baking/bread/recipes/snacks/sweets/vietnamese food

Banh Tieu Recipe: The Vietnamese Donuts You Never Knew You Loved

Posted June 5, 2015 by Stephanie
vietnamese donuts -

vietnamese donuts -

vietnamese donuts -

vietnamese donuts - vietnamese donuts -

vietnamese donuts -

It’s National Donut Day! Last year I waffled up some donuts for a delicious hybrid wonut (waffle-donut) and this year I decide to go with a donut that you’ve probably never seen before: banh tieu, a deliciously deep-fried Vietnamese donut. Banh tieu, for the uninitiated, are slightly sweet, puffy, hollow donuts that are sprinkled with a generous amount of nutty sesame seeds. Fresh out of the fryer, they just can’t be beat.

My very first banh tieu was while I was wandering the heart of Vancouver’s Little Saigon with my sister-in-law. Our tummies were already full from banh mi, but when I spotted some plastic bags filled with fried dough, my curiousity was piqued. We bought them, no surprise there! They were cold and just a touch on the oily side, but they were delicious in the way that deep fried dough is. As mediocre as I thought those banh tieu were, I saw the potential.

Later, I learned that good banh tieu are round, puffy, and slightly sweet with a hollow centre. Also, they taste phenomenal when they’re hot and fresh. After my store-bought banh tieu experience, I had the chance to try some fresh ones at my in-laws’ house. My mother-in-law is the bomb in the kitchen, but one thing she lets my father-in-law do is make donuts. She gets the heebie jeebies with yeast, so really, it’s the perfect arrangement.

Fresh banh tieu are out of this world. I must’ve eaten 5 or 6 and this was after a Vietnamese food feast. I should have had more though, because it was one of the few times that my father in law made them. It’s because he thinks they’re temperamental – the second time he made us donuts, they didn’t puff up. They were super delicious, but I think after all his talk about being a donut master, they didn’t live up to his standards. I’m pretty sure we just didn’t let the dough rise enough. I’m going to convince him to make some with me, now that I’ve created a full-proof hollow donut recipe.

This donut recipe is a bit more time consuming than baked donuts and they don’t have any fancy frosting. I’m pretty sure they’d get passed over on a table full of regular donuts, but they’re really delicious, especially with Vietnamese coffee and an extra dish of sweetened condensed milk for dipping. I hope you give them a go and happy donut-ing!

By the way, a bunch of my favorite food peeps all made donuts today! Check out all the donut posts right here and have an awesome donut filled weekend! If you want to join in the fun, hashtag your donuts on Instagram (#national?day #nationaldonutemojiday) and come to the party. You guys are following me on Instagram, right? ;)

PS – Imma dedicate these donuts to Lyndsay, who is one of the raddest donut lovers I know! Sending you loads of positive energy and donuts your way!!! (Okay, not literal donuts though. Cause I’m in NYC. But when I’m back, donut worry (heehee!), I’ll be sending LOTS!)

vietnamese donuts - vietnamese donuts -

vietnamese donuts -

vietnamese donuts - vietnamese donuts -

vietnamese donuts -

Banh Tieu Vietnamese Donut Recipe adapted from Vicky Pham
makes: 16 donuts

  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons warm water (100°F)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • oil for deep frying
  • sweetened condensed milk, if desired

In a small bowl, stir together the warm water with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle on the yeast and let proof for 10 minutes. There should be tiny bubbles on the surface.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the remaining sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the yeast mixture, use the dough hook and knead on low until dough comes together and it is very smooth, about 10 minutes. Move to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap and proof until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and roll into a log. Divide into 16 equal pieces and shape the pieces into small balls.

Dip the balls into the sesame seeds and roll flat with a rolling pin. The flatter you roll, the more hollow your doughnuts. Place on a lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Continue until all of the balls are flattened. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Heat up 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil in a deep pot over medium heat until 350°F. Carefully add one of the doughnuts to the hot oil. After 10-15 seconds the doughnut will float to the top. Flip immediately and keep flipping in the hot oil. The doughnut will puff slowly – agitating with chopsticks works as well. Keep flipping until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels or a wire rack. Continue frying until all the doughnuts are cooked. Enjoy plain or dipped into sweetened condensed milk!

