Spring Roll vs Egg Roll: What’s The Difference Between Them?

Egg rolls and spring rolls, spring roll vs egg roll….Wow, we’re barely a sentence into the article and already our mouths are watering! We bet yours are too!

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Both egg rolls and spring rolls are two of the most delicious things on this earth in our opinion.

Wait… what? You thought they were the same thing? Well, turns out you aren’t alone in that. The two have been thought of as the same for a long time!

However, they do have differences! OK, sure, they have similarities too… but they should not be used synonymously because technically they are two different things.

If you have ever wondered about the differences between them, or if, like many people, you always assumed they were the same thing, then this article is for you!

We will be looking at both egg rolls and spring rolls separately, and then in the conclusion, we will be drawing on them both, showcasing what exactly the differences and similarities between them are.

Before we get into it though, there is one small disclaimer we have to make: we cannot take responsibility for the number of egg rolls and spring rolls you will surely want to order following this article. 

The Difference Between Egg Rolls And Spring Rolls

What is a Spring Roll? 

It only seems fair that we tell you about spring rolls first, seeing as they were made first. A spring roll is a food that was invented in China.

It is believed that they are called ‘spring’ rolls because they were a dish typically consumed in the Spring, using spring vegetables.

These vegetables were prepared and wrapped up in a thin pancake. It is also common to find them with meat inside.

The vegetables that are commonly used include shredded cabbage, carrot, bean sprouts, and bok choy. The meats used are typically minced chicken or pork. Duck is also common. 

They can either be fried or non-fried. If the spring roll is being fried, generally the contents (the vegetables and meat) are not precooked as they will get cooked all together in the frying oil.

However, for the non-fried versions, the inside fillings are usually pre cooked and then wrapped in a pancake made from a thin flour-based mix or batter.

They are also eaten at other times of the year, rather than just the springtime, although they are commonly associated with the Chinese Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year. 

Spring rolls are a common component of the traditional Chinese ‘dim sum’ meals which involve meeting with family and friends over small plates of food and tea for hours at a time.

The practice of dim sum is less about the food on offer and more about the social aspect of gathering with loved ones.

The practice, although popular in China, is not as popular around the world. The food served at dim sum, however, has become very popular around the world.

Dim sum restaurants are becoming more common around the world. In fact, most states in America have at least one good quality Dim Sum restaurant.

However, dim sum is also served in many Chinese restaurants all over the world, even those that are not specifically dim sum focused.

Dim sum snacks make a great starter dish or accompaniment to main meals, hence their popularity.

Other popular components of a dim sum meal include dumplings, bao buns (these can be steamed or baked), spare ribs and other meat dishes, seafood dishes including deep fried squid, fried tofu, and other vegetarian dishes such as steamed vegetables with sauce, as well as a variety of rice dishes, cakes, and desserts! 

Phew -- hungry yet? Of course, the exact components of dim sum vary spending on the region in China. Indeed, they can even vary depending on the restaurant or family preferences. 

Spring rolls are typically served with sauces and other condiments. They are great with plain soy sauce and are also popular as an accompaniment to sweet chili dip or teriyaki sauce. They are best served fresh and hot if you want to enjoy them at their very best.

In Chinese American restaurants and take out facilities, it is common to find them under the hors d'oeuvre section of the menu.

However, you may also find that Chinese American restaurants also list egg rolls on their menu.

Perhaps you have found that you have ordered spring rolls but received egg rolls or vice versa. Perhaps you have never even thought of them as different….

Keep on reading to the next section to find out more about the elusive egg roll. 

What is an Egg Roll? 

So, we’ve got to grips with spring rolls. We know exactly what they are and where they come from. If you’ve eaten them before you will also know exactly how delicious they are.

Now we have that understanding it is time to tackle the egg roll. Now, the basic ingredients of the two are similar. In terms of appearance they even look similar. We would even go as far as to say they look almost identical.

However, upon closer inspection, you quickly notice some key differences, especially in the taste. Whereas a spring roll was invented in China, presumably by a Chinese native, the egg roll was invented in America.

It is, of course, heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine, and in particular the spring roll and other components of the dim sum meal.

Nevertheless, they are not the same, and indeed, the striking difference is that an egg roll is essentially a spring roll that has been deep-fried. Yep, that’s right, deep-fried!

