You know what my kids request at least 75% of the time when I ask them what they want for dinner? These spring rolls. And I’ll tell you what, this is a genius recipe for when everyone is eating at different times (raise your hand if you’re in spring sports season hell ????????♀️), and when the weather is so warm you don’t have any interest in turning on the oven. No cooking (unless heating up water counts?), lots of vegetables, lots of flexibility. What could be better?
Here’s how to start. Heat up water in your tea kettle (you want very hot, not boiling) and pour it over a package of dried rice noodles in a bowl. After 10-15 minutes, the noodles will be softened, and you can drain them. Meanwhile, slice up the veggies of your choice: sweet peppers, avocados, cucumbers, lettuce. Tear up some fresh mint or cilantro. Slice cooked shrimp in half. Put all the fillings on a plate and let your kids decide how they want to fill their spring rolls.
When you’re ready, fill a cookie sheet with sides or a quarter sheet pan with about half an inch of water. Put one spring roll wrapper in at a time and swirl it around for about 15 seconds. Then take it out and put it on a cutting board to fill. It will soften up more after you take it out of the water. Put your fillings on the bottom third of the wrapper, then fold the bottom 2 inches or so over the filling.
Tuck in the two sides so it looks like an envelope, and then roll up. The wrapper will stick to itself as you roll it.
Slice in half, and voila, completely kid-friendly spring rolls! My kids prefer to eat it as is, but I like a dipping sauce. This sauce recipe is super-fast to throw together, so if you forget about it until you are about to take a bite, no problem.
- Most, if not all, of these ingredients can be found at any grocery store with a good Asian section. Many ingredients can also be ordered on Amazon as well!
- Make sure you get spring roll wrappers, not egg roll wrappers. Spring roll wrappers are made from thin, translucent rice paper, and will soften dramatically in water. The spring roll wrappers I usually use are Blue Dragon brand, and are called Spring Roll Wrappers: Classic Vietnamese Rice Pancakes for Spring Rolls.
- Look for rice sticks or rice vermicelli noodles, not cellophane noodles. Cellophane noodles may look similar when they are dry, but they are made from mung bean starch rather than rice flour, and are translucent when they are cooked.
- My recipe calls for an English cucumber, the ones that are usually plastic-wrapped in the produce department. Of course, you can use any cucumber, but I like the English ones because they are almost seedless and have thin skin (so you don’t need to peel them).
- The dipping sauce in this recipe is super easy if you keep some of these Asian condiment basics in your pantry, as I do. (You should!) Spring rolls are also delicious with peanut sauce or Vietnamese nuoc cham.
- Full disclosure: this is an entirely Americanized version of a wonderful traditional Vietnamese dish. I make no claims on authenticity here, but I do love this easy version that can be put together without a special trip to an Asian market.
What is the difference between spring rolls and egg rolls?
There can be several differences between spring rolls and egg rolls, many of them regional. One of the biggest differences is the wrapper. Contrary to the spring roll wrappers described above, egg roll wrappers are made from eggs and flour and are thicker. In addition, egg rolls are always fried, while spring rolls can be fried or not. When they are not fried, as with this recipe, they are also known as summer rolls.
Can you make spring rolls ahead of time?
Have you ever had the experience of buying packaged spring rolls at a grocery store and finding them tough and rubbery to eat? Well that’s what long refrigeration does to spring rolls. If you make them at home, there is no problem in leaving them in the fridge for a few hours, and I’ve actually found that they are decent the next day, though not as tender as the day you made them. In general, I’d recommend making them a few hours in advance at most. If you want to eat them two days in a row, it’s easy to just package up all the fillings and wait to soak the wrappers and fill until the next day.
If you’re looking for other kid-pleasing family dinners, check out my Creamy Orzo Chicken with Red Peppers and Mushrooms and Bacon, Broccoli, and Cheddar Frittata.
Fresh Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Fresh spring rolls filled with rice noodles, fresh vegetables, shrimp, and herbs make an easy dinner sure to please everyone at your table.
- 1 package rice sticks or rice vermicelli (around 6-8 oz)
- 1 red or orange bell pepper
- 1 avocado
- 1 english cucumber
- 8 oz cooked shrimp
- 1 c. lettuce, torn in small pieces
- mint or cilantro leaves, torn into small pieces (optional)
- 8-12 spring roll wrappers
- dipping sauce:
- 2 T. soy sauce
- 1 T. rice vinegar
- 1/2 t. sesame oil
- 1/4 t. chili oil
Heat about 6 cups of water on the stove, in a teakettle, or in the microwave until very hot, but not boiling.
Take the noodles out of the package and put in a large bowl, then cover with the very hot water. Soak for as long as the package tells you to, about 10-15 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, core and seed the pepper and cut into thin slices.
Core the avocado, and thinly slice.
Cut the cucumber in quarters, then slice thinly.
Cut each shrimp in half through its center, so that you have two equal halves that both have one entirely flat side—like cutting a bagel.
Put the vegetables, shrimp, lettuce, and herbs onto a large plate or cutting board so that each diner can choose how they’d like to fill their spring roll.
When all the ingredients are prepared, fill a quarter sheet pan or a cookie sheet with sides with water (you need something wide and long enough to fit a spring roll wrapper).
Soak one wrapper at a time for about 15 seconds, then move to a plate or cutting board to wrap and fill.
Place a thick line of rice noodles on the wrapper a couple of inches from the bottom, then cover the noodles with veggies, shrimp, and herbs as desired.
Fold up the bottom part of the circle over the fillings, then fold over each side so it looks like an envelope. Then roll up completely.
To make the dipping sauce, stir together all sauce ingredients. Serve with the spring rolls.
You can make these spring rolls a few hours in advance if necessary and keep them in the refrigerator. The wrappers will become tough and rubbery if kept in the refrigerator for more than a day, and they are much better on the day you make them.