Banh Khot – Glorious Vietnamese Crispy Pancakes

By Mark Wiens 22 Comments
Vietnamese street food
Eating banh khot in Vietnam

If you love crispy savory pancakes, you’re going to love Vietnamese banh khot! 

Among the list of endless delicious Vietnamese snacks and light meals, is a little gem called banh khot (bánh khọt).

They could be translated in a number of different ways, from crispy savory pancakes, to coconut rice cakes, to kettle cakes… but maybe a little less confusing description is just delicious bite sized treats.

Vietnamese pancakes
Crispy mini pancakes

What is banh khot?

It’s a famous Vietnamese dish of miniature pancakes served with herbs and vegetables and spicy sweet fish sauce for dipping.

The batter is made of a combination of mostly rice flour, and even leftover grains of rice, with a hint of turmeric to give them a beautiful yellow tinge, and mixed together with coconut milk to make it extra creamy and rich.

Finally, the topping is usually shrimp and diced up green onions, and in this case, extra coconut milk.

The little mini pancakes are cooked in the same type of griddle as Thai khanom krok, but instead of being a sweet dessert like the Thai version, they are savory and eaten with one of the great joys of Vietnamese cuisine – fresh herbs and leafy green vegetables.

You can check out a full recipe here if you want to make it at home.

Vietnamese pancakes
A fresh plate of hot mini pancakes

While the Vietnamese banh xeo (video) is a mega sized crepe (at least that’s the case in southern Vietnam), banh khot are much smaller in size, usually thicker and more hearty with batter.

And just like banh xeo, it seems to be a Vietnamese dish that many locals are passionate about and absolutely love to eat.

In my personal experience, I have to say that so far I would typically choose banh khot over banh xeo.

Vietnamese street food
I could smell the pancakes from across the market

I had already eaten banh khot a number of times at more sit down restaurants in Saigon, like at one of the most famous places in the city, Cô Ba Vũng Tàu.

But as I was meandering through Chợ Bàn Cờ market, a wonderful local market one day, a lady was frying up a storm of pancakes, and the aroma of sizzling batter and shrimp gave both myself and my wife the immediate irresistible urge to stop everything we were doing and eat.

bánh khọt
Street food stall in Saigon

Although there were only about 4 seats available at the counter space, luckily there were two open chairs, which, as we learned in Vietnam – if you see an empty chair and want to eat there, you better sit down immediately. If you contemplate for too long, your seats will be taken.

Just like in Tokyo, seats at meal times in restaurants and street food stalls are prime real estate in busy areas of Saigon.

So we sat down, and ordered up a plate of banh khot.

Saigon street food
Sitting down for a snack in Saigon

The vendor was working as quickly as she could, fulfilling takeaway orders to passerby’s who had also been enticed by the glorious whiffs of her griddle cakes wafting through the aisles of the condensed market.

In order to make the bite sized treats, she first added a few spoons of oil to her griddle. Then in went a the pancake batter, which she expertly tossed in, to the immediate hiss of the sizzling batter.

cooking banh khot
Mini griddle pancakes

She allowed the mini griddle pancakes to cook for a few minutes, with the lid on, until they were nearly all the way cooked through, fully crispy golden on the bottom side.

Then, she tossed on a sprinkle of fried mung beans (I believe that’s what they were), and finally she artfully placed on a little pre-cooked shrimp, and a sprinkle of sliced green onions to top it off.

Vietnamese street food
About to dig in!

The crispy pancakes were then scooped out of their oily homes onto a plate, and she then asked me if I’d like some extra sauce – which I think was just straight coconut cream – on top.

I decided to go half and half, and she quickly topped half of the plate with the creamy sauce and handed it to me.

As normal, they were served with a plate piled high of leafy vegetables like lettuce and mustard greens, and there were some sprigs of basil and shiso leaves as well.

best Vietnamese dishes
What I really love is the herbs and leaves

The basic method for eating is to take one of the wider leaves like a mustard greens leaf for instance, hold it in your palm, then take a mini pancake, place it in the middle, layer it with extra herbs, kind of wrap the entire agglomeration into a spring roll shape (or however it turns out), and then dip into the Vietnamese fish sauce dressing.

I also saw others dip their mini pancake into the sauce, before adding it to the middle of their handful of leaves.

The pancakes were as crispy as fried chicken on the outside, but the batter on the inside was smooth and almost creamy – it actually reminded me of creamy mashed potatoes, yet richer and more coconut flavored.

nuoc cham
A version of nuoc cham, sweet salty fish sauce, for dipping

The shrimp added a protein touch, and the pieces with the extra coconut cream topping, added just a hint of even more richness.

The dipping sauce, a version of nuoc cham, was sweet and salty, and supplemented with thin slices of carrot, daikon, and chilies.

Again, I can hardly express how much I love the Vietnamese style of eating where the main dish is wrapped within leaves and herbs, and dipped into a delicious sauce, before being consumed.

best Vietnamese dishes
An assembled handful of Vietnamese banh khot

As soon as I bit into my wobbly leaf rolls, with the crispy pancake somewhere hidden in the middle, I got that beautiful crisp freshness from the leaves, the crunchiness from the banh khot, and finally that creaminess of the batter and the coconut cream topping.

This particular version of crispy Vietnamese street food pancakes were made simple, yet were probably the tastiest I had in Saigon.

traveling in Vietnam
Delicious Vietnamese food

Banh khot, depending on how hungry you are, can either be a light meal, or just a snack.

Like so many other Vietnamese street food dishes, it’s a great social food, something that not only tastes great, but is also fun to assemble and eat.

