Bun Cha Recipe: Healthy Vietnamese Noodle Bowl

Looking for the best Bun Cha recipe?

Our healthy Vietnamese rice noodle bowl is topped with juicy lemongrass minced pork meatballs, tossed in nuoc cham and topped with fresh herbs and crunchy egg rolls.

We love making this Bun Cha recipe on a hot summer day using fresh herbs from the garden. If you’re looking for a healthy gluten-free noodle bowl try our Bun Cha recipe at home.

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Pin our yummy Bun Cha Recipe!
Pin our yummy Bun Cha Recipe!

Travel to Vietnam by Cooking Our Bun Cha Recipe

I love traveling through Asia. My first visit to Asia had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.

After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout southeast Asia for 6 months, visiting the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

I spent over a month traveling by bus through Vietnam. I started in the south, spending a few days in Saigon before exploring the floating markets in the nearby Mekong Delta. I then took a series of night buses north making stops in Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay and Hanoi.

What I found most fascinating is Vietnam’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, each town in Vietnam had its own local speciality.

Ingredient you'll need to make our Bun Cha Recipe.
Ingredient you’ll need to make our Bun Cha Recipe.

Where To Eat Vietnamese Bun Cha

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Vietnamese restaurant that serves a traditional Bun Cha recipe.

Haven’t traveled to Vietnam before? It may be helpful to first sample Bun Cha at a local Vietnamese restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can assess the texture of the Vietnamese pork meatballs and get creative ideas on what toppings to serve with your healthy vermicelli noodle bowl.

In Toronto, popular Vietnamese restaurants that may serve their own unique Bun Cha recipe include Pinky’s Ca Phe, Pho Phuong, Pho Vistro, Anh Dao, Pho Hung, Pho Asia 21 or The Golden Turtle.

Combine pork meatball ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together nuac cham dressing.
Combine pork meatball ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together nuac cham dressing.

What Is Vietnamese Bun Cha?

Bun Cha is a traditional Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and rice noodles. It’s thought to have originated in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Bun Cha is served with fatty pork (cha) over a bowl of rice noodles (bun) and topped with fresh herbs, chopped vegetables and Vietnamese nuoc cha dipping sauce.

The popular dish was described in 1959 by Vietnamese food writer Vu Bang who described Hanoi as a town “transfixed by bun cha.” Hanoi’s first bun cha restaurant was on Gia Ngư, Hoàn Kiếm District, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Bun Cha still remains very popular in Hanoi, considered by many to be the city’s ubiquitous dish. Outside Hanoi and across Vietnam, a similar dish of rice vermicelli noodles and crispy grilled meat called bún thịt nướng is also served with great fan fare.

Bun Cha Recipe: Form small meatballs with your hands and place on a baking sheet.
Bun Cha Recipe: Form small meatballs with your hands and place on a baking sheet.

How Do You Eat Bun Cha?

Bun Cha is a Vietnamese street food dish typically served in a large pho soup bowl with chopsticks.

Thin rice noodles are tossed in fresh herbs like mint and cilantro and then topped with crispy grilled pork meatballs and chopped vegetables like carrot and daikon radish.

Traditionally locals eat bun cha alongside crunchy spring rolls or egg rolls. You’ll also find a dish of nuoc cham at the table, Vietnam’s signature condiment. The spicy sauce is made up of salty fish sauce, tart lime juice, sugar and red chili peppers.

If you’ve never had nuoc cham before we suggest drizzling a small amount over the bun cha noodle bowl. Mix the noodles with your chopsticks and have a taste. Add more nuoc cham if you are looking for more spicy heat and acid.

If you don’t want your entire dish to be smothered in nuoc cham you can also chose to grab each meatball with chopsticks and simply dip in the sauce to add a splash of spicy acid. You’ll love how the nuoc cham contrasts with fatty meatballs.

Our bun cha recipe is truly refreshing, featuring crispy meatballs, crunchy vegetables, slippery rice noodles and spicy sauce.

Fry Bun Cha in a skillet on both sides until crisp and browned.
Fry Bun Cha in a skillet on both sides until crisp and browned.

Bun Cha Recipe Tips

Ready to cook our homemade Vietnamese Bun Cha recipe? We suggest reading the recipe directions in detail to ensure you understand the step by step process.

Before you even start frying the meatballs we suggest setting the table with a large plate filled with fresh lettuce and herbs as well as a bottle of sweet chili sauce and nuoc cham.

These Vietnamese meatballs are traditionally made with minced pork but if you don’t eat pork you could always substitute with minced beef, chicken, turkey or ground shrimp. Vegans and vegetarians can also substitute the minced pork with meat-free products like Beyond Meat.

If you have a barbecue feel free to grill the minced pork patties as they will impart a yummy smokey flavour. If you’re frying the meatballs in your kitchen, use a non-stick skillet and drain the fat between each batch to avoid hot oil splatter on the stove.

