Here is the homemade version of my favorite take-out sandwich! These chicken banh mi sandwiches are stuffed with five spice marinated chicken, pickled jalapeños, cucumbers, and carrots, fresh cilantro, and a creamy, spicy sauce, all on a toasted baguette. Trust me when I say that this sandwich is a must-try!
Another delicious sandwich recipe is this pesto chicken panini, if you’re looking for something different but just as easy!
Essential Ingredients and Substitutions
Five Spice Powder: This ingredient is part of the recipe name, which should tell you how important it is! Five spice is made up of sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, and fennel seeds. Each of these spices adds a different taste: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. It’s a complex spice combination, and it adds a lot of warmth to this recipe. Fair warning, I couldn’t find this spice in stock at my local grocery store, but any Asian market should carry it, or just order it on Amazon! I wouldn’t recommend substituting this ingredient for anything else.
Fresh Ginger: Freshly grated ginger works great in this recipe, but I usually use ginger paste for convenience. If you have to use ground ginger, only use 1/4 teaspoon.
Low Sodium Soy Sauce: Low sodium tamari works as a great substitution in the marinade.
Rice Vinegar: If you don’t have rice vinegar on hand, you can use white vinegar. However, rice vinegar does have a better flavor in this recipe.
Large Hoagie Rolls: You can use hoagie rolls or thick French baguettes, just make sure they’re large enough to use as a sandwich.
How to Make Chicken Banh Mi Sandwiches
Marinate the Chicken
Make the marinade with five spice powder, minced garlic, minced shallot, fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt, and pepper. Mix all of these ingredients together in a large bowl or in a Ziploc bag.
Then, pound out the chicken until it’s 1/2 inch thick (about half the distance between your first and second knuckle on your middle finger, if you don’t have a ruler on hand). This will break down the fibers in the meat, making it more tender. If you don’t have a meat tenderizer to pound the chicken, use a rubber mallet. I’ve done this many times when I don’t have a meat tenderizer on hand! I usually cover the chicken with plastic wrap so I don’t have to worry about getting meat juice all over it.
You can also slice the chicken breasts lengthwise (like a hamburger bun). Either way, you want the chicken to be thinner in order to shorten its cook time and keep the chicken moist. However, I do prefer to pound chicken instead of slicing it to control its thickness and to make the meat even more tender.
Make sure to marinate the chicken for a MINIMUM of three hours, and up to eight hours. If you let the chicken marinate longer, that’s okay–just don’t marinate longer than twelve hours. The acid in the marinade will break down the meat fibers too much, making the chicken mushy.
Thinly slice the English cucumber and jalapeños and put them in a heat-resistant bowl with the shredded carrots. I sometimes spiralize the cucumber instead of slicing it, but that’s completely up to you.
Then add the water, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar to a sauce pan and turn the stove on high heat. Whisk the liquid until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved, and then turn off the heat. Pour the liquid into the bowl with the vegetables, completely submerging them in the vinegar mixture. Let the mixture sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature, and then put the bowl in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to eat.
The longer the vegetables sit in the vinegar mixture, the less spicy the jalapeños will become and the vegetables will have less crunch. I like to leave the vegetables in the liquid for about 2-3 hours for the perfect level of spice and crunch. If it’s still not time to eat, drain the liquid and put the vegetables back in the fridge until it’s time to eat.
Spicy Hoisin Sauce
Mix together the mayonnaise, hoisin sauce, and sriracha in a small bowl. Start with just a teaspoon of sriracha, and add more depending on your spice preference. If some members of your family like it more spicy than others, you can always add extra sriracha directly to the sandwich. Refrigerate the sauce until you’re ready to eat.
Cook the Marinated Chicken
When the chicken is done marinating, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken to the frying pan and cover it with a lid. Cook the chicken for about 4-5 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Once the chicken is done cooking and has reached an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit, move it to a plate and cover with some tin foil to keep it warm.
Let the chicken sit for about 10 minutes before slicing into it to retain the meat’s moisture. Then slice the chicken into strips, going against the grain.
Chicken Banh Mi Sandwich Assembly
Slice the hoagie rolls in half, and place them on a baking sheet, inside facing up. Turn the oven broiler on (I prefer it on low, if your oven has that option), and toast the buns for 3-4 minutes, until golden. They burn fast, so keep a close eye on them!
Add the vegetables, chicken, cilantro, and sauce to the rolls and serve immediately. Enjoy!
If you try out these chicken banh mi sandwiches, I’d LOVE to hear about it. You can leave a comment below the recipe, or if you post a picture on Instagram, be sure to tag me! Getting any feedback on my recipes is both rewarding AND helpful as I write and edit recipes in the future.