Vietnamese Bánh Bò Nướng

It’s Tet Time! Tet is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Every year, my entire extended family gathers at my grandparents house for food and distribution of the red envelopes with money. Instant. Cash. It’s one of my favorite family holidays because the food we have is extra special compared to the other holidays. There are boxes of candied ginger, coconut, and dried fruits, sticky rice filled with mung bean and pork, and sometimes moon cakes. For the party, my mom made a Vietnamese cake called bánh bò nướng. The literal translation is cow cake. I don’t really know why that is. According to Wikipedia, it’s because the texture resembles beef liver. I hope that doesn’t deter you guys from making it. Because it sure doesn’t taste like beef liver.

Nướng loosely means “grilled” because we bake it in the oven. Another way you can make this cake is to steam it (called bánh bò hấp). That technique doesn’t form a crispy layer, which is my favorite part. The coconut and pandan flavored dessert has a jelly-like texture that looks like honeycomb with a light and crispy crust. The jelly texture comes from the tapioca flour and the gazillion eggs that went into the cake. As a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan of it. I don’t know why because I think it’s super delicious now! It can be tricky to make, but my mom has some tricks up her sleeve that she shared with me.

Lots of eggs.

Mix with your hands!

Heat the greased pan before you put in the batter! Also, pour the batter through a fine mesh strainer to get the clumps out.

***Tip: When we baked the cake in a cast iron skillet, it turned out way better and fluffier.

Bánh Bò Nướng

Makes one big cake!

Ingredients: You can find these ingredients at your local Asian markets.

  • 10 eggs
  • 1 14-oz can of coconut cream
  • 5 tsp baking powder (2 packets of Alsa brand baking powder found in Asian markets. My mom has always used this kind and haven’t tried regular baking powder. Alsa is single acting baking powder, the regular one is double acting. You may want to search out the Alsa.)
  • 14 oz of tapioca flour (This is sold in pre-measured packages at Asian markets)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp of pandan extract
  • 2 heaping cups of granulated sugar


  1. Preheat the oven at 370 degrees. Place a greased 10-inch round (or square) pan/cast iron skillet in the oven while you heat it up. This will make the crust really nice and crispy.
  2. Put all the ingredients into a bowl. With your hands, mix the batter together squeezing and breaking up all the tapioca flour clumps. DON’T use a hand or stand mixer. If you overmix the batter, the cake will fall flat. The batter will resemble the slime in old Nickelodeon shows.
  3. When the oven and pan is preheated, pour the batter through a fine mesh strainer directly into the heated pan (see picture above). You want the batter to fill up about half of the pan.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown on the top. The cake will puff up and form a pretty dome. Do NOT open the oven when checking on the cake or else it will flatten. Let the cake cool and rest before removing it from the pan.




23 thoughts on “Vietnamese Bánh Bò Nướng

  1. Pingback: February ’12: Vietnamese Green Tea Bánh Bò Nướng « .:.ღஜღ 安德莉亞の煮意空間 ღஜღ.:.

  2. Hi, how is it that you had quite a thick golden brown on the bottom/top/and even the sides? I made it and the top was just thinly browned, bottom&sides not brown.
    Is it possible to substitute the greased bottom with parchment paper, because my cake’s bottom was slightly wet.

    – thanks

    • Hi Sheri! You may not have baked it long enough. Also, if you have a cast-iron skillet, I would use that because I found that it produced a crispier crust. I’ve never tried parchment paper, but it might keep the bottom from getting crispy.

      Thanks for trying the recipe! It’s a tricky one.


      • Thanks for your reply.
        I only have access to a small electric toaster oven, so i’ll have to search around to see if there are any cast-iron skillets that fit.
        Is there such a thing as over-baked for this cake, because the inside was great, bouncy with lots of honeycombs, just that it wasn’t all-around browned and thin crust.

        • From my experience, I haven’t encountered a problem with over-baking. I usually gauge baking time based on the color of the crust. I think because of the texture of the cake, drying out shouldn’t be a problem:) Under-baking on the otherhand, can cause flattening.

  3. Thank you so much for this! I found several recipes on the web, and all of them seemed very different – I had good luck with yours. I like the fact that it’s based around package sizes.

    I wasn’t sure what size can of coconut cream – I used a 14 oz one, like this:
    but what do you use?

    Mine looked mostly like yours, raised up with a domed center, but a little part right in the middle under the top crust wasn’t done enough. I’m not sure if I pulled it out too soon, or if it’s too wet. Tastes good, though!

    • Thank so you much! I believe that is the same coconut cream I use as well. This cake is very tricky and varies from batch to batch with how it rises so yours sounds quite successful!

  4. Lol I love the Nickelodeon reference. And tip: it’s actually a lot easier to WHISK the batter, not only does it get all the clumps out, but it also avoids those nasty hand cramps! Just whisk the batter until the clumps are gone and that should be good. Whisking is a life saver in these Vietnamese batter recipes.

  5. My batter did not turn very green. What did I do wrong? I went over the recipe ingredients 10 times and I have everything in it.

    • You can always add more pandan extract (that’s where the color comes from) about 1/4 tsp at a time for a greener cake. But you have to be careful, not to add too much or else it will have a slightly bitter taste. Hope that helps!

    • That’s what happened to me the first time. It’s because the extract. The extract that you get has to be the thick one. If it’s in a glass bottle and is liquidy, it’s not it.

  6. chow nguyen
    did you heat up the coconut and sugar before you mix in eggs and flour, and when is the good time to put baking powder in (at the same time with flour or at last)

    • Hello! Sorry for the late response. No, I didn’t heat up the coconut cream and sugar before mixing. I also put in the baking powder at the same time with all the other ingredients. I mixed until there were no more lumps in the mixture, this does take about 5 minutes when mixing by hand. Another reader has used a whisk to mix and got good results– you can try this as it saves time and your hands from fatigue! Hope this helps!

  7. Thanks for the recipe Krisla and double thanks for sharing the technique!!
    I’ve only attempted baking a cake once before and the banh bo nuong was a disaster. It took me longer than five minutes to get the lumps out of the batter. I think I’ll try Anna Nguyen’s suggestion and use a whisk next time. I’m not sure I understand Chow Nguyen’s reasoning for heating the cream and the sugar, but I’m going to try that also. We have a fishing tournament at the ranch this weekend and I think I’m going to make two more cakes to take with me. Wish me luck, Will
    Here’s today’s cake

    • That looks wonderful! This can be a finnicky recipe — good luck! If you do end up heating the cream and sugar let me know how that turns out! Be sure to let the mix cool before you add eggs, you don’t want to scramble them.


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