How to Roll Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls – A Photo Tutorial

by White on Rice Couple on August 26, 2012

Since writing my first Fresh Spring Roll tutorial back in 2008, I’ve received many more questions about how to roll and store spring rolls successfully. So I’ve been meaning to update my tutorial with better photos and more precise instructions. Voila, four years later, I’ve finally made it happen!

Eating fresh Vietnamese spring rolls (summer rolls) is a favorite dish that I grew up with and one dish that I absolutely love sharing with my friends. Todd and I have frequent spring roll parties where we grill fresh meats and vegetables, roll spring rolls and stuff ourselves for hours. Once everyone understands how to use rice paper and roll correctly, it’s an easy skill that everyone takes back home to their kitchen to share with their family and friends.

Here is my tutorial on how to roll fresh rice paper spring rolls. Everyone has a different method, I understand this, so always be open to learning different ways to roll spring rolls. This is just how Todd and I have taught our Spring Roll cooking classes over the last four years with successful results from our students.

Gather your ingredients: (you can use many ingredients, this is just a basic example of rolling a vegetarian spring roll)

Mis-en-place is very important for spring rolling success. Have all your ingredients, washed and prepped before rolling.

Left photo: An important element of a great spring rolls is having a “crunch” or  firm structure in the center. Some ingredients that give great “crunch” and firm structure are : carrots, celery, jicama, cucumbers, bean sprouts. Right photo: Fresh lettuce and herbs provide the fresh bite. In my humble opinion, fresh herbs are mandatory for fresh Vietnamese spring rolls: any type of mint, basil, cilantro or your favorite selection of Vietnamese Herbs.

Noodles: Some rice paper spring rolls will have rice noodles or cellophane glass noodles. Traditional Vietnamese shrimp and pork spring rolls that you will find at Vietnamese restaurants will have noodles. Cook noodles to package instructions.

The noodles are nice fillers and add body to the spring rolls. Normally I don’t add noodles to my daily spring rolls because it makes the spring rolls more filling and I enjoy eating my spring rolls filled with extra vegetables.

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Working with Rice Paper Wrappers- Spring roll rice paper wrappers are available in various sizes and thickness. Sizes range tremendously, so spring rolls can be small bite sized rolls to larger, longer rolls. Select the size that works best for you. Though rice paper thickness will vary as well, the difference isn’t very significant. You just have to dip the rice paper in the water long enough to slightly soften it.

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Dip the Rice Paper in warm water. Rice paper is delicate and only needs a quick dip in warm water to soften. Do not “soak” the rice paper for too long because it will break down too quickly, making the rolling more difficult to roll.

Start with a large bowl of warm water, about bath water temperature. Rotate the rice paper in the bowl of water or quickly immerse it in the bowl for about 2 seconds.

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The rice paper should come out of the water still slightly firm and not fully folding on itself. Don’t worry if the rice paper might feel a little firm because once the rice paper lays on the rolling surface, it will continue to absorb the water on its surface and will become soft and GELATINOUS.  Lay wet rice paper on rolling surface. Just a note: some wood surfaces are very porous and will cause the rice paper to stick terribly. If this is the case with your wood board, try using  a plastic cutting board or large ceramic plate.

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Again, mise-en-place organization is very important. Lay down slightly firm rice paper on your rolling board and start assembling ingredients. During the time that you’ve assembled ingredients, the rice paper will become soft and gelatinous.

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Starting at top 1/3 of rice paper closest to you, lay lettuce first. I suggest this because this will avoid any sharp fillings to tear the soft rice paper. Make sure to lay the rice paper at the top 1/3 so that you have plenty of surface area left to roll. The more rotations of rice paper you have, the stronger the rice paper will be and less likely to puncture. Do not over-stuff your roll, start small then continue to add more fillings that works with your size rice paper.

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“Tuck and Roll”- This is a term we teach in our spring rolls classes. You want to have a firm roll.

Gently pull away the edge of wrapper from work surface and roll over the filling. At the same time, use your forefingers to gather and “tuck” fillings together under the wrapper. “Tucking” allows  you to keep all filings together and tight, so that the roll remains firm and straight.

Slowly start to roll away from you and “tuck” in your filling toward you to keep the roll tight. ** Notice my fingers and how I use them to keep the fillings together and tight.

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Roll about one rotation, then fold in the sides for “closed end” spring rolls. Continue to roll till rice paper ends, but remember to “tucking” ingredients together with your fingers.

** I will have a tutorial for rolling “open end” spring rolls later.

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Serving and storing- Eating these fresh as you roll them is best. The rice paper is soft and pliable and the spring roll is plump.

