These gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan homemade summer rolls are healthy and fresh. Made from rice noodles and sautéed veggies wrapped in rice paper sheets with a soy-garlic dipping sauce, this recipe can be made as a full meal or light appetizer.
These homemade summer rolls were inspired by an event that my work hosted for staff appreciation day a few weeks back.
Because we couldn't all come together for an event of course, Zoom cooking classes with professional chefs were organized for the team where we could choose our menu! I opted for the Asian roll meal, as I had never worked with rice paper before and was intimidated but determined to learn.
As soon as we got into it, the chef began literally zooming through the lesson at a mile a minute, meanwhile I was still julienning my vegetables... fail! Since I couldn't follow along in real time, I stepped back and observed so that I would know what to expect when I attempted it afterwards.
He made it seem so easy! As soon as the stream was over, I got back to cooking, trying to recreate each step as accurately as possible. I sure took my time that first try, but I did it! I cooked the veggies for the filling, made a dipping sauce, and even got the roll tight on my first time! If I could do it then so can you!
I then ate my glorious summer rolls, so proud of myself that I was able to handle the rice paper with ease. I even taught my sister and boyfriend how to roll and they got it on their first try too!
We then made these incredible waffle ice cream sandwiches for dessert. You've got to try them. All around it was a fantastic day of work!
The follow up was where things got spicy. As I still had half the ingredients left a few days later, I decided to crack at it again, putting my own twist on the chef's instructions. And that is how this recipe was born!
I played with the vegetables included, the sauce ingredients and spice level, and added some additional fresh ingredients to the filling when rolling. And you can too! While this recipe is written the way I enjoy it, feel free to add some personalization to these homemade summer rolls. Once you get the technique down, anything added is just a flavour boost. If I can do it then you can too!
What you need to make homemade summer rolls
I'll be honest, there's a lot of ingredients in this recipe. As a recent university grad, you can be sure that I have a budget-conscious mind. That's why it's great that this recipe is so customizable! You can choose the veggies you want to include, rice products are inexpensive, and you probably have the majority of the sauce ingredients in your pantry already.
Since there's a lot of ingredients to spell out, I'm going to describe the 3 main components of this dish: the filling, the sauce, and the roll. For the specific ingredient list, see the recipe card below.
The bulk of the filling is a combination of sautéed vegetables and vermicelli rice noodles. I use vegetables such as:
- Bell peppers
- Savoy cabbage
- Red chilli pepper
And it is so good! I love vegetables and this combo is great. Feel free to edit as you wish.
The next part of the filling is vermicelli. I had attempted to use vermicelli a few times in various stir fries, however they typically ended up in one large gummy noodle ball. I find success here in soaking them in a large bowl with boiling water for a few minutes until they soften up, then briefly rinsing with cold water to stop the cooking process. I then rip them up a bit with my hands to ensure they aren't in one large chunk. Easy!
The sauce is the real flavour kick in these rolls. I like to use a combination of:
- Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- Chilli garlic sauce
- Coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- Extra chillis and garlic
- Salt & pepper
You can surely add sesame oil or rice vinegar if you have them on hand, I just rarely find a dish that requires them so I don't have any regularly in the pantry. I love the balance created by the chilli garlic sauce and the coconut sugar. This sauce is delicious. It is cooked with the filling and reserved as a dipping sauce.
The grand finale! While getting the proper rice paper roll technique is very important, there is also opportunity for more fillings to be added right at the end! Since the bulk of the filling is cooked and cooled, I like to add some freshness to these summer rolls with:
- Raw red chilli peppers
And you can insert anything you like! I tried the mango on my second time here and it was game-changing. So fresh! I highly recommend you add some of these fresh toppings to your filling just before rolling.
How to make homemade summer rolls
The steps to make these homemade summer rolls are very straightforward, and with a little bit of time, patience, and practice, you'll be a pro in no time!
The first step - which is the most labour-intensive - is to julienne all of your vegetables. This is why I fell behind in the live cooking class. But no pressure! When it's just you at home, you can take your sweet time to ensure that all your veggies are cut properly.
Next, you'll want to prepare the sauce by mixing all of the sauce ingredients in a measuring cup or bowl. Having this done ahead of time will save you from scrambling while things are cooking and moving fast.
Once ready to go, you can begin heating some avocado oil in a large skillet or wok. First, you'll want to add in your heartier vegetables like the carrots and onion. Let those sweat down for a couple of minutes before adding in the rest of the filling vegetables. You'll want to stir this often to ensure that all vegetables are cooking! Add half of the sauce mix during the last minute of cooking.
