Vietnamese Spring Rolls {a How-To}

cut open spring roll on a white plate

I love spring rolls but have yet to be adventurous enough to make them at home…until now. They were so easy, I can’t believe I thought it would elevate me to “adventurous” status to actually make them! I’m still quite boring, unfortunately.

These spring rolls are so bright and fresh and flavorful, they’ll have you singing from the rooftops about how many vegetables you are consuming without realizing it.

And the dipping sauce? Like icing on the cake (or roll, if you will). The tender chewiness of the spring roll wrapper encloses the fantastic crunch of healthful vegetables and the delicious Thai-inspired marinaded chicken.

spring rolls lined up in a row on a white platter

Understandably, some of you may be nervous about the Asian-style ingredients, but keep in mind that I live in Timbuktu (or nearly) and I was easily able to locate all of these ingredients, including the rice paper wrappers, at my local, larger grocery store.

I’ve included step-by-step photos of the rolling process below the recipe.

P.S. Another gluten-free recipe – be sure to check the labels on the Asian ingredients to double check gluten-freeness (uh, is that a word?). The giveaway is still open, so don’t forget to enter! Winners will be announced tomorrow.

spring roll cut in half on top of a full spring roll

What To ServeGrilled Rosemary Buttermilk Chicken
Fresh fruit or a light fruit salad like this Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Hummus with chips or crackers

One Year Ago: Chicken Gyros
Two Years Ago: Chicken with Mushrooms and Zucchini

Vietnamese Spring Rolls {a How-To}

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
cut open spring roll on a white plate

Ingredients

For the Rolls:

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts or boneless pork chops
  • about 30 10-inch diameter spring roll wrappers (rice, tapioca, etc.)
  • 1 pound fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 large English cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • large bunch of fresh herbs, washed (I used basil and cilantro)
  • large bunch of fresh lettuce leaves, washed
  • warm water in a large shallow bowl or pie plate (large enough to accommodate a spring roll wrapper)

Meat Marinade:

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chile-garlic paste to taste

Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce:

  • 8 oz hoisin sauce (the Y&Y brand is gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile-garlic paste

Instructions

  1. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a ziploc bag. Place the meat in the bag and marinate, refrigerated, for an hour or two. Grill or broil the meat until it is cooked through. Set aside to cool. When cool, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices.
  2. For the sauce, mix all of the sauce ingredients together until combined. If the sauce is too thick, add hot water and mix in until you achieve a desired consistency. Set aside.
  3. Assemble the spring rolls (see step-by-step photos below) by dipping one spring roll sheet into a shallow bowl of warm water for a second or two and setting it flat on your plate. Layer lettuce, herbs, vegetables, and meat in a small strip about 1/3 of the way from the edge nearest you. Roll from the edge nearest you and tuck in the sides as you go if you wish. Roll tightly, but not so tightly that you tear the wrapper. Serve the rolls with the dipping sauce on the side.

Notes

Plan Ahead: this recipe requires marinating the meat, so plan ahead!

Gluten-Free: also, check the labels on the bottled Asian ingredients to double check that they are gluten-free.

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Recipe Source: adapted from Use Real Butter

After dipping the rice paper wrapper in water, lay it flat on a large cutting board and layer the vegetables/ingredients on the lower third of the wrapper, leaving a small border on the sides and bottom and a large border on the top.
Rice wrap with fresh vegetables in the middle

Take the bottom of the wrapper and gently bring it up and around the ingredients, gently pressing on the ingredients with your fingers to keep the filling in place. The wrappers have a bit of “stretch” to them but can tear easily so don’t pull too hard.
rolling up a rice wrap with vegetables in it

Continue folding the wrapper up over the ingredients, tucking everything together.
Rolling up a spring roll

Holding the middle of the spring roll with your fingertips, start folding in the sides of the wrapper, kind of like a burrito.
rolling vegetables in a clear rice wrap

When the sides have been folded in, continue rolling the wrapper all the way to the top.
pulling the sides in on a rice wrap to roll it

The rice paper will be sticky so when you get to the top, roll it all the way to seal itself and set it aside.
Rolling the last part of a rice wrap up with vegetables in it