Recipe: Bánh Bò – Steamed rice cake

Bánh bò – Steamed Rice Cake

By Helen Le Published: May 8, 2011

  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Ready In: 2 hrs 10 mins

  • Yield: 20-25 (8-10 Servings)

One of Vietnamese traditional steamed cakes known as Bánh bò, literally translated as "cow cake" is a popular dish in the central and southern Vietnam. While Banh bo from the south comes in a wide variety of colors, Banh bo in Da Nang City is only in white color and has a mild coconut taste. I believe that most of Vietnamese couldn't help but loved it when we were kids. Banh bo has become an unforgettable part of our childhood. It is sad to see how difficult to find a place for buying Banh bo nowadays as well as to see our traditional cuisine values fading with time. This recipe is a modern approach using active dry yeast instead of the traditional rice wine balls“com ruou”, with an attempt to revive this special steamed cake through you readers.

  • In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar and coconut milk. Stir well to dissolve. Let cool to room temperature.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, tapioca starch and yeast. Make a hole in the middle and pour in lukewarm water. Mix well and knead for 10 mins to form a soft piece of dough. Then add the coconut milk mixture. Use your hands to crush the dough until it dissolves into liquid form.
  • Let sit for at least 1½ hours in a warm place until batter rises and many small bubbles appear.
  • Spray egg cups with cooking spray or brush with vegetable oil. Pour the batter into the cups. Steam each batch for 10-15 minutes


  1. Why do my cakes turn hard after a few hours?

The cakes taste at best when freshly steamed. They normally turn hard by cold weather. In that case, just microwave the cakes 15 seconds before serving (or steam again for 2-3 minutes).

Post By Helen Le (291 Posts)

Since 2011 Helen has shared her Vietnamese home cooking video recipes on Youtube, helping viewers cook Vietnamese Food in the easiest, fastest and most authentic way possible. Subscribe to receive her newest videos for FREE:

Website: → Danang Cuisine


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33 comments on “Recipe: Bánh Bò – Steamed rice cake


Hi Helen, I added about 450 ml of water to my dry ingredients, but my dough was very watery and when I added the coconut/sugar mixture it got even more watery……what did I do wrong?


did you use a pack of 500g rice flour? some pack are just 400g. That could be a reason.
After adding coconut mixture, the dough is dissolved, so it should be watery.

Helen Le

It’s a myth. So it’s up to you to explain hihi. I like the explanation that its texture resembles beef liver so it is called Cow Cake. You don’t have to believe it hehe

Lotus Koi

Is it true that if I prove my dough too long passed 1-1/2 hr, then my will become a little sour.? Mine is just like that and does not have a lot of coconut flavor nor sweetness.  The cakes came out well but don’t like them much because of just that. 


I dont think so. It could be the coconut milk brand that you use. You can add more sugar to adjust the sweetness to your taste

video showing too easy to make…but I’m not so sure if how the outcome if I try to follow exactly your ways…lol.. anyone s done it? how was it? pls share w/ me. thanks.


adding to my question up there, I’ve seen some other banh bo recipes that say to let batter/mixture sit for 5-10 hours to rise. But your’s only needs 1.5 hours. Why the difference?

Helen Le

If you make the same size as mine, you’ll get about 20-25 cakes. If you let the batter rest in a warm place (40-50°C) it rises faster. 

Nadine NX

dear helen,

first of all: i love your receipes and the way you show how to cook them a lot. thank you for that.

i have a question concerning the singe and the double acting baking powder. like you i live in germany and i would be very glad if you could tell me, which brand has single and which double acting baking powder. once i tried the banh bo nuong (unfortunatly before i got your receipe) and it was a desaster. i think i have the wrong baking powder.

liebe grüße!
Nadine NX

Nadine NX

 hi helen,

thank you for your fast answer. but what can i do if i need double-acting? where can i get it? i used the obe from alnatura (dm ), weinsteinbackpulver, and thought this might be double-acting?

i think i saw you using bakin from dr. oetker and the one from aldi?

i would be sooo happy to know where to buy the two different styles of baking powder.

i will go to VN soon – can i get it there and if yes, what do i have to buy (my husband is vietnamese but my vietnamese is very bad ;-)).

thank you!

Nadine NX

Helen Le

Hi Nadine

You can find backpulver at any supermarkt in Germany under Backartikel session. Most of them are single-acting. I have not came across any brand with double-acting.  (Maybe “extra stark” backpulver?? I am not very sure as I don’t bake that often). The double-acting baking powder is more popular in the US. In Vietnam, baking is not our tradition so it is difficult to find baking-related stuff.

Nadine NX

 hi helen,

thanks for your fast answer!

then i will try to get the alsa baking powder from the US. i think this one should be the best then.

perhaps “natron” is double acting coz it’s similar to the american baking sodas. i will try to find that out.

liebe grüße


Dear Helen,
I would like to say “Thank you” for your recipe.  After many failed attempt to make similar cake using other recipes, I stumbled upon your recipe and video.  I cut down the recipe to half in case it did not turned out.  Gave it a try today and very successful.  Once again, thank you for sharing.  Will continue to check your recipes for more.

Helen Le

Dont get yourself confused. 
-Most baking powder in normal US supermark are double-acting. But ALSA is an exception: it’s single-acting.-Natron is baking soda and it is NOT double-acting baking powder

Helen Le

Thank you for giving it a try 🙂 I hope you will like my other recipes as much.


Hi, I did everything as suggested in the recipe but my banh bo came out hard after awhile. CAn you give me some pointers or insights as to what I did wrong or what I can try adjusting to make it softer/chewier? Thank you!

Helen Le

Hi Lieu
It is normal that banh bo turns hard when it gets cold. In that case you can microwave for 15 seconds and it is good to eat again.


Hi Helen,

I followed your recipe instruction and my banh bo came out hard in the center or middle. The banh bo came out this way right from the steamer and not because it has been sitting out and turn cold. Is this because I didn’t put enough water or did I not knead the dough enough. Thanks foe help.


Huong Nguyen

Chị àh, e rất thích cái clip này của chị, giọng chị nói rất hiền, nhỏ nhẹ, dễ thương, và rất Đà Nẵng 🙂 E cũng là ng Đà Nẵng, nhưng đang học ở US ;)) clip của chị hướng dẫn rất dễ hiểu, dễ làm, nhưng lần đầu tiên em làm tại em tham quá nên bỏ nhiểu yeast cho nó nhanh nở và ủ rất lâu nên nó lên men giống như rượu và mùi rất là chua. 🙁 E làm lại làm 2 thì chắc là dc hơn. Nhưng mà e thích những clips của chị lắm, toàn những món e thích ăn. 🙂 E cám ơn chị nhiều 🙂

Thien-An Nguyen

Mình không thích ăn món ngọt, nhưng mấy cái clips của Helen làm mình ngứa tay ghê. Cám ơn Helen nhiều nhe. Clips của Helen dễ hiểu và dễ làm. Mình học hỏi từ Helen nhiều lắm. Mong được thọ giáo Helen nhiều hơn nữa.


Chao Hellen….hom qua minh vua thu lam banh nhung no ko dc chin…banh o duoi thi bi kho ko no va bot hap ca nua tieng van chua chin….ban co the chia se cho minh biet minh da lam sai gi ko…cam on ban nhieu

    Helen Le

    Linh dùng chén gì để hấp? Nên dùng chén sứ loại nhỏ thôi. Nếu đổ cao quá bánh sẽ khó chín va ko duoc nở

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