These vegetarian fresh spring rolls (or rice paper rolls) are fresh, healthy and so easy to make. Loaded with crunchy vegetables, vermicelli noodles and perfectly ripe avocado, the only thing that makes these rolls better is dunking them in a creamy peanut sauce. They are the perfect light lunch or fun family dinner.
I love fresh spring rolls or rice paper rolls because they are super fresh, healthy and versatile not to mention easy to make with no cooking required (exactly what we need in summer!). They are also naturally gluten free and easily made vegetarian and vegan.
The idea for this recipe came last year when I was in Cambodia at this very unassuming restaurant. I ordered the avocado fresh spring rolls, not being sure what the quality would be like, and they turned out to be the best thing that I ate on the trip! Later in the week, I also did a cooking class where we were taught how to make them, this time using a few different filling ingredients including omelette for protein.
While these were also good, the ones containing fresh avocado stood out in my mind and I knew that’s the version I wanted to recreate at home.
The cooking class did help teach me the how to work with the rice paper sheets which I’ll go through in this post and allowed me to practise my rolling technique (although I still need to work on consistency!).
Fresh spring rolls or rice paper rolls are fairly common in Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisine and can be filled with any combination of vegetables and protein, making them a great option for an easy and healthy lunch.
The other key to fresh spring rolls is of course the dipping sauce. The ones I ate in that restaurant had some form of chilli sauce that I can’t recall specifics of (except that it was delicious), but for this recipe we’re pairing them with my go to creamy peanut sauce.
Now just a note that this is not an authentic recipe, it’s just one I’ve recreated at home based on my experience enjoying these rolls in restaurants as well as travelling.
Below are the ingredients we’re using to make these vegetarian rice paper rolls but note that this is a super customisable recipe so you can play around based on what vegetables you have on hand and enjoy and even add proteins such as meat, seafood, omelette or tofu.
Note all ingredients and their quantities are laid out in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Rice paper sheets – you’ll find these usually in the supermarket labelled as Vietnamese style rice paper spring roll wrappers. They are naturally gluten free and when dry feel firm and almost plastic like. Once they are wet, they’ll become soft and flexible and the perfect vessel to wrap up all our fillings.
- Vermicelli noodles – also known as rice sticks, these are commonly added into the filling for texture and to make the rolls more filling.
- Fresh vegetables – for this recipe we’re just using carrot and cucumber but you could also add lettuce, cabbage, capsicum or any other crunchy vegetables you like.
- Avocado – adding a creamy texture to contrast to the crunchy vegetables and making these rolls extra yummy and satisfying. Make sure your avocado isn’t too ripe as you want it to hold together, not be mushy.
- Herbs – always always use fresh herbs in your fresh spring rolls. I am using mint, but you can use any combination of mint, coriander (cilantro) and basil. The fresh herbs are what make these rolls super fresh and delicious.
You’ll also need a dipping sauce! I like to use my go to creamy peanut sauce but while the rice paper rolls are both vegan and gluten free, the sauce is neither, however you can adapt it by swapping the soy sauce for tamari and the honey for maple syrup.
To make these fresh spring rolls, you really don’t need much equipment making them super easy. I did use a mandoline for the carrots and cucumber but you can grate the carrot and just slice the cucumber instead.
If you haven’t used rice paper before or made these rolls, it can take a few to get the technique down but after a couple you’ll be a pro.
To get started, we want to make sure we have all the filling ingredients prepped before we start rolling.
The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare your vermicelli noodles. To do this, place the noodles in a heat proof bowl and soak them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. To store your noodles, always leave them submerged in cold water to prevent sticking and just drain before you’re ready to use.
Chop and slice your carrot, cucumber and avocado and pick off the leaves of your mint. You’re now ready to get started rolling.
Grab a wide, shallow bowl and fill it with room temperature tap water. Quickly dip or submerge the rice paper sheet in the water for just a few seconds so it’s wet but the sheet is still stiff – don’t wait for the sheet to soften in the water as this will happen as it rests.
Place the wet sheet down onto a clean surface and place your fillings in the bottom third of the sheet leaving at least an inch on either side. Start with your vermicelli noodles, followed by the veggies, avocado and fresh mint.
To roll, first gently take the bottom end and fold over the filling ingredients. Next, gently take the sides and fold over. Now, roll upwards, using your hands to ensure the filling stays tucked in and continue to roll upwards until tight.
Set your rice paper roll aside on a plate while you continue this process until you’ve used all of the rice paper sheets or your prepared fillings.
Serve the rice paper rolls immediately with the dipping sauce or keep stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 days.
Tips for working with rice paper
If you’ve never made rice paper rolls before, it may take a few goes to get the hang of it, but the below tips will help making working with the rice paper sheets much easier.
- Only QUICKLY dip your rice paper sheets in the water. Many recipes will tell you to soak the rice paper sheets in the water until fully softened, and this is what I had done for years and always struggled with the rice paper being super sticky and difficult to work with, often tearing while rolling. You only need to dampen the rice paper sheet and as it sits and you assemble your roll, it will soften and be easy to work with. Rotate your sheet in the bowl of water to ensure the full sheet has been wet.
- Use room temperature or cool water to dip your rice paper sheets, not boiling as some recipes state. This again will lead to your rice paper becoming too soft and sticky and will be difficult to work with. Water from the tap is all you need.
- Only dip one sheet at a time as you’re assembling your rolls otherwise you will end up with the same issue of sticky sheets and can create quite a mess.
- Don’t overfill your rolls. It can be tempting to add a lot of all those yummy fillings but this may make the rice paper tear or be difficult to roll. After a few tries you’ll be able to work out that sweet spot.
While these are best enjoyed fresh, they will keep in the fridge for around 3 days in an airtight container. To prevent sticking, it’s also a great option to individually wrap each roll in plastic wrap as well. Unfortunately these fresh spring rolls are not suitable for freezing.
More healthy lunch ideas:
Vegetarian Fresh Spring Rolls
- 10-12 rice paper wrappers
- 100 grams vermicelli noodles
- 1 carrot
- 1 cucumber
- 1 – 2 avocados
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
easy peanut saucefor dipping
- Start by preparing your filling ingredients. Place vermicelli noodles in a heatproof bowl and soak in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside in cold water until ready to use.
- Chop and slice carrot, cucumber, and avocado and pick the leaves from the fresh mint.
- Assemble the rolls. Fill a wide, shallow bowl with room temperature tap water and quickly dip the rice paper sheet in the water for a few seconds until wet but still stiff. Rotate the sheet in the bowl if necessary to ensure all areas are covered.
- Place wet rice paper on a clean surface. Arrange the vermicelli noodles, veggies, avocado, and mint in the bottom third of the sheet. Fold the bottom end over the filling, then fold the sides and roll upwards, ensuring a tight roll.
- Repeat the process until all rice paper sheets or fillings are used.
- Serve immediately with peanut sauce or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Nutritional information is provided as a guide only and is calculated using automated online tools, therefore we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe.