Lemongrass Ground Pork and Rice Bowls


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Fresh and super flavorful, these Vietnamese-inspired Lemongrass Pork and Rice Bowls are flavored with fresh lemongrass and a savory sauce. This is a fast, weeknight-friendly meal that can be customized with your favorite fresh herbs and vegetables. 

pork and rice bowls with cucumbers and lettuce

Wanderlust has set in hard over here. I’m trying to focus on work, but my mind starts wandering back over past travel. Day dreaming about sitting on a beach, or hiking through the mountains, or balancing on a plastic stool on a street in Hanoi. That last one, Frank and I did many years ago, before the kids and back when it didn’t seem quite so novel to wander around a new city with no plan. 

Many of my favorite dishes in Vietnam were super fast and super flavorful. This Lemongrass Ground Pork is both of those things and feels like a perfect dish to customize as the weather warms up. It can be as spicy as you want and makes great meal prep. Just serve it over rice and add your favorite vegetables. 

Here’s all you need to make it!

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overhead image of a spoon stirring ground pork in a skillet


  • Garlic and Lemongrass – This recipe is simple, but the aromatics really shine. Look for fresh lemongrass in many grocery stores in clamshells with fresh herbs. Use only the lower part of the stalk (it should be faintly purple in the center) and remove the tough outer stalks before using. If you have some extra lemongrass, try my Lemongrass Chicken recipe. If you can’t find fresh lemongrass, many places sell concentrated lemongrass paste in tubes which works well.
  • Hoisin Sauce – This slightly sweet, savory, thick sauce is a staple in my kitchen. It bring tons of flavor to Asian-inspired stir-fry recipes. It can be found in almost any grocery store in the international / Asian aisle, but you can also make it yourself
  • Low-Sodium Soy Sauce – I test all of my recipes with low-sodium soy sauce. In this recipe, regular soy sauce will work just fine, though keep in mind that the finished dish will be slightly more salty. 
  • Fish Sauce – Fish sauce adds so much rich, savory flavor to this dish. Many people get turned off by the pungent aroma, but once you get past that, you won’t believe how much flavor it brings to recipes. The finished dish won’t taste noticeably fishy but will have great savory depth. I prefer Red Boat brand which has no additives and a flavor that I find to be really clean.
  • Brown Sugar – Even though you just need a little, don’t skip this. A bit of sugar balances the savory flavor but also really helps the pork to caramelize as it cooks. 
  • Sriracha – Use a little hot sauce to add heat throughout the dish in addition to (or instead of) the bites of spice you’ll get from the chili peppers added at the end. 
  • Ground Pork – This dish would also be great with any other type of ground meat or vegetarian-friendly meat substitute crumbles. 
  • Bird’s Eye Chilis – These Thai-style chilis are very small and VERY hot. I buy them at the international grocery store a few times a year and freeze them because a little goes a long way. Skip these if you don’t want the dish to be spicy, just use hot sauce, or use another variety of chili.

How to Serve Vietnamese-Inspired Pork

One of the most enjoyable features of many Vietnamese stir-fry dishes like this Lemongrass Pork is that they are served with so many fresh herbs and ingredients to contrast the warm (and possibly spicy) main dish. I love assembling these pork and rice bowls with a bed of fresh lettuce and then adding thinly sliced cucumbers and cilantro and / or mint. You could even load up the bowls with more vegetables and add chopped spring rolls like these Vietnamese Noodle Bowls.

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overhead image of cooked rice in the instant pot

Make Rice in the Instant Pot for Pork and Rice Bowls

Friends, I have totally switched over to making my rice in the Instant Pot. As simple as it is to cook rice on the stovetop, I love that the Instant Pot is fail-proof. Just set it and go. The key to prevent sticking is to rub the inside of the IP with some oil before cooking. Here is the method I use. 

Possible Variations

  • Serve over noodles – Skip the rice and serve this over rice noodles.
  • Make it gluten-free – Use Tamari instead of soy sauce and snag a gluten-free Hoisin sauce to easily make this dish gluten-free. Kikkoman makes a good one. 
  • Add vegetables – Dice bell peppers or green beans and cook them right alongside the pork. Or serve roasted broccoli on the side. 

More Easy Asian Recipes

pork and rice bowls with cucumber and lettuce

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pork and rice bowls
4.86 from 7 votes

Lemongrass Ground Pork and Rice Bowls

Fresh and super flavorful, these Vietnamese-inspired pork and rice bowls are flavored with fresh lemongrass and a savory sauce. This is a fast, weeknight-friendly meal that can be customized with your favorite fresh herbs and vegetables.
To adjust the servings in this recipe, click on the number next to servings.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Mixing Bowl
  • Skillet or Wok


Lemongrass Ground Pork:

  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemongrass, grated (see note)
  • 2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (optional, sub any hot sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds Ground Pork
  • 1-3 Thai Bird’s Eye Chilis, very thinly sliced (optional, see note)

For Serving:

  • Cooked Rice
  • 1 head Green Leaf Lettuce, roughly torn
  • 2 small Cucumbers, very thinly sliced
  • Fresh Cilantro and Fresh Mint, for serving
  • Lime Wedges, for serving


  • Whisk together garlic, lemongrass, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and Sriracha. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add cooking oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add pork and saute, breaking it apart until pork is just starting to turn opaque, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Pour sauce over pork and continue cooking until sauce cooks down and starts to caramelize, 6 to 8 minutes more. If using chilis, stir them in the last minute of cooking.
  • Assemble bowls with a bed of lettuce topped with rice. Add cucumbers on one side and top with pork.
  • Garnish bowls with fresh cilantro and / or fresh mint and lime wedges (be sure to squeeze a few lime wedges over top of the pork before serving).


Lemongrass – To give this dish lemongrass flavor, you can get fresh lemongrass stalks and firmly grate them or look for lemongrass paste in a tube (often found in the refrigerated / produce section)
Bird’s Eye Chili’s – Thai-style Bird’s Eye Chilis are small and extremely spicy. If you can’t find them or want to use something with less spice, Serrano chilis or red jalapeños are a great choice. You can also just skip this and adjust the heat by adding more Sriracha.


Calories: 499kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 765mg | Potassium: 820mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 6745IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.00
Calories: 499
Keyword: easy dinner, easy, weeknight-friendly, family friendly, pork, rice bowl, spicy
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. 4 stars
    All of the sauce ingredients are not included in the steps. I mixed them all up together and poured it over. Good recipe

    1. Hi Nikki – so glad you liked it! I just went in to see what was missing in the recipe and it looks like all of the ingredients are there – if there’s something specific we missed, please do let us know.