This Chicken Meatball Banh Mi is a playful twist on the classic banh mi sandwich. Strips of chicken or pork are swapped for baked chicken meatballs and layered in a roll with pickled daikon and carrots, spicy mayo, cilantro, and jalapeños.Jump to Recipe
Vietnamese meatball banh mi recipe
If you love the refreshing flavors and delectable meat in a traditional Vietnemese banh mi sandwich, then you’re sure to love this Chicken Meatball Banh Mi. It swaps the strips of chicken or pork for herby and richly seasoned chicken meatballs. Just as refreshing, rich, and vibrant as the classic, but with an added boost of tender baked chicken!
I made this banh mi chicken recipe with ground chicken meatballs instead of pork to keep everything as light and fresh as possible. The sandwich still features all of the banh mi classics, like pickled daikon and carrots, spicy mayo, cilantro, and jalapeños. What’s even better is that the Vietnamese-inspired meatballs used as a topping on grain bowls or in lettuce wraps when you aren’t in the mood for the carbs!
What is banh mi?
Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich traditionally made with pate, pork, or chicken on a French roll or baguette and topped with pickled vegetables, 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.
Banh mi meatball ingredients
- Ground chicken – The base of the banh mi meatballs is made from ground chicken. These light, tender, juicy, and flavorful meatballs come together really easily and cook quickly. If you’re looking to mix things up, substitute the ground chicken for ground pork.
- Fresh herbs and seasonings – Banh mi’s are famously refreshing, so I wanted to extend those delightful flavors into the chicken meatballs. Fresh cilantro, scallions, garlic, and ginger in the ground chicken mixture get this done.
- Fish sauce – For an umami flavor that’s true to Vietnamese cuisine. If you don’t want to use fish sauce, soy sauce or gluten free tamari will work as well.
- Sesame oil – This adds a little nuttiness and moisture into the meatballs.
- French rolls – Or use a crackly baguette to hold your sandwich fillings.
- Banh mi toppings – You’ll find spicy mayonnaise, jalapeños, cilantro, and pickled daikon and carrots on most banh mi’s. You can add more if you’d like, such as pickled red onions, cucumber, mint, sliced bell peppers, or parsley.
How to make a meatball banh mi sandwich
- Make the chicken meatball mixture: Add the ground chicken, cilantro, scallions, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil, and kosher salt to a large bowl. Mix with clean hands to combine.
- Shape the meatballs, then bake: Form portions of the mixture into meatballs using a cookie scoop and place them on a lined baking sheet. Broil the chicken meatballs until cooked through or the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
- Prep the sandwich toppings: Make the quick pickled carrots and daikon, Sriracha mayo, and slice the jalapeños and cilantro.
- Assemble the sandwiches: Spread some spicy mayo on both sides of the rolls. Add the meatballs, then add the rest of your toppings and enjoy!
Tips and variations
- Infuse a little heat into the Vietnamese chicken meatballs by mixing Thai green chilis or red pepper flakes into the mixture.
- Wet your hands when rolling the meatballs. This will prevent the meat from sticking!
- 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.
What to serve with chicken banh mi
There are two great ways to enjoy the Vietnamese meatballs and refreshing banh mi toppings: as the classic sandwich or in a grain bowl! Use these serving suggestions for inspiration:
- Meatball banh mi sandwich: Keep any sides next to this sandwich light and refreshing. My Asian cabbage salad or cucumber salad would both pair really well. Alternatively, turn the sandwiches into mini slider sandwiches and serve on a platter with vegetables and spicy mayonnaise for dipping.
- Banh mi meatball bowl: Add some rice, vermicelli noodles, buckwheat noodles, or cauliflower rice to a bowl. Layer the meatballs and banh mi sandwich toppings on top, and finish with a drizzle of spicy mayonnaise or garlic aioli.
Frequently asked questions
The meat in a traditional banh mi is typically pork, chicken, or pate, but beef or marinated tofu can also be used.
You’ll usually find fresh cilantro, Sriracha mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, and jalapeños on a banh mi sandwich.
A lot of Vietnamese meatball recipes are made with ground pork and seasoned with fresh herbs (like cilantro or mint), scallions, fish sauce, ginger, and garlic. I made these meatballs with ground chicken for a lighter option.
Mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha or another hot sauce. That’s it!
How to store banh mi meatballs
Store: Keep the leftover cooked meatballs in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freeze raw meatballs: Place the raw meatballs on a baking tray, then freeze until solid. Transfer them to an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 2 months. They can be cooked from frozen but may need an extra few minutes in the oven.
Freeze cooked meatballs: Place the meatballs in an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Reheat: Heat the pre-cooked meatballs in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in a 350ºF oven until warmed through.
More meatball recipes
- Keto Baked Asian Meatballs
- Air Fryer Asian Pork Meatballs
- French Onion Chicken Meatballs
- Baked Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
Did you try this Chicken Meatball 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!
Chicken Meatball Banh Mi
- 2 pounds ground chicken preferably dark meat
- ½ cup cilantro finely chopped
- 4 scallions finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic grated
- 2 tablespoons ginger grated
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or any light oil for baking sheet
Assemble the Sandwiches
- ½ cup mayonnaise more if needed
- 3 teaspoons sriracha more to taste
- 8 rolls lightly toasted or sub with baguette
- 1 jalapeno seeded and thinly sliced
- ½ bunch cilantro
- Vietnamese Quick Pickled Carrots and Daikon
- Preheat the oven to broil and place the rack close to the top. Line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly oil the foil.
- Make the pickled daikon and carrots ahead of time.
- In a mixing bowl add ground chicken, cilantro, scallions, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil and kosher salt. Mix well to combine.
- Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop out the meatballs onto the baking sheet. Using wet hands form the meatballs into perfect balls.
- Broil for 7-8 minutes under the broiler. The internal temperature should be at 165F using a meat thermometer.
Prep the Sandwich Toppings
- Make the sriracha mayonnaise by mixing the mayo with sriracha. Slice the jalapeño, prep the cilantro by trimming some of the stem.
- A few minutes before the meatballs are done, cut the rolls in half but not all the way, use the oven to toast the rolls on the bottom rack.
Assemble the Sandwiches
- Add sriracha mayonnaise to both sides of the rolls. Then add the meatballs, top with pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro and jalapeños. Enjoy.
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