Deep-Fry Fridays: Vietnamese Doughnut Recipe

The first time I had banh tieu, or Vietnamese doughnuts, was while I was wandering the heart of Vancouver’s Little Saigon with my sister-in-law. We’d already eaten banh mi but were on the hunt for sweets. When she saw the little puffs of fried dough, she told me we had to get them.

Sweet, doughy fried bread. Can there be anything better? The banh tieu we had that day were cold and oily, but delicious. As mediocre as I thought those banh tieu were, I saw the potential. Good banh tieu are round, puffy, and slightly sweet with a hollow centre. They taste best when they’re hot and fresh, but most places here make them in the morning and sell them throughout the day.

Luckily for me, my father-in-law is an excellent banh tieu maker. It’s one of the only things my mother-in-law lets him do in the kitchen. It’s a simple recipe of flour, sugar, yeast, baking soda and water. Mix it all together, let it proof, roll it out and deep-fry. Sounds simple right?

The simple things get me every single time! My dough came together nicely, but when it was time to roll out the doughnuts, every single one turned out misshapen and they didn’t puff! Well, they puffed a little, but they were no where near as puffy as my father-in-law’s. Guess I’ll have to work on my banh tieu making skills. In the mean time, I’ll head over to the in-law’s to enjoy master puffs.

Vietnamese Doughnut/Banh Tieu recipe

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp sugar
1/2 warm water

Mix the dry ingredients and slowly add the warm water in a well in the middle. Stir to combine into a shaggy ball. Knead until the dough comes together, cover and let sit in a warm spot for 40 minutes.

Knead the dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 10 if you’re making larger banh tieu, or 15 if you want more mini doughnuts. Roll out with a rolling pin until about 1 mm thick.

Deep fry in 350˚F oil until golden brown and puffy. Drain on paper towels and enjoy hot. Alternatively, you can pan fry them in about a 1-2 cm of oil.

13 Comments add yours

  1. The dough sounds like Irish Soda Bread with some sugar. Unfortunately yeast, unless used for brewing, does not get along with me.

    Lots of people don’t like yeast because it’s alive!

    steph on May 10th, 2010 at 2:19 am
  2. These fried doughnuts would be really good with a cup of coffee mixed with condensed milk…mmmm

    I love Vietnamese style coffee with condensed milk!

    steph on May 10th, 2010 at 2:19 am
  3. I love these fried dough! As with a lot of Vietnamese desserts, I like them best with toasdted sesame (white or black), so it has that nutty flavor. I agree with you that it taste best when served hot. Thanks for the recipe. They will be my cheat snack for the week.

    Thanks! Let me know how the doughnuts go for you!

    steph on May 12th, 2010 at 10:57 am
  4. Why dont u try my recipe it nearly the same yet puff alot.
    2 cup flour
    1/2 cup water or little more
    1/4 cup sugar
    2 tsp yeast
    2 tsp baking powder
    Sesame seed as much as u want.
    Follow all of your own step ,but let the dough rise for 2-3 hrs.
    The more the dough rise the puffier. Also when u fry it ,try wiggle it end poke
    Iy a few time,but dont make hole it’ll puff better.
    It very easy, just a little change. If I, a 12 years old vn girl can make . Im sure an older lady can. Good luck:)

    Thanks so much for the recipe!

    steph on June 23rd, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Do u used all pupose plain flour or normal plain flour? Bwcause i tries to make used all purpose flour didn’t pop out and when u fry it became so dried. Thanks..

    alisha on February 28th, 2012 at 7:03 pm
  5. is this half a cup warm water? it doesnt say on your recipe..

  6. Thanks for the recipe. I have been looking for this recipe for a very long time. So excited when I found this recipe. Thank you both.

  7. Wow!! Ive always enjoyed eating this with cafe sua da and been wondering on how to make them. Made banh cam (1st time) last night, and it was a hit. Cant wait to try out this recipe!! Thanks!!:)

  8. i think you may have gotten less ‘puff’ because you used baking SODA instead of baking POWDER…the second recipe in the notes here looks right. baking SODA needs an acid to react and rise, baking POWDER rises twice, once with the addition of moisture, and again with the introduction of heat. there is no acid in the first recipe (buttermilk, vinegar, cocoa, lemon) so the baking SODA isn’t doing anything at all.

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