Here in the northeast United States, the weather is warming, and I’m craving fresh flavors. If you are feeling similarly, try these spring rolls that incorporate a variety of crunchy veggies and fresh herbs. You don’t have to turn on the oven to make this dish, which comes complete with a delicious peanut dipping sauce. Follow my step-by-step instructions; you’ll see that making spring rolls may be easier than you thought!
IMVHO, fresh spring rolls always win out compared to deep-fried spring rolls and egg rolls. There’s something about the colors and textures of a fresh spring roll that always draws me in.
So, I might be a bit biased when I say that these spring rolls are so dang good. With shrimp and a generous amount of my homemade Georgia peanut sauce for dipping, this is my ideal small lunch.
If you need a second opinion before giving these a try, my husband enjoyed these immensely as well. He claimed they are similar to an appetizer he likes to get at the Cheesecake Factory. (This is a huge compliment in our household as we are big Cheesecake Factory fans here!)
The downside to making spring rolls is that they can be a bit time-consuming to assemble. You definitely want to practice mise en place for this one. That means you should have all of your ingredients out and ready to go before you begin wrapping.
Wash the herbs, chop the veggies, cook the noodles, and cook the shrimp. After you soak a rice paper wrapper, you want to be ready to fill and wrap it right away. You’re more likely to have good results when you don’t let your wrapper soak for too long and when you fill them immediately after soaking.
The art of wrapping fresh spring rolls
I’m no spring roll-wrapping expert, and for years my rice paper would tear while wrapping. I’ve learned through the years to soak the rice paper for a very short time, as directed on the package. They are flexible but don’t feel quite “done” at this point.
I used to soak them a little longer than the package recommended since they felt like they might be too firm. This was a mistake that led to rice paper tearing too easily. I’ve learned my lesson!
If you accidentally soak your rice papers a little too long, try double-wrapping your spring rolls. This was the strategy I used for years until I stopped oversoaking.
If you have a sushi mat, I highly recommend using it as your work surface. I’ve used waxed paper as well, but the damp rice paper tends to be more likely to stick to it. The rice paper peels fairly easily from the sushi mat, so it is my work surface of choice.
Also (and I know this will horrify professional chefs), I don’t separate the thin blocks of rice vermicelli after rehydrating. I find that having the noodles stuck together makes them much easier to work with. We’re packing them tightly together into rice paper wrappers, so why bother separating the noodles first?
One more tip is to layer the ingredients that will end up on top of your spring roll first. You are essentially constructing it upside down, wrapping, and flipping it over. If you want to see the shrimp on top, layer them on the rice paper first.
I made a video for this one if you’re a more visual person. I might have overdone it with my music selection. Haha Scroll on down to the recipe if you want to check it out!
How to make spring rolls without refined grains
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I do not completely avoid refined grains (or added sugar). I do limit these items and don’t feature recipes that use these ingredients on this site.
However, for this recipe, I did use white paper wrappers and white rice vermicelli. I felt it was better to use what I had in my pantry rather than order additional items from the store.
A lot of grain products (including rice) have buying limits here at the moment. I felt it would be more responsible to put less stress on the system by using what I already had on hand.
If you want to make these without refined grains, there are a few options you can use. Brown rice paper wrappers do exist, and you can purchase them on Amazon here.
The fiber, iron, and calories for this product are identical to the white rice paper wrappers. Honestly, there isn’t a huge nutritional advantage compared to using the regular rice paper. Organic brown rice paper wrappers are also available for a slightly higher price.
You could also substitute the white rice vermicelli I used for a whole grain version. This swap will add a little more fiber to your spring rolls.
If you have a weight loss goal, shirataki noodles may be an even better swap. They have a similar texture to rice noodles but are far lower in calories (and carbs).
As you can see, it’s not too difficult to make these without refined grains if you choose to do so. And if you, like me, occasionally don’t eat “perfectly” (however you’d define it), I hope you don’t feel guilty about it! I’ve found that maintaining some flexibility has helped keep my dietary pattern sustainable through the years.
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Fresh Spring Rolls with Shrimp and Peanut Sauce
For the peanut sauce:
- ⅓ c peanut butter (creamy)
- 2 T green peanut oil (can substitute olive oil)
- 2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 t fish sauce
- 1 t fresh ginger, grated
- 4-6 T water
For the fresh spring rolls:
- 7 rice paper wrappers (see recommendation above for brown rice paper)
- 1.4 ounces rice vermicelli, rehydrated (see recommendation above for brown rice vermicelli)
- 8 ounces medium shrimp, tail-off, peeled, cooked
- 2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks (mine was 9.5 ounces)
- 25-30 fresh basil leaves
- 25-30 fresh mint leaves
To make the peanut sauce:
- Whisk all of the peanut sauce ingredients together and set aside until ready to serve. You can add more or less water depending on how thick you'd like this dipping sauce.
To make the spring rolls:
- Have all of your ingredients prepped and ready before you begin assembling the spring rolls. Cook the vermicelli according to the package directions. You should also cook the shrimp, cut the carrots and cucumber, and wash and dry the herbs. Fill a bowl with warm water, but don't soak the rice paper yet.
- Find a non-stick surface to assemble your spring rolls. I highly recommend using a sushi mat.
- Soak your first rice paper in the bowl of water for the length of time specified on the package. Mine needed to soak for five seconds. Only soak one piece of rice paper at a time, right before you plan to fill it.
- Lay the rice paper out on the sushi mat and layer the ingredients in this order: 3-4 shrimp, 1/7 of the vermicelli, 1/7 of the carrots and cucumbers, and 3-4 leaves each of the basil and mint.
- Fold the top and bottom of the rice paper inward to cover some of the filling. Now tightly fold the right side of the wrap over the filling. Finally, tuck any loose filling firmly into the wrapper and fold the final side over. (Watch the video below to see how the spring rolls are filled and wrapped closed.)
- Repeat for the remaining six spring rolls. If your rice paper tears too easily, try soaking the rice paper for less time. It should be flexible but still have some firmness to it. Use a double layer of rice paper if you've accidentally soaked it for too long and it has become fragile.
- Serve the spring rolls with the peanut sauce. Enjoy!
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). The calorie information provided is for one spring roll with 1/7 of the peanut sauce. Realistically, I know most people are going to have 2-3 for a meal (I know I did). Since this one is lower in protein and includes flour, I’m giving it the bump to level 3. If you’re looking to lower the calories/carbs, substitute the rice vermicelli for shirataki noodles, as I discussed above. Marinated tofu would be a nice alternative to the shrimp if you want a flavor variation.
Have you ever tried making fresh spring rolls? What are some of your favorite fillings and dips for this dish? I’d love to hear from you, so leave me a comment below!