To store them, you can wrap them in plastic cling wrap for about 1-2 hours in a cool area before serving. But if you have perishable proteins like seafood and other meats, then you must store them in the fridge. The rice paper will get hard and possibly crack if you store the in the fridge for more than about 5 hours.

*** Note that storing the spring rolls stacked or side-by-side may cause spring rolls to stick and tear when separated. What I will do is to layer each row of spring rolls with plastic cling wrap so that the spring rolls are not touching.

*** For a few spring rolls for lunch, I will wrap each spring roll individually so that they remain fresh and won’t stick.

If you have any further questions, just ask below! But please read my tutorial first to make sure I haven’t answered it yet.

Have fun spring rolling!

-diane

Here are is a collection of Spring Roll recipes for you to enjoy.

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Averie @ Averie Cooks August 26, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I love making spring rolls at home and after you get the hang of it, i.e. overstuff a few and tear them and have rolling issues and the wrapper wrinkles all over itself, it gets finally gets easier :) Great tutorial and rolls & I’m craving one now!

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2 Cate August 27, 2012 at 2:54 am

So glad you guys posted this! I almost made some yesterday until I botched the batch of ultra fine rice vermicelli. These are definitely on the agenda for next week :)

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3 Cynthia A. August 27, 2012 at 5:35 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you. From now on I promise not to overstuff or put hard crunchy foods near the surface. Much appreciated.

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4 Shawnda August 27, 2012 at 5:45 am

The first time I made spring rolls was actually at your studio last fall! Such wonderful memories. We’ve had them so many times since then. Such an amazing combination of fresh, cool crunch. And it really fancies-up boring leftovers!

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5 @cookincanuck August 27, 2012 at 6:10 am

One of my favorite meals! RT @WhiteOnRice: How to roll fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls http://t.co/S7KHmyU4 (New post)

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6 Nadine Nelson via Facebook August 27, 2012 at 7:21 am

They are so wonderful and easy to make.

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7 @JenniferPerillo August 27, 2012 at 7:31 am

Mikey would’ve loved these Vietnamese Spring Rolls from @whiteonrice! http://t.co/TJBBiznF

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8 Alyssa | Queen of Quinoa August 27, 2012 at 7:39 am

Thank you!! This is so helpful. I always have the sticking problem with my spring rolls. Do you ever make them using nori as well? Would love to experiment making quinoa spring rolls and nori and rice paper. Haven’t done it successfully yet, but this tutorial is definitely helpful :)

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9 White on Rice Couple August 27, 2012 at 8:00 am

Hi Alyssa- Using cling wrap to separate the layers or stacks of spring rolls will make a huge difference for you!
Nori is unique on it’s own and I wouldn’t ever combine the two: rice paper and nori. Nori has it’s own, different texture and so does rice paper. So I would rather appreciate each wrapper on it’s own.
One would be a Japanese inspired hand roll and the other a Vietnamese inspired spring roll!

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10 Clare Kleinedler via Facebook August 27, 2012 at 7:46 am

I need this, mine always end up looking like a very skinny person in a very large sleeping bag!

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11 LiztheChef August 27, 2012 at 8:06 am

Very clearly demonstrated, but not as much fun as when we did it together in your gorgeous studio!

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12 Diane, A Broad August 27, 2012 at 8:52 am

Great tutorial! I was just thinking about picking up some wrappers to make my first spring rolls ever, so this was extremely helpful and encouraging.

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13 TheKitchenWitch August 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

I’ll never forget watching you make these and realizing, “Dammit! So that’s why my rice paper is always floppy and hard to handle; I’m soaking it too long!” You changed my spring roll life!

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14 Katy August 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Thank you for this! I ordered DIY spring rolls in a Vietnamese restaurant in France last year, but got no real instruction on how to construct them! The were really tasty, but extremely messy, and although I brought some of the wrappers back to the UK (as Vietnamese food stuffs are hard to find here) I hadn’t plucked up the courage to try them yet. I might just give them a go now :o)

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15 Jeanne August 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

So awesome! Thank you!

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16 Jade August 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Mmm! I love spring rolls, both fresh and deep fried! This is such a beautiful tutorial :) If I make too many, I also keep them fresh in the fridge by keeping them in an airtight container and laying wet paper towel on top, works like a charm :)

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17 Chantelle@themarketbasket August 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Cold rolls – the taste of summer! Yours look so colourful and fresh, I look forward to making these as summer approaches here in Australia.

