Filled with marinated tofu and colorful veggies and wrapped in a delicate rice paper wrapper, these rolls are beautiful and packed with flavor and nutrients.
If you're new to plant-based eating, some ingredients may seem unfamiliar to work with at first. Rice paper wrapper was unfamiliar to me as an ingredient to use at home when I first started out.
However, after a quick visit to my local grocery store, I discovered that it is easy to find in the international section. So don't be overwhelmed by ingredients like rice paper wrappers - they are readily available and can make an amazing meal!
What are vegan summer rolls?
Vegan summer rolls, also known as fresh spring rolls or salad rolls, are a popular Vietnamese dish made by wrapping various fresh vegetables, herbs, and protein alternatives in translucent rice paper. They are often served chilled and accompanied by a flavorful dipping sauce.
Why you'll love these rolls
- Vegan summer rolls are the perfect option for a light and refreshing meal any time of year.
- They’re incredibly easy to make.
- They’re easily customizable, so feel free to mix up your fillings and dipping sauces for endless variety. See below for ideas.
- They also travel well, making them good for picnics, potlucks, or lunch at work or school.
- You can serve it at a party where guests can customize their roll with their own preferred fillings and sauces.
- These rolls are a healthier alternative to fried spring rolls.
- You can make a big batch and store them in the fridge for 1-2 days for a quick and easy meal or snack. See storage instructions in the FAQs for the best results.
The beauty of these rolls is that you can add pretty much any veggies you like, so feel free to get creative!
But for this summer roll recipe, gather the following essential ingredients:
- rice paper wrappers
- red bell peppers
- red cabbage
- fresh herbs - your choice of cilantro, mint, basil, or Thai basil
- tofu - alternatively, use tempeh or marinated seitan
- rice wine vinegar, scallions, and soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free) for marinating the tofu and cabbage
How to make vegan summer rolls
Prepare the tofu
Slice the tofu into long rectangular pieces about 1 cm thick. Place in a container along with the soy sauce, scallions, and rice wine vinegar. Marinate it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Marinate the cabbage
Use a mandoline or knife to slice the cabbage. Place in a bowl and combine with 2 tbsps of rice wine vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Prepare the veggies
Slice your veggies into thin sticks, roughly chop your herbs, slice your avocado, and prepare your lettuce.
Prepare the rice paper
Remove the tofu from the fridge and drain the cabbage if necessary.
With all your ingredients prepped, you are ready to prepare the rice paper.
You’ll need to have a pie or baking dish with a few inches of warm water. Dip one sheet of rice paper into the water until it becomes soft and pliable but still slightly firm, around 15 seconds. Lay it flat on a wet towel or damp cutting board (not on a plate, it may stick and rip).
Rolling the summer rolls
Now comes the fun part – adding your fillings and rolling up your summer rolls!
Place a small amount of marinated tofu, veggies, and herbs in the center of the rice paper, leaving about 1-2 inches on either side. If you’re feeling fancy, you can get creative with the placement for a more visually appealing roll.
Next, fold the sides over the filling, then tightly roll the entire thing up, like a burrito. This can take a bit of practice, but don’t worry if your first few rolls aren’t perfect!
Repeat until you’ve used up all your fillings.
Made a dipping sauce
No summer roll is complete without a delicious dipping sauce! While you can certainly buy pre-made sauces in-store, making your own is a great way to create a unique flavor. Try this Simple Thai Peanut Sauce.
Other dipping sauces to complement vegan summer rolls
- Hoisin sauce
- Sweat and sour sauce
- Soy-based sauces: Soy sauce, tamari, or ponzu provide a salty umami flavor.
- Trader Joe's Sweet Chili Sauce
Variations for vegan summer rolls
The filling options for vegan summer rolls are endless. Here are some ideas:
- Variety of veggies and fruits: apples, bean sprouts, mangos slices, spinach, water chestnuts, jicama strips, radishes, pickled ginger, sesame seeds, scallions
- Fresh herbs: use cilantro, mint, or Thai basil
- Rice noodles: cooked rice noodles provide a soft and chewy texture.
- Use tempeh, chickpeas, or marinated seitan instead of tofu
- Make sweet summer rolls using sweet fillings like chocolate, banana, or coconut for a delightful dessert.
Vegan summer rolls have also gained popularity worldwide, with different cultures adding their own influences. Here are some other ways to fill your rolls:
- Korean-style summer rolls: Incorporate kimchi and gochujang for a spicy kick.
- Thai-style summer rolls: Use Thai basil, lemongrass, and chili for vibrant and aromatic rolls.