While that's going on, you'll want to place your vermicelli in a large bowl and completely submerge in boiling water. Watch them for timing, but it should take a couple of minutes for them to soften up. Once ready, drain and rinse with some cool water to stop the cooking process. You'll want to use your hands or some kitchen scissors to break them apart so you don't have one big ball of noodles. These should be ready just as the vegetables are finished cooking.
Place the entire vegetable mixture on a large sheet pan and mix in the vermicelli. Place in the fridge or freezer for 5-10 minutes to cool down. While that's chilling, you can set up your rolling station.
You'll need to have:
- A large bowl of lukewarm water
- A kitchen towel laid on the counter
- A plate
- Your fresh fillings
Once cool, have your sheet pan nearby as well. Then it's time to get rolling!
This step-by-step graphic will help you craft the perfect summer roll every time!
Step 1 is to get your roll ready. Take a sheet of rice paper and submerge it in the large bowl of lukewarm water, flipping upside down continuously for about 30 seconds. You'll know it's ready to be rolled when the paper has softened up, but is still slightly rigid. The water will continue to absorb into the rice paper when you lay it down.
Centre the rice paper on your kitchen towel. Lay some filling in the lower centre of the sheet. Be sure to add in your fresh fillings as well.
Step 2 is to fold the left and right sides towards the centre. Be sure to make it as tight as you can.
Step 3 is to wrap the bottom up and over the filling. It's important that this is really tight. Continue rolling until you get to Step 4, a completed homemade summer roll! See, it wasn't that hard.
All you have to do now is continue rolling, eat, and enjoy! I recommend using the reserved sauce mix to dip - it's soooo good. I would also suggest only rolling the quantity that you are immediately going to eat. You can store any remaining filling in the fridge for up to 1 day, however pre-rolled rolls would get gummy and not keep well. All you'll have to do is soak the rice paper and roll the next day.
I hope you can see how easy working with rice paper rolls are. If I can do it, I know you've got this! The end result is so worth it - healthy and fresh summer rolls that are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. Enjoy!
Have you made these homemade summer rolls? Be sure to leave a comment telling me how much you loved them, and tag me on instagram @livglutenfree! I hope you enjoy as much as I do!
More Gluten-Free Mains
Homemade Summer Rolls [GF, DF, V]
- 150 g Vermicelli noodles
- 3 tablespoon Avocado oil
- ½ head Savoy cabbage washed & chopped
- 2 Bell peppers julienned
- 2 Carrots julienned
- ½ Red onion julienned
- 1 Red chilli pepper chopped
- ¼ cup Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon Coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoon Chilli garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon Fresh ginger peeled & chopped
- 1 Pinch Salt, pepper, dried chilli flakes
- 1 package Rice paper sheets 8 inch diameter
- Handful Cilantro to taste
- 1 Red chilli pepper raw & chopped, to taste
- 1 Ataulfo mango julienned
- Prepare all vegetables by washing and chopping as prescribed.
- Combine sauce ingredients in a measuring cup or bowl.
- Heat avocado oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add carrots and onion first and let cook for a few minutes. Then add the rest of the filling vegetables. Stir often and cook until soft. Add half of the sauce and cook for the last minute. This whole process should take about 7 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, soak vermicelli in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes until soft. Be sure to watch them so they don't over-soak and become gummy. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- Transfer the vegetable mixture and the vermicelli to a large sheet pan. Place in the fridge or freezer to cool for about 5-10 minutes.
- Once ready, take the filling mixture out and set up your workspace. You will want a large bowl of lukewarm water, a plate, a kitchen towel laid on the counter, and the sheet pan and other toppings to be handy.
- Take 1 rice paper sheet and fully submerge in the large bowl. Continually flip the sheet over for about 30 seconds. The sheet is ready when it has slightly softened, but is still a bit firm.
- Place the rice paper on the towel. Place a scoop of filling in the lower centre of the sheet. Add any fresh fillings such as cilantro, chilli pepper, or mango.
- To roll, fold the left and right sides in as tight as you can. Then, take the bottom and wrap it around the filling, and keep rolling tightly until complete.
- Repeat the rolling until you have enough rolls. If you are not going to immediately eat the summer rolls, you can store the filling in the fridge in an airtight container for 1 day, and roll right before serving. Pre-rolled rolls will turn gummy and not keep very well.
- Dip the summer rolls into the reserved sauce and enjoy! You've made a fresh and healthy dish that is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.