Spring rolls have got to be one of my favorite things to make and eat.

But just a quick second: are you looking for crispy crunchy deep fried rolls? If so, please check out this post! If you’re looking for fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, also known as summer rolls, salad rolls, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, rice paper rolls, cold rolls, or gỏi cuốn, please read on!

spring roll party | www.iamafoodblog.com

I have so many fond memories of sitting at the kitchen table, rolling and eating spring rolls – we call them salad rolls at home – with Mike. They’re one of the meals that we bond over because there’s nothing like eating and rolling and dipping and chatting at the table. I have a thing for DIY at the table foods like Korean BBQ, Chinese hot pot, and Japanese oden. There’s just something so cozy about a slow meal where the food is both the highlight and the backdrop to who you’re with.

Spring rolls are one of those dishes I can eat again and again and again. They’re light yet filling and there are so many variations. In the mood for something super savory and spicy? Roll up some spicy beef. Or if you’re looking for something fresh and fruity? Veggie rolls with mangos will solve that craving. I have even put crispy tonkatsu inside. Heck, we love spring rolls so much that we made them while camping. Our love for rolls runs deep.

lemongrass beef salad rolls - www.iamafoodblog.com

What are spring rolls?

Super healthy and easy to make Vietnamese spring rolls, or gỏi cuốn, are a traditional dish that usually contains pork, prawns, vegetables, and vermicelli wrapped up into a roll made with rice paper. There are literally thousands of variations and they’re completely adaptable and customizable. They’re served fresh with a sauce for dipping, either a mixed fish sauce or a peanut sauce. You can have them for lunch, dinner, snacks, or as appetizers.

Spring rolls go by many names: gỏi cuốn (which means salad rolls) and nem cuốn (which means meat rolls), rice paper rolls, summer rolls, Vietnamese rolls, crystal rolls, soft rolls, cold rolls, and fresh rolls.

salad rolls | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is rice paper?

Rice paper, known as bánh tráng in in Vietnamese, is a edible wrapper made from rice (and sometimes tapioca) flour. They’re sold dehydrated and you rehydrate them at home in water before using them. They’re used for spring rolls, imperial rolls, in salads, and grilled as rice crackers. They come in all different sizes and as well as the common round ones they sell squares, triangles, and half circles too. We like to keep them in the package and only take a few out at a time since they curl when exposed to air.

Our favorite brands of rice paper are: Three Ladies, Rose Brand, and May.

rice paper | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to prepare rice paper

The best way to prepare rice paper is to have a large shallow bowl of hot tap water. Take a sheet of rice paper and dip it in the water so it’s completely submerged and remove it immediately. Lay it to a plate or cutting board and let it sit for 5-10 seconds where it will rehydrate and become pliable and soft.

dipping rice paper | www.iamafoodblog.com

Tips for soaking rice paper

  • Don’t overdo it. You don’t want to soak your rice paper or it will become soggy and disintegrate or become very fragile making it extremely difficult to roll.
  • Dip. All you need to do is take the sheet of rice paper, dip it in, making sure the rice paper is submerged and then take it out and lay it flat. The water that clings to the rice paper will rehydrate it completely. Don’t listen to the blog posts out there that tell you to soak rice paper for 10-15 seconds – you’ll end up with a soggy mess!
  • You don’t need boiling hot water. Use hot tap water or even just warm water. If your water is too hot the rice paper will become too soft.
  • Look at the ingredients. If you’re having trouble with wrapping up your spring rolls, look at the ingredients on your rice paper package. Rice paper with tapioca in it has more give and chewiness (like boba!) so it’s easier to wrap. Rice paper make from 100% rice is a little bit more difficult for beginners to work with.
  • Use a large shallow bowl or rimmed baking sheet. It’s easier to slide rice paper into a shallow bowl of water as opposed to a regular bowl, so hold the rice paper and just turn to dip it in the water. Alternatively, you can get one of these rice paper holders/water dipping bowls. They’re upright so all you do is dip the rice paper in and rotate it in the water.

making goi cuon | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to roll spring rolls

Rolling a spring roll is super similar to rolling a burrito so if you’ve done that before you’re going to be great at it.

  1. Dip. Take your sheet of rice paper and dip it into water, then immediately remove and place on a flat surface, either a plate or cutting board. The rice paper won’t be completely soft yet, but will rehydrate as you arrange your ingredients.
  2. Arrange. Place your fillings on the bottom third of the rice paper. Pro tip, what you put down first will be visible on the outside of the roll.
  3. Fold. Fold the bottom up and over the filling, holding it down then fold the sides in towards the center, covering the filling.
  4. Roll. Roll up from the bottom to the top, tucking and rolling, dip and enjoy!

