Loaded with fresh and vibrant vegetables, these wholesome rolls are as refreshing as they are colorful. Healthy and customizable, these easy summer rolls can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer or entrée!
💕Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:
- It’s clean eating and gluten-free.
- These rolls are loaded with fresh herbs and wholesome veggies of your choosing.
- They are customizable and make for a great buffet style DIY dinner option.
- Making these rolls take little to no time to make.
- No cooking is involved (if using a precooked protein).
- You can enjoy it as a main meal or as a side or appetizer.
- They’re so pretty! I mean really, the freshness and rainbow of veggie colors are so attractive to look at.
- You can pair it with and of your favorite sauces from a spicy soy, to a sweet chili sauce or peanut sauce or even a unagi or teriyaki sauce.
So What are Summer Rolls?🥬🥕🥒🌶️🍤🌿
Also known as Salad Rolls, Crystal Rolls, or more commonly, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Summer Rolls are Vietnamese in origin and are made by filling quick-soaked rice paper wrappers (known as bánh tráng) with fresh herbs, vegetables and a protein (usually shrimp or pork) and rolling it into a log that can be eaten whole or sliced and dipped in any sauce of your choosing.
There are two versions of the summer roll.
- The unfried version (like I’m making today) is known as gỏi cuốn and
- The deep fried version is known as chả giò and it can be made using either rice paper or, more commonly, thin sheets of wheat dough, like wanton wrappers. This version is closer to the American-style eggroll. It tends to be filled with a mixture of seasoned raw ground pork and mung bean noodles.
It’s important to note that while you can deep fry the rice paper, the result won’t be nearly as crispy and shell-like compared to using a wheat-based wrapper. More to that your wrapper and filling may not stand up well to being fried. So overall, I do not recommend deep frying your summer rolls.
Summer Rolls -VS- Spring Rolls?
The main difference between summer rolls and spring rolls are the type of wrapper used.⚪🟡
Vietnamese in origin, Summer Rolls are made using a rice paper wrapper that is quick-soaked to make it pliable and filled and rolled. It typically isn’t cooked and can be enjoyed cold as soon as it’s rolled. The texture of the summer roll is soft with a slight chew from the rice paper wrapper.
On the other hand, Spring rolls are Chinese in origin and are made using a paper-thin wheat flour and water-based wrapper. Once filled, the roll is then deep fried to produce a cooked, crunchy exterior shell that is served hot. Alternatively, the Americanized version, the Eggroll, is made by adding egg to the dough for the wrapper which results in a roll that has a darker, crunchier and bubbled surface once fried.
Are Summer Rolls Healthy?
In short, yes!
The rice paper wrappers are the perfect blank canvas. They are near tasteless, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, low in calories (approx. 33 calories) and has about 7g of carbs per sheet. They only need to be soaked in warm water so no added oils or fats are required. Then of course comes the filling; stuffed full of fresh and colorful veggies and wholesome (lean) proteins, these rolls and are packed with nutrients, minerals and vitamins making them a healthy snack, appetizer or meal option!
Here’s What I’m Using for My Summer Rolls Today:
- Rice Paper Wrappers: My rice paper wrappers are 9″ rounds. Depending on your wrapper size, you’ll need to adjust your filling to match.
- Bell Peppers: For color variety I’m using red, yellow and green peppers.
- Broccoli Slaw: In place of the more traditional noodles, I’m using some broccoli slaw.
- Greens: You can use any greens of your choice from microgreens to spring mix to lettuce. Today I’m using butter lettuce.
- Lean Grilled Chicken: I highly recommend using either my Copycat Chick-fil-a Grilled Chicken recipe or my Easy Pan-Seared Chicken recipe.
You essentially want to julienne (cut into thin strips) all your fillings except for your leafy greens and fresh herbs. This makes it very easy to portion and fill your rolls. It’s also important to have this step done and prepped before you start assembling your rolls.
Other Filling Ideas:
- Precooked rice noodles.
- Fresh herbs: mint, basil, cilantro leaves are great choices.
- Sesame Seeds: sprinkle the surface of your soaked wrappers with toasted black and white sesame seeds before filling for a speckled and textured roll.
- Spinach leaves.
- Sliced avocado.
- Red cabbage.
- Beets or Radishes: Julienned or sliced thinly into rounds.
- Shrimp: pre-boiled and sliced in half/butterflied. Or you can use make and use these Easy Chipotle Shrimp.
- Crab meat.
- Tofu: cut into strips and pan-fried.
- Pork or Beef: thin strips of seasoned and pan-fried beef or pork. A great option is to toss the meat in a light coating of a sauce or marinade like my Soy Sauce and Pineapple Beef Strips or a teriyaki sauce.
These rolls are easily customizable to suit any diet so opt to fill your rolls with any vegetable and herb of your choosing and use your preferred protein choice (such as tofu or any other clean label plant protein) to make these rolls vegan/vegetarian friendly.
Here’s how easy it is to make these rolls:
- You’ll need a dish of warm water in which you can submerge your wrappers (one at a time) in for 3-5 seconds. Do not just dump your wrapper in and walk away, you don’t want to over soak them.
