Gluten free egg rolls start with our fresh gluten free wonton wrappers; then you're moments from crispy fried perfection!
Start by making gluten free egg roll wrappers
As I'm writing this, no one sells packaged and prepared gluten free wonton or egg roll wrappers. If they did, I'd be the first to celebrate by buying a case.
You can actually buy frozen, prepared gluten free egg rolls, and they're not half bad. But they're super expensive, and they don't crunch like I wish they did.
For now, we begin with our recipe for gluten free wonton wrappers. You can double the recipe, if you like, particularly since if you're new to the process, you may not roll the wrappers as thin as you might like, so you'll have fewer egg rolls in the end.
You can also wrap the raw, unshaped dough tightly and refrigerate it for at least 4 days, or freeze it for longer. Just defrost at room temperature and work with the dough as fresh.
Simply divide the won ton wrapper dough into rectangles about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 3½ to 4-inch squares, and then roll those squares into 1/8-inch, about 6-inch squares.
Rolling the dough a bit thicker, cutting shapes, and then rolling those shapes thinner is the easiest way to get the wrappers as thin as possible. It helps prevent them from tearing as you work. The thinner the wrapper, the crispier it will be after frying.
How to shape the raw egg rolls
With a corner of the square facing you, place a bit of filling about an inch from that corner. The filling should be as dry as possible without sacrificing flavor.
Fold the corner over the filling, and fold one more turn. Make it tight, and press out any trapped air.
Whenever you're planning to fry filled dough, be sure to eliminate any air as you go. Trapped air will allow oil to seep in during frying and the finished product will be greasy.
Next, fold the left and right sides, tightly, toward the center of the roll. Roll away from you once more, until the roll is sealed. Moisten your fingers as you go only as much as necessary to make the wrappers stick closed at each step.
Keep in mind that moisture makes hot oil splatter. If you allow your moistened, sealed egg rolls to sit for a moment as the oil heats to the proper frying temperature, any excess moisture should evaporate.
Can you use spring roll wrappers in place of egg roll wrappers?
Rice paper wrappers, used for spring rolls that only need to be moistened in warm water before using them to wrap filling, are such a delicious treat. If you'd really like to try making egg rolls but don't have the patience to make the egg roll wrappers, you can try using spring roll wrappers instead.
Since spring roll wrappers are so thin and soft, they tend to absorb oil quickly. I'd recommend doubling them, and allowing them to dry completely after shaping before you immerse them in hot frying oil. It won't be precisely the same, but it's a nice place to start.
Ingredients and substitutions
There aren't any eggs in the filling of these egg rolls, but there are 3 eggs in the wonton wrappers recipe. They provide structure for the wrappers, and I'm afraid I don't think they can be successfully replaced.
The cornstarch in the filling recipe helps absorb some of the liquid in the filling so that nothing leaks out during frying. You can replace it with nearly any neutral starch, like potato starch or arrowroot.
If you can't have honey or would simply like to avoid it, try using an equal amount, by weight, of brown sugar. You can even leave out the sweetener entirely, but the filling doesn't taste particularly sweet because of it.
If you use beef that's higher in fat than 90% lean, you'll just need to drain as much of the rendered fat as possible when you cook it before proceeding with the recipe. I've also made this filling with ground chicken and ground turkey, and it's still delicious.
If you'd like to avoid frying oil entirely, an air fryer might work (although I haven't tried that here). Keep in mind that an air fryer is just a small, powerful convection oven, so you don't really need a separate, dedicated air fryer. A convection oven of any kind works similarly (even if it's a fancy toaster oven with a convection setting).
I've been the most successful with an air fryer, like when we made gluten free fried won tons, by spraying oil generously on both sides of the raw dough before frying. The instructions in that recipe should be helpful in air frying these gluten free egg rolls.
Gluten Free Egg Rolls
- 1 recipe fresh gluten free wonton wrappers
- Tapioca starch/flour, for sprinkling
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
- 3 tablespoons (27 g) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) sesame oil
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (42 g) honey
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 10 ounces shredded cabbage
- Neutral oil, for frying (I like a combination of half nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening, half canola oil)
First, prepare the egg roll wrappers. Begin by preparing the wonton wrapper dough according to the recipe instructions. Work with one half of the dough at a time, covering the second half to prevent it from drying out.
Place half of the dough on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle very lightly with a bit of tapioca starch/flour, and roll into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick, moving and flipping the dough often to prevent sticking.
With a pizza wheel, pastry cutter or sharp knife, cut out as many 3½ to 4-inch squares as possible from the dough. Gather the excess, and set it aside with any remaining dough.
Using even and sustained pressure, roll out each square until it’s about 6-inches square and about ⅛-inch thick. Sprinkle very sparingly with more tapioca starch/flour as you roll, only using as much as is necessary to prevent sticking. Repeat with the remaining dough, flouring the squares lightly with tapioca starch after shaping. Stack them on top of one another and cover with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the filling. Heat a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat, and add the ground beef. Cook, gently breaking up the beef, until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Drain any excess moisture from the skillet.
Add the cornstarch and garlic powder to the skillet, mix to combine well with the beef, and continue to cook until the starch is absorbed. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, honey, and black pepper, and mix to combine. Finally, add the shredded cabbage, and mix again to combine.
Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the cabbage is wilted (about 3 minutes). Uncover the skillet, remove it from the heat, and allow the mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.
Assemble the egg rolls. Arrange the first wonton wrapper square with a corner facing you. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling about 1 inch from the corner. Fold the bare corner over the filling, and roll one turn away from yourself, rolling as tightly as possible and to prevent any trapped air bubbles. Moisten your fingers with a bit of water to fully seal the edges as you go. Fold in the opposite sides securely, then continue to roll until the egg roll is completely sealed. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. Set the shaped, raw egg rolls aside.
Place the frying oil in a skillet or electric fryer, and heat it to 350°F. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet or paper towels to the side for the egg rolls to drain after frying.
Place as many of the shaped egg rolls in the hot oil as possible without crowding them. They should begin to bubble immediately. Allow them to fry for about 1 minute per side; flip, then fry until golden brown on the underside. Continue to flip and fry until lightly golden brown all over.
Remove from the frying oil using a strainer or tongs, and place on the wire rack to drain completely. Serve warm. Any remaining filling can be served over rice or noodles.
Originally published on the blog in 2011 (!). Photos, video, and much of the text new.