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18 Shut Up and Cook August 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Too funny! I did these for my bday party this weekend along with Truffle Popcorn, Sesame Noodle Boxes served in little Chinese Takeout Containers, and Goat Cheese Crostini. These are indeed delicious…thanks for the photo tour…fun to see!

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19 @GreenteaDesign August 28, 2012 at 6:40 am

One of my favorite things.

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20 Megan August 28, 2012 at 11:23 am

I’ve never made spring rolls at home – but they are one of my all time favorite treats when I go out or when it’s warm out. Beautifully detailed thanks guys!

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21 Gerry @ Foodness Gracious August 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm

One of our favorite menu items but I should really make my own sometime..I feel some inspiration brewing!!
Cheers!

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22 Cathy/ShowFoodChef August 29, 2012 at 12:23 am

I make these a lot for catering lunch events and thought someone might like this tip for storing or transporting: I line a sheet pan with damp paper towels, cover that in plastic wrap. Then, I place the rolls (not touching) on the sheet pan, cover them with plastic wrap and top that with damp paper towels. These will keep several hours in the refrigerator without getting brittle. Loved your pictures, as always and a wonderful tutorial. :D

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23 Cynthia August 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

I love these spring rolls ever since I was introduced to them back in 2001.

A tip for storing that works for me as I am always greedy about these and make way more than I can consume as a meal. Immediately upon making the rolls, and wrapping them them individually in plastic wrap, I then wrap them again (individually) with heavily dampened kitchen towels such as Bounty, place into a tight-lid plastic container and refrigerate overnight.

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24 Mary August 30, 2012 at 10:02 am

Oh — this is great! I buy these fresh spring rolls way too often — couple times a week, and what a pleasure it will be to be able to make them! Thank you! Also for the pickle recipe that follows. Love that too, so much. Any chance on a dipping sauce?..

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25 White on Rice Couple August 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

Mary- the links with spring roll recipes I have in the post also have dipping sauces in them. Many of these sauces are versatile, so you can pair them with different fillings. As I add new recipes, I’ll be rounding them up on this page. Thank you and enjoy!

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26 @pitchforks August 30, 2012 at 11:10 am

We can roll blintzes, burritos, egg rolls but spring rolls have always been a challenge. No more.

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27 Peggy August 31, 2012 at 8:44 am

This is a great tutorial! I always assumed it was as easy as rolling lumpia, but it’s definitely a more delicate process with the rice paper instead of the wanton!

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28 Adriana @ FoodCocktail August 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Spring rolls are my favorites because they are so full of flavors and so versatile and I love them along with some sweet chilli sauce… yum!

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29 Connie September 1, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I was inspired to make spring rolls to take on a flight to Hawaii. Airport food is awful and we wanted something fresh, nutritious and importantly, one person has celiac disease so many obvious choices were out. I sauteed up some tofu and added lots of veg. One secret was that I made a peanut dipping sauce and drizzled some of that inside the lettuce before adding the remaining fillings. Wrapped them in moist paper towels and then into ziplock bags. They were a huge hit! I’d say they travelled pretty well as I made them the day before. There was only a little sticking. Next time, I’ll try the plastic wrap THEN moist paper towels as others suggested.

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30 White on Rice Couple September 2, 2012 at 8:33 am

Connie- that’s fantastic to hear that spring rolls were the perfect airport food. I also love taking these on travel, but on airplanes, I can’t bring my beloved fish sauce dip. ;) #stink

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31 Beth September 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Wow, I love spring rolls but I never really thought about how to properly make one! Thank you for this great and informative post! :)

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32 Kiran @ KiranTarun.com September 5, 2012 at 8:17 pm

LOVE fresh spring rolls. And you are so right about the wraps. It can be difficult to fold if over-moistened :D

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33 Tuna September 7, 2012 at 10:29 am

You did make an amazing rolls and photos. Actually we always have boiled shrimp and boiled sliced pork along with these green ^^ (do not forget to add a little salt when boiling them)
Sometimes, we don’t dip the rice paper into water, spray instead to control the water better ^^ Cheeerzzzz

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34 Chow October 5, 2012 at 1:17 am

Hi,

It is a very detailed tutorial that I’d love to send my foreigner friends to show them how to make Vietnamese fresh spring rolls. Tks for very nice presenting and picture.

It’d be perfect if you show us how to make the sauce ^^

Tks so much for your hardwork~ Yummmm

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35 Rebecca October 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Gorgeous pictures, and such wonderful detail about how to roll these li’l suckers! I’ve done them once but didn’t quite make it work due to the stickiness of the rice paper. Now I’ve got some good advice to follow next time (which might be tomorrow since I don’t have to go to work). My hubby is gonna be SO happy at dinner time!! Thanks so much for your beautiful photos and descriptions!

