Capture the authentic flavors of a Vietnamese sandwich in your own home with this Air Fryer Chicken Banh Mi recipe! Stuffed with marinated air fried chicken, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, and mayonnaise, each bite is refreshing, filling, and so flavorful.Jump to Recipe
Vietnamese chicken banh mi
Have you ever had a sandwich that’s savory, tangy, spicy, and refreshing all at once? If you haven’t then you’re in luck because this Air Fryer Chicken Banh Mi captures it all!
Regular, everyday sandwiches can’t compete with the banh mi sandwich. It’s layered with juicy marinated chicken, pickled carrots and daikon, spicy peppers, cucumbers, and mayonnaise on a crispy French roll. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to put together, especially when the chicken is cooked in the air fryer!
There’s no need to travel to your local Vietnamese grocery store to make this sandwich either. The ingredients you need are simple, easy to find at most major grocery stores, and still capture the authentic Viet-style flavors.
What is banh mi?
Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that’s traditionally served with pate, pork, or chicken on a French roll or baguette and topped with pickled carrots and daikon, spicy chili peppers, cucumber, cilantro, and mayo. Originating in Saigon, a banh mi sandwich is a popular street food that’s always refreshing and filling.
Chicken banh mi sandwich ingredients
- Chicken thighs – Boneless skinless chicken thighs are marinated, then cooked quickly in the air fryer. They’re what make this sandwich filling and flavorful!
- Chicken marinade – The chicken is marinated in a mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and zest, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger before being air fried or grilled.
- Pickled carrots and daikon – Quick pickled daikon and carrots (Đồ Chua) are easy to make at home. While they add a delicious tangy profile to the banh mi, they’re delicious on pretty much anything! Make them a staple condiment for tacos, rice bowls, salads, and more.
- French rolls – Or use a crackly baguette to hold your sandwich fillings.
- Mayonnaise – This is a must on any banh mi sandwich. The mayonnaise is so creamy and transforms into a savory sauce when mixed with the chicken marinade and pickled vegetables.
- Cilantro – You’ll almost always find cilantro on a traditional banh mi sandwich because it adds an extra layer of refreshing flavors. If you don’t like cilantro, replace it with green onions.
- Jalapeño – Spicy peppers are optional, but delicious on this flavorful sandwich.
- Cucumber – Thinly sliced persian cucumbers will help cool down the spice while adding an extra refreshing flavor.
How to make a Vietnamese chicken sandwich
One bite of this chicken banh mi and you’ll be hooked! Do yourself a favor and prepare the fillings ahead of time. That way, you can assemble the sandwiches as soon as the craving hits!
Here’s how it’s done:
- Marinate the chicken.
Whisk the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, and ginger together in a bowl. Place the cut chicken thighs in the bowl, cover with plastic, and leave it to marinate for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Air fry the marinated chicken.
Cook the chicken thighs in a 400ºF air fryer on both sides.
- Assemble the sandwiches.
Toast the halved rolls. Spread the mayonnaise on the bottom halves and add the sliced chicken on top. Layer the cucumbers, pickled vegetables, cilantro leaves, and jalapeño slices on the chicken. Serve warm and enjoy!
Grilled chicken option
If you don’t own an air fryer, I recommend grilling the marinated chicken thighs to achieve a smoky flavor and the sticky caramelized outer layer. To grill the chicken:
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
- Cook the marinated chicken on the grill until the outside is crispy and the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
- Let the grilled chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice and layer it into the sandwiches.
Make ahead tips
Some of the elements in this sandwich are time-consuming, which is why I recommend preparing them ahead of time:
- Pickled daikon and carrots – These can be pickled and stored up to 3 weeks ahead of time in the fridge. If you end up with extras, layer the tangy pickled veggies on rice bowls and salads!
- Chicken marinade – Make the marinade 2 or 3 days ahead of time. Keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge until it’s time to add the chicken.
- Marinated chicken – The chicken can also be left in the marinade for up to 24 hours before serving. Just don’t leave it any longer or else the meat will become mealy.
- Cooked chicken – Air fry the chicken and keep the slices in a sealed container in the fridge 3 to 4 days ahead of assembling the sandwiches.
- Mayonnaise – I recommend making your own mayonnaise for the absolute best banh mi experience. Once it’s whipped up, homemade mayo stores well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Vegetarian banh mi – Swap the chicken for marinated tofu or mushrooms and omit the fish sauce from the marinade.
- Gluten free – Replace the soy sauce with tamari in the chicken marinade and use your favorite gluten free sandwich rolls to make a gluten free chicken banh mi.
- Instead of chicken thighs – Use chicken breasts, shrimp, pate, head cheese, marinated tofu, or sliced deli ham.
- Add more to the sandwiches – Like avocado, sliced cheese, spicy mayo, hot sauce, garlic aioli, or different varieties of pickled vegetables.
Looking for more Asian-inspired recipes?
- Easy Keto Baked Asian Meatballs
- 5 Minute Cucumber Salad
- Spicy Salmon Sashimi
- Garlic Shrimp Soba Noodles
- Spicy Thai Peanut Chicken
Did you try this Air Fryer Chicken Banh Mi? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below and giving this recipe a rating! Don’t forget to take a picture tag me on Instagram or use #lenaskitchenblog to be featured in my stories! I love seeing what you come up with!
Air Fryer Chicken Banh Mi
Marinating the Chicken
- To marinate the chicken, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest, garlic and ginger in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Cut the chicken thighs in half. Add the chicken into a large bowl, add the marinade and mix to combine. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Air frying chicken
- Preheat the air fryer to 400˚F for a few minutes.
- Remove chicken from marinade and transfer to the air fryer.
- Cook for 8 minutes; flip the chicken over and continue to cook for 5-6 more minutes. Remove and cut on the bias.
Pickled Carrots and Daikon
- Make the piclled veggies ahead of time. Tap for full recipe.
- Cut the rolls or baguette lengthwise. Toast lightly if desired.
- Spread mayonnaise on the bottom of the bread. Add the sliced chicken.
- Top with cucumbers and pickled vegetables.
- Finally top with cilantro leaves, and jalapeño slices. Serve warm.