If you like puffy hollow donuts, here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t rush the rise time.
  2. Try to roll them out as flat as possible.
  3. Make sure the oil is the right temperature.
  4. Once you drop them into the oil and they float, flip them immediately.
  5. Give them a poke or two with a pair of chopsticks while they’re frying. You’re trying to agitate them a bit so they puff up.
  6. Flip them almost continuously so they brown evenly on both sides.
  7. Take them out when they’re just a shade under the brown you want them to be. They’ll continue to brown just a touch while they’re cooling.
vietnamese donuts -


  1. Oh these sound so good! I love the sound of coating them in sesame seeds- the ones with the white sesame remind me of the outsides of jin dui (the fried mochi filled with red/lima bean that people devour at dimsum places).

  2. Hmmmm, I’m pretty sure I never met a donut that wasn’t love at first sight for me. Oh well. Not so much love for my hips and thighs! Anyhow, these donuts look perfect for dipping in my morning coffee and with no frosting that will melt into my coffee. Love the sesame seed bit. Those just make me light up like the 4th of July.

  3. Ohhh this brings back memories. I think I’ve had something like that at a vietnamese place before but I never knew what they were called. I was just like “Yummy”. Love these!

  4. cynthia says:

    WHAT these are GLORIOUS. And the photos completely blow me away… so spectacular, Steph. And big hugs to you for being the most wonderful friend <3 (PS I love your tip that they continue to brown as they cool!!!! Don't you find that so weird/fascinating?!)

  5. Abby says:

    I adore this, Steph! <3

  6. jade says:

    That looks delicious.It occors to me Ma Qiu.And your photos attracts me,would you please share your camera type.

  7. Alana says:

    I want a whole batch of these. I also want to cut them in half and stuff them with vietnamese coffee ice cream, is that weird? Ps those tips are awesome. I’m with Cynthia on the browning/cooling thing being fascinating.

  8. Oceana says:

    I got hooked on these bad boys when I was in Vietnam a few years ago, but you have to buy them at the right time. They taste best fresh, early in the morning when the vendors are just getting started. Maybe I’ll have a crack at them myself instead of waiting until I get back to Vietnam. Thanks for the recipe!


  9. Say whatttttt?! These are so gorgeous, Steph. Anything black sesame has my name all over it—so once I convince Alana to come over to help me with my first deep frying foray, I’m all systems go on these babies. They look absolutely perfect.

  10. Hubba hubba do these look goooooood….! And this is coming from a recent donut-convert-kind-of-love-it-once-in-a-while girl. <33333 Korean style donuts also have lots of sesame seeds and red bean, so i know I'd love these!

  11. Daena says:

    What kind of flour do you use? All-Purpose?

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      yes! all purpose :)

  12. Britney says:

    How do you get them so round and puffy – they look wonderful, and mine just don’t! Also, what oil do you use? :)

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i use grapeseed oil :)

      make sure you let the dough rise and try rolling them out as flat as possible!

  13. Kimi says:

    Hey I know this post is old, but I just wanted to ask if these would taste good baked?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi kimi,

      unfortunately these won’t work baked – you need to fry them to get them to puff up!

  14. Dai says:

    There’s another form of Viet donut that is similar to Banh Tieu but it’s coated in a toffee that sticks to every crevice of your teeth. Banh Cam is its name similar to the Greek loukoumades.

  15. Ak says:

    These are great with green onions and cream cheese inside.

  16. Emma says:

    Great recipe and great photos. What happens when you add too much yeast?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi emma,
      i think they get too over proofed and collapse?

  17. Emma says:

    I love this recipe!!! I just can’t get it to turn into a ball. It’s flatten on one side. How do I get it round?

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