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Bánh tét - a vietnamese traditional holiday cake

Vegan glutinous rice banana cake - Bánh tét chuối

Learn about this glutinous rice banana cake (Bánh tét chuối), a Vietnamese traditional holiday cake with this how to make banana cake guide.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 4 hrs
Soaking time 6 hrs
Total Time 12 hrs
Course N/A
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4 cakes


  • 1 large pot
  • Cooking twine
  • Sushi rolling mat (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Rubber bands


  • 2 lb glutinous rice
  • ½ can coconut milk 13.5 oz can
  • 7 pandan leaves wash and tight securely together
  • 1 c red kidney beans 15-oz can
  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 ripen bananas


Prep the rice and banana leaves

  • Soak glutinous rice at least 6 hours before cooking time or soak it over night.
  • If using frozen banana leaves, thaw them in refrigerator as well.
  • Make sure you wash the leaves and also soak them in water to soften them for easier wrapping process.

Season bananas

  • 1 hour before cook time, lightly season bananas with just a little amount of sugar.

Partially cook glutinous rice

  • In a large double bottom sautéed pan over medium heat, combine glutinous rice and kidney beans, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Then add coconut milk and pandan leaves and continue cooking until the rice start sticking together and there is not much of coconut milk left. Season with sugar and a salt. Stir constantly to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  • Let the rice mixture cool down to room temperature and discard the pandan leaves before proceeding with wrapping process.

Portion rice, cut banana leaves and strings

  • Cut 4 at-least-50-inch strings and 4 10-inch strings, set aside for later use.
  • Divide your rice mixture into 4 equal portions (in this recipe I used approximately 8 oz of rice for each banana cake).
  • Wipe out banana leaves with a clean towel and cut them into a 10 – 12 inches squares (at least 12 leaves).
  • Cut another 16 12×2 inches leaves and set aside.

Rolling process

  • Place 3 layers on banana leaves on a rolling mat or a clean flat surface.
  • Spread half of a rice mixture portion in the middle of banana leaves, leaving at least 2 inches border of banana leaves exposed for each side.
  • Place 1 banana on the rice mixture and spread another half of rice mixture over banana.
  • Use your hands and pick up two edges of banana leaves toward the middle and pinch them together.
  • Use the mat or just your hands to roll and shape the banana cake (bánh tét chuối) tightly in to a log. Place the seam side down.
  • Use a 4-inch string and tightly secure the log in the middle.

Shaping process

  • Fold one end and put the log vertically with an opened end upward.
  • Use a spoon that can fit perfectly inside the log, push the rice mixture tightly down and carefully shape them into a square shape if possible.
  • Fold the edges like you would wrap an end of gift box. Use a scissor to cut the leave for easier shaping if necessary.
  • Use 2 12×2 leaves and flap over this end then use rubber band to secure the leave tightly.
  • Repeat the steps with the other end. Try to limit the length of the cake to at most 8 inches.

Tying process: the half-hitch method (see notes for traditional tying method)

  • Wrap the loose end of a 50-inch string around the banana cake log and tie it with a double know. Leave at least 5-8 inches of string for a shorter end.
  • Make a loop and slide it down over the cake to approximately 1 to 1.5 inches from the first knot.
  • Then tightly secure a know in the middle of the loop.
  • Make another loop and slide it down. Continue looping and securing until the whole cake has been tied.
  • Turn the cake over and wrap the string around the end of the cake, then around the string that formed the last loop.
  • Continue doing this process for the entire length of the cake log. Remember pulling the string tightly after wrapping it around each loop.
  • Turn the log back over. Wrap the string around the front end of the cake ad secure it to the first loop at the point where you tide your first knot. Cut and discard rubber bands. Trim the ends of the strings if necessary.

Cooking process

  • In order to prevent water coming in the cake during cooking process, I recommend you to wrap each log with plastic wrap then double wrap with aluminum foil on the outside before boiling them in water.
  • Use a big soup pot, put the cake vertically (preferred) or horizontally depends on the size of your pot. Fill the pot with water, make sure all the banana cakes submerged completely under water (ideally at least 2 inches).
  • Bring to boil then cover the pot, adjust the heat so the water still hard boiling but not spilling all over the place.
  • Check the pot and fill with hot-boiling water if the water level drop below the cakes every 1.5 hours.
  • The banana cakes (bánh tét chuối) should be done after 4 hours or max 5 hours, you’ll be able to smell the banana and coconut milk at this point.
  • Discard the plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Let the cakes cool down completely to room temperature before serving, approximately 2 hours.


Traditional tying method

Use this for any Vietnamese traditional holiday cake that is longer than 8 inches.
  • Cut 8 to 10 strings that long enough to wrap completely around the cake log.
  • Hold one end between the thumb and forefinger, pass the other end around it and across the strings.
  • Loop the loose end of the string around your finger.
  • Wrap the string around itself and pass the loose end back through the hole.
  • Pull and tighten the knot securely on the cake log.
  • Tight another know on top of the first knot to prevent it from loosing. Trim the ends of the strings if necessary.
  • Continue with the rest of the strings until the entire cake log is tied.

Storing bánh tét chuối

Cooked bánh tét chuối can be kept at room temperature in a cool, dry place and away from direct sun light for 3 days.
They can be kept in the chiller for up to 5 days, microwave for 1-2 minutes before serving.
Or bánh tét chuối in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw them in the chiller and heat with microwave before serving.