- Once you’ve soaked a single wrapper, place it flat onto your clean work surface and allow it to rest for 30-45 seconds until it softens and looks like image 2 (above).
- Place your leafy greens down just slightly lower than the middle of the wrapper, this acts as a base on which we’ll put our other fillings.
- Layer in a few strips of veggies (carrots, bell peppers, cucumber) on top of the greens.
- Add the noodles/broccoli slaw and your protein. If you’re using shrimp, you can reserve them for the next step.
- Fold the bottom of the round over the filling. If using shrimp, you can place 3-4 pieces on top of the piece of rice paper you just folded over.
- Fold in the sides to secure your filling.
- With the bottom and sides folded in, roll your roll upwards to finish sealing all your filling in.
Tips to Ensure Summer Roll Success:
- Make your rolls one at a time: Keep the rice paper wrappers dry until you’re ready to use them and once you are work with them one at a time. DO NOT SUBMERGE ALL THE SHEETS AT ONCE. If you do this they will all stick together and you won’t be able to use them.
- Don’t make them too far in advance: For the best results, consume your rolls within an hour of making them. These rolls don’t do well to sitting out or being made in advance as the wrappers will harden and become tough and chewy.
- Don’t oversoak! Soak your rice paper wrappers for no more than 3-5 seconds in warm water. Oversoaking will make your wrappers gummy and sticky and hard to work with.
- Let your wrappers rest for 30-45 seconds once you dip them in water and place them onto your work surface to allow them to soften and become pliable enough to work with.
- Work on a nonporous surface: Place your rice paper wrappers on a smooth nonporous surface (like plastic, ceramic, marble, granite, etc.) to prevent it from sticking. Avoid placing it on wooden boards.
- Minimize liquids in the roll: Don’t pre-sauce your rolls, the liquid will seep to the wrapper and make it soggy and gummy.
- Don’t add piping hot protein to the roll: Ensure your add-ins are either chilled or room temperature to prevent the wrappers from getting gummy or soggy.
You can opt for any dipping sauce that best complements your rolls and your selected protein. Some options include:
- Spicy Soy: Made using soy sauce, honey, and Chinese hot oil. This is my sauce pairing of choice for today’s recipe.
- Satay/Peanut Sauce: Made using a combination of peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, chili sauce, and other optional add-ins like tamarind sauce, coconut milk, fish sauce or curry powder.
- Sweet Chili Sauce: Made using sambal oelek, chili flakes, soy sauce, rice vinegar, raw cane sugar, garlic and ginger and cooked down into a thick sauce.
- Spicy Mayo: Made by combining Mayonnaise with Siracha and a touch of sesame oil.
- Chili Lime Sauce: Made using chili peppers, garlic, lime juice, raw cane sugar and salt.
And there you have it, easy and simple summer rolls that are the perfect blank canvas for customization. What sorts of filling combinations do you enjoy in your rolls? 🤔 Let us know in the comments below!
Healthy and Fresh Summer Rolls
- 12 9" rice paper wrappers
- 1/2 large red bell pepper julienned
- 1/2 large yellow bell pepper julienned
- 1/2 large green bell pepper julienned
- 1 large carrots julienned
- 1 medium cucumber julienned
- 1 cup broccoli slaw (or precooked rice noodles)
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts seasoned, grilled and cut into thin slices
- 6 large lettuce leaves divided (or any green of your choosing)
- Ensure that all ingredients are sliced and prepped before you begin making your rolls.
- Fill a large plate or dish with warm, almost hot, water. Working with one rice wrapper at a time, submerge a rice paper wrapper into the water for 3-5 seconds. Lift it out, shake off any excess water and place it flat onto your clean work surface and allow it to rest for 30-45 seconds until it softens.
- Place your leafy greens down just slightly lower than the middle of the wrapper, and layer in a few strips of veggies (carrots, bell peppers, cucumber) on top of the greens.
- Add the noodles/broccoli slaw and your protein. If you're using (butterflied) shrimp, you can reserve them for the next step.
- Fold the bottom of the rice paper round over the filling — If using shrimp (and fresh herbs), you can place 3-4 pieces on top of the piece of rice paper you just folded over — Fold in the sides and roll your roll upwards to finish sealing all your filling in.
- Place your roll onto a clean plate while you make all rolls and enjoy within an hour of making them for the best results. To serve slice your roll in half using a sharp knife and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
- These rolls are perfect for customization from the greens, vegetables, herbs, protein and dipping sauce! This dish is a great opportunity to experiment and make it yours.
- Keep your wrappers dry until you're ready to make your roll. Do not submerge all your wrappers into the water at once, they will stick together into an unusable clump.
- Do not let your wrapper sit in the water for too long as it will get oversaturated and be difficult to work with.
- Freshly made, your rolls' wrappers will be sticky/tacky so avoid jamming or stacking your rolls together until they've set and dried out a bit (about 10 minutes after filling and rolling them).
- These rolls are best enjoyed within an hour of making them. I do not recommend frying or freezing them.