Unveiling the Truth: Does Vietnamese Food Have Dairy?

As someone who has always loved Vietnamese food, I was curious to learn more about does Vietnamese food have dairy. After all, many cuisines incorporate dairy products into their dishes, from cheese in Italian cuisine to yogurt in Indian cuisine. So, I did some research and spoke with experts to find out the answer.

The short answer is that traditional Vietnamese cuisine does not typically include dairy products. This is largely due to the fact that dairy farming is not widespread in Vietnam, and historically, the Vietnamese people have relied on other sources of protein and nutrients in their diets. Instead, Vietnamese cuisine is known for its use of fresh herbs and vegetables, rice, noodles, and meats like pork, chicken, and seafood.

What is Vietnamese Food?

What is Vietnamese Food?
What is Vietnamese Food?

As someone who has grown up eating Vietnamese food, I can confidently say that it is one of the most flavorful and diverse cuisines in the world. Vietnamese food is a combination of various flavors, spices, and textures that are unique to the country’s culture and history.

A Brief History of Vietnamese Cuisine

Vietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighboring countries such as China, Thailand, and Cambodia. However, Vietnamese food has its own distinct flavor profile that sets it apart from other Southeast Asian cuisines. The country’s history of colonization and trade have also shaped its food culture. French colonization introduced baguettes, coffee, and pastries, while Chinese trade brought noodles and stir-frying techniques.

Common Ingredients Used in Vietnamese Cooking

One of the most important ingredients in Vietnamese cooking is fish sauce, which is used as a seasoning and dipping sauce. Other common ingredients include rice noodles, fresh herbs such as cilantro and mint, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and shallots. Vietnamese cuisine also utilizes a lot of vegetables such as bean sprouts, carrots, and cucumbers. Meat and seafood are also commonly used, with pork being the most popular meat.

One unique aspect of Vietnamese cuisine is the use of nuoc mam, a fermented fish sauce that is used to add depth and umami to dishes. Another popular condiment is hoisin sauce, which is made from soybeans, sugar, and spices and is used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and other dishes.

Does Vietnamese Food Have Dairy?

Does Vietnamese Food Contain Dairy
Does Vietnamese Food Contain Dairy

As someone who is lactose intolerant, I’ve always wanted to find the answer to the “Does Vietnamese food have dairy” problem. When I first tried Vietnamese cuisine, I was pleasantly surprised to find that most traditional dishes do not contain dairy. However, there are a few exceptions.

Dairy in Traditional Vietnamese Dishes

One dish that often contains dairy is Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich filled with pork, pickled vegetables, and pâté. The pâté is made with liver and butter, which means it contains dairy. Another dish that may contain dairy is Bun Cha, a grilled pork and noodle dish that is often served with a dipping sauce made with fish sauce and yogurt.

It’s important to note that these dishes are not always made with dairy, and it may depend on the specific recipe or restaurant. If you have a dairy allergy or intolerance, it’s always best to ask the server or chef about the ingredients.

Dairy-Free Alternatives in Vietnamese Cooking

Despite the few traditional dishes that may contain dairy, Vietnamese cuisine overall is quite dairy-free. Instead, Vietnamese cooking often uses coconut milk as a dairy alternative. Coconut milk is commonly used in curries, soups, and desserts.

Another dairy-free alternative is tofu, which is often used as a protein source in vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese dishes. Tofu can be found in dishes like Pho and Bun Bo Hue, which are both noodle soups that are typically made with beef broth.

In summary, while there are a few traditional Vietnamese dishes that may contain dairy, Vietnamese cuisine overall is quite dairy-free. With the use of coconut milk and tofu, there are plenty of delicious dairy-free options to try.

How to Enjoy Dairy-Free Vietnamese Food

How to Enjoy Dairy-Free Vietnamese Food
How to Enjoy Dairy-Free Vietnamese Food

Tips for Ordering Dairy-Free at Vietnamese Restaurants

When dining out at Vietnamese restaurants, it can be challenging to find dairy-free options. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your meal without any dairy:

  • Ask the server if any dishes contain dairy or milk products.
  • Request that the chef omit any dairy or milk products from your dish.
  • Try dishes that are traditionally dairy-free, such as pho, spring rolls, or bun cha.
  • Be wary of sauces and dressings, which may contain dairy or milk products.

Recipes for Dairy-Free Vietnamese Dishes You Can Make at Home

If you prefer to cook at home, there are plenty of delicious dairy-free Vietnamese recipes to try. Here are some recipes to get you started:

Bun ChaA traditional Vietnamese dish made with grilled pork, rice noodles, and fresh herbs.
PhoA flavorful noodle soup made with beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, and herbs.
Goi CuonFresh spring rolls filled with shrimp, pork, or tofu, along with rice noodles and herbs.

There are also plenty of dairy-free sauces and dressings you can make at home, such as nuoc cham, a sweet and tangy dipping sauce made with fish sauce, lime juice, and chili peppers.


After conducting extensive research and speaking with various experts and locals, I have come to the conclusion the question “Does Vietnamese food have dairy?“. Vietnamese cuisine can be dairy-free, but it’s not always the case. While some dishes may contain dairy, there are plenty of options for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan.

It’s important to note that many Vietnamese dishes use coconut milk as a substitute for dairy. This is especially true in curries and soups. Additionally, many Vietnamese dishes are made with fish sauce instead of dairy-based sauces.

However, there are some dishes that do contain dairies, such as banh mi sandwiches with mayonnaise and certain desserts like che. It’s always best to ask the server or chef about the ingredients in a dish before ordering.

Overall, Vietnamese cuisine offers a wide variety of dairy-free options, making it a great choice for those with dietary restrictions. With its bold flavors and fresh ingredients, it’s no wonder why Vietnamese food has gained popularity around the world.

About Yen Le

Welcome to Bunker Vietnamese, a website dedicated to exploring the diverse world of Vietnamese cuisine. As a proud Vietnamese-American, my passion for cooking and sharing my cultural heritage has led me to create this platform. Join me on this culinary journey and discover the vibrant flavors and textures that make Vietnamese food so unique and delicious.

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