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Table of popular restaurants included.

Spring rolls may or may not have gluten, depending on how they are prepared. This is dependent on the wrapper used, the cooking method, and the use of soy sauce. A common search for “is spring roll gluten free?” is because there is no straightforward answer, but this article will clear things up. I also include a list of popular restaurants, checking if their spring rolls are gluten free.

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Egg Rolls vs. Spring Rolls

Part of the confusion is between egg rolls and spring rolls.  Egg rolls are fried in crispy wrapper made from wheat and typically contain meat, cabbage, and other vegetables.  Traditional spring rolls are typically lighter, containing just vegetables, with wrappers made from rice, water, and sometimes tapioca flour, which are naturally gluten-free ingredients. 

Method of Cooking: Fried or Fresh

Spring rolls can be either fried or non-fried, depending on the recipe and personal preference. Traditional spring rolls, can be prepared in two main ways:

Fried Spring Rolls: These are typically made with a wheat-based or rice flour wrapper and filled with ingredients like vegetables, meat, and sometimes noodles. They are deep-fried until crispy, resulting in a crunchy texture.

Fresh Spring Rolls: Also known as summer rolls or fresh rolls, these are made with rice paper wrappers and filled with fresh vegetables, herbs, and sometimes shrimp or tofu. They are not fried and are served cold or at room temperature, offering a lighter and fresher alternative to the fried version.

Gluten-free diet considerations

One must also consider the method of cooking if following a gluten-free diet.  Even if the spring rolls are made with crispy light shell made from rice flour but fried in shared oil where wheat products are fried, it can have a trace amount of gluten and not considered safe for anyone with Celiacs or gluten intolerance.  Another often overlooked factor is the type of soy sauce used, as soy sauce contains gluten.  

Tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos would be a gluten-free alternative for gluten free soy sauce. 

Gluten Dilemma: Unraveling the Contradictory Information

Doing a quick search for this topic has so much contradictory information, with one site stating spring rolls are gluten-free while the next site has a spring roll recipe using wheat flour. 

The exact origin of egg rolls is a bit unclear and is a subject of some debate. However, it is generally agreed that egg rolls are a variation of spring rolls and likely have their roots in Chinese cuisine. The concept of wrapping ingredients in a thin dough and frying them has ancient origins in Chinese culinary traditions. 

Spring rolls have a long history and are also believed to have originated in Chinese cuisine. They are traditionally consumed during the Spring Festival, which marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. The symbolism of consuming spring rolls during this festival is associated with welcoming the arrival of spring and new beginnings.

It is my belief that adaptations have occurred over the years, by region, and the United States is heavily dependent on wheat flour.  In fact, in all my years of teaching cooking classes, I have found little to no experience using anything other than wheat flour.  It is cheaper for a restaurant to use wheat than white sorghum flour, or garbanzo bean flour, or fava bean flour, which is indeed made from fava beans. These would be great protein sources, especially for gluten-free vegan spring rolls!

We often forgo the health benefits for the sake of convenience.  Wheat flour is easily accessible at the local grocery store, it is cheap, and has a long shelf life.  

Gluten Free Spring Roll Option

Being gluten-free since 2008 there are many things I couldn’t have. Learning to check the nutritional facts at restaurants, asking your server to double-check, and reading labels is imperative. I took the liberty to check the most popular restaurants, serving spring rolls, and according to their nutritional facts, their spring rolls are not gluten-free. 

PF ChangsNo
Pei WeiNo
Leeann ChinNo
Panda ExpressNo
Pick Up StixNo
Cheesecake FactoryNo
Spring rolls from popular restaurants

Having been in the restaurant business, the problem is that the sources for ingredients have been consolidated by the distributors, like Sysco or Gordon Food Service, meaning all restaurants are obtaining the same ingredients.  GFS offers pre-made Spring Rolls that many restaurants use.  

If you are purchasing pre-made spring rolls or dining at a restaurant, it’s essential to inquire about the ingredients in the wrappers, how they are prepared (fried in shared oil), and if soy sauce is used at all in the filling.  

If you are making spring rolls at home and want to ensure they are gluten-free, look for rice paper sheets explicitly labeled as gluten-free or check the ingredient list to verify that no wheat or gluten-containing ingredients are present.

Make Your Own Spring Rolls 

There are many great recipes for spring rolls, but in true Freedom Kitchen fashion, we simplify this down to the simplest form of the original recipe.  Check out our recipe for a veggie spring roll made with a rice wrapper and fresh produce.

Get creative based on your personal tastes, using fresh veggies, or fresh sprouts like green pea and mung bean. Fresh herbs, like mint leaves, are a great way to to add flavor.  The best part of making your own spring rolls is knowing they are so much healthier, without added sugars, MSG, or use of trans fat. Choose GMO free ingredients and feel good about serving these to your family. 

Make sure you check out the recipes for:

GF Sprouted Veggie Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls Dipping Sauce

Salmon Spring Rolls

As with everything on this site, these have been tested in my cooking classes with kids. Freedom Kitchen Kids approved. 

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About Lisa Jendza

Cooking is the competitive advantage for your child. As a former IT Consultant turned health coach my classes are an experiential process to teach critical thinking. The courage, confidence and creativity derived from my classes will impact all areas of their life. Freedom begins and ends in the kitchen.