Hollow Donuts (Banh Tieu)

Puffy, Golden Perfection--these Hollow Donuts are such a treat! | recipe from runawayrice.com

I simply adored these donuts, but because they’re deep-fried, I don’t make them very often.   So when I allow myself to indulge and make them at home, (usually for the holidays) they’re a special treat.  There’s really nothing fancy or exotic about these donuts–no crazy toppings or colorful fillings.  The recipe is simple–the slightly sweet dough is dipped in white sesame seeds and then fried until it’s puffy and golden.  The results are beautiful and so scrumptious.  I hope you enjoy the recipe for this classic Viet treat!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

If you’ve attempted these donuts in the past without success, you already know they can be a bit tricky to make.  There’s quite a bit of technique involved with making the dough and then frying the donuts to get them puffy with the hollow center.  I share lots of tips in the video but will mention them here again.

The consistency of the dough should be slightly tacky but not wet and sticky.  You should be able to work the dough in your hands without it sticking to your fingers.  In the recipe below, I added an additional 2 Tbsp self-rising flour to get the dough just right.

The dough dries out quickly so keep the balls covered with the plastic wrap until you’re ready to roll them.

Use plenty of vegetable oil for deep-frying.  (This helps to make the donuts nice and puffy.)  The oil should be 1 1/2 to 2-inches high in the pot you’re using.  Use a smaller pot so you don’t have to use so much oil.  In the video, I use a 3 quart non-stick pot with 6 cups of canola oil.

The oil temperature is very important.  Ideally it should be 360 degrees Fahrenheit.  A temperature range of 355-370 degrees Fahrenheit is just fine.  Use a thermometer to check the temperature and adjust as needed.  If you have an electric fryer, it will make the task that much easier.  On my stove, I set the heat to Low and make minor adjustments as I am frying to maintain the right temperature range.

There’s definitely a technique to frying these donuts so they puff up.  Be sure to flip them constantly once they float to the top.  If you’re slow with flipping, your donuts will be lopsided.  Also be careful when flipping them as you don’t want to puncture them with your chopsticks.

Fry the donuts one at a time.  It doesn’t take long but you’ll have better results as too many donuts frying at the same time are difficult to time and affect the oil temperature.

If your donuts are not puffing up in the center, don’t despair.  Here’s a really easy trick:  Dip a pastry brush in water and then blot the excess on a towel.  Lightly moisten both sides of the dough.  Deep-fry as directed and they should be nice and puffy.  Be careful not to add a lot of water as this will cause the oil to pop and splatter.

This recipe works great with a bread machine.  Add all of the ingredients and then use the Dough setting.  The bread machine will mix for half an hour and then rest for 1 hour.  During the mixing process, scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure all the dry ingredients get incorporated.

Can’t find self-rising flour?  You can make your own as follows:  Add 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder +  1 1/2 tsp salt to a measuring cup.  Fill the rest of the cup with all-purpose flour and level.  Pour into a separate bowl.  Measure out 2 more cups of all-purpose flour and add to the bowl.  Combine everything together.  You now have 3 cups of self-rising flour.

If you want to weigh the dough, the balls are approximately 2 oz each.  The donut will be approximately 5-inches in diameter and approximately 1/4-inch thick once rolled.  The recipe yields approximately 12 donuts.

Store any leftovers in a re-sealable plastic bag and refrigerate.  To reheat, place in a toaster oven and warm for 5 minutes or microwave on High for 15-20 seconds.  The donuts can also be frozen and enjoyed later.  Place in a plastic bag, squeeze out all the air, seal and then freeze.  To reheat (there’s no need to defrost), simply wrap the donuts in foil and place in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until they’re nice and hot.  Remove the foil and bake for another 2-3 minutes if you’d like them to be a bit crispy.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Sesame Balls (Banh Cam) and Steamed Rice Cakes/Cow Cakes/Steamed Honeycomb Cakes (Banh Bo Hap).


3 cups self-rising flour + 2 Tbsp (adjust as needed)
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup white sesame seeds
vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 Tbsp self-rising flour for rolling


Add the self-rising flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and baking powder into the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  Mix on Low speed for 30 seconds.  Gradually add in the milk and continue mixing on Low speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl using a spatula to work in the dry ingredients.