What can we say… American’s love to fry things. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

It is not at all a bad thing. Fried foods are delicious. Spring rolls are delicious. Put the two together and they are bound to be doubly delicious, right? Right - that is correct. Think of spring rolls as the gift that just keeps on giving.

What we mean by this is that without spring rolls, we probably wouldn’t have egg rolls. Egg rolls are like, the equally as yummy, deliciously deep-fried, hot cousin of the spring roll.

To make an egg roll, you must first make a spring roll. 

The exact origin of the egg roll as we know it today is often disputed. Indeed, spring rolls were often deep-fried in China, but the main difference is that the egg roll is coated in a batter before being deep-fried.

This is different from the pancake roll batter used for spring rolls, as for those the pancake is made before wrapping and frying.

In the case of the egg roll, you essentially have an already wrapped spring roll (pancake wrap included) which has been coated in this batter and then fried.

It is likely to have been a 20th-century creation that originated in America. One author claims that it was first invented in the 1930s by one of two chefs in New York who worked at a Chinese Restaurant. 

Whilst the name of an egg roll insinuates that it is going to be really, well, eggy, there is often not much egg featuring in an egg roll.

The batter is likely to have egg in it but it can also be made without any egg at all.

The stand out flavor in an American egg roll is actually cabbage - somehow cabbage roll just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

They use many of the same fillings as a Chinese spring roll would have, but it is also common to find other non-traditional vegetables such as broccoli and onion.

They are served in a very similar way to spring rolls. They make a wonderful accompaniment to a Chinese meal, as well as a starter or appetizer.

They are also served at dim sum restaurants as part of a wider range of small dishes. They are also best served hot and are great with a variety of sauces such as soy, plum, duck, and even hot mustard sauce. 

Egg rolls vs Spring Rolls: The Most Delicious Battle the World has Seen 

So, now you know exactly what a spring roll is, and exactly what an egg roll is.

Now comes the time to explore them together, side by side, and have them battle it out to the deaths…. OK, that is obviously an exaggeration.

However, we are going to be comparing them against each other to fully understand the difference between them, as well as any similarities they may have.

To do this properly (and to do the rolls justice), we have decided to organize their differences (and similarities) into separate headings to fully understand how they compare. 

Side note: If you have got this far into the article without ordering Chinese food, kudos! 

Shape and Assembly 

One obvious similarity between both egg rolls and spring rolls is their shape. The shape of each of them is that of a cylinder.

To take it that step further, they are both technically cylindrical rolls that are wrapped to look that way.

They are typically a pancake-like roll that is filled with vegetables and meats and then wrapped carefully and snugly to ensure all the filling stays inside.

They can be served like that, or cut into two pieces so that some of the fillings are visible. 

Ingredients

Traditionally, spring rolls in China included the vegetables that were freshly picked in the springtime - hence the name.

As time has gone on, they have also added other vegetables (like green onion, shredded carrot, and other shredded vegetables) to the recipe, as well as different meats such as minced chicken, ground pork or shrimp.

They are also made with duck and seafood. The most recurring ingredients are cabbage, beansprouts, and carrots. That being said, spring rolls lend themselves to being easily customizable.

You will likely find differences in the fillings of a spring roll depending where in china you eat them, as well as where else around the world you are.

As well as this, recipes can even differ from family to family and restaurant to restaurant. The pancake-style wrap is typically made from very thin pastry with some sort of wheat flour as its base. 

An egg roll is very similar to a spring roll in terms of ingredients. However, with most Americanized versions of foods, you will typically find that non-traditional ingredients are used that you would not find in a spring roll.

The egg roll is typically a pancake-style roll made from wheat flour, just like a spring roll. The fillings are also similar, with cabbage being the main component.

However, as we have already said, you will often find many other ingredients and flavors inside such as broccoli, other meats, shredded duck in sauce, and many more. The next component is that of the batter.

The egg rolls may be dipped into a batter for frying. This is sometimes made from eggs and flour. It is important to note that not all egg rolls use batter, though, and some simply move on to the final step.

These are then deep-fried in hot oil to give them a bubbly, crunchy texture and appearance. This final step does not happen in the making of spring rolls. 

