You probably have ordered spring rolls or egg rolls before, but do you know what they are? It can be confusing, particularly because they look very similar. In some cases, you can be making a huge mistake if you choose one over the other without knowing.
Before going out to your favorite Asian restaurant, take a look at this article and find out which is the best option for you.
What Is A Spring Roll?
A spring roll is a filled and rolled appetizer found across many Asian cuisines. The type of wrapper, filling, and preparation depends on the geographic location and regional cuisine. The wrapper used in spring rolls is usually light and can sometimes be translucent.
You may come across spring rolls that do not contain any meat in them, instead, they are made with some sort of vegetable combination. The most common vegetable mixes include shredded carrots, bean sprouts, and maybe some other vegetables. If meat is to be added, it is usually pork.
When it comes to preparation, you should cook a spring roll similarly across cuisines. The meat is cooked in oil first, then the vegetables are added along with sauces, and spices. You can then spread the filling onto the wrapper, roll it, then bake it or fry it.
Spring rolls can vary in terms of nutrition, the information below is for chicken spring rolls. A 100 g serving spring rolls has the following nutritional content (*):
- 179 calories
- 11.4 g protein
- 7.86 g fat
- 14.3 g carbohydrate
- 0.7 g fiber
- 686 mg sodium
- 14 mg calcium
- 1.29 mg iron
- 4.3 mg vitamin C
- 1250 IU vitamin A
Which Spring Roll Is Best?
As mentioned earlier, there are many types of spring rolls, and they differ in terms of filling and preparation. The most common spring rolls you will likely find include Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indonesian. While there are other variations, they are not as popular, and you may not see them often.
Chinese spring rolls are filled with cabbage, and other vegetables, and sometimes including meat like pork. These spring rolls are always wrapped and then pan-fried or deep-fried. There are non-fried spring rolls, which are bigger and filled with pre-cooked ingredients.
Vietnamese spring rolls are called Gỏi cuốn, and the fried spring rolls are called Cha Gio, and they are either filled with only vegetables or certain meats, including pork, chicken, shrimp, or tofu and wrapped in rice paper. Some recipes may also include cilantro, lettuce, garlic, cucumber, and rice vermicelli. You should dip your spring rolls in a sauce made with chili, hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and sugar.
Indonesian spring rolls are known as lumpia, which is the same name they have in the Philippines. These spring rolls, however, have a thin crepe pastry skin that can be fried or unfried. A lumpia has carrots, cabbage, bamboo shoots, leeks, and ground meat inside.
When it comes to flavor, Chinese spring rolls are the original and have the most flavor. If you want a more nutritious and healthy food, you should choose the Chinese non-fried spring roll or a Vietnamese spring roll. In most cases, though, these come accompanied by thick sauces that may have some sugar too.
What Is An Egg Roll?
An egg roll is a deep-fried appetizer filled with cabbage, pork, and other ingredients, wrapped on a wheat flour skin. Egg rolls are an American invention that was mimicking Chinese spring rolls. In some cases, the wheat wrapping may contain eggs, but they do not have any eggs inside.
While many think that egg rolls are also Asian, they are not authentic, but they are often served in Asian American restaurants. Some egg rolls may be as large as 6 inches long, and they have crunchy skin.
Many spring rolls contain bamboo shoots, roast pork, shrimp, scallions, water chestnuts, salt, MSG, and sugar.
Unlike spring rolls, egg rolls are always deep-fried, contain meat, and are never served cold. To achieve a thicker coating, the skin may be dipped and coated with egg yolk before frying. Egg rolls are often served with sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, or duck sauce, and served with fried rice.
Egg rolls can vary in terms of nutrition depending on how thick the coating is. A 100 g serving egg rolls has the following nutritional content (*):
- 277 calories
- 9.39 g protein
- 14.33 g fat
- 27.87 g carbohydrates
- 2 g fiber
- 385 mg sodium
- 32 mg calcium
- 1.48 mg iron
- 27.7 mg vitamin C
- 200 mg potassium
Which Egg Roll Is Best?
