Known as the ‘world’s kitchen,’ Vietnam has long been prized for its rich, tasty food that is unique in comparison to its neighboring countries. Vietnamese snacks are among the best in Asia, partly because of their availability as street food and from vendors walking the street. From the sweet to the spicy, there is a delicious snack around every corner – let’s talk about some of the best snacks in Vietnam!
Perfect for Vietnam’s warmer climate, meals here take advantage of local produce and fresh spices, with traditional cooking methods used to bring out the full flavor of the dishes. The same is true for the snacks eaten throughout the day. We’ve learned this over the last decade-plus of traveling to Vietnam. Many of these trips came while we were living in nearby Thailand and Indonesia.
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Vietnamese Snacks To Eat In Vietnam
While street foods like bahn mi and pho often receive praise from tourists, there are plenty of lesser-known Vietnamese snacks and street foods for adventurous travelers to sample. From the French-influenced pastries to traditional noodle dishes, Vietnamese food combines the modern and historic as well as the influence from both France and China.
Vietnamese snacks vary from region to region, and what you eat in Hanoi will be very different from the street food in Ho Chi Minh City. However, common threads hold the food together and make for satisfying meals between meals. Vietnamese food is very balanced, with spice, sweetness, acid, and fat coming together in perfect harmony.
If you’re wondering where to start on your culinary adventure, here are 9 must-try Vietnamese snacks to fill your belly during your travels.
Learn more about food in Vietnam:
Vietnamese Prawn Crackers (Bánh Phồng Tôm)
For those who have visited Asian restaurants back home, you may have come across prawn crackers before. However, Vietnamese prawn crackers are unlike those bubbly, crunchy snacks – and are still just as tasty!
Originating in Sa Đéc in southern Vietnam, bánh phồng tôm are some of the most popular Vietnamese street food. These traditional salty treats contain ground shrimp mixed with arrowroot flour, tapioca flour, onion, garlic, and sugar. They are usually sold in tiny, colorful packets in grocery stores and markets around the country. Instead of frying, the dough is usually sliced into thin circular shapes, then dried until crispy.
If you miss out on these Vietnam snacks during your visit, luckily, you can usually find them on Amazon for shipping overseas. You can also grab a bag at the airport, although these usually come at a large mark-up.
Vietnamese Coconut Candy (Kẹo Dừa)
Coconut lovers can’t go wrong with some Kẹo dừa during their trip! Made from coconut cream, malt syrup, and sugar, these chewy candies are a perfect on-the-go Vietnamese snack for when your sweet tooth is bugging you. While the ratios of ingredients are closely guarded secrets, it’s undeniably delicious and is a great way to experience Vietnamese cuisine during your travels.
While you can find packets of this creamy treat all around the country, head to the Southern provinces for the best versions. Bến Tre, or the ‘Land of Coconuts’, was the birthplace of this traditional Vietnamese candy, and you’ll find plenty of vendors lining the fertile shores of the Mekong Delta.
Sliced Cucumber And Chili
This is not a dish you’d see on most lists of snacks to eat in Vietnam, but it’s one of our favorite. Peeled cucumbers are sliced into strips. The cucumbers are served alongside a small bowl with salt and chili. Spritz a bit of lime into the salt and chili to create a paste. Dunk the cucumbers into the chili.
This is the perfect Vietnamese beer snack, most commonly found in Northern Vietnam, including at fresh beer bars. On a hot day, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a Vietnamese beer. After our first few trips to Vietnam, we started to mimick this snack at home, particularly during the hot months. There’s something about the cool sweetness of the cucumber, along with the spicy salty dip that just pairs perfectly with a nice cold beer.
Vietnamese snacks often take the form of rolls, combining fresh produce and meats to create a textural delight. Bánh Cuốn, or steamed rice-flour rolls, are one example of these delicious snacks that will tide you over between lunch and dinner!
Originally from Northern Vietnam, Bánh Cuốn are traditionally filled with minced pork, shallots, and mushrooms and served with a spicy sauce. They are definitely an influence from China and are similar to some of the dim sum dishes you see in Hong Kong.
Not only are Bánh Cuốn delicious, but they are also mesmerizing to watch! Street vendors practice for years to handle the delicate batter, and the preparation is somewhat of an art form. Stop by a cart in Hanoi and watch the masters at work – trust us, they taste just as good as they look!
Known as ‘talking pancakes,’ Bánh Xeo is a deliciously savory treat you can find all over Vietnam! Hoi An is probably the most famous area for travelers to find Bánh Xeo and where we first tried them.
Like Western crepes, these thin pancakes usually contain a mix of minced pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, and can be eaten as a quick snack or a full meal.
