Everyday Eats & Sweets / Recipes

Slow Cooker Vietnamese Pulled Pork Tacos (As I Like to Call Them, Bánh Mì Tacos!)

Slow cooker Vietnamese pulled pork tacos (as I like to call them, bánh mì cacos!)

Those of you in Los Angeles may or may not know about Kogi, the Korean taco truck that spawned the hipster food truck movement in this town and became an icon of LA street food. I’ve always had an affinity for their Korean BBQ tacos, and wondered if the same idea could apply to Vietnamese food.

And then it dawned on me: Vietnamese-style pulled pork. Bánh mì. Tacos. Yes!

Bánh mì is a cultural classic, consisting of marinated grilled meat (usually pork) served on a crunchy French baguette with pâté and topped with Vietnamese pickles, cukes, cilantro, and chiles. No other sandwich tastes like a bánh mì, and a bánh mì-style taco combines the best of Vietnamese and Mexican street food for me.

Let’s break down what goes into a Vietnamese taco…

First, we have pork. Whether you call it pork shoulder, pork butt, or Boston butt, it’s all the same. The sauce that we braise our pork in is reminiscent of traditional Vietnamese marinated pork, or thịt nướng, with hints of ginger, lemongrass, and fish sauce.

Jalapenos, lemongrass and ginger

Jalapenos, lemongrass and ginger in a food processor

Minced jalapenos, lemongrass and ginger

Then, we have pâté. Pâté is a savory spread made from fatty minced meat and found in all Vietnamese markets (as well as French ones — whose culture heavily influenced Vietnam in colonial history). It’s an optional ingredient, but pork (or chicken) liver pâté is a staple in bánh mì and adds a lovely layer of umami to the tacos.

What makes this dish very Vietnamese-esque, however, are the mayonnaise, cilantro, and pickled daikon and carrot pickles (also known as đồ chua)… but especially the cilantro. I almost consider it to be the foundation of a bánh mì (after the baguette, of course) and classic Vietnamese-style cilantro is served on whole stems. You might not like the stems, you might even pull the leaves off for this recipe, but rest assured that every Vietnamese person has inevitably pulled out those long stringy stems with their teeth and let them dangle from their mouths while taking a bite — it’s a rite of passage, I’d say.


Pickled daikon and carrots

Kewpie mayonnaise is a Japanese condiment that you can find in any Japanese market, and sometimes a well-stocked Vietnamese/Chinese market. It’s creamier than American mayo, with a slight tang and sweetness to it — think mayo mixed with Miracle Whip, but much better. You can also substitute American mayo and you probably won’t be able to tell the difference once it’s piled together in a tortilla, but check this out: Even people who typically don’t like American mayo tend to like Japanese mayo.

Serve up these tacos family-style with some cheap light beer, and you’ve got the makings of a great weekend gathering. (And by the way, go by the amounts stated in the recipe, not by what the pictures show… I had to quadruple everything to serve a party of 14 that day!)

Slow Cooker Vietnamese Pulled Pork Tacos (As I Like to Call Them, Bánh Mì Tacos!)

Makes 4 servings


For the Pulled Pork
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, fat trimmed

For the Pickles
See my recipe for Vietnamese Daikon and Carrot Pickles (Đồ Chua)

For the Tacos
Corn tortillas, warmed
Pork liver pâté (optional)
Kewpie mayonnaise
Cucumber, sliced on the bias
Limes, halved or quartered
Jalapeño peppers, sliced


In a slow cooker, combine the first eight ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the pork shoulder into the sauce. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. You’ll know it’s done when the meat shreds apart easily like butta! (For a truly buttery taste, I cooked the pork on low for a full 14 hours — started the night before and kept warm until the next night — and that first bite was maaaaaagic!)

(Side note: For the last 4 hours, I added thick slices of portobello mushrooms to the slow cooker as a meatless option for dinner. Though it does cook alongside the meat, it’s an amazing addition if you have flexitarian friends… you might even have to shoo the meat-eating friends away, they’re that good!)

Vietnamese pulled pork

Using two forks, pull apart the meat and leave it in the slow cooker (on the warm setting) while you get the rest of your ingredients together.

Vietnamese pulled pork

Arrange on a table: tortillas, pâté, mayo, cilantro, cucumber, đồ chua, limes, Sriracha, and finally a steaming bowl of pulled pork (I like to keep some of the fatty juices in it, and for the big party that day, I just brought the whole slow cooker outside where I was serving).

To assemble the taco, smear pâté (if using) and mayo on the tortilla. Top with pulled pork, cilantro, cucumber, and đồ chua, and squeeze a wedge of lime over the whole thing. If you like a little fire to your taco, add some slices of jalapeño and a squirt of Sriracha. (Or, make your own “secret sauce” by stirring together mayo and Sriracha.)

Vietnamese pulled pork taco

Vietnamese bánh mì taco

Ăn ngon! (Eat well!)

Vietnamese taco

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Mitzi Onizuka
    October 12, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    I made this for my husband’s 50th birthday and became a rock star! My family loved it and it was so easy to do! Thank you for a great recipe!

  • beingyourchange
    February 3, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I made this over the weekend and holy cow, it’s amazing. Shared the recipe on my blog!

    • Linda Ly
      February 3, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it! (Dang, I might have to make this again soon too…)

  • Hang
    January 1, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    Whoa that pork looks AMAZING!! Banh Mi Tacos FTW! LOL

    • Linda Ly
      January 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      This is a regular in our dinner rotation! 🙂 Also delicious without the tortillas – we often eat it with just rice and pickles.

  • Antony Le
    January 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    So creative! reminds me of some fusion cooking from Kim at ddmau.ca. You should team up and take over the world. 🙂

  • Pearl
    January 3, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    This sounds like the perfect recipe for all the stuff I’ve got lying around in my frig. Pork – check. Cilantro – check. Tortillas – check. Cucumber – check. Shredded carrots – check. Yum!

    • Linda Ly
      January 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm


  • Stacy Deason
    December 4, 2013 at 4:45 am

    This recipe looks yummm.. I love the use of lemon grass and other spices, i really need to try this recipe soon.. Thanks for sharing it! 🙂

    • Linda Ly
      December 5, 2013 at 4:32 am

      I plan to make this several more times this winter… It’s the perfect meal to serve a large group, especially after a day in the mountains or some other wintery activity! I’ve eaten it without the tortillas, and just as a bowl of stew with rice.

  • Gahe
    November 22, 2013 at 5:53 am

    The simple ingredients are easy to find but the combination sounds reasonable.


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