If you love fried foods, you’re going to love these air fryer spring rolls! Not only are they healthier than those ones you get at your local Chinese restaurant, they taste just as good if not better.. Pair them up with the chili sauce recipe I include below and you’ll be sure to get a lot of compliments at your next gathering!
Traditionally served in China to celebrate the onset of Spring, spring rolls have become one of my favorite home made snacks to serve for my family and at large gatherings.
Spring rolls are the perfect combination of flaky crisp on the outside and savory goodness on the inside; This makes them THE ideal finger food for all occasions and all ages.
My kids, for one, like them as much as or even more than their less healthier counterparts like fries or buffalo wings.
As for me, I enjoy making it for them because, even though they’re fried, there’s still enough veggies and protein involved to make it worth my while.
Besides, I’ve now found a way to make them even healthier using my air fryer.
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Air Fryer 101
Before I try to convince you how easy these spring rolls are to make though, I think a brief summary of what an air fryer is in order-especially if you’re one of those who haven’t jumped on this latest bandwagon yet.
I got mine a couple of years back from Amazon at my mom’s rave review.
Although she’s just as health conscious as I am, if not more so, I got a call from her one day about her friends’ air fried tempura shrimp.
She was amazed by how with only a few drops of oil, her friend’s shrimp came out just as crispy and tender as those that were traditionally deep fried.
Hearing this from someone who ran a fast food Chinese restaurant for 10 years and since my mom has never steered me wrong when it came to food and health, I decided to try this wonder appliance out for myself to see if it held up to her claims.
Air Frying Versus Deep Frying
For my first inaugural run, I made french fries in these air fryers. My kids of course, went through them like locusts.
Then I became a bit bolder and tried making Chicken Katsu (one of my kids’ favorite dishes) which tasted okay but not as good as the deep fried versions (NOTE: I’ll be posting a version that is just as good soon!)
Then came the day when I got too lazy to pan fry these spring rolls and decided to test them out in the air fryer…
Boy oh boy… did I strike gold!
Crispy, Golden Delicious Air Fryer Spring Rolls
Traditionally, the Chinese deep fry their spring rolls; That’s probably what makes them taste so good but not all that healthy for you.
But with an air fryer, I found that I can create that same Maillard reaction (fancy way of referring to that crunchy flavor you get when it’s deep fried) with the hot air circulation with much less oil—with 1 tablespoon versus 3 cups!
This not only reduces the number of empty calories my kids will consume per bite but more importantly, reduces those pesky cancer causing agents like acrylamide that forms in traditionally deep fried foods.
Fried Foods That Taste Good And Are Good For You
Also, these healthier spring rolls make great crowd pleasers since you can fill it with anything you like.
You can keep it completely vegetarian, for instance, or add the usual ground meats like pork, chicken or even shrimp into the mix.
I’ve even made gluten free versions using rice paper wrappers for me and my husband recently. Although these didn’t stay as crispy as the others’ that were wrapped with the traditional spring roll wrappers did, they still tasted better than most other gluten free finger foods I’ve had in restaurants.
In fact, they were so yummy, I’m thinking about making all versions of these for my next Super Bowl gathering (if I have one that is…).
After all why serve up those same old buffalo wings, when you can share some healthy air fried fun- in-a- roll?
Spring Roll, Fun Roll
The great thing about these spring rolls is that they’re so easy to make, you’ll probably have some fun making them.
Here are some pointers for making your roll making more enjoyable.
Choose Your Proteins
As I mentioned, you can pick virtually any protein (or not) you’d like for the stuffing but I personally like using ground pork. They cook quickly and taste less gamey than chicken and they stay more moist than even shrimp.
For a vegetarian version, I recommend using some minced shitake mushrooms instead. This will give those spring rolls that deep umami flavor without the grease.
Choose Your Veggies
For the vegetables, you can use all or a blend of chopped/julienned carrots, mung bean sprouts, shredded green or purple cabbages, and yes, even mushrooms (lesser moisture producing ones like shiitake or bellas).
I personally like to use all of these along with ground pork to ramp up the nutrition factor. This is probably the only way I’ll get my youngest to eat mushrooms AND carrots in one sitting, so why not pack them all in there?
Choose Your Wrappers
As for the wrappers, you’ll find a variety of them at most Asian grocery stores and if you don’t have any nearby, you can even get them delivered to you from good ole’ Amazon.
I personally like these TYJ brands that I get from my local Korean grocery store.
For those of you who have Celiac or have gluten sensitives and still want to try these out, I’ve had success using these rice wrappers in the air fryer.
Just be sure not to get them sopping wet before using.
Dip them lightly in water but take them immediately and lay them flat until they get flexible enough to roll.
Tips For Making Your Air Fryer Spring Rolls Crispy
Although cooking these in your air fryer isn’t difficult, here are some tips to get them as crispy as possible.
Tips on Fillings
- Slice or chop the veggies finely. If your julienning skills are not up to par use a mandoline. I personally wouldn’t recommend using your food processor as this will make your veggies too mushy.
- Be sure to cook the veggies well until there’s no moisture left.
- Cool your ingredients down before stuffing. This will reduce the moisture content of our rolls
Tips on Wrapping
- Keep the spring roll wrappers covered in a moist cloth when using them so as not to dry them out.
- Don’t overstuff the wrappers-they might burst or tear when frying
- Roll tightly-leave no air pockets behind
Tip on Air Frying
- Cook them in small batches. You always want leave enough space in between these spring rolls for the hot air to circulate. I usually cook 5-6 of these spring rolls in my 6 quart air fryer at a time.
- Lightly brush on some oil onto the frying basket and on to the spring rolls using a pastry brush before cooking. Rotate them halfway through.
Tips on Storing
If you’re planning on making a big enough batch to use later, which I highly recommend, lay the stuffed rolls out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Put them in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
Once frozen, you can transfer the frozen spring rolls into a large gallon sized Ziploc baggie and take out however amount you need at a time.
Spring Roll Sauces
Here are some various store bought dipping sauces I’ve tried and liked:
Or, if you’d like to make your own, you can try this home made Vietnamese Nuoc Cham recipe. I usually make this for my Vietnamese rice noodle bowls but they they pull double duty as a dipping sauce, too.
Personally, I think these spring rolls are savory enough without any sauce which is probably healthier anyway especially if you’re trying to avoid added sugar like I am.
I’ve used coconut sugar in the home made version above but you’ll get a brown hue to it which I think may be off-putting for some people.
Treat Yourself to Some Air Fried Spring Rolls
Although eating fried foods everyday, air fried or not, is not all that healthy for you, I think giving your kids a treat like this every once in a while gives them a sense that good foods can be good for you and taste good, too.
So, try these easy air fryer spring rolls out at your upcoming gathering and let me know how they turn out!