Fun fact! Did you know which way you roll your salad rolls says something about your personality? According to Mike’s parents, if you roll your rolls towards you, it means you’re more selfish and if you roll your rolls away from you you’re more giving.

making spring rolls | www.iamafoodblog.com

Spring roll ingredients

Protein

The best thing to do for protein is marinate it and fry it. Lots of spring roll recipes out there are just boiled/pan-fried protein but the way to layer flavors is to marinate your protein before cooking it. Our favorite is a classic sweet and spicy lemongrass marinade. It works great on all proteins and tastes absolutely amazing! Make the marinade, add your protein (seafood, chicken, pork, beef, tofu), marinate for 1 hour minimum, then simply pan fry or grill.

fried lemongrass beef | www.iamafoodblog.com

Vegetables

Think leafy greens like green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, iceberg lettuce, cabbage, spinach, etc. Crunchy/firm vegetables work too, just make sure to cut them into sticks: cucumbers, carrots, peppers, radish, daikon.

red leaf lettuce | www.iamafoodblog.com

Fruit

Things like sliced mango, peaches, or avocado can add a light sweetness to your rolls. Crunchy fruits like julienned apples, pears, or apple pears are good too.

salad roll fillings | www.iamafoodblog.com

Herbs

Herbs are absolutely essential. At the bare minimum you need cilantro and basil, preferably Thai basil. We also like mint and shiso. Scallions are good too. There are a whole other bunch of Vietnamese herbs you can get too – if you have a Vietnamese grocery store in your town, they should have a large selection.

thai basil | www.iamafoodblog.com

Noodles

When we’re making salad rolls at home we rarely use noodles, instead we prefer to fill our rolls with vegetables, but if you are going to be using noodles, thin vermicelli is what you want. Just cook it according to the package directions, drain and rinse well.

rice vermicelli | www.iamafoodblog.com

What to dip your salad rolls in

Fish sauce vinaigrette

This is our preferred dip of choice: sweet, sour, salty and full of flavor.

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, crush together 1 clove garlic, 1 Thai chili (optional), and 1-2 tbsp sugar. Stir in 1 cup water, the juice of 1/2 lime, and 2 tbsp fish sauce. Mix until the sugar dissolves. More on nuoc mam here.

goi cuon with fish sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

Peanut sauce

Creamy and nutty, you can make this with peanut butter or like we do: almond butter.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tbsp hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter (or other nut butter),1 tbsp lime juice, 1 minced clove garlic, and 1-2 tbsp water. If you want it spicy, stir in sambal oelak to taste.

Hoisin sauce

Keep it simple and just serve up with some hoisin amped up with lime, garlic, and a bit of sugar.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, the juice of 1/2 lime, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1-2 tbsp water.

Can you make spring rolls ahead of time?

You can but the rice paper won’t taste as fresh and they tend to get a bit firm. If you want to make them ahead of time, make sure you individually wrap each roll in plastic wrap otherwise they’ll dry out. If you try to leave them together they’ll stick together and tear so individually wrapping is the only way to go. They will keep in the fridge, individually wrapped and put in a covered container for up to 3 days.

salad rolls | www.iamafoodblog.com

spring rolls recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Spring Rolls

Authentic super healthy and easy to make fresh Vietnamese spring rolls.
Serves 12 rolls
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Ingredients

Protein

  • 1 lb chicken thinly sliced, or other protein of choice such as sirloin, pork shoulder, whole shrimp, or firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 stalk lemongrass minced
  • 1 Thai bird’s eye chili sliced, optional
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp oil

Rolls

  • 12 rice paper round preferred
  • 12-24 leaves lettuce red or green leaf preferred
  • 1/2 English cucumber julienned
  • 12 sprigs cilantro
  • 24 leaves mint
  • 24 leaves Thai basil optional
  • 2 bundles rice vermicelli optional

Instructions

  • At least 1 hour before (overnight is better), marinate the protein: crush 1 tablespoon of sugar, the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and Thai chili (if using) in a mortar and pestle. Combine with your protein of choice with the fish sauce, oyster sauce, and oil. Mix well, then cover and store in the fridge.
    marinated lemongrass chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add a bit of oil to a skillet and fry your protein until well charred on both sides, in batches, depending on your skillet size. Remove from the pan.
    fried lemongrass beef | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • One at a time, dip the rice paper into a bowl of warm tap water. Lay it out on a flat surface.
    dipping rice paper | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • To the bottom third of the round, add a leaf or two of lettuce, then the protein, a small amount of vermicelli, vegetables, and herbs.
    making salad rolls | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Fold up the bottom of the rice paper wrapper up and over the filling.
    making goi cuon | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Fold in the two sides over the filling.
    making spring rolls | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Roll up, from the bottom of the roll towards the top, tucking and rolling. Repeat as needed and enjoy dipped in your sauce of choice.
    spring rolls | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

Estimated nutrition assumes chicken breast as the protein.

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Spring Rolls
Amount Per Serving (1 roll)
Calories 123 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 0.01g0%
Cholesterol 24mg8%
Sodium 250mg11%
Potassium 183mg5%
Carbohydrates 19.4g6%
Fiber 0.2g1%
Sugar 2.3g3%
Protein 8.5g17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

2 Comments

  1. ES says:

    Hello, thank you for this great post! My local Vietnamese restaurant includes a “crisp stick” in the spring roll. What is this? And where can I get it?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi, the crisp stick is usually a rolled up egg roll wrapper that’s been deep fried! you can make them at home by rolling up egg roll wrappers and shallow frying. you can use wonton skins too. i haven’t seen them sold commercially.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating