Don’t be intimated! Delicious crispy egg rolls are easy to make. I’ll show you my essential tips for filling, folding, and frying success. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice, and you have an excellent appetizer before starting your meal.
Table of Contents
Egg rolls are a hard finger-food to resist, as each bite has the perfect balance of crunchy texture and savory filling. When I order Chinese food, this appetizer always ends up in the takeout bag. I use fresh-cut vegetables like cabbage, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and green onions for this recipe. However, you can easily customize the filling with ground meat for a heartier option.
Once you fill and fold the pieces, the deep-frying step creates that extra crispy and golden shell. The critical component is to use a high smoke point oil with a neutral flavor for cooking several batches. The hardest part is deciding what type of sauce to dip them in.
Make the filling
To make a colorful filling with various textures, I use thinly sliced napa cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts. Shiitake mushrooms add subtle savory and umami notes, with a chewy, almost meaty bite. Minced ginger and garlic provide strong aromatics and intense flavors.
The vegetables are stir fry in a wok or saute pan until soft and tender. These ingredients release a lot of moisture, so the cooking process evaporates most of the liquid, preventing soggy egg rolls. I use a little bit of sesame oil and soy sauce for seasoning the filling mixture.
Chill and drain
After stir-frying, I recommend spreading the vegetable filling on a sheet tray and chilling it in the refrigerator. The vegetables will release further moisture during the cooling process. Also, tilt the pan to gather any excess liquid, then drain. You don’t want the filling to be soggy or overly wet when adding it to the frying oil.
You can find Asian wrappers in the refrigerated section of most major grocery stores or Asian markets. They typically come in two types; “egg roll wrappers” are thick, heavy, and flexible, while “spring roll wrappers” are thin and papery, similar to ones used for lumpia.
The spring roll variety is extra crispy but is harder to find. People often confuse them with the white-colored Vietnamese rice paper wrapper. The thicker egg roll wrappers will be a little chewier and require a few extra minutes of frying time. Both are good options, though.
How to wrap an egg roll
If using egg roll wrappers, place the dusted cornstarch-side facing up. The sticky starches make it easier to seal the roll together. Spread about three tablespoons of filling to the corner of the wrapper. Tightly roll and tuck so that they stay together when frying. You want to remove as much excess air and space as possible between the filling and wrapper. Brush water on the sides and top of the wrapper to help seal it.
If using the thinner spring roll wrappers, use egg whites because those wrappers don’t have cornstarch on the surface and the albumin proteins are tackier. Alternatively, you can ditch the wrapper altogether and make an egg roll bowl.
In between rolling, make sure to cover the wrappers with a damp paper towel because they dry out quickly once you open the package. The wet paper towel will keep them pliable. At this point, the egg rolls are ready to fry, or you can freeze them to use later. If storing, make sure to freeze them in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan and then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag or airtight container.
When deep-frying, it’s essential to select the proper oil for cooking. You want something with a high smoke point like peanut oil or canola oil (around 450°F/232°C).
The egg rolls fry at 350°F (177°C), therefore at least a 50-degree temperature buffer prevents the oil from breaking down too quickly with prolonged use in between batches. These oils are also neutral in taste so that the egg rolls don’t absorb a strong undesirable flavor.
Use a deep-fry thermometer or instant-read thermometer to verify the oil reaches 350°F (177°C). Try to maintain this temperature throughout the frying process. If the oil gets too hot, the wrapper will brown too quickly, but the filling won’t have enough time to crisp. Simply turn down the heat and wait until the temperature drops down.
I like to work in small batches, two or three at a time. Since the process goes quickly, this ensures they get evenly cooked. A stainless steel spider strainer or metal tongs come in handy for moving the items, draining excess oil, and safely removing the egg rolls from the pot.
What to serve this with
How to choose the right oil for deep frying
The goal of deep-frying is to achieve a crisp and golden brown exterior while properly cooking the inside filling. Choose an oil that has a neutral flavor and high smoke point, comfortably above the frying temperature. You don’t want the oil to break down. Otherwise, an unpleasant odor and taste will transfer to the food.
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Homemade Egg Rolls
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 cups shiitake mushrooms, ⅛-inch thick slices
- 1 ½ cup carrots, matchstick or shredded
- 3 cups napa cabbage, ⅛-inch thick slices
- 1 ½ cups bean sprouts
- ⅓ cup green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 cup water, for brushing
- 10 egg roll wrappers, 6 ½ inch
- 6 cups peanut oil, or canola oil, plus more as needed to reach 3-inches in depth
- Heat a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat, then add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the mushrooms and saute for 1 minute. Add the carrots and saute for 1 minute. Add the cabbage and saute for 1 minute. Add the bean sprouts and green onions and saute for 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
- Transfer filling mixture to a sheet pan, spread into an even layer, and cool in the refrigerator, about 15 minutes. Drain any excess moisture from the pan after cooling.
- Add the water to a small bowl and have a brush ready. Make sure to cover the wrappers with a damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.
- One a cutting board, place one wrapper with the dusted cornstarch-side facing up and a corner pointed towards you. Add 3 tablespoons of filling to the lower third closest to you, making a 4-inch long mound. Tightly roll from the bottom corner towards the top, until about halfway up.Press on the edges of the filling to make sure it's packed and even. Brush a small amount of water on the left and right corners of the wrapper. Tightly fold the corners of the wrapper towards the center so it looks like an opened envelope.Brush the top corner of the wrapper with water. Tightly roll until it's completely sealed. Each roll should be about 4 inches long and about 1 ¼-inch wide. Repeat the process with the remaining egg rolls.
- In a large pot, add enough peanut oil to fill about 3-inches in depth. Heat oil over medium heat until it reaches 350°F (177°C), this temperature should be maintained throughout frying.
- Working in batches, add 3 to 4 egg rolls at a time into the hot oil. Occasionally move them for even cooking to achieve a crisp texture and golden brown surface, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Transfer egg rolls to a paper towel-lined baking sheet with a cooling rack on top. Repeat the cooking process with additional egg rolls.
- Serve immediately with desired dipping sauce.
- Freezing uncooked egg rolls: Freeze in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan and then transfer to a resealable plastic bag or airtight container for up to 3 months. Fry directly from the freezer until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Making a larger batch: For 20 egg rolls, cook double the amount of filling and use 20 wrappers.
- Using thin spring roll wrappers: Add 2 tablespoons of filling and spread into a 4-inch long mound. Brush the wrapper with egg whites for better sticking. Fry until golden brown and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. The thinner wrapper cooks faster. Makes about 15 egg rolls.
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