By Nancy Snyder, MS, RD
Q: What is the difference between egg rolls and spring rolls, and which is the healthier choice?
A: Essentially it all boils down to two things: preparation method and wrapper.
Egg rolls, which usually contain cuts of meat, are deep fried and characterized by their crispy, golden wrap (which is comprised of wheat-flour and egg).
Spring rolls, on the other hand, can be served fried or fresh; when served fresh, they are sometimes also referred to as summer rolls. These fresh rolls are served chilled or at room temperature and often contain raw vegetables or cooked shrimp that have been wrapped up in a translucent rice paper.
Depending on the type of cuisine, springroll can also refer to the vegetarian version of the fried egg roll; because of this, it’s important to check with your server beforehand to determine how the roll is wrapped and prepared.
So now that we’ve cleared that up—which is the better choice? As you might have guessed, anything that is fried will be accompanied by excess calories and fat, putting egg rolls (as well as fried spring rolls) in second place. Ordering fresh spring rolls in place of egg rolls can cut out half the amount of calories and fat from your appetizer or side item. Not only are spring rolls better by comparison, but they’re actually a healthy choice and a low-calorie way to fill up on all the nutrients and benefits of raw vegetables.
To summarize again, here’s a breakdown:
- Typically found in Chinese cuisine
- Often contains cuts of pork, chicken or shrimp, along with some vegetables
- Deep-fried, crunchy wrapper made with wheat flour and egg
- Served warm
Fresh Spring/Summer Rolls
- Fresh rolls are typically found in Vietnamese cuisine
- Often contains fresh, raw vegetables (cabbage, julienned carrots, green onions, glass noodles, bean sprouts, etc.) or cooked shrimp
- Translucent flour or rice paper wrapper
- Served chilled or at room-temperature
So does this mean you should never eat an egg roll again? Of course not—just be aware of the hidden calories and fat, and enjoy them sparingly.