baguette filled with savory meat, fresh vegetables, and tangy sauces. However, one question that often arises is whether or not banh mi includes cheese. In this article, we’ll explore the history, ingredients, and preparation of banh mi, as well as provide an answer to the age-old question: does banh mi have cheese?

Banh Mi Through the Ages

Banh Mi Through the Ages
Banh Mi Through the Ages

Banh mi originated in Vietnam during the French colonial period when baguettes were introduced to the country. The sandwich quickly became popular among locals, who adapted it to their own tastes by adding traditional Vietnamese ingredients such as pork, cilantro, and pickled vegetables. Today, banh mi is enjoyed all over the world, with variations that reflect local culinary traditions.

Exploring the Key Ingredients in Banh Mi

Exploring the Key Ingredients in Banh Mi
Exploring the Key Ingredients in Banh Mi

To understand whether or not banh mi contains cheese, it’s important to first look at the various components that make up the sandwich.


The bread used for banh mi is typically a French baguette that has been toasted or baked until crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. This type of bread provides the perfect base for the sandwich, allowing it to hold up against the juicy fillings without becoming soggy.


Traditionally, banh mi is filled with grilled or roasted pork, although other meats such as chicken, beef, and even tofu can also be used. The meat is often marinated in garlic, soy sauce, and other spices to give it a flavorful kick.


Fresh vegetables are a key component of banh mi, providing a contrast in texture and flavor to the rich meat and tangy sauces. Common vegetables used include shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, and cilantro. Some variations may also include jalapenos or other spicy peppers.


Several sauces are often used in banh mi to add depth of flavor and moisture. These can include sriracha, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and mayonnaise.

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Cheese in Banh Mi

Cheese in Banh Mi
Cheese in Banh Mi

Does Banh Mi Have Cheese?

When it comes to cheese, there is some variation in how banh mi is prepared. In Vietnam, cheese is not a traditional ingredient in banh mi. However, as the dish has become popular around the world, some variations have emerged that do incorporate the cheese.

In some parts of the United States, for example, banh mi can be found with slices of Swiss or cheddar cheese layered in with the other fillings. This version of the sandwich may also include other non-traditional ingredients, such as avocado or jalapeño peppers.

Traditional Banh Mi Ingredients

Banh Mi is a popular Vietnamese sandwich that has become increasingly popular around the world due to its unique blend of flavors and textures. This delicious sandwich typically consists of a crispy baguette filled with a variety of meats, vegetables, and condiments.

The traditional Banh Mi ingredients include:

  • Banh Mi.
  • Meat: BBQ pork (known as thit nuong) or pork belly (known as thit cha lua). Other options include chicken, beef, or even tofu for vegetarians.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Carrots, daikon radish, and cucumber.
  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro is an essential component of Banh Mi, adding a fragrant aroma and bright flavor.
  • Chili peppers: Sliced chili peppers are often added to Banh Mi for a spicy kick.
  • Mayonnaise: A thin layer of mayonnaise is spread on the inside of the baguette to add richness and moisture.
  • Soy Sauce: Some versions of Banh Mi also include a drizzle of soy sauce for additional flavor.
  • Maggi Seasoning: A popular seasoning sauce in Vietnam, Maggi is similar to soy sauce but has a richer, more complex flavor profile.

Alternative Cheesy Options

Alternative cheesy options refer to substitutes or variations of traditional cheese that are made from non-dairy or plant-based ingredients. These options have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the rise of veganism, lactose intolerance, and a growing interest in healthier and more sustainable diets.

One common alternative is vegan cheese, which is typically made from ingredients such as soy, nuts, or coconut oil. These cheeses mimic the taste and texture of dairy cheese but are free from animal products. Vegan cheese comes in a variety of flavors and styles, including shredded, sliced, and cream cheese.

Learn How to Make Delicious Banh Mi at Home

Learn How to Make Delicious Banh Mi at Home
Learn How to Make Delicious Banh Mi at Home

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try making banh mi at home, here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Slice a French baguette lengthwise, leaving it partially attached so that it forms a pocket.
  3. Spread mayonnaise and sriracha on the inside of the bread.
  4. Layer on grilled pork, thinly sliced cucumber, shredded carrot, and fresh cilantro.
  5. Drizzle hoisin sauce over the top of the vegetables.
  6. Fold the sandwich closed and wrap it in foil.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until heated through.
  8. Unwrap the foil and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks

  • Experiment with different meats and vegetables to find your preferred flavor combinations.
  • If you don’t have access to a French baguette, try using crusty Italian or sourdough bread instead.
  • Don’t skip the sauces – they’re what give Banh mi its signature flavor!

Where to Find the Best Banh Mi

Where to Find the Best Banh Mi
Where to Find the Best Banh Mi

If you’re not up for making banh mi at home, there are plenty of options for finding a delicious sandwich at a local restaurant, food truck, or online store.

Local Restaurants

Many Vietnamese restaurants offer banh mi on their menu, often with variations that reflect regional flavors. Look for a restaurant that uses fresh ingredients and offers a crispy, toasted baguette.

Food Trucks

Food trucks have become increasingly popular in recent years, and many now specialize in banh mi sandwiches. Check out your local food truck scene to see if there’s a vendor offering this tasty Vietnamese treat.

Online Stores

If you’re not able to find a local restaurant or food truck that offers banh mi, you can always turn to online stores. There are many Vietnamese markets and specialty food retailers that offer pre-made banh mi sandwiches for purchase. Alternatively, you can order all of the necessary ingredients online and make the sandwich yourself at home.


In conclusion, banh mi is a delicious Vietnamese sandwich that has gained worldwide popularity for its unique and flavorful combination of ingredients. 

So, does Banh mi have cheese? While traditional banh mi does not include cheese, there are now many variations available that incorporate this ingredient. 

Whether you prefer your banh mi with or without cheese, the important thing is to use fresh, high-quality ingredients and experiment with different flavor combinations to find your perfect sandwich.

About Mai Tran

As Mai Tran, the author of the Bunker Vietnamese website specializing in Vietnamese food, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all my readers. Growing up in a Vietnamese household, I have always had a deep appreciation for the rich and diverse flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Through my website, I aim to share my passion for cooking and my cultural heritage with the world. From traditional recipes passed down through generations to modern twists on classic dishes, my website is a celebration of the vibrant and delicious world of Vietnamese food. Join me on this culinary journey and discover the beauty and complexity of Vietnamese cuisine.

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