When it comes to egg rolls, there is only one type, and that is the deep-fried American version. However, some versions include eggs on the skin while others do not. Both versions taste the same, but the egg-covered skin is denser and crispier.
In some cases, some egg rolls may not even be served in Asian American restaurants. New variations include Southwestern egg rolls, breakfast egg rolls, crab egg rolls, and even dessert egg rolls.
These days, many people experiment with all sorts of fillings whether savory or sweet, but the preparation remains the same.
If you are trying to cut back on calories, you may want to go with the slimmer egg rolls that do not have such a thick coating. You can also pick leaner meat, like pork or chicken, and make sure that the sauce you go with is not as sweet.
What Are The Key Differences Between Spring Rolls and Egg Rolls?
When you first see them, spring rolls and egg rolls may look very similar. Still, one of the first things you may notice is the appearance of the roll. Spring rolls are usually thinner and smaller, and they may either be fried or have raw skin. Egg rolls, on the other hand, are very thick and much larger than spring rolls
Another way to tell these two foods apart is by their filling. Spring rolls contain cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, and meat, or vegetables, and tofu. Egg rolls may also contain cabbage, carrots, and pork, but also a variety of different ingredients that are not Asian, such as corn, guacamole, tomatoes, ham, and more.
Preparation is another way to tell spring rolls apart from egg rolls. Spring rolls can be prepared either lightly fried on a pan, deep-fried, or served raw with a cooked or raw filling. Egg rolls are always cooked and deep-fried.
The origin of spring rolls and egg rolls is also different. Many believe that Chinese spring rolls were the first ones, but they are prevalent in other cuisines, like Indonesian, Filipino, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese. Egg rolls are an American invention and have become popular across different cuisines.
Another final difference is the way you should serve either one. Spring rolls come with soy sauce or a hoisin-based sauce only. Egg rolls come with all sorts of sauces, including sweet chili sauce, duck sauce, soy sauce, peanut sauce, and even sour cream depending on the filling!
|The United States
|Medium-long and relatively thin
|Long, wide, and thick
|Clear or light brown
|Chinese, Taiwanese, Nepalese, Indonesian, Filipino, Vietnamese, and more
|Asian American and American
|Spring rolls can be salty and savory, or they can be fresh and refreshing depending on their preparation.
|Savory and dense. Flavor varies depending on the filling.
|How To Cook
|Vegetables and meat may be precooked and wrapped on rice skin, then lightly fried. Or all ingredients are wrapped cold and serve raw.
|Meat and vegetables are cooked, then wrapped around a thick flour wrapping, which is deep-fried.
|Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
|Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
|Calories per 100 gram serving
Are Spring Rolls or Egg Rolls Healthier?
While both spring rolls and egg rolls can be quite salty and high in saturated fat, there is an obvious choice between the two.
Spring rolls can be prepared in a much more nutritious and healthy way, making them the healthier option. You should beware of egg rolls, as they can sometimes have hidden calories depending on their filling.
Spring rolls have 686 mg of sodium per 100 grams versus the 385 mg that egg rolls have per 100 grams. If you have sodium sensitivity, suffer from high blood pressure, or are on a sodium-restricted diet, then spring rolls are not the right choice. Remember, though, that egg rolls can have hidden sodium in the sauce or meat in their filling
If you want the healthiest choice, go with raw spring rolls, as they are lower in MSG, saturated fat, and sodium. You can also stick to the vegetarian, chicken, or seafood fried spring rolls for less fat and calories. The least nutritious choice always tends to be the egg roll, but if you choose this option you should try to pick a lean meat one.
We have all been there before, staring at the menu not knowing whether to order spring rolls or egg rolls. Well, now you can safely choose one or the other depending on what flavors you like, the type of preparation, and even their nutrient density. Never fall trap of ordering the wrong kind of spring or egg roll ever again!
*images by bbivirys & myviewpoint/depositphotos