If you hear spring rolls, you probably think about traditional Chinese spring rolls first. However, we found 7 types of spring rolls from all over Asia with different names, fillings, and wrappers. What all of them have in common is that they are hard to resist and so easy to share. In this article we show you the classic wrap for spring rolls as well as 9 creative alternatives should you need them.
7 types of spring rolls
Chinese spring rolls (Chun Juan)
They are deep-fried or pan-fried mini wraps that come filled with a variety of ingredients like meat, seafood, and vegetables. The classic Chinese spring roll filling is shredded marinated pork, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, bamboo shoots, and napa cabbage. It is then wrapped in a square-shaped, wheat-based quite delicate wrap which is called a “spring roll wrapper” or “spring roll pasty”. However, vegetarian spring rolls (like this recipe by Cilantro and Citronella pictured below) are also quite common and equally delicious.
Fried Vietnamese spring rolls (Cha Gio)
Similarily to the Chinese version, they are also deep-fried or pan-fried. The classic Vietnamese spring roll filling is mung bean noodles, ground pork, shrimp, dried wood ear mushrooms, jicama, or taro. However, they are wrapped in rice paper wrappers (bánh tráng) and served with a dipping sauce called (nuoc cham), which is a fish sauce-based sweet and tangy sauce. However, there are equally delicious vegan and vegetarian alternatives like our crispy vegan rice paper spring rolls recipe (pictured below).
Vietnamese summer rolls (Goi Cuon)
They are also called “fresh spring rolls” because they are also wrapped in rice paper wrappers (bánh tráng), but they are not fried. Summer rolls are served uncooked and cold with a spicy hoisin-peanut sauce. The typical filling is mung bean or rice vermicelli noodles, pre-cooked shrimp or pork, mushrooms, fresh veggies like carrots, leafy greens or lettuce, bean sprouts, fresh herbs like Thai basil, cilantro, and mint. Our Vietnamese summer rolls (pictured below) are veggies only and delicious.
Korean seaweed spring rolls (Gimmari)
“Kimari” or “gimmari” is deep-fried or pan-fried Korean spring rolls which are wrapped in seaweed aka nori sheets and dipped in tempura before frying. The classic gimmari filling is seasoned glass noodles and shredded veggies like carrots or green onion. They are commonly served with “tteokbokki”, which is chewy, rod-shaped rice cakes in spicy sauce. This is a completely vegan recipe, but sadly not gluten-free due to tempura, which has wheat flour. The recipe by Beyond Kimchee is pictured below.
Filipino spring rolls (Lumpia)
Lumpia is popular street food and appetizer in the Philipinnes. It is a thin cigar-shaped roll that is cut in half and deep-fried until it is crispy. The classic lumpia filling is seasoned ground meat or seafood with minced onion and shredded carrots. While it is heavily meat-based, you can find many delicious vegetarian lumpia recipes (like this recipe by Simple Sweet Vegan pictured below).
Japanese spring rolls (Harumaki)
Harumaki is also a deep-fried spring roll wrapped in thin spring roll wrappers. The classic Japanese spring roll filling is ground meat, glass noodles like vermicelli or mung bean noodles, dried shiitake mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, and green onion. They are served with a sweet and sour sauce or soy sauce. It is easy to make vegan since you can just easily skip the meat part and all the other delicious ingredients will make up for it.
Thai spring rolls (Poh Pia Tod)
Spring rolls in Thailand are also wrapped in classic spring roll wrappers. The classic Poh Pia Tod filling is ground pork, shrimp, cabbage, carrot, scallions, bean sprouts, and cellophane noodles. They are also deep-fried until brown and crispy. Here is a delicious vegetarian Thai spring rolls recipe by Greedy Gourmet.
10 types of spring roll wrappers
Chinese spring roll wrappers
The classic ingredients in spring roll wrappers include wheat flour, salt, and water. Modern versions of the Chinese dish use spring roll wrappers and egg roll wrappers interchangeably but they are not the same.
Depending on how much time you have to spare, you can either buy spring roll wrappers online or at your local Asian specialty store. If you’re lucky, you might even find them stocked in the international aisle at your local grocery store. Spring Home* is the most well-known one to sell authentic spring roll wrappers.
Please note that many brands sell wrappers made of rice flour or some combination of rice flour and tapioca and pass them off as spring roll wrappers. In actuality, they are not. These thin wrappers are called rice papers and are used to make traditional Vietnamese summer rolls.
If none of this appeals to you because you prefer to be in complete control of your own food, you can choose to make spring roll wrappers yourself using this recipe.
Egg roll wrappers
While their origin is not so clear, they are certainly available in almost every Chinese restaurant in the US. While spring roll wrappers are made of only 3 ingredients: wheat flour, salt, and water, egg roll wrappers have also a 4th ingredient: eggs. Hence its name.
