Pack up your picnic baskets and find a blanket–this recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls with nuoc cham for dipping was made for outdoor eating. Easy and fun to make ahead of time, these spring rolls are a huge hit for anyone who likes fresh flavors and lots of delicious textures.
Fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, also known as goi cuon or summer rolls, make a perfect summer dinner or appetizer. Roll up a batch before the party, or let everyone make their own with their favorite fillings.
And don’t forget the dipping sauce! Nuoc cham includes fish sauce and lime juice; or you could make a peanut sauce–I’ve included two different kinds: one easy, one a little more involved.
Lots of folks coming over to eat? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How do you make Vietnamese Spring Rolls?
I like to layer the ingredients for color and a good presentation. On the bottom end of a softened wrapper, place a leaf of lettuce so that it lies flat. Top with shredded carrots, then rice noodles, sprouts, then herbs.
Just above this stack of ingredients, lay the tofu in a line. By doing this, the tofu will be visible through the transparent wrapper, when the rolls are served.
Don’t overfill them! Gently fold over once, tuck in edges, and continue rolling until seam is sealed.
What are Vietnamese Spring Roll wrappers made of?
The wrappers you’re looking for are made entirely of rice. Rice wrappers are round, thin, clear, and feel just like a dry noodle.
Whatever you do, don’t get the kind made of wheat flour from the freezer section that look like egg roll wrappers—that’s for a different recipe altogether. Look for edible rice paper wrappers, rice noodle vermicelli, and hoisin sauce in Asian markets.
How do you dampen spring roll wrappers?
Restaurants where you can build your own spring rolls use these little gadgets filled with hot water for tabletop dipping, which is worth the investment if everyone in your family likes to make their own.
But if you’re working solo, there are several ways to dampen your wrapper, and it all depends on what works for you and how quickly you can roll.
- First, you can fill a bowl with warm water, or heat a skillet of water on the stove, and dip the wrappers in very briefly.
- Or, you can alternate wrappers between sheets of wet paper towels. Within 3 minutes they will be soft enough to handle but not so soft that they disintegrate.
- There’s even another way: hold the wrapper under the faucet for one second; lay on a wet towel and assemble (the wrapper will soften up immediately).
However you tackle this, try not to “soak” the rice paper for too long because it will break down too quickly, making the wrappers slippery and rolling more difficult to do.
Can Vietnamese Spring Rolls be made ahead of time?
These rolls are perfect the same day you make them, stored in the refrigerator under a damp towel. They will still taste good the next day, but they might start to get a little sticky.
Can Vietnamese Spring Rolls be made for a crowd?
Of course they can, and once you get the hang of rolling these up, you might not want to stop. When you want to make lots of these, it helps to take all the greens and herbs and chop them all up together; then grab a handful and get all the green stuff at once.
What sauce do you serve with Vietnamese Spring Rolls?
Nuoc Cham is a light and lively dipping sauce that I personally love. With fish sauce, lime juice, serrano, and sugar, it’s a great balance of sweet, spicy, and salty.
Peanut sauce is popular too, so I’ll share a couple variations of that dipping sauce, one with hoisin, a sweet and spicy sauce made from soybeans, and one without.
Peanut Sauce Recipe
- 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled
- 1 small garlic clove
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon (packed) light brown sugar
- ¼–½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- With motor running, drop ginger and garlic clove into a blender and blend until finely chopped.
- Add peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and 1/3 cup water and blend.
- Add more water by tablespoonfuls if needed to thin, until smooth.
Peanut Hoisin Sauce Recipe
- Mix 1 part crunchy peanut butter to 2 parts hoisin sauce.
- Whisk over medium heat until blended.
- Add more water by tablespoonfuls if needed to thin.
Or, try my favorite Thai Peanut Salad Dressing. It’s also delicious on this salad.
What can you add to Vietnamese Spring Rolls?
Like so many well-loved recipes, the variations for what you can add to spring rolls are endless.
You can add crispy fried tofu, poached chicken, thinly sliced boiled pork, shrimp, surimi crab, or marinated beef. Throw in some basil leaves, green onion, or bell pepper cut into matchsticks.
For a low-carb version: leave out the noodles and add carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber, bell pepper and tofu.
Can Vietnamese Spring Rolls be frozen?
Unfortunately, they’re best eaten when you make them and probably won’t hold up in the freezer.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
For the spring rolls:
- 8 (12-inch) rice-paper rounds (30 cm)
- 8 red-leaf lettuce leaves stems removed
- 2 ounces cellophane noodles soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and drained
- 1 carrot peeled and finely shredded
- 1/2 small cucumber peeled and seeded, then finely shredded
- 1/2 pound block extra firm tofu cut into 16 slices each 4 inches (10 cm) long by 1/4 inch (6 cm) thick
- 1/2 cup mung beans sprouts
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves only
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves only (fresh coriander)
- Nuoc Cham for serving
For the nuoc cham:
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (see notes for vegan options)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 serrano chile seeded and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 tablespoon grated carrot
- 1 tablespoon grated daikon
To make the spring rolls:
- Fill a large bowl or a wide skillet with hot water. Working with 1 rice-paper at a time, dip the round in warm water for only 1 second. Lay wrapper on a flat work surface.
- To assemble each roll, lay a lettuce leaf horizontally on the bottom half of the moistened rice paper. At the base of the lettuce, place several strands of noodles, 1 teaspoon each of the carrot and cucumber, 2 slices tofu, 1 tablespoon of bean sprouts, and several leaves of mint and cilantro. Be careful not to overstuff the rolls. Lift the bottom edge of the rice paper and carefully place over the noodles and other ingredients, then roll once to form a tight cylinder.
- Fold in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll the rice paper and filling into a cylinder.
- Place the prepared rolls, seam side down, on a platter and cover with a damp kitchen towel. The rolls can be held at room temperature for several hours before serving.
- Just before serving, cut each roll in half at an angle. Serve with Nuoc Cham.
To make the nuoc cham:
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind together the garlic and sugar until the paste forms. Or, combine the ingredients in a mini food processor and process to a paste.
- Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the fish sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and 1/4 cup water.
- Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl and add the chile, carrot, and daikon. Makes about 2/3 cup.
- Note: Traditionally, the term spring roll has been used to describe both rolls that are fried after filling and rolls that are served without further cooking. This recipe makes fresh spring rolls.
- Wrapping Tip: It's important not to over soak the wrapper in the water. Dipping for just a second allows the wrapper to become moist and tacky enough to hold together once rolled.
- Serving Tip: Nuoc Cham is a condiment offered as an accompaniment to myriad Vietnamese dishes, including spring rolls, crepes, beef noodle soup and grilled chicken with noodles.
- Fish Sauce: To make the nuoc cham vegan, use vegetarian fish sauce (made with seaweed) instead.