These Vietnamese-Inspired Vegan Fresh Tofu Spring Rolls are officially my new favorite lunch of summer! Full of fresh herbs, raw crunchy veggies, soft rice noodles, and crispy tofu- these tofu fresh rolls are truly delicious. Plus, this recipe also includes an easy 5-ingredient peanut sauce for dipping!
Until I moved to Seattle, I had never tried Vietnamese food before. I pretty much stuck to Thai food & Chinese food when I lived on the East coast, but luckily Seattle is FULL of delicious and authentic Vietnamese restaurants.
While I’ve definitely found a newfound love of pho in winter, my favorite Vietnamese food I’ve had so far is fresh tofu spring rolls. There’s just something about the mix of fresh herbs & veggies, crispy tofu, soft rice noodles, and peanut dipping sauce that is just SO good!
What are Vietnamese fresh spring rolls?
Traditional Vietnamese Spring rolls, called gỏi cuốn, are made from rehydrated rice paper filled with seasonal raw vegetables, rice vermicelli, fresh herbs, and a protein (usually shrimp or pork) (source).
In my experience, they are usually served as an appetizer at Vietnamese restaurants. Although, I personally enjoy eating them as a lighter lunch filled with crispy tofu in place of meat! This recipe isn’t traditional since there is no fish sauce in the peanut sauce, we’re subbing tofu for shrimp/pork, and we are adding in some extra veggies. However, that’s how we keep this tofu fresh roll recipe vegan and as close to the original flavors of this dish as possible!
How to make rice paper spring rolls
First of all, I have to credit Lisa at healthylittlenibbles for her tips & step by step photos on how to roll spring rolls. I followed these tips exactly and will be sharing them with you here today!
Step 1: Cook the salt & pepper tofu & rice noodles (or vermicelli)
Salt and Pepper Tofu is a dish I first learned about from Food52. However I changed up the recipe a bit to use extra-firm tofu and white pepper to better match the flavors of these fresh rolls.
There are two ways to cook salt and pepper tofu.
The first is to add them to a tray covered in parchment paper and bake for 20-25 minutes. The second is to pan fry the tofu in sesame oil. I personally prefer pan-frying, but if you want to keep this dish oil-free- try baking them instead!
When it comes to vermicelli noodles, just follow the instructions on the package and run under cold water before using!
Step 2: Prep the veggies & assemble station with bowls
Once the tofu is cooked and cooling, I prep a bowl with each ingredient I am using for my fresh rolls as well as a large bowl filled with lukewarm water. This is super important to do ahead of time so that you can focus on filling & rolling the rice paper spring rolls vs. scrambling to find ingredients as you go.
Step 3: Dip the rice paper in bowl of lukewarm water
If you’ve never worked with rice paper before, I will be honest, it may take a couple tries to get a good rolling technique down.
However, my best tip is to always make sure to use lukewarm water as this helps to soften the rice paper just the right amount. If the water is too hot, it’ll be impossible to roll the rice paper as it will be too sticky. If the water is too cold, the rice paper won’t soften enough and will break while rolling. P.S- here is the brand of rice paper wrapper I used.
Step 5: Add the tofu & vegetable filling
I prefer to add the lettuce first. I used a spring mix because I love the mix of flavors & textures, but any variety works here.
Then, I like to add the slices of veggies & herbs. I used carrots, red peppers, and cilantro, but feel free to add whatever you want! Mint seems to be more traditional, but I personally prefer cilantro and Thai basil myself.
Lastly add in the salt & pepper tofu and Thai basil. As you can see from the pictures, I like to place my tofu and Thai basil is different places on the rice paper wrapper as it helps to showcase them on the outside of the final wrapped roll.
Step 6: Roll the fresh rolls
Check out my video or the process shots below for a step by step guide on how to roll fresh rice paper spring rolls!
Once the rolls are ready, the last step is making the peanut dipping sauce.
Luckily this sauce is just five ingredients- Creamy (UNSALTED) peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, and sriracha.
I like my dipping sauce a little sweeter so I add in 2 Tbsp maple syrup, but 1 Tbsp also works. Also, the sriracha is totally optional and the amount you add will depend on your spice preference. Then, top with some optional crushed peanuts and dig into these fresh summer rolls!
FAQ & Substitutions:
Can I make fresh rolls ahead of time?
A few hours yes, but a day in advance no. The rice paper will harden in the fridge and loose that desirable chewy texture you want. I personally like my fresh rolls best right after they are made, but have found they can keep well for 2-3 hours at room temperature and still maintain that chewy texture. This also makes them a really fun appetizer!
