Recipe for authentic Vietnamese spring rolls with dipping sauce and rice noodles

Authentic Vietnamese Spring Rolls: Recipe, and Dipping Sauce

It is easy to learn how to make Vietnamese spring rolls (non-veg or vegetarian). The key to authentic spring-rolls is:

  • the right ingredients (you may need to go to an Asian supermarket to get some of the mushrooms), and
  • fine-chopping of ingredients into a coarse pate.

The vegies need to be chopped as fine as the size of a grated carrot –but not as fine as if blended. The chop-size determines the mixing of flavours: too large and the flavours don’t mix properly; too fine and it becomes uninteresting mush.

To get the right ingredients, especially the dried mushrooms and rice noodles, you may need to go to a specialty Asian supermarket or order online. See our links below to products on Amazon.

Links to difficult-to-acquire Spring Roll ingredients on Amazon (we earn no commission for these links)

Otherwise, Vietnamese spring rolls are easy. Spring rolls, or Nem, as they are called in Vietnam, were once considered a “throw-in what’s ever in the fridge” type of food, not an unhealthy snack, as they’ve become in North America.

Nem - Authentic Vietnamese spring rolls with fresh herbs and dipping sauce, vegetarian

Vietnamese Spring Rolls Recipe (Veg or Non-Veg)

Recipe by William

Course: Lunch, Snack / Difficulty: Medium

Servings: 2 people

Prep time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Total time: 75 minutes

Makes 20-30 Spring rolls, with optional dipping sauce and serving of Bún (rice vermicelli noodles)


  • Nem rice paper (package of 20 – 30 rice sheets)

Nem Vegetable Interior

  • Glass/cellophane noodles – 250 grams
  • Dried black fungus mushroom or dried shitake mushroom (Nấm hương) – 3/4 cup of mushrooms
  • Dried cloud-ear mushrooms, pre-chopped (mộc nhĩ), 5-10 mushrooms
  • Fresh king osyter mushroom, or Shimeji mushrooms (nấm đùi gà) – 1 to 2 mushrooms
    • Alternative: if you can’t find king osyter mushrooms, you may substitute with champignons — but the other mushrooms are essential
  • Green onions, chopped finely – 5 bulbs
  • White onion, diced, medium sized – 0.5 onion
  • Carrot, shredded – 0.5 carrot
  • Cabbage, shredded – 2 or 3 leaves of the cabbage
  • Fresh cilantro, 0.25-0.5 bunch
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Pepper – dash
  • (optional) Tofu, firm – 225 grams
  • (optional) Crab-meat – 225 grams
  • (optional) Potato, shredded – 1 small potato

Optional Sauce (non-vegetarian)

  • Fish sauce – 1/4 cup
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Vinegar (or lime juice) – 1/4 cup
  • Sugar – 1/4 cup
  • Three drops of soya sauce
  • Garlic, diced – 5 cloves
  • (optional) a few minced pieces of pineapple, ~1 tablespoon
  • (optional) a few slices of pickled raddish

Bún Nem – Optional noodles to eat with Spring Rolls

  • Bún noodles – rice vermicelli
  • Fresh herbs salad – handful each of:
    • cilantro
    • mint
    • Thai basil


Soak the Dried Ingredients

  1. Soak the black-fungus and cloud-ear mushrooms, separately, for ~15 minutes
    • Note: you can save the water for use in miso soup
  2. Break glass-noodles into 2-4 inch pieces (10cm)
    • Soak in water until soft (~15 minutes)
  3. Remove ingredients from water into collander, to dry before cutting/mixing

Chop Innards

  1. Chop all of the vegetable ingredients as fine as possible
    • keep glass noodles as is: 2-4 inches
  2. For carrots and potato, use a cheese grater


  1. Thoroughly mix all diced vegetables in a large bowl (mushrooms, carrot, onion, cabbage, tofu, potato)
  2. Add spices (salt, pepper, cilantro) and glass noodles and mix
  3. If made correctly, the batter should be stickly and clumpy, not wet & runny
    • if too wet, add some more glass-noodles and carrot to thicken