It’s important to use chopped lemongrass in the mince pork meatballs but you can also add additional flavourings like chopped chives or scallions.

While our Bun Cha recipe features thinly sliced carrot and daikon radish, you can also use pickled or fermented vegetables like fermented carrots. Fermented vegetables are healthy for your gut and offer a tangy taste and enjoyable crunch.

If you are serving a large group, we suggest heating your oven to 300F and keeping the finished meatballs warm until ready to serve.

Serve our Bun Cha Recipe as a noodle bowl with Egg Rolls.
Serve our Bun Cha Recipe as a noodle bowl with Egg Rolls.

Can You Make This Recipe in Advance?

You can easily prepare portions of this bun cha recipe in advance so assembly before you serve your meal is quick and easy.

If you’re hosting a dinner party and serving bun cha bowls to a crowd we suggest spending the morning preparing the nuoc cham. You can also prepare the pork meatballs in advance, lining the plump patties on a baking sheet and storing them in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.

An hour before you are planning on sitting down to dinner, remove the pork meatballs from the fridge and fry them on both sides until golden brown. Store the cooked meatballs on a baking sheet in a warm oven until ready to build your vermicelli bowls.

How To Store

Whenever we host a bun cha noodle bowl party we never have leftovers as the dish is such a crowd pleaser!

But if you do find yourself with leftovers, feel free to store the cooked meatballs in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 3 days.

We often like to double our bun cha recipe and store the leftover cooked meatballs in the freezer. If you’re looking for a last minute dinner idea or are hosting an impromptu lunch it’s easy to grab them out of the freezer and thaw them before guests arrive.

You’ll just need to prepare the noodles, chopped vegetables and herbs and nuoc cham sauce. Simply place the leftover meatballs on a baking sheet and reheat in the oven before serving.

While bun cha meatballs are easy to reheat and freeze, we do not suggest storing leftover marinated rice noodles in the fridge or freezer as they get soggy.

Top Bun Cha rice noodle bowls with chopped fresh herbs.
Top Bun Cha rice noodle bowls with chopped fresh herbs.

What To Serve With Our Bun Cha Recipe?

Our bun cha recipe is served as a hearty and healthy noodle bowl with Vietnamese pork & shrimp egg rolls. The bowls are large enough to fill you up at lunch or dinner.

Hosting a large dinner party and thinking of serving this bun cha recipe as an appetizer sized salad? You could also serve this pork and noodle salad with Vietnamese Crepes, Indian Crepes, Chicken Korma, Shahi Paneer, Green Onion Cakes, or Thai Beef & Pumpkin Coconut Curry.

Best Bun Cha Recipe is served over nuac cham tossed rice noodles.
Best Bun Cha Recipe is served over nuac cham tossed rice noodles.

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Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Bun Cha Recipe

Looking for the best healthy Bun Cha Recipe? Our quick & easy Vietnamese minced pork balls with lemongrass are served over a fresh herb rice noodle bowl.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
Keyword: bun cha, Bun Cha Recipe, noodle bowl, Vietnamese recipe
Servings: 6
Calories: 686kcal

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • oven
  • Flipper
  • French knife
  • mixing bowl
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • whisk

Ingredients

Vietnamese Bun Cha

  • 600 g Minced pork
  • 2 tbsp Fish sauce
  • 4 tsp White sugar
  • 3/4 cup Green onions
  • 2 Garlic cloves minced
  • 4 tsp Lemongrass finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable oil

Nuoc Cham Sauce

  • 6 tbsp White sugar
  • 6 tbsp Fish sauce
  • 4 tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Lime juice
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 2 Thai red chili seeded and finely sliced
  • 6 Garlic cloves minced

Rice Noodle Bowl

  • 200 g Vermicelli noodles
  • 1 cup Bean sprouts
  • 1 cup Carrots julienned
  • 1 cup Daikon sliced
  • 1 cup Cilantro chopped
  • 1 cup Mint chopped

Instructions

  • In a medium sized bowl whisk together Nuoc Cham ingredients. Set aside.
  • Pour boiling water over rice noodles and soak for 3-5 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • Mix Bun Cha ingredients except oil until combined. Shape pork balls into small patties with your hands.
  • Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add pork patties and cook for 3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Flip, cook 2 more minutes and then remove.
  • Place rice noodles in bowl. Top with a handful of beansprouts, julienned carrots and sliced daikon.
  • Top with meatballs and sprinkle with mint and cilantro.
  • Finish by spooning Nuoc Cham sauce over the noodle bowl.

Nutrition

Calories: 686kcal | Carbohydrates: 86.1g | Protein: 48.6g | Fat: 16.1g | Saturated Fat: 3.9g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 2904mg | Potassium: 1248mg | Fiber: 5.7g | Sugar: 29g | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 7mg

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