These crispy Chinese veggie spring rolls might be one of the most underrated delicious appetizers that you can easily make at home! Filled with crunchy, delicious veggies and deep-fried until a crispy golden brown (that stay crispy for a long time!), these make the perfect appetizer and potluck dish to bring to a gathering.
I like to fill mine with crunchy cabbage, shiitake mushrooms (for their umami flavor), woodear mushrooms (for the nice "bite"), carrots (for their sweetness and crunch), and mung bean vermicelli as the starch that ties all the filling together. You can customize these however you like! Some other filling options are common fillings are snap peas, bell peppers, or even taro.
To keep this recipe 100% plant-based, I'm using my favorite plant-based seasoning, Yondu Vegetable Umami sauce, as oyster sauce substitute to season the filling ingredients. It works great as a gluten-free alternative for soy sauce, and it tastes like a mixture of soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and dashi -- even though it's made from just soybeans and veggie stock. (This is a sponsored post from Yondu, but it's a product that I've been loving to use in my cooking! It's definitely one of the best plant-based Asian seasoning alternatives out there).
What's the difference between Chinese veggie spring rolls and egg rolls?
Despite fried spring rolls and egg rolls being used interchangeably pretty often, they're actually different types of wrappers and are typically used differently. You can even tell in the pictures above! (These are also not to be confused with the translucent Vietnamese rice paper that are used for their spring or summer rolls)
Cantonese-style fried spring roll wrappers are made from flour and water. They're super thin, very crispy -- "shatteringly" crispy if you get what I mean, and in Chinese-American cuisine, they're usually filled with just veggies.
Egg rolls on the other hand, are made from flour, water, and sometimes egg. They're thicker wrappers and usually filled with meat and other fillings, but rarely just veggies. When fried, these have more of a "crunch" than a "crisp" compared to fried spring roll wrappers.
Even at Panda Express, the two options on the menu are Chicken Egg Rolls or Veggie Spring Rolls, and they're made with their respective different wrappers.
How to wrap a perfect Chinese veggie spring roll in 5 easy steps
Step 1: Add the filling just below the middle of the wrapper
Gently peel a layer of spring roll wrapper and lay it in a diamond shape in front of you. Cover the rest of the spring roll sheets with a wet paper towel to prevent them from drying out (they will dry out very quickly otherwise)!
To make every spring roll the same size, I like to use ⅓ cup of filling for each spring roll.
Put the filling right below the middle, and form into a rough rectangle shape to make this easier to roll.
Step 2: Roll up the bottom corner over the filling tightly
Pull the bottom corner up tightly over the filling, and make sure it's not loose. You don't want these to be TOO tight either, as they will need space to expand a bit when frying.
Step 3: Continue rolling up until the left and right corners make a folded point
Keep rolling up until the corners on the sides form a pointed edge. Press down to create a fold.
Step 4: Fold in both sides towards the middle and roll up once
Step 5: Seal the edge with water, and roll to finish
Some people also like to use a starchy paste (usually cornstarch + water) to seal the edges, but I found that water alone is sufficient! Just make sure to let the wrapped spring rolls sit with their seam side down before frying. This helps keep it sealed.
Check out my other popular Chinese takeout recipes:
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Chinese Veggie Spring rolls
- 12 spring roll wrappers
- 1 lb cabbage shredded or thinly sliced
- 6-8 dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 3 oz woodear mushrooms thinly sliced
- 8 oz carrot julienned
- 1.5 oz mung bean vermicelli
- 4-6 cloves of garlic minced
- sweet chili sauce (storebought or homemade)
Prepare the ingredients
- If your spring roll wrappers are frozen, make sure to take them out 45 min - 1 hour before to let it thaw.
- If using dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrate them in a bowl of hot water and cover for 20-30 minutes or until fully rehydrated.6-8 dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms
- Shred or thinly slice the cabbage. Place sliced cabbage into a bowl, and add salt. Mix thoroughly and set aside. The salt will draw out the moisture and prevent the filling from becoming soggy after frying!1 lb cabbage, ½ teaspoon salt
- Rehydrate the mung bean vermicelli noodles in warm water. Let sit while you prep the other vegetables.1.5 oz mung bean vermicelli
- Thinly slice the woodear mushrooms. Julienne the carrot. Mince the garlic.3 oz woodear mushrooms, 8 oz carrot, 4-6 cloves of garlic
- Drain the water from the mung bean vermicelli. The noodles should still be a bit firm, but not hard. Use a scissor or knife to cut into smaller pieces (about 2 in long).
- After about 15-20 mins, the cabbage will have released some moisture. Remove as much as possible, and squeeze the cabbage to remove any excess.
- Once the shiitake mushrooms are rehydrated, squeeze out the excess water and slice thinly.
Cook the filling
- Heat up a pan on medium heat. Add 1-2 tablespoon of neutral oil. Once hot, add the minced garlic and stir fry for 1 min, or until fragrant.neutral oil for cooking
- Add the carrots and stir fry for another min. Then add the shiitake and woodear mushrooms.
- Season with Yondu Vegetable Umami sauce (or 1 tablespoon soy sauce + ½ tablespoon oyster sauce), sugar, and white pepper. Stir fry for another 1-2 min, taste to adjust seasoning if necessary, then remove off the heat.2.5 tablespoon Yondu Vegetable Umami sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, dash of white pepper
- Mix the cut mung bean vermicelli into the cooked filling to absorb the seasonings. Add the salted cabbage and sesame oil, and do one final mix.1 tablespoon sesame oil
Wrap the spring rolls
- To wrap the spring roll, gently peel one sheet out of the stack. Keep a wet paper towel over the rest to prevent them from drying out.12 spring roll wrappers
- Lay the sheet in front of you in a diamond shape, and add ⅓ cup of filling below the middle. Pull the bottom corner tightly over the filling, then keep rolling up until the left and right corners make a folded point.
- Fold in both sides towards the middle, roll up one more time, and dab some water at the edge. Roll to seal, and let it sit with the seam side facing down. Repeat.
Fry the spring rolls
- Heat up a pot of neutral oil to 350F. I like using a smaller pot and less oil (about 1-1.5 inch height), but you can use a larger pot to fry more at once. Just note that it will take longer to heat up!neutral oil for cooking
- Once the oil reads 350F, carefully drop in the spring rolls. Make sure the oil is not too much hotter than 350F (400F is too hot), because the hot oil will cause the spring roll skin to blister and bubble up.
- Don't overcrowd the pot -- it's better to fry in smaller batches to keep the oil temperature up, rather than larger batches that will cool the oil down too much and prevent the spring rolls from browning nicely!
- Fry for 10-12 min or until spring rolls are nicely golden brown. Instead of going off of time, go off of the color of the wrapper. Because the spring rolls will float while frying, make sure to regularly push them down to submerge them in oil, or flip them over, to ensure even color.
- If after a while they're still not turning brown, try turning up the heat a bit. Once they're golden brown, let them drain on a wire rack to remove excess oil.
- Enjoy on their own or dipped in sweet chili sauce!sweet chili sauce