  1. Get a small bowl of water for wetting the rice-paper:
    • Prepare a clean surface for rolling
    • (some thick-style rice-paper require a brief immersion in water to make pliant; thinner styles just need a little tabbing of water — check which variety of rice-paper you have)
  2. Place rice paper flat on surface
  3. Slightly dampen the edges of a rice-paper (to make the edges slightly adhesive)
  4. Put ~1 tablespoon of batter into rice-paper, slightly off-center and away from you
  5. How to Roll: Coordinate the thumbs and fingers in the following manner:
    • using two hands, use the index and middle fingers to roll the far side towards you and over the batter.
    • using your thumbs, shape the folded rice-paper and batter into a log shape. Do this little-by-little as you continue rolling using your fingers.
    • once the far side of the paper makes contact with the nearside, you can fold in the left & right edges of the log towards the middle (like wrapping a present), the tighter the better
  6. Once rolled, seal the spring-roll like an enveloped: dampen ~1cm of the overlapping rice-paper along its edge (like an envelope) to make sticky


  • Once you’ve made ~6 spring rolls, you can begin cooking
    • (continue rolling the next batch while another batch cooks)
  • Put pan on medium-high heat
  • Add a little vegetable oil to pan
  • Frying spring rolls: rotate the springrolls every 1 minute to prevent burning
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until all sides are a golden-brown, remove from heat
  • Set aside cooked spring rolls for 20 minutes before eating
  • Okay to keep for several days in fridge

Bún Nem Soup/Sauce (non-vegetarian)

  • Mince garlic (and optionally pineapple)
  • Warm the water in small pan to facilitate dissolving the sugar (do not bring to boil)
    • let cool for ~10-20 minutes
  • Add fishsauce, vinegar and garlic, stir thoroughly


  • Vegetarians can use vegetarian fish sauce, or alternatively, just substitute the fish-sauce for a little diluted soy sauce and dissolved bullion.
  • Also good to serve with peanut-sauce

What to serve with Vietnamese spring rolls?

Instead of just dipping your spring rolls in to peanut sauce, consider the following meal: Bún Nem. It is one of our favourite Vietnamese dishes and is very healthy.

Home-made Vietnamese spring rolls and bun nem noodles
Homemade vegetarian Vietnamese spring rolls and bun. photo credit: Lynn @

BUN NEM (Spring Rolls and Noodles)

Spring rolls are best eaten as part of a meal called bun nem, which includes the following items:

  • Spring rolls, hot
  • “Bún” noodles – rice vermicelli noodles.
  • Soak in water until soft, then strain and keep cool
  • Fresh cilantro – hand-full, do not chop
  • Fresh Thai basil – hand-full, do not chop
  • Fresh mint – hand-full, do not chop
  • Bún Nem Soup/Sauce (described above)

Eating Bún Nem is a little tricky, but the idea is that you try to grab a spring-roll, some noodles, and some herbs (mint, basil, cilantro) altogether with chopsticks, and soak them in the Bún Nem Soup/Sauce, and eat together. The flavour combination is uncannily good.

DIRECTIONS: How to Eat Bun Nem?

  1. Fill a small bowl 3/4 full of Bún Nem Soup/Sauce .
  2. Chop hot spring rolls into 2-inch pieces, then submerse them in the soup, and leave them there.
  3. Take a handfull of rice-vermicelli noodles and submerse in the soup.
  4. Take several raw stems of fresh mint, basil and cilantro and submerse in with the soup and noodles
  5. Using a large spoon and chopsticks, try to gather together all three items (spring roll, noodle, and herbs) together for a mouth-ful.
  6. Repeatedly add more noodles, herbs and spring rolls to keep a 1:1:1 ratio of each.

If the above Bún Nem eating-instructions seems awkward — it is. It may seem like an unusual way to eat, however, once you taste the 4-part combo of nem, bún, herbs and soup, then you’ll intuitively understand why the Vietnamese people eat it Bún Nem in this way.

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