The terms can get conflated, but these rolls are not the same.
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Spring rolls and summer rolls — the difference is more than just semantics. These two rolls have origins in South and Southeast Asia, but they've grown in popularity across the states and beyond. But is there a difference? And where do egg rolls play into all this? Learn the difference between deep-fried spring rolls and the lighter, more refreshing summer rolls.

What Is a Spring Roll?

The origin of spring rolls can be linked back to China. Originally made for Chinese New Year banquets, spring rolls were stacked to look like bars of gold. Spring rolls got their name because the New Year marks the start of spring in the lunar calendar.

But what are they exactly? Spring rolls have a paper-thin wrapper that's made from flour and water. This crisp wrapper is so thin that it will shatter at the touch. These wrappers are filled with some combination of pork, shrimp, beans sprouts, and cabbage, and then fried. They're often served with a vinegar, sweet and sour, or Worcestershire-based dipping sauce.

Spring Rolls vs. Egg Rolls

Jalapeno Bacon Cheese Egg Rolls
Pictured: Jalapeno Bacon Cheese Egg Rolls
| Credit: Shamrock Farms

Now I know what you're thinking (because I thought the same thing): How is that any different from an egg roll? Turns out, the egg roll is actually a spring-roll variant that was created in America. And the difference is in the name: An egg roll was created by adding egg to the wrapper batter, resulting in a thicker batter. The end result? Eggs rolls have a blistered and bumpy skin, while spring rolls are smooth.

What Is a Summer Roll?

Unlike spring rolls and egg rolls, summer rolls are served cold (perfect for the summer months) and have a translucent wrapper. These rolls go by many names: Vietnamese spring rolls, summer rolls, fresh spring rolls, or salad rolls. They're of Vietnamese-origin, and typically consist of rice noodles, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, herbs, and shrimp or pork wrapped in a rice-paper wrapper. Summer rolls are typically served with a peanut or hoisin dipping sauce.

The Bottom Line

Although the terms get conflated, the difference between spring rolls, summer rolls, and egg rolls is more than just semantics. Spring rolls are wrapped in a dough made of flour and water and then fried, while summer rolls are wrapped in a translucent rice-wrapper and served cold. And egg rolls are a variant of spring rolls in which the wrapper batter has egg added to it. Whether you're looking for something heavy and fried or light and refreshing, these rolls are packed with fresh flavor.