Classic egg rolls are fried, savory rolls wrapped in a wheat flour wrapper. They are filled with cabbage, carrots, onions, and sometimes chopped roasted pork. The fried skin of an egg roll has little crackly bubbles that are crisp and fun to eat. The name is a misnomer since there are no eggs in egg rolls!
These are the vegetarian egg rolls I grew up making. They are like the large, stuffed egg rolls you often find at your friendly neighborhood Chinese takeout. They aren’t the small spring rolls you get as a side, but the hefty ones served as appetizers.
Egg rolls are served with a dipping sauce like Chinese hot mustard, sweet-and-sour duck sauce, or a spicy chili sauce. As kids, we ate them with soy sauce on the side.
Tips for Making Egg Rolls
It’s pretty easy to make egg rolls. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be filling and rolling in no time. Here are a few tips to help you along.
- To make prep easier and quicker use store-bought shredded cabbage.
- Squeeze out or strain any excess moisture from the filling before wrapping your egg rolls. Moisture in the filling may pop and sizzle in the oil, which can be dangerous. Also, a drier filling will keep the fried wrapper nice and crispy. For this recipe, I drain the cooked vegetables in a colander over a bowl.
- Be sure not to overfill the egg rolls and seal the edges tightly with some water. I use water to seal the rolls but you can use an egg wash instead. It’ll give you a stickier seal.
- Don’t worry if the egg rolls are not even in size. They will taste great regardless.
- A Chinese bamboo strainer or spider is a great tool for moving the egg rolls around in the hot oil, but long bamboo chopsticks work just as well.
How to Fry Egg Rolls
You want to maintain the temperature of the oil at 325°F. The pot should be deep enough to fully submerge the rolls for even cooking. Fry them until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes. The trick is to keep them moving in the oil. I use long wooden chopsticks to gently move them as they fry.
I make and fry one egg roll to taste the filling and adjust the seasoning. The filling may taste a bit salty when you eat it by itself but may not be seasoned enough once you’ve fried it.
Once I’m happy with the filling, I finish wrapping the remaining egg rolls. Then I always fry one or two egg rolls to test if the oil is the right temperature. Remember the temperature of the oil will drop every time you add a new batch. So, the subsequent batches of egg rolls will take a little longer to cook. Just be sure to get the oil back up to 325°F before frying the next batch of egg rolls.
Egg Roll Variations
Egg rolls are super versatile and can be filled with any number of your favorite ingredients. Once you get the hang of it feel free to get creative.
- This is a vegetarian version, but you could add half pound of ground pork, ground chicken, chopped shrimp, or even crumbled tofu to the filling.
- Shredded zucchini, cooked glass noodles, grated onions, or dried shiitake mushrooms are great additions. If you’re using dried shiitake mushrooms, soften them in warm water, and be sure to squeeze out the extra liquid before adding it to the filling
- Five spice is a blend of five ground spices: star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds. It’s used in regional Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine. If you don’t have any, add any of the individual spices, or simply leave it out.
- You can use black pepper instead of white pepper.
- Use garlic powder or ground ginger, if you don’t have fresh ones.
How to Store and Reheat Egg Rolls
To Freeze Uncooked Egg Rolls: Dust the uncooked egg rolls with a little flour or cornstarch. Lay them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze them for about an hour. They will be partially frozen. Transfer them into a freezer-friendly zip top bag, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing it. Freeze for up to six months.
To Freeze Leftover Egg Rolls: Make sure they are fully cooled. Place them in a zip top bag and freeze for up to six months.
To Reheat Egg Rolls: Place them in a 350°F oven or an air fryer set to 325°F until warmed through and crispy. I don’t recommend microwaving them since they will lose their crispness.
To Fry Frozen Egg Rolls: Don’t defrost the egg rolls before frying. They will turn mushy. You can pop them straight into the hot oil. Fry for about 3 to 5 minutes, then turn the heat up to get that crispy brown exterior. Be sure to use a splatter screen to minimize any oil splashing from the ice crystals that may have formed around the egg rolls in the freezer.
Because Fried Food Tastes Amazing
Feel free to use store-bought shredded cabbage and carrots. You could also use a shredder attachment on a food processor to shred the cabbage, carrots, and celery.
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for frying
2 1/2 pound green cabbage, shredded
4 medium carrots, shredded
6 stalks celery, shredded
1 cup fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed and finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting the tray
1 package egg roll wrappers (about 24 wrappers)
Chinese hot mustard
Cook the vegetables:
In a large wok or a large skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the cabbage, carrots, celery, mushroom, garlic, and ginger, and cook stirring frequently until the vegetables are limp and tender, about 5 minutes.
Depending on the size of your wok or skillet, you may have to do this in two batches.
Season the filling:
Turn off the heat and add the green onions, sesame oil, salt, five spice powder (if using), and white pepper. Toss to combine.
Drain the filling:
Place a large colander over a large bowl. Transfer the filling into the colander and allow it to drain and fully cool.
Set up a wrapping station:
Lightly sprinkle flour on a large tray or baking sheet. This will ensure the egg rolls don’t stick to the tray. Fill a small bowl with water for sealing the egg rolls and set it next to the tray.
Fill the egg rolls:
Place one wrapper flat on a cutting board or the kitchen counter with one of the corners towards you, so it looks like a diamond. Keep the remaining wrappers covered with a kitchen towel so that they don’t dry out.
Place a loosely packed 1/2 cup of filling off-center near the corner closest to you.
Roll the egg rolls:
Fold the corner closest to you over the filling. Fold the two side corners inwards so it looks like an envelope.
Dip your finger into the prepared water and wet the top corner. Roll the egg roll from the filling side upwards. Place the egg roll on the prepared tray seam-side down.
Repeat with the remaining wrappers, lining up the egg rolls on the tray in a single layer.
Heat frying oil:
Set a wire rack over a baking sheet. You will be placing the fried egg rolls on the rack. This allows the egg rolls to cool without steaming and getting soggy.
In a medium pot, add enough oil to come about 2 inches up the sides of the pot. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325°F. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, you can test the temperature.
Fry the egg rolls:
To test the oil temperature, carefully place one or two egg rolls into the oil. The oil should bubble up around the egg rolls. If it doesn’t, increase the heat. Fry for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Keep them moving in the oil using long wooden chopsticks or tongs to make sure they fry evenly.
Transfer the fried egg roll onto the prepared rack to drain, leaving space between each so that they don’t steam and become soggy.
Repeat with the rest of the egg rolls, frying about 5 or so at a time, depending on the size of your pot. You want enough space between each egg roll for them to float around freely without touching each other for even cooking.
Serve the egg rolls warm, but not burn-your-mouth hot, with a side of Chinese hot mustard, duck sauce, or chili sauce.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 12g||15%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||10%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 19mg||95%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|