Not to mention, sitting on a stool, surrounded by a constant flow of shoppers, noise in every direction, commotion everywhere I looked, is in my opinion, one of the finest environments for dining.

how to eat banh khot
Have you tried banh khot?

If you have a few minutes, here’s the full video of the street food snack… it really gives a sense of the atmosphere (and the delicious food), so click play below!

(If you can see the video, watch it here)

Conclusion

Banh khot is a crispy Vietnamese bite-sized mini pancake, often eaten as a snack or light meal, and consumed with stacks of green leafy vegetables and herbs, and sweet salty fish sauce.

When I was in Saigon, while exploring a local market, I stopped in the midst of the busy morning shopping bustle, for a hot fresh plate of mini pancakes.

Sitting on a stool using the countertop, I enjoyed probably the best Vietnamese mini rice pancakes I’ve ever had.

What I really love about Vietnamese banh khot is the combination of herbs and vegetables paired with the pancakes that are crispy and oily.  The contrast of both flavors and textures is what really makes them delicious.

For this exact place, fine “Banh Khot” on the map, click it, and it will take to the place on the map. Enjoy!

Have you already eaten banh khot? Do you like it?

22 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Vishal

    2 weeks ago

    Thanks a lot. Great recipe.

  • Sarah

    3 years ago

    Hi Mark
    I’m loving your posts and videos on vietnamese food as I’m planning on travelling there later in the year.
    One thing I’m slightly worried about is the amount of fresh vegetables that seem come with or in dishes, while I want to experience the local cuisine, I usually avoid or leave out fresh veges while travelling to avoid getting sick. Any thoughts or tips on how to maybe balance this?

  • An Le

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    Banh Khot is my comfort food. Just want to let you know that the banh khot u ate in the market is deep southern style. And the banh Khot u ate at banh khot co ba is more from Vũng Tàu area. And i do preger banh khot over banh xeo. One morẻ thing, we vietnamese like to wrap food around herbs and veggie because not only they are good and make food tastier, the herbs actually have medicinal benefits. And thats how our older generation keeep the sickness away

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hi An Le, great to hear from you, thank you very much for sharing – glad you love banh khot. Very true about the herbs and vegetables, healthy and they taste incredible.

  • Jon

    5 years ago

    Mark I’ve watched this video a few times and each time I understand a little bit more about Vietnam and it’s day to day life. I try to do this with most of your videos. There’s so much to learn from your videos not just the food, of course that’s why I watch, but about every country you travel to. Thanks so much for this video.
    One day I’ll have to stop watching and travel to Vietnam.
    Jon

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Jon, I really appreciate your support. Also for myself, a huge part of eating, is not just about the delicious food, but also about the culture and the people that surround food. Vietnam is a wonderful place to visit!

  • Arti

    5 years ago

    Never tried Banh Khot but they look delicious. I would have them minus the shrimps, off course but they look so melt-in-the-mouth goody things!!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Arti, I really loved how they were both crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle, plus all those herbs, and the sauce were wonderful.

  • Krystal Luangket

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    Have you visit Laos? Like to see what kind of street food you like or don’t like. There’s many part of Laos that cook different types of food. Please share your experience.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Krystal, yes I’ve been to Laos a number of times, mostly before blogging too much, but so far I’ve always enjoyed the food, and the relaxed eating culture as well. I’m a huge fan of the laap meat style salads, and anything off the grill. Are you from Laos, or have you spent a lot of time there?

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    5 years ago

    I really enjoyed banh khot, but I do think I prefer banh xeo to them… not that either is a bad choice (anything you can wrap in so many delicious herbs is a win as far as I’m concerned)! I didn’t find this exact banh khot vendor while we were in HCMC, and perhaps that would have made all the difference. Those crispy bundles of shrimpy goodness really do look excellent!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Steph, thanks for sharing. Yes I agree, those herbs and leaves really make both banh xeo and banh khot delicious.

  • Backpacker Lee

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark. I love your YouTube videos, keep up the good work. Just a quick question: are these banh khot the same kind of thing as banh can?

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Lee, good to hear from you, thank you very much for watching. Hmm, I’m honestly not sure about banh can, I’ve only had banh canh noodles, which are like udon, but doing a search, it looks like there’s something called bánh căn. Maybe someone else knows?

    • Starling Nguyen

      5 years ago

      Hi Lee, “bánh căn” & “bánh khọt” are different, though both basically look the same.
      “Bánh căn” is made from rice flour, unlike “bánh khọt”, which have turmeric in the batter to give that beautiful yellow.
      Then, “bánh căn” is baked with a specific pottery mold, while “bánh khọt” is fried with a unique pan, that’s what make them different. Depend on the locals, “bánh khọt” can be topped with fresh shrimps, mung beans, chopped onions, or shredded shrimp and coconut milk, while “bánh căn” can be topped with almost everything like shrimp, squid, pork, or just whisked quail eggs.
      There’s also a difference between the sauce of two cakes, you dip “bánh khọt” in sweet fish sauce with pickle radish and carrot, as for “bánh căn”, there are 3 kinds of sauces: ground peanut fish sauce, fermented anchovy sauce, sweet fish sauce with chopped garlic, chili and raw mango slices (and sometimes with meatballs, or cooked fish).
      I hope these help.

      • Mark Wiens

        5 years ago

        Hey Starling, wow, this was a wonderful comparison and description, thank you for sharing.

  • Ashley

    5 years ago

    Banh Khot was one of my absolute favourite dishes in Vietnam! Thanks for the recipe!