That being said, you can definitely prep all the ingredients in advance and just roll everything in the rice paper when you are ready to eat. This means cooking the tofu and chopping the veggies to prep. If you do this, just make sure to store the veggies and tofu in separate closed containers in the fridge.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Yes! All the ingredients in this recipe are gluten-free making this a vegan & gluten-free meal.
Are there any other dipping sauces that work with this recipe?
If you’re not a fan of peanut sauce you can always sub peanut butter 1:1 with almond or cashew butter in this recipe.
However, if you’re looking for a lighter dipping sauce, I also love a vinegar-based sauce (I’ve had it at restaurants before and it’s SO delicious, but it usually contains fish sauce). This Vegan Fish Sauce for Dipping (Nuoc Cham Chay) Recipe is a great one to try from Andrea Nguyen.
I truly hope you all love these Vegan Fresh Tofu Spring Rolls with a Peanut Dipping Sauce! They are super fresh, a fun Summer cooking project, and make the best appetizer or veggie-filled dinner recipe. Enjoy!
Looking for more fresh vegan & gluten-free lunch and dinner recipes? Check out these SGTO favorites!
Salt & Pepper Tofu
- 14 oz block tofu (pressed and cut into 12 long slices)
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch (14 grams)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper (4 grams, use less if you prefer less spicy tofu)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
Fresh Roll Ingredients
- 3 oz dried vermicelli (cooked according to package instructions)
- 2 cups lettuce
- 1 red pepper (thinly sliced)
- 1 large carrot (thinly sliced or shredded)
- Thai basil (optional, about 24 leaves or 2 leaves per roll)
- Cilantro (optional, about 24 sprigs or 2 per roll, stems are okay to eat. Can be subbed 1:1 for mint)
Peanut Dipping Sauce
- 1/3 cup peanut butter (UNSALTED in a must, creamy preferred)
- 1/3 cup water (79 ml)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce (10 grams)
- 1 Tbsp lime juice (10 grams)
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup (22 grams)
- 1/2-1 tsp sriracha (optional, for spice)
- crushed peanuts (optional, as garnish)
Cook the Tofu & Vermicelli Noodles
- First, slice the block of tofu in half and press it between two towels or two paper towels. Let the tofu sit for 10 minutes to soak up any excess moisture.
- While the tofu is being pressed, bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the vermicelli noodles. Cook for 3-5 minutes until tender. Strain, rinse under cold water, and set aside in a small bowl.
- Remove the pressed tofu and slice each half into 6 slices. Then, add to a large bowl and add in the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Mix together until the tofu is completely coated.
- Add the sesame oil to a cast-iron or non-stick pan and heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the tofu and cook each side for 3-5 minutes until crispy. Once cooked, set the tofu aside in a single layer on a plate.
Making the fresh rolls
- Chop the veggies and prep the herbs and place them in individual bowls. Then, fill a large bowl with lukewarm water to wet the rice paper sheets
- Get a wood board ready and brush water on the surface so it is damp. It is a good idea to dampen the board every 2-3 rolls to keep it moist.
- Dip each sheet of rice paper in the bowl of lukewarm water to moisten the surface for a few seconds. Then, lay the sheet of rice paper onto the wood board. Place a handful of lettuce close to the bottom edge of the rice paper (leaving about 1" from the border) and top it with chopped vegetables, vermicelli noodles, and cilantro.
- Next, arrange one tofu slice about 2 inches above the stacked vegetables on the rice paper and place the Thai basil directly on top. (View video or process shots in blog post for reference)
- Take the lower edge of the rice paper with the toppings and roll it up until you reach the tofu. Then, fold in the left and right sides of the rice paper so it covers the tofu. Continue rolling the spring roll and press together the end to seal.
- Repeat this process with each fresh tofu roll.
Peanut Dipping Sauce
- Once the fresh rolls are done, make the peanut dipping sauce by adding the unsalted peanut butter, water, soy sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, and optional sriracha to a blender or food process. Then, blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a small serving dish and top with peanuts. Enjoy!
- Fresh rolls will keep well for 2-3 hours at room temperature. Fresh rolls do not store well in the fridge as the rice paper will harden, so it's truly best to enjoy these the day you make them.
- Peanut dipping sauce can be made ahead of time and will store in a closed container in the fridge for 4-5 days. If you only have unsalted peanut butter, omit the soy sauce from the dipping sauce recipe.
- Tofu can be prepped ahead of time and will store in a closed container in the fridge for 3-4 days. However, it will lose some of the crispy texture when stored in the fridge.
- Veggies can also be cut and prepped in advance and will keep in a closed container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 2 fresh rolls
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 11g
ShortGirlTallOrder occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although shortgirltallorder.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.