Spring rolls are a delicious appetizer or meal found in many Asian countries. Although the exact techniques and fillings vary based on the country and even the region, they are usually made by wrapping a spring roll paper or other thin dough around a vegetable filling (although some places also add meat).
No matter where they are from or what the exact filling is made of, spring rolls need to be crispy. Nobody wants to eat a soggy vegetable filling or try to keep together a soggy wonton wrapper.
Even though spring rolls are not that hard to make, keeping them crispy after they are done cooking is often a challenge. Often as they cook, the rolls tend to absorb moisture and become soggy.
If you are planning a party or inviting guests over for dinner, you don’t have to shove spring rolls at them immediately. Here are a few tips for cooling and storing them that will help them stay crispy.
Why Do Spring Rolls Become Soggy?
If spring rolls are at their best when they are crispy, then why is it so easy for them to become soggy in the first place? Unfortunately, a lot of what makes spring rolls delicious in the first place also makes them more likely to retain moisture.
One of the biggest culprits is the filling. Spring rolls are usually made with delicious vegetables, but many vegetables are also prone to retaining moisture and can make them soggy from the inside.
The wrappers are another source of moisture. For best results, spring roll wrappers should be as thin as possible. If you attempted to make your own wrappers and did not roll them out thinly enough, they will be more likely to absorb oil.
Finally, the frying process itself can cause spring rolls to become soggy. Food can absorb oil if it is not fried the right way, which makes a meal soggy and sad.
The Frying Process
If you are not frying your spring rolls properly, then no amount of attention after they are done cooking will make them crisp up. Here are a few tips to make sure they come out of the frying pan or wok as crispy as possible.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when frying anything, including spring rolls, is frying before the oil is hot enough. When oil is too cold, the food absorbs it, and then it becomes soggy and oily once it cools. Deep frying them instead of shallow pan-frying them will also make them crispier.
Another common mistake comes during filling preparation. If the filling is too water-logged, the vegetables are not chopped uniformly, or the filling needed to be cooked beforehand, that will also cause the spring rolls to retain more moisture.
If your spring rolls are getting soggy during frying no matter how well you prepare the filling or heat the oil, try freezing them beforehand. Freezing makes the rolls more cohesive and less likely to absorb oil.
Another spring roll frying hack is to fry them twice, the first time on low heat until partially cooked and then again until they are completely fried.
Draining and Cooling
Another important component of keeping spring rolls crispy is the cooling process. The way you let the rolls rest affects how well they retain moisture.
Sometimes, you may need to drain your spring rolls by pricking holes in the end and allowing excess moisture and juice to drain out. However, you only need to do it if the filling is particularly water-retentive or moist.
When your spring rolls are cooling, they need to have plenty of space to drain oil and moisture away. If they are too close together, the residual heat could accidentally steam them.
The best way to cool spring rolls is to place them, well-spaced, on a metal cooling rack. Space prevents the spring rolls from retaining heat while the rack allows the excess oil to drain away properly.
You can also cool spring rolls on paper towels. The towels also absorb excess moisture and will help the rolls stay crispy.
Many times, cooks make spring rolls in advance for parties or potlucks. However, the longer spring rolls are stored, the more likely they are to become soggy.
By changing your storage methods, you can help them stay crispy for longer. One way to do that is to avoid lidded Tupperware or other containers when possible, as the lids trap moisture in the container and then the rolls reabsorb it.
Instead, use open trays or containers whenever possible (and pay extra attention when transporting the rolls). If you are using a lidded container, crack open the lid partially to allow moisture to escape. You can also put paper towels around the rolls to absorb the moisture.
Salvaging Soggy Spring Rolls
Sometimes it happens—no matter how much care you take during the frying process or cooling, your spring rolls are still soggy. Luckily, there are ways that you can salvage them even once they are done cooking and cooling.
Reheat your spring rolls in an oven at about 325 degrees Fahrenheit to dry out some of the moisture and make the wrappers crispy again. While this won’t make for perfectly crispy spring rolls, it will still salvage some of the dish.
You can also crisp up spring rolls when reheating them in a pan. Add them to a hot skillet with plenty of oil, then try to cook them for as little time as possible so that the oil does not absorb in the wrapper.
The best practice for frying spring rolls is to do them as soon as you can before serving. If you are pressed for time, you can fry them partially and then complete the frying right before your dinner. While they will not be as crispy, they will still be crispier than if you fried them and then reheated them.
Soggy Spring Rolls No More
If oil-laden, soggy spring rolls have been plaguing your dinner parties recently, here are a few tips that will hopefully stop that problem from happening again in the future. You can take steps when cooking, cooling, and storing them to keep them crispy.
When cooking the spring rolls, make sure that the filling is as dry as possible by patting vegetables dry and choosing ingredients carefully to prevent water retention. It is also important to use very hot oil because otherwise the rice paper or wrapper will absorb the oil.
Once your spring rolls are fried, you don’t want to undo all of your hard work by letting them sit in the oil and become soggy. Cool them on a wire rack or pat them dry with paper towels. Either way, make sure that they have plenty of space and are not touching each other.
If you are storing your spring rolls or transporting them for a party, make sure that the container is well-ventilated and never close the lid completely. You can always partially crisp up the spring rolls again by popping them into the oven.
Crispy, versatile spring rolls are within reach, as long as you follow these tips. Express your creativity and wow your friends with these delicious rolls.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.