Bún Nem Nướng Recipe – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Meatballs

If you know the joys of bún thịt nướng (Vietnamese grilled pork and noodles), you’ll love this recipe. Savory, flavor-packed grilled pork meatballs over noodles, with a medley of aromatic herbs all married together with Vietnamese fish sauce.

Aaand it’s easy to make! Let me know you.

Bun nem nuong - Vietnamese ground & grilled pork with rice noodles. Served with veggies, onion in oil, and fish sauce. | HungryHuy.com

There are LOTS of fresh veggies in many Vietnamese dishes, wouldn’t you agree? Any time you have a wrap, or something being dipped into sauce, it’s almost a given fresh lettuce or herbs will be a part of it.

And in how many other types of soups do you order and pretty much expect a side of bean sprouts or a mountain of mixed herbs to go along with it? Bún nem nướng falls in line with the veggie train here.

Bún nem nướng is actually similar to another recipe I shared with you before–bún thịt nướng. They share the same bed of rice noodles, lettuce and herbs, garnish and dipping sauce, with grilled pork as the protein. The pork may be the highlight here, but this dish would be lacking without the rest of the ingredients.

Ground pork fineness

The texture of the nem nuong is affected by the fine grind of pork, the potato starch and the baking powder added. For a more predictable, fine-sized grind, you should ask your butcher to put your pork through the grinder four times. If you’re buying pre-packaged stuff you can wing it and use a food processor at home to achieve a finer pork paste.

Meatball ingredients

As for the potato starch, I got the one pictured below from a Vietnamese market, but you can buy any brand at your grocery store.

For the baking powder, I use single-acting Alsa baking powder. If you can’t find this brand, others may work but make sure you use single-acting, as most the stuff in American baking aisles will be double-acting.

Unlike most baking powders, this one is single-acting and not of double. If you find another single-acting brand go for it!

Potato starch and Alsa brand baking powder for the ground pork | HungryHuy.com

Adding Sodium Nitrate?

If you really want to replicate how restaurants and stores make nem nướng, you have to add some sodium nitrate to the pork, which makes the pork more pink and acts as a preservative. There seems conflicting data about the safety of adding sodium nitrate to food.

To me, the tradeoff isn’t worth the unknown risk especially if you have the choice to leave it out.

Different shapes & sizes

Forming these into balls are a lot simpler to do, but if you want to form these into logs for making rolls, you can do that too (another post coming on that!). Basically, you’d want to wrap the pork paste in plastic wrap to hold the log shape while you steam it, to set the shape. Then you can unwrap it to throw on the grill, or into the deep fryer to get some nice caramelization on it

Bun nem nuong - Vietnamese ground & grilled pork w/ rice noodles and veggies | HungryHuy.com

A meat ball shape definitely make more sense for serving with rice noodles. And you’ll typically see the pork served on skewers from being freshly grilled. Some “musts” for this dish is the topping of scallion in oil and crushed peanuts.

Just looking at this is makes me crave some cheap, ice-cold lager, to pair it with.

bun nem nuong Pinterest image

Bún Nem Nướng – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Meatballs & Rice Noodles

5 from 9 votes
Savory, flavor-packed grilled pork meatballs over noodles, with a medley of aromatic herbs all married together with a balanced Vietnamese fish sauce. And it's easy to make!
BY: Hungry Huy
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Chilling or freezing: 1 hr
Total: 1 hr 45 mins


  • 1 pound pork 20% fat
  • 1 pack dried rice noodles small or medium thickness


  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 tsp single-acting Alsa baking powder about 1/2 the bag
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp water
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)


  • green or red leaf lettuce shredded
  • mint – rau thơm
  • Vietnamese perilla – tiá tô
  • Vietnamese balm – kinh giới
  • cucumbers sliced