Increase the mixer speed to Medium and mix for 5 minutes.  Check the dough and if it’s too sticky, add 1 Tbsp of flour and then mix for 1 minute.  (Repeat and add more flour if necessary.)  The dough should be soft, moist and slightly tacky but not sticky.  Dust your hands with flour.  Gently work the dough in your hands for about 1 minute smoothing it out and patting it into a ball.  Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place the bowl into the oven and let the dough rest inside the oven with the light on for 1 hour.

Lightly flour the work surface and then scoop out the dough.  Gently knead the dough for about 1 minute.  Roll the dough into a log.  Cut the dough in half and then cut each half into 6 equal pieces.  Shape each section of dough into a ball.  Place all the balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Cover the tray with plastic wrap and then let rest in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Flour the work surface and rolling pin.  Take a ball of dough and press both sides into the sesame seeds.  Lightly flour each side as well.  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a flat circle approximately 5-inches in diameter and a little less than 1/4-inch thick.  Set the dough aside on parchment paper.  Continue until all 12 donuts are made.

Add oil into a saucepan and make sure the oil is at least 1 1/2 to 2-inches high.  Heat the oil until it reaches 360 degrees F.  Gently place the dough into the hot oil.  Use chopsticks to move the dough around slightly so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  In about 10 seconds the donut should float to the top.  Quickly flip the donut over, cook for 2 seconds and flip it over again.  Continue flipping the donut until the center puffs up completely.  Fry the donut for another minute, flipping every 15 seconds, until both sides are golden brown.  Remove the donut and place on paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

Continue frying until all donuts are made.  Serve while they’re warm.  Enjoy!

Yields:  12 donuts

Learn the tricks for making these scrumptious Hollow Donuts. | recipe from runawyrice.com

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32 Responses to Hollow Donuts (Banh Tieu)

  1. Cathy March 25, 2021 at 9:46 am #

    I don’t have vanilla sugar, can I skip it? Or should I add vanilla extract?

  2. Harry March 14, 2021 at 9:40 am #

    Hi Trang,

    After about 7 years I made bahn tieu with succes. After all these years my wife, she is Vietnamese, wanted to eat it again but I forgot which recipe I used so started searching on internet and found yours. With the instruction video I made them today for her also with succes and they taste great with the vanilla.
    She made a filling from mung bean, sticky rice and coconut cream.
    I’m Dutch but I like the Vietnamese food most. So I will save your website for more good recipes.

    Cám ơn.


    • Trang June 28, 2021 at 12:38 pm #

      Hi Harry,
      You are so sweet to make banh tieu for your wife. Thank you for taking the time to share your results. I am happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe.

  3. Jessica July 26, 2020 at 7:36 am #

    Hi Trang, my banh tieu turned out good, but it did not have the smell of banh tieu, how do I get that?

  4. Lynda Wynn April 22, 2020 at 10:53 pm #

    I follow all your directions 1st time… wasn’t as fluffy. So 2nd time, I let it sit in oven for 2 hrs. And I used warm water instead of milk. Turn out amazing!! Since then have made it numerous time… delicious as usual. Thank u!!

    • Trang June 28, 2021 at 3:13 pm #

      I am happy to hear you were successful letting the dough rest more. Thanks for sharing your process and results.

  5. nikki March 29, 2020 at 10:42 am #

    And if I don’t have a bread mixer or a mixer stand. How long should I knead by hand?

    • Trang June 28, 2021 at 3:25 pm #

      It takes about 20 minutes and is quite the arm workout!

  6. Nikki March 29, 2020 at 10:39 am #

    can’t get vanilla sugar, can I use regular sugar or maybe vanilla extra for the taste?

    • Trang June 28, 2021 at 3:40 pm #

      You can use regular sugar and a dash or vanilla extract.

  7. Hanh December 29, 2019 at 9:27 pm #

    Hi Trang,

    I tried your recipe this weekend and the donuts were puffing. However, the inside of the donuts have lot of thick flour. The inside was not as hollow as your.

    One thing I did differently was that I let the dough rested for two hours instead of one hour since the dough did not rise significantly after one hour.

    Woud you give me some ideas to get the donuts more hollow inside?

    Thank you.

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