Origin

The last difference between the two is that of their origin. As you are probably more than familiar with by now, spring rolls were made in China, and egg rolls are thought to have first been invented in New York City.

That being said, even the egg rolls were thought to have a Chinese background as it is believed that they originated in a Chinese American restaurant. Spring rolls are clearly the main influence on egg rolls.

You can look at egg rolls as an evolution of spring rolls. This is because the basic premise of both is the same, and the main and most notable difference is that egg rolls are just a spring roll that gets deep fried. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are spring rolls better than egg rolls?

Spring rolls and egg rolls are often offered in the same meals and menu options, but you usually either get a taste of both, or you can choose one or the other. So which one is better? Spring rolls or egg rolls? Spring rolls are usually more popular, so does that mean that they’re the better option?

Well, when it comes to taste, the world is a rainbow. One isn’t better than the other, as it completely depends on each person’s personal taste, and which one you enjoy more. It can vary from person to person, and there isn’t a wrong answer! Therefore, the only person that can answer that question is you! 

What we can answer, however, is the main differences between one and the other. Maybe then you can choose which one sounds better to you, and you’ll have your personal answer! (Although why choose when you could just have both, huh?)

Here are the main differences between spring rolls and egg rolls: 

  • Differences in appearance:

This is one of the biggest differences, and the first thing to look out for so that you can tell one from the other apart. A spring roll will be completely smooth, while the egg roll will have small bubbles all over the surface. 

  • Differences in taste and texture:

When you first bite into a spring roll, it will shatter into many flecks of crispy dough. When you first bite into an egg roll, on the other hand, it will be crunchy and then mostly chewy, without breaking away into flecks. 

  • Differences in the dough:

The dough of a spring roll is light and crispy and contains no egg. The dough of an egg roll, on the other hand, does indeed contain egg (hence the name), and it is also a lot thicker and sturdier than the spring roll. 

  • Differences in the fillings: 

You can usually fill both types of rolls with anything you want, personalizing your experience of them. However, traditionally speaking, spring rolls will be filled with just cooked vegetables. Meanwhile, egg rolls will be filled with cooked cabbage, some other vegetables, and some pork or similar. 

Why are spring rolls called egg rolls?

Spring rolls and egg rolls are two different types of rolls and are therefore not the same. So if somebody refers to spring rolls by calling them egg rolls, then they are getting them mixed up or confused! 

What is the meaning of egg roll?

If we look it up in the dictionary, then an egg roll is a Chinese snack, very similar to the spring roll and often referred to as a variety of spring rolls. It consists of a deep-fried dough that contains egg, as the name indicates, which is then filled with cooked vegetables and some diced meat or prawns. 

Can you substitute spring roll wrappers for egg roll wrappers?

One of the main differences between spring rolls and egg rolls is the dough wrappers they are made out of. While spring roll wrappers are thin and crispy, egg roll wrappers are a lot thicker, way crispier, and contain egg. 

As a general rule, you should not substitute spring roll wrappers for egg roll wrappers, as they will no longer be spring rolls. In fact, using egg roll wrappers instantly turns the roll into an egg roll, as the wrapper is the main defining trait that sets it apart and makes it different from the spring rolls. 

What you could change and substitute, is the filling used inside the roll, as there are many varieties and customizations. Although if you do this, then the rolls will no longer be traditional or accurate. 

Final Word 

To conclude, we just want to reiterate that the main differences between spring rolls and egg rolls are their origin, and the final steps of their preparation. They are both very similar.

In fact, the egg roll starts life as a spring roll. Egg rolls, however, are deep-fried, and often contain non-traditional ingredients since they are an Americanized recipe.

One thing is for sure, they are both absolutely delicious. 

We hope our article has illuminated the differences between the two, as well as confirming the obvious similarities between them.

Hey, perhaps you started the article not even realizing they were different things, but we bet you feel like a professional on all things egg and spring roll related now! Fresh spring rolls in dipping sauce are one of life's pleasures.

My favorite is Vietnamese egg rolls or a Chinese egg roll with shiitake mushrooms and peanut sauce. A Vietnamese spring roll is even better with some glass noodles. Serve them up with some crispy rice noodles and sweet chili sauce. or fish sauce.

Thank you for reading our article….Now, where is that Chinese take-out menu? 

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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