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36 N.A November 23, 2012 at 9:49 pm

thêm vài miếng thịt luộc và con tôm đỏ nữa, yummy

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37 Bonnie December 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Thank you for the great advice! Have you found that a certain type of knife works best for cutting spring rolls?

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38 Tom January 3, 2013 at 11:17 am

Thank you so much for the clear and DETAILED explanation with pictures. After reading this post I – after months of waiting – was motivated enough try making Vietnamese spring roles myself. The result – prefect, healthy and tightly rolled spring rolls. I have one question left, what is your dipping sauce? I can see red chilli and ginger but what else?

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39 White on Rice Couple January 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

Hi Tom,
So glad the tutorials helped! The sauce in the picture is the classic Vietnamese fish sauce, nuoc cham. It is a combination of fish sauce, chilies, garlic, lime, and sugar. Sometimes we’ll make a version with a bit of ginger in there as well. Here’s a link to get an idea of ratios.

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40 Michael February 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm

VERY helpful – thank you !

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41 Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas March 8, 2013 at 5:30 am

Todd and Diane, just wanted to let you know that since you posted this long ago, I eat spring rolls a few times a month, and my husband and I LOVE them. I always loved ordering them at the restaurant but never thought to make them at home until you showed everyone how easy they are to make. Now I can’t get enough of them! I make them with a tasty coconut peanut dipping sauce, and they are fantastic. Thanks guys, and see you at FBF again this year! Can’t wait =)

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42 kristin March 17, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Thank you for this! May I ask- what is the recipe for the dipping sauce I see there? It looks delish!

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43 White on Rice Couple March 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

The dipping sauce in the photo is the classic Vietnamese fish sauce, nuoc cham. Here’s the link to Diane’s family recipe.

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44 Mini April 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Question: After too many spring rolls falling apart half way through lunch, I did an online search and found this tutorial. After some adjustments, I am still having the same problem.
I like to marinate the cucumbers in lemon before I use them in the spring rolls. Do you think the acid could be causing them to tear?
Or could it be that I have them stored in the fridge for too long (5 hours)? I tend to make them in the morning before I go to work.

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45 White on Rice Couple April 25, 2013 at 8:02 am

Hi Mini- It could be a combination of both. Moisture in the fillings will break the wrappers apart. Also, over an extended period of time the wrappers will break down and tear too. When I make these for lunch and eat them a few hours later, I will have a few that tear on me. To prevent that, I try not to wrap them too tight because as the wrappers dry, they tear. And I make sure to have softer fillings that don’t always poke through the wrapper.

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46 Aggie May 4, 2013 at 5:32 am

You have no idea how helpful this is! I planted Thai basil this year and am determined to use it in homemade rolls like this. I just bought the papers & the noodles, I really have all the fillings – now just need to do it :)
Wonderful tutorial!! Can’t wait to see you both in a couple weeks!

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47 blanche May 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I would love the recipe for the clear amber dipping sauce… Thanks so much.

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48 Donna June 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Your tutorial is perfect! Today was my first ever attempt and they turned out wonderful! I’ve wrapped a couple for lunch tomorrow. We’ll see how they turn out. Thank You!

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49 Greg July 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I often make salad rolls for my wife’s lunch as they are one of her favorites and a very healthy choice. After many failed shipping attempts in which the rolls stuck to each other, the container or plastic wrap/wax paper, I discovered an easy way. VERY sparingly oil the container with peanut oil and as you pack in the rolls turn them just enough so they get a bit of oil an their sides so they don’t stick together. No change to the taste and if you are sparing, no overly oily-ness either.

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50 Alex December 11, 2013 at 2:03 am

A good purchase that helps this process if often found next to the rice paper – a stack of 10 perforated plastic plates on which you lay the rice paper after wetting it. The many small holes in the plate keep the paper from sticking until you need them. I used to soak 10 papers, then roll them on a cutting board, but lately I’ve just started rolling them straight off those plates.

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51 maria December 12, 2013 at 8:59 am

Gracias por compartir nuevas ideas.

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52 Star January 9, 2014 at 9:17 am

I make these for my husband’s lunch sometimes and I wrap them in wax paper and then you can peel the paper back as you eat it. Sometimes I will also make the wrap and then soak another wrapper and wrap it again. It makes it more chewy but it holds up better if you are making them for lunches. I’ve never tried the plastic wrap. Might give that a shot. I love putting avocado in mine.

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