Equipment Used


  • Combine all seasoning ingredients in a bowl and mix. It will bubble from the baking powder.
  • After everything is dissolved, add the pork and mix well.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night, or freeze for about 1 hour or until slightly firm. The purpose is to thicken it up.
  • If you chose to freeze your meat, start washing your veggies, prepare the garnishes, and cook the dried rice noodles according to package instructions. If you fridged it overnight instead, begin this prep 1 hour before you pull the meat from the fridge.
  • Although the butcher ground the pork four times already, blend your chilled meat mixture one final time in a food processor after marinating so it becomes stickier and easier to form shapes with.
  • Form into desired shapes–usually balls about 1.25" in diameter or larger logs for speed, or to add to rolls.
  • Steam for about 10 minutes so the shape holds before the final cooking stage. It should not be cooked all the way through at this stage. The final temp would be 145° F, so pull it well before this after it seems like it's holding its shape. Use a thermometer to check.
  • Deep fry or grill to brown the meat r and finish cooking.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 0g | Calories: 623.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 56.5g | Protein: 24.1g | Fat: 32.8g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 81.6mg | Sodium: 827.2mg | Potassium: 439.8mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 6.2g | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 127.5mg | Iron: 1.9mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: Vietnamese noodles
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy–I’d love to see it!

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22 comments on “Bún Nem Nướng Recipe – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Meatballs

  1. Liz B. @ Umami Life says:

    These ingredients are totally going on my shopping list after all this thanksgiving nonsense is over! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Huy says:

      Awesome Liz, thanks for commenting! Let me know how it turns out 🙂

  2. Huyen says:

    Hey Huy, thanks for posting this delicious recipe!! 1 silly question tho, what would be the difference if I use double-acting baking powder 😐


    1. Huy says:

      Hi Huyen! I’ve heard that it makes the texture different, possibly grittier somehow. I haven’t tried it myself so can’t say for certain.

  3. Amy says:

    Hi Huy, Can I use the same ingredients except substitute the pork mince for chicken mince?

    1. Huy says:

      Hey Amy! I reckon you could do it, but I haven’t tried it. It wouldn’t be traditional though, so you’d have to pitch it to Vietnamese palettes as another kind of dish :).

      1. Amy says:

        Thanks Huy!! We have a Vietnamese butcher here in sydney that sells nam neung pre made in pork and chicken. I love the chicken although think there mince has a bit too much fat so thought I would try it myself next week for Australia Day celebrations 😉

      2. Huy says:

        I love hearing about what cooks are doing around the world. I’ve seen a few folks do chicken and it seems to be mainly for health reasons. You’d be hard pressed to find restaurants selling it where I live.

        I texted my mom about this, and she knew straight away: “you can use chicken, but add 20% pork fat.” I’d love to see how it turns out, Amy!

  4. chanasty says:

    Can I use regular baking powder than the one that you used in this recipe?

    1. Huy says:

      Hello! I haven’t tried regular baking powder. It should be ok though, possibly with a slightly different texture.

  5. Gina says:

    Made this today and substituted roasted rice powder for potato starch because it was in the pantry and my family complimented me so much. Thank you so much for this site!

    1. Huy says:

      Hey Gina, I’m curious to know the difference it makes in texture but I’m glad your family enjoyed it :). Thank you for trying out the recipe and sharing the results.

  6. cathy says:

    5 stars
    I made these and everyone loved it.
    Thank you for the recipe =)

    1. Huy says:

      Thanks for sharing Cathy, I’m glad they all enjoyed it!

  7. Jen says:

    5 stars
    Made this last week and it was amazing! I used leaner ground pork (couldn’t get fattier kind at store) and double-acting baking soda and thoroughly enjoyed it. Restaurant quality.

  8. Ai Tang says:

    5 stars
    You blog are great, the recipe’instructions are simple and easy to follow. I have made this few week back and some others of your. they are all turn out great. Which first time I have found the recipe turn out good since long time been looking for.
    Thank you so much

  9. Catherine says:

    5 stars
    This recipe was so easy and turned out perfectly. I had no idea I could make it taste just like the restaurants at home.

    1. Huy Vu says:

      Glad you liked it Catherine, thank you! Yep it’s not too complicated at all 🙂

  10. E Miranda says:

    5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was super delicious!! I never thought I would be able to make this at home myself. I didn’t used a blender and just threw all the marinade ingredients on top of the pork and then mixed it. Made meatballs out of them and baked it at 400 degrees for 20 mins on the oven. Delicious! Going to add this to my weekly rotation. Thank you for sharing your recipes!

    1. Hungry Huy says:

      Glad to hear, thank you for sharing E!

  11. Phil says:

    5 stars
    This was the best! Absolutely delicious and authentic.

    I used brown sugar and used the microwave on low power instead of steaming to set the shape!

    1. Hungry Huy says:

      Nice, thanks for the tip Phil!

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