When you hear "spring roll," you might think of the deep-fried variety made famous by Chinese takeout joints, but today we're sharing a Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls recipe for a much lighter, plant-based, and deliciously made with soft rice paper wraps instead.
Finding simple vegan lunches that don't require much prep-work is critical. While we love beans, we get tired of eating them day after day. Though there are plenty of options, it's hard to completely disguise the taste and texture of beans and chickpeas in any dish.
When you’re ready for a change of protein, these veggie spring rolls are one of the best go-to meals.
Fresh veggies, vibrant herbs like mint and cilantro, and pan-fried tofu get wrapped up in a soft rice paper and served with a rich peanut sauce - these rolls are a legitimate flavor explosion in your mouth!
Follow our simple recipe below and enjoy your fresh Vietnamese spring rolls with tofu.
What is a spring roll?
Fresh spring rolls, also called summer rolls, are a commonly enjoyed Vietnamese dish made with fresh veggies, herbs, and protein (usually shrimp or tofu.)
These rolls are generally wrapped in a soft rice paper wrapper, like a mini Asian burrito, and served with all sorts of delicious dipping sauce.
Vietnamese spring roll recipe FAQ
Keep reading for a little extra guidance on preparing these delicious vegan spring rolls!
Do I need to press the tofu?
The tofu pressing step is crucial to the preparation process, and skipping it is where most people go wrong - unpressed tofu remains soggy, no matter how long you cook it.
We love using a tofu press like this to make pressing a quick, 15-minute process. If you don't own a press, you can also place your tofu block wrapped in a few pieces of paper towel between two heavy plates or between cutting boards with a heavyweight on top. Leave your tofu to press for 2-3 hours minimum using this method.
Can I use another type of tofu?
You can use either firm or extra-firm tofu in this recipe, as they both have a lower water content that's ideal for pan-frying.
Unfortunately, substituting silken, soft, or even regular tofu doesn't work in this recipe, as their high water content makes them a soggy, crumbly mess.
Are spring rolls gluten-free?
Yes! This vegetarian spring rolls recipe is entirely gluten-free, as both the vermicelli noodles and rice papers are rice-based and gluten-free. If you have a gluten allergy, it's still a great idea to check your labels closely, as some brands may add in unsuitable ingredients from time to time.
Are spring rolls healthy?
Vietnamese fresh spring rolls are incredibly healthy for you - they're full of veggies, lean protein, and low-calorie rice rolls.
Crispy spring rolls that you get in Chinese takeout are pretty unhealthy as they're deep-fried in a ton of oil and served with sugar-laden dipping sauces. Stick to the fresh ones, which honestly taste better, anyway.
Are there any other dipping sauces for spring rolls I can use?
Don't like spring roll peanut sauce? No worries! You can substitute another nut butter in your peanut sauce for spring rolls instead, like almond or cashew.
Or, you can use a different sauce flavor all together! Here are two other types of spring roll sauce you can substitute instead.
Sweet and spicy dip sauce for spring rolls
- 1/4 c. rice vinegar
- 1/2 c. + 1 Tbsp water
- 1/4 c. coconut sugar
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 red chili, finely chopped, or 1 Tbsp dried red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- In a saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, 1/2 c. water, sugar, garlic, soy sauce, and chili flakes. Cook the sauce ingredients over medium heat and stir well to dissolve the coconut sugar.
- In a small-sized mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together the 1 Tbsp of water and 2 tsp arrowroot powder. Whisk the mixture until combined well. Slowly drizzle the mixture into the saucepan and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. It's ready when a dipped spoon comes out well-coated.
- Remove the sauce from heat and serve!
Yum sauce for spring rolls
- 1/2 c. mayo
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1-2 Tbsp water
- In a small-sized mixing bowl, combine all of your sauce ingredients - mayo, ketchup, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, sea salt, and water.
- Whisk the mixture until well-combined, then taste and add more salt to taste. If desired, thin with another Tbsp of water.
Final notes: Vietnamese tofu spring rolls
These spring rolls have such a deliciously fresh taste, and as such, they're best when fresh.
You can leave them wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for a day or two, but the rice paper will firm up, even when stored in the fridge under a damp towel.
Stick to eating these rolls as fast as possible, but once you taste them, making them disappear will be easy work!
Tofu Spring Rolls With Spicy Lime-Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu
1 c. Napa cabbage, shredded and packed
1 c. carrots, shredded and packed
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 c. fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 c. rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
12–15 rice paper wrappers
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
3 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1–2 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 small fresh lime, juiced
1 Tbsp hot water
Tofu spring rolls
Spicy peanut-lime sauce
Making the peanut-lime sauce
Place all sauce ingredients into a small mixing bowl - smooth peanut butter, soy sauce, Sriracha, hoisin, lime juice, and hot water.
Whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined, then set aside.
Making the tofu Vietnamese spring rolls
Remove your firm or extra-firm tofu block from the package and place it in a tofu press. Leave to drain for 15 mins. Once fully drained, remove the tofu block from the press.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet on the stovetop over medium heat.
While the skillet heats, slice the tofu into 1-inch thick slabs so they lay flat on the rice wrappers for easier rolling later.
Add 1 Tbsp of cooking oil, as desired. Place the tofu slabs in a single, flat layer in the skillet, and leave to fry for 2-3 mins. Once the tofu is golden brown, flip and cook it on the other side for another 2-3 mins.
Once cooked, remove the tofu slabs from the skillet and brush the Vietnamese peanut sauce thickly on one side of the tofu.
Shred your spring roll ingredients - the Napa cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and fresh mint.
Cook your rice vermicelli noodles according to their package instructions.
Slice your tofu into smaller pieces that will fit into each wrapped veggie roll easily.
Boil water, let it cool slightly, then pour it into a shallow dish with a broad base. Place 1 rice paper in the water for 10-15 secs, then remove the wrap.
Place the softened rice paper on a cutting board and lay it flat.*
Place the tofu on the rice paper wraps, sauce side down. Then add vermicelli noodles, shredded cabbage, carrots, mint, and cilantro on the bottom ⅓ of the rice paper.
Fold the rice paper over the ingredients once, about another ⅓ up the wrap. Tuck in the edges, and continue rolling up until there is no extra rice paper left and the seam seals.
Place the rice paper rolls seam-side down on a plate or serving platter, and cover with a warm, damp towel to keep the papers from drying out.
Repeat the process with each veggie spring roll until you use up all ingredients in your rice paper rolls.
Serve these fresh tofu spring rolls immediately with the leftover peanut dipping sauce!
*A little ripping is okay, but if it rips significantly, get a fresh rice paper and start the process again. They can be a bit delicate when soft, so it might take some practice to learn how to roll spring rolls like a total pro!