How to Make Spring Rolls (and Why!)

It's time to rock and (spring) roll. Learn how with this step-by-step guide.

By Nicole Doster, Digital Associate Editor and Peggy Woodward, Food Editor

Three spring rolls sitting on a serving platter beside a small cup of sauce

When you think of a spring roll, what comes to mind? Hint: If you're dreaming about that deep-fried find in your Chinese takeout, you're mistaken. Those are egg rolls! I'm talking about their close—and less-calorie-laden—cousin. Originating in southeast Asia, fresh spring rolls are a popular bite of fresh vegetables sliced into matchsticks and bundled in rice paper. (I love how the wrappers are translucent, so you can take a peek at the colorful flavors inside!) Typically served cold alongside a dipping sauce, they're crispy, crunchy and delicious.

You can make spring rolls any time, despite their name. But they're fun to enjoy in spring, when all the fresh ingredients you miss over the winter come back.

Ready to give it a try? Follow along as the Taste of Home Test Kitchen guides you step by step through our favorite spring roll recipe. On your marks....slice, bundle and roll!

How to Make Spring Rolls

You'll Need:

2 cups thinly sliced romaine

1-1/2 cups cubed cooked pork

1 cup thinly sliced fresh spinach

3/4 cup julienned carrot

1/3 cup thinly sliced celery

1/3 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon sesame oil

12 round rice paper wrappers (8 inches)

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup wasabi-coated green peas

Sesame ginger salad dressing

Various vegetables being stirred together in a large glass bowl

Step 1: Prep the filling

Take out your cutting board and begin with the romaine, spinach, carrot and celery. Use a chef's knife (or mandolin, if you have one) to julienne the vegetables. "Julienne" is the French term for cutting something into very thin slices, about the size of matchsticks. This technique makes the pieces small enough to fit in your roll, and ensures that you get a bit of everything in each bite. Roughly chop the cherries and dice the ham into tiny cubes.

Place the ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with sesame oil. Give it a toss to coat.

Test Kitchen Tip: With any spring roll recipe, it's important to prepare your filling first. In the next step we'll be dipping the rice paper in water. Once wet, the wrapper will harden quickly and become more difficult to roll. Gotta get that filling ready to move!

A sheet of rice paper being carefully held up after being dipped in a shallow dish of water

Step 2: Prep the rice paper

Now let's get to work with the wrapper. It's likely that the rice paper you bought looks like a thin, brittle disc—but don't worry—we're going to soften it to wrap your spring rolls. Start by filling a large, shallow dish partway with water. Take a single sheet of rice paper and dip it into the water until it just starts to soften. This should take 15-20 seconds.

Test Kitchen Tip: If rice paper is dipped in water for too long, it becomes too limp and sticky to use and the wrapper will collapse on itself. (I learned this the hard way the first time I tried to use rice paper! It wasn't a minute until my oversoaked wrappers became a sticky mess.)

Remove the rice wrapper from the water and place on a flat surface. Wait a minute or two to begin rolling, as the rice paper will fully soften in this time. Since it's best to create spring rolls one at a time, skip to Step 3 before soaking your next wrapper.

Chopped vegetables and sliced nuts piled high onto a flat piece of rice paper With all the ingredients in place, the rice paper is carefully curled around its fillings

Step 3: Wrap and roll

When the rice paper has softened, layer a quarter of the filling along with the almonds and peas in a strip across the bottom third of the wrapper. Leave some room at the edges. Fold in both ends of the wrapper inward, then fold the bottom edge over the filling. Roll it up tightly and place on your serving plate with the seam side down. Repeat, starting with step 2, until you're finished with the filling.

Test Kitchen Tip: If your spring roll feels sticky, don't stress! Spring rolls are meant to have a soft and slightly sticky texture.

Four spring rolls sitting on a serving platter beside a small cup of sauce

Step 4: Enjoy

That's a wrap! Pour the dressing into a ramekin and serve. It's best to eat spring rolls right after they're made.

Test Kitchen Tip: If you're planning on serving spring rolls at a party, prep the filling the night before. Then wrap the rolls right before the event.

Customize Your Spring Rolls

Now that you know the basics for making a classic spring roll, it's time to tweak the recipe to your liking. Experiment with fun and creative flavors from the farmer's market. Got a bumper crop of cilantro? Toss it into the mix. Want to add a different protein like shrimp or chicken. Add it right in. The key is to fill each rice-wrapped roll with about 1/3 cup of filling. Looking for inspiration? Try these sweet ideas:

  • Zesty Mango Spring Rolls: Sriracha, mango and avocado give this spring roll recipe a spicy twist.
  • Strawberry Spring Rolls: Stuff thinly sliced spinach, chopped strawberries and crumbled feta in your roll. Drizzle with honey and enjoy.
  • Caribbean Vacation Spring Rolls: Try this recipe for a snack that's bursting with juicy mandarins and island spice.