This one ingredient makes the whole dish quite different. While spring roll wrappers become crispy after deep frying, egg roll wrappers will blister up due to the hot oil and they become very crunchy and chewy.
Lumpia wrappers are thin paper-like skins used to make either steamed or deep-fried Filipino (or Indonesian) lumpia which in appearance resemble thinner spring rolls. They are similar to crepes in texture but are thinner, stronger, and more elastic at the same time. This makes them highly suitable for holding different types of stuffing when using them to make spring rolls like vegetables, chicken, beef, and more.
Lumpia wrapper ingredients include wheat flour, cornstarch, water, oil, and salt. It’s due to the wheat component that the dough develops gluten, making it strong and elastic enough to hold the fillings. You can try this homemade lumpia wrapper recipe if you can’t find it in stores. However, it seems like Walmart sells a brand called Simex*.
Wonton wrappers are traditionally made from wheat flour, eggs, and water, but gluten-free varieties* made of rice flour are available as well. Being similar to egg roll wrappers in ingredients, thickness, and texture makes them not only perfect for wonton soup but also great for making mini spring rolls. It also helps that they do just fine either boiled, steamed, or fried.
When making spring rolls using wonton wrappers like Twin Marquis* or this homemade recipe, keep in mind that they are thinner and more delicate than traditional spring roll wrappers. For that matter, most other dumpling wrappers as well! Avoid overfilling them and aim to make them smaller than you usually would.
Rice paper wrappers
Originating in Vietnam, rice paper wrapper or rice paper or bánh tráng is a super-thin wrapper made from rice flour, water, and salt (sometimes with tapioca starch) that can be filled with almost anything.
Sold as dried sheets the most popular being the Three Ladies* brand, they need to be soaked in water before use, but once rehydrated, can be used and enjoyed.
They taste great when fried like in our crispy rice paper spring rolls recipe (picture below), they are also recommended for baking like in our rice paper samosa recipe. They tend to get a bit chewy and rubbery when baked and bubbly and crispy when fried.
Apart from being inherently gluten-free and vegan-friendly, spring rolls made with rice paper are much lighter on the tummy than their wheat-based counterparts. Plus, they’re ideal for throwing together a quick snack or meal that doesn’t require any cooking.
The only thing to keep in mind is that rice paper wrappers become gummy after sitting outside for a while, so spring and summer rolls are best eaten immediately after being prepared. We have a whole guide on rice paper wrappers including how to choose, how to soak them, and how to roll them.
Gyoza wrappers are circular dumpling wrapping pastries adopted by the Japanese from the Northern Chinese Communities. Gyoza is usually made from pre-fabricated wrappers that contain wheat flour and water.
Due to being even thinner and smaller than wonton wrappers, the fillings used to make gyoza and potstickers are usually lighter, softer, and more delicate as well. Vegetarian potstickers are generally filled with cabbage and carrots, while meatier gyoza is filled with ground pork or beef.
Another thing to note when using gyoza wrappers for spring rolls is that in addition to being round, they are also small, which can make things a little tricky. While you might be able to shape them into squares, keeping them round-shaped will make the job less complicated and less wasteful. In addition, your mini spring roll bites will be perfect in more ways than one!
You can look for frozen gyoza wrappers like the Twin Marquis* brand online or at Asian specialty stores. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can try making some yourself right at home! Homemade gluten-free versions of gyoza wrappers are also available which are made using a combination of rice flour, tapioca, psyllium husk powder, warm water, salt, and oil.
Soy paper or soy skins
Soy paper is made from compressed soybeans, soy flour, sesame seeds, soybean oil, and organic rice syrup. Commonly used in making sushi rolls due to their similarity to nori sheets, they feature no taste and only a subtle aroma. Their appeal comes from how delicate and fragile they are in comparison to most other wrappers, which makes it a unique option for spring rolls too.
Soy sheets like the ones Yamamotoyama* sells usually come in the shape of squares that measure about 7.5” on one side, making them great for rolling average-sized spring rolls.
Available in fun colors like white, orange, green, yellow, and pink, they can be pan-fried, deep-fried, or eaten as it is straight from the packaging if they are frozen fresh and not dried. They are an exciting and novel way to spruce up classic spring rolls and make something your friends and family might not have seen before!
Paper-thin phyllo pastry, also known as filo pastry, is a delicate pastry made from phyllo dough that is commonly used in Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Greek cooking. Phyllo dough is made by mixing together flour, water, vinegar, a little oil, and then rolling it out to about 1 mm thickness. Some recipes might also include egg yolk. They are usually available online* or in local stores.