Bánh Xeo usually comes served with fish sauce and can be found at markets all around the South and Central provinces of Vietnam. Vegetarians, don’t worry – there are versions with vegetables, cheese, and tofu that are just as tasty as their meat-filled counterparts.
Another familiar Vietnamese snack is Gỏi cuốn – though you may know them as summer rolls! Unlike Vietnamese fried spring rolls, Gỏi cuốn is served cold and usually contains slices of pork, shrimp, herbs, and soft vermicelli noodles.
This popular Vietnamese appetizer is straightforward to find – just look on the menu of any restaurant in cities and towns! Considered lighter and fresher than their fried counterparts, these summer rolls make for a great snack during the day, or even part of a full meal when accompanying broken rice or piping hot noodle soup.
Because of their simple steps, it’s easy to make Gỏi cuốn at home – all you need are some common kitchen ingredients and a little patience! I’ve never done well with cooking with fresh rice paper at home, though, so will leave the assembly of the Vietnamese spring rolls to professionals.
You may see the word ‘Bánh’ in front of many Vietnamese foods – however, it doesn’t always mean the crispy, fresh bread rolls that the country is so famous for. Instead, Bánh refers to a group of Vietnamese foods, including cakes, pastries, and bread.
Bánh Rán is deep-fried Vietnamese rice balls native to Northern Vietnam. The glutinous rice is filled with a sweet, sticky mung-bean paste, then coated in flour and sesame seeds before frying. Crunchy and satisfying, Bánh Rán is often served as part of afternoon tea, though you can pick up bags of them from street vendors. Look out for high flames and swirling vats, as that usually means your Bánh Rán will be fresh!
Chả Giò And Nem Chả Giò
While fresh summer rolls might be the food of choice, Vietnamese fried spring rolls are just as delicious for hungry travelers! Chả Giò, or Vietnamese egg rolls, are crunchy, succulent snacks made with pork, mung beans, and vegetables, and usually served with a chili dipping sauce. The traditional recipe calls for rice paper rolls, though many vendors today lean towards wheat paper, which is easier to work with.
One of the most accessible items to find on this list, Chả Giò is a popular Vietnamese appetizer for cocktail parties and dinners. You’ll also find them in some specialized night markets, though it’s best to check for freshness before purchase – if your vendor doesn’t make them in front of you, go somewhere else!
Bánh Hạnh Nhân
While the name may not sound familiar, this Vietnamese sweet is incredibly popular in Europe – it’s another word for marzipan! The French brought this sweet almond paste with them, and it has stuck around as part of the culinary lexicon.
Bánh Hạnh Nhân is usually part of garnishes for intricate pastries, cakes and Vietnamese cookies, although you can also purchase blocks of the colorful Vietnamese candy from sweet shops or grocery stores. While almond-flavored sweets aren’t for everyone, it’s worth trying some of these snacks during your stay!
Vietnamese Mooncake (Bánh Trung Thu)
Vietnamese mooncakes are tied to celebration, and can only be found during the Mid-Autumn festival. Traditionally a Chinese bakery product, Vietnamese mooncakes are delicacies many locals associate with good luck and prosperity.
There are two kinds of mooncakes in Vietnam – square savory cakes representing the earth, and round, sweet cakes representing the moon. Traditionally, families and friends would gather after the harvest to sip tea and eat these cakes as a way of celebrating a successful season. These days, most Vietnamese mooncakes skew towards sweet fillings, with mung bean, fruit, and jams common ingredients.
If you visit during the festive season, visit a bakery to pick up some of these delicious Vietnamese snacks! The best way to eat them is as the locals do – outside while watching the moon rise above the horizon. Don’t forget to make a wish for good luck!
Vietnamese Snacks – Undeniably delicious!
While the food may differ from region to region, Vietnamese snacks are just as tasty in the North as in the South. So whether you prefer to visit restaurants or have a more authentic experience in the night markets along the Mekong Delta, there is a snack in Vietnam with your name on it! Expand your culinary horizons, and taste as many as possible – you won’t regret it!
FAQs – How To Find The Best Snacks In Vietnam
Vietnamese don’t eat a typical three-meal-a-day diet. It’s common in many Southeast Asian countries to eat throughout the day. This is what street food is so popular. It allows people to stop in and eat something quickly. To us, a Vietnamese snack is anything you can find between meals, as an appetizer, or on the side of the road as we wander through a city or town.
Our list of snacks to eat in Vietnam focuses on street foods and dishes you try when traveling in Vietnam. But, it is possible to find other snacks online, particularly various shrimp or prawn crackers. It’s also possible to make a lot of these dishes at home.
That’s hard to say. I think because Vietnamese restaurants are getting more common around the world, people are probably most used to seeing fresh and fried Vietnamese spring rolls on menus.