Food

How to Make Perfectly Crispy, Golden Spring Rolls

BY Kristina Cho TIMEMarch 4, 2022 PRINT

Crispy, golden, fried spring rolls are the perfect appetizer. I particularly love an excellent vegetarian spring roll because everyone can enjoy them. Plus, it’s nice to sneak in some veggies. A blend of produce with varying textures and flavors will provide textural excitement in each roll so you won’t miss the meat at all.

The key to wrapping the perfect spring roll starts with the filling. It needs to be flavorful, yes, but it also can’t be too wet. A soggy filling will lead to a soggy spring roll, which will ultimately burst and break when you fry it. Vegetables naturally have a lot of water in them, so to draw that moisture out and develop some more complex flavors, we need to cook them. At one point, the pan will look quite soupy—don’t panic. Keep cooking the filling until nearly all that moisture has cooked off.

What’s in a Vegetarian Spring Roll?

A variety of vegetables will give the spring roll filling contrasting textures and flavors.

Cabbage: Shredded cabbage will bulk up the filling and soak up a lot of flavor from the seasoning and sauces.

Portobello mushrooms: Thick slices of mushrooms will cook down into juicy and meaty pieces, providing a slight chew in the filling that mimics the qualities of meat.

Carrots: Carrot matchsticks stay hearty when cooked and lend a little sweetness to the filling.

Bell peppers: Thinly sliced bell peppers add a nice pop of color and sweetness to balance the savory sauces in the filling.

What Type of Wrappers Do You Need?

Spring rolls are made with a thin, wheat-based wrapper. You may find other wrappers labeled similarly but that are actually made of rice paper. You can still deep-fry rice paper wrappers, but the cooking technique is a little different, and rolling them is more delicate.

Egg roll wrappers are also wheat-based, but they are typically thicker and made with flour and egg which will cause the dough to blister when fried.

To Serve

I always serve spring rolls with a bowl of sweet chili sauce for dipping. The bright and slightly sweet sauce is a perfect complement to the dough and savory vegetables. If you’re interested in something a little spicier, dip the spring rolls in your favorite chile oil instead.

Spring Rolls

Serves 18

  • 18 fresh or frozen lumpia or spring roll wrappers (not egg roll wrappers)
  • 3 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage (11 to 12 ounces)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper (about 8 ounces)
  • 3 large carrots (about 6 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 medium scallions
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 to 6 cups neutral oil, such as vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • Sweet chili sauce, for serving

If needed, thaw the frozen lumpia or spring roll wrappers in the refrigerator until you can separate the sheets, about 3 hours.

Trim the stems from the portobello mushrooms and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut the cabbage into thin shreds until you have 8 cups. Trim the bell pepper and cut into matchsticks. Peel and cut the carrots into matchsticks.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, cabbage, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage wilts down by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add bell peppers and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the soy sauce,  Sriracha, toasted sesame oil, and ground white pepper. Toss to combine and continue to cook until there’s no more moisture in the pan, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Let cool completely, 30 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the white and green parts of the scallions.

Add the scallions to the vegetable mixture and toss to combine. (You should have about 4 packed cups filling.) Place the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir to combine. Remove the spring roll wrappers from the package and place on a work surface or plate. Cover with a damp paper towel to keep from drying out. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Place 1 wrapper on the work surface in a diamond shape (keep the remaining wrappers covered with the towel). Place about 1/3 cup of the filling across the center of the wrapper and form into a 4-inch-long log. Fold the left and right sides of the wrapper tightly over the filling. Dip a finger into the cornstarch mixture and dab onto the top corner of the wrapper. Roll from the bottom up into a tight log. Place on a cutting board or plate. Repeat, assembling the remaining spring rolls. If making ahead, you can freeze the filled spring rolls at this point.

Heat enough neutral oil to come up 1 to 1 1/2 inches up the sides of a large pot over medium-high heat until 370 degrees F (about 5 to 6 cups). Meanwhile, fit a wire rack over a baking sheet.

Fry batches of 3 to 4: Add the springs rolls to the hot oil and fry until golden-brown all over, turning with chopsticks or tongs as needed, 2 to 3 minutes total. Transfer to the wire rack. Serve with sweet chili sauce.

Recipe Notes

This recipe utilizes wheat-based spring roll wrappers. Some rice paper wrappers are also labeled as “spring roll wrappers,” but you don’t want to use those for this recipe.

The filling can be made up to few days in advance and refrigerated. The cooler the filling, the easier it will be to wrap the spring rolls.

The spring rolls can be also be assembled up to one day ahead and refrigerated wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, or frozen solid and then stored in a zip-top bag for up to two months. Fry frozen spring rolls directly from frozen for about the same amount of time.

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days. Reheat in the oven, air fryer, or toaster oven.

Kristina Cho
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