The best way to use phyllo pastry is the way it was originally intended – by baking! This fine pastry dough turns crisp and crackly when baked, making it a great way to achieve the textures of a deep-fried spring roll in a healthier way.
However, this doesn’t mean you should shy away from the other methods of cooking. Definitely take advantage of the versatility that phyllo pastry offers and try everything under the sun, from deep-frying and pan-frying to even air-frying them! Just be sure to use more than one layer of phyllo pastry to prevent any tears while cooking them. Besides, more layers mean a better crunch!
You wouldn’t be the first to try this, here are baked vegetable spring rolls recipes wrapped in filo pastry by Super Healthy Kids.
Seaweed paper aka nori sheets
Nori is a thin, dark green, edible, seaweed sheet that is loved for its crispy texture and umami flavor. Made from a species of the red algae genus Pyropia, it is mainly used for wrapping sushi or as a garnish on top of noodles and soups. They are also used to make Korean spring rolls called gimmari (see them among the types of spring rolls above).
Silver and gold* supposed to be the highest quality, the darkest sheets of all, and the best ones for making sushi. Green, blue and other colors indicate medium quality. It is one of the gluten-free sushi ingredients.
Like rice paper wrappers, nori sheets are hard when dry and chewy when used to contain fillings, which is part of what makes them perfect for the job. Just be sure to eat your rolls as soon as you’re done making them because nothing beats the taste of fresh nori.
Here’s a tip; if you want a slightly crispy bite to your chewy nori spring roll, toast your nori sheet on an open flame before using it to wrap your fillings. This will help keep it crunchy for a little longer than usual.
Nori sheets are also great when steamed, pan-fried, and deep-fried, allowing you to get creative with how you make your spring rolls. Plus, the subtle “fishy” smell and mild flavor of the sea that this ingredient will impart to your dish will set it apart from any other spring roll you might have made before!
Lettuce wraps or collard green leaves
Leaf wraps are a great option if you’re looking for a tasty way to make a spring roll lean as can be. But while butter lettuce leaves are a good enough substitute for rice paper wrappers in Vietnamese summer rolls, and collard green leaves make a satisfactory stand-in for traditional spring roll wrappers, neither truly replaces the mouthfeel of crispy-chewy wrappers made of wheat and rice. Like in this collard green spring rolls recipe by Minimalist Baker (see below photo).
That being said, you can still achieve a texture that comes pretty close by soaking your leaves in warm water before using them. This also helps give your wrap a mild leafy flavor, if that appeals to you! Just remember that pan-frying and deep-frying your lettuce wrap is a complete no-no unless you want it to fall apart before you even get to take a bite.
Honorable mention: Grape leaves are another tasty option to consider for their slight rubbery texture that can sometimes feel like rice paper wrappers. If you are using canned grape leaves, make sure you rinse off the brine and dry the leaves prior to using them.
Okay, let’s get real for a second. This isn’t the one for you if you’re looking for a “substitute” to make spring rolls that closely resemble the original. Using a tortilla as a wrapper will most likely result in a dish that takes after an Asian-inspired burrito more than it does a spring roll! But who’s to say that can’t be absolutely delicious? After all, experimentation is key when it comes to creating new flavors and textures that we can call our own.
A tortilla is a type of thin, soft flatbread made from finely ground corn flour or wheat flour, salt, oil, water, and fat. They are rolled out much thicker than rice wrappers or wonton wrappers and come precooked. Tortillas can be eaten fresh, warmed, baked, fried, or roasted. And while corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free, you can find other gluten-free varieties made of rice flour or coconut flour, or even cassava flour.
You wouldn’t be the first one to try this. Here is a tortilla spring rolls recipe by Foods and Flavors by Shilpi.
Why do you need alternatives?
Need it to be gluten-free
Unfortunately, spring rolls are not gluten-free but don’t feel disheartened just yet. With food options expanding, those who suffer from celiac disease or who simply prefer to eat gluten-free diets now have plenty of alternatives to choose from. When it comes to Chinese spring rolls you just need to simply swap “spring roll wrappers” out for a wrapper that is gluten-free like “rice paper wrappers“, and you will be fine.
Want to be creative
Another reason for substituting the classic spring roll wrapper for something else is just to get creative! Using non-traditional wrappers can lead to discovering new combinations of texture and flavor that can be a lot of fun to come up with and try.
Unavailable in stores
Lastly, there’s always the issue of simply running out! Despite the increasing popularity and accessibility of wrappers in stores, it’s possible that on occasion you find yourself at the edge of an empty shelf of spring roll wrappers. Instead of being discouraged, get creative and look for other similar products to replace them.
More Asian roll recipes
You can find many delicious rice paper rolls recipes or check out the below ones:
- Baked Vegan Egg Rolls (Rice Paper)
- Vietnamese Summer Rolls