- Mexican-inspired summer rolls: Add avocado, black beans, and salsa for a fusion of flavors.
Tips for perfecting your rolls
To create the best vegan summer rolls, keep these tips in mind:
- Number 1 tip - Do not soak the rice paper too long, as it will become almost impossible to work with and will rip easily.
- Cut vegetables and herbs into thin, uniform strips. This makes them easier to roll and eat when they’re shaped the same.
- Do not overstuff the rice paper wrapper to prevent tearing.
- Keep a water bowl nearby to wet your hands while working with the wrappers. They can get sticky!
- Serve the rolls soon after assembly for the freshest taste, or cover them with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
- Make sure to roll the summer rolls on a wet towel or damp cutting board instead of a plate. This will help prevent them from sticking and tearing.
Yes, you can prepare the fillings and store them separately. Assemble the rolls just before serving to maintain their freshness.
Vegan summer rolls can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari to marinate the tofu.
If you have leftover rolls, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Place a damp towel over the rolls to prevent the rice paper from drying to maintain its freshness.
I do not recommend freezing the rolls. The texture of the rice paper may change upon thawing. It is best to consume them fresh for the best flavor.
Place a small sheet of parchment paper between each roll or wrap the assembled rolls in a sheet of parchment paper before placing them in the lunch box or picnic basket. This will help keep the rolls from sticking together and maintain their freshness.
If you do not eat your rolls within 4-6 hours, place them in an airtight container lined with a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out.
- 14 ounces extra firm tofu (1 container; cut into long rectangular strips about 1 cm around)
- 8 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (divided (6 tbsps for the tofu marinade, 2 tbsps for the cabbage))
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 scallions
- 2 carrots (cut into long matchsticks or buy shredded)
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1 red bell pepper (cut into long matchsticks)
- 1 English cucumber (cut into long matchsticks)
- 1-2 avocados (sliced )
- ½ cup fresh basil (alternatively, use regular mint, Thai basil, or cilantro.)
- lettuce (butter lettuce is delicious in this recipe)
- 12 rice paper wrappers
- peanut sauce
Prep the ingredients
- Place the tofu with 6 tbsps of vinegar, soy sauce, and scallions in a small bowl. Let it sit submerged in the mixture for 30 minutes to one hour in the fridge. Shake it gently halfway through to ensure all the tofu is marinating.
- Meanwhile, toss the shredded red cabbage with the remaining vinegar. Let it sit for 30 minutes to soften.
- While the tofu marinates and the cabbage sits, julienne your veggies into thin matchsticks, roughly chop your herbs, and slice the lettuce and avocado.
- Drain the cabbage and remove as much liquid as possible. Pat dry with a paper towel.
Preparing the Rice Paper
- To prepare the rice paper, you must have a pie dish or a tray with a few inches of warm water. Dip one sheet of rice paper into the water until it becomes soft and pliable (around 15-20 seconds), then lay it flat on a wet towel or damp cutting board instead of a plate. This can take a bit of practice, but don’t worry if your first few rolls aren’t perfect!
Rolling the Summer Rolls
- Now comes the fun part – adding your fillings and rolling up your summer rolls!
Place a small amount of your veggies and herbs in the center of the rice paper, leaving about 1-2 inches on either side.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can get creative with the placement for a more visually appealing roll.
Next, fold the sides over the filling, then tightly roll the entire thing up, like a burrito. Repeat until you’ve used up all your fillings.
Making the Dipping Sauce
- No summer roll is complete without a delicious dipping sauce! While there are great pre-made sauces in-store, making your own is super easy. Try this Simple Thai Peanut Sauce.
Make sure to roll the summer rolls on a wet towel or damp cutting board instead of a plate. This will help prevent them from sticking and tearing.
These rolls are easily customizable to your taste preferences, so feel free to mix up your fillings and dipping sauces for endless variety! See the post for ideas.
To make this gluten-free, substitute soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos when marinating the tofu.
Vegan summer rolls are best when fresh, within 4-6 hours. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days in an air-tight container, but they may lose some crunchiness. For the tastiest experience, enjoy them soon after making them.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Category: lunch, main course
- Cuisine: Asian-Inspired
- Calories: 120
- Sugar: 2
- Sodium: 311
- Fat: 3
- Saturated Fat: 1
- Carbohydrates: 17
- Fiber: 3
- Protein: 6
- Cholesterol: 2
Keywords: 30 minute meals, black bean vegan meal, dairy free lasagna, gluten free, plant-based dessert, raw