(Vietnamese Summer Rolls translates to Nem Cuốn)

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As we head into the warmer months and the days get longer, these Vietnamese Summer Rolls are the perfect way to celebrate the season’s fresh flavours. Whether you’re planning a barbecue or need a light and refreshing lunch that doesn’t require turning on the oven, these summer rolls are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

The magic of this dish lies in its simplicity. The delicate rice paper wrappers hold a medley of fresh ingredients, like crunchy vegetables, aromatic herbs, and a protein of your choice, be it prawns or pork. Each bite is a symphony of distinct flavours and textures, a perfect match for our delectable traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce, which is available now in our online store!

One of the many advantages of Vietnamese Summer Rolls is their adaptability. While the rolls should be assembled just before serving to preserve the freshness and softness of the rice paper wrappers, the prep work can be done ahead of time. This makes them a great option for busy weeknights or weekend get-togethers. You can chop the vegetables and cook the protein in advance. Then, when hunger strikes, all that’s left is the enjoyable task of assembling the rolls and relishing a flavourful and nutritious meal.

The first time I made Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Growing up in a refugee family, our lives were a tapestry woven from threads of displacement and resilience. We settled near each other, clinging to the familiar faces and shared history that had become our anchor. Though physically separate, our homes became an extension of one another, connected by the laughter of children echoing through gardens and the aroma of shared meals wafting across fences. Summers were particularly vibrant, with family gatherings and BBQs commonplace.

One particularly hot summer, I lamented the sluggishness that comes with the absence of school routines. Once structured by classes and extracurricular activities, my days now stretched out before me like an unmade bed. My aunt, who lived a stone’s throw away, took one look at me over the fence and declared, with a twinkle in her eye, “You’re looking a little chunky, child! Time to get some vegetables in you.”

Delivered with a playful jab but laced with genuine concern, her words were met with the standard teenage eye roll. Yet, something about her invitation, the promise of learning a new skill, drew me in. And so, I found myself in her kitchen watching her nimble hands transform a pile of ingredients into vibrant works of edible art: Vietnamese Summer Rolls.

How we made them was easier than I thought…

The process, deceptively simple, became a dance of textures and flavours. We soaked the translucent rice paper wrappers until pliable, then carefully layered them with ribbons of julienned vegetables – crisp lettuce, vibrant carrots, and paper-thin cucumber slices. Fragrant herbs, like mint and basil, added pops of freshness, while cooked shrimp or pork provided a satisfying protein element. Each roll, meticulously assembled and dipped into a traditional Nước Chấm (Vietnamese dipping sauce), was a testament to the delicate balance of Vietnamese cuisine flavours.

Looking back, it wasn’t just the art of making summer rolls that my aunt imparted that afternoon. It was the lesson of finding joy in the simple things, the importance of nourishing our bodies with fresh, vibrant foods, and the enduring power of family traditions passed down through generations.  Those Vietnamese Summer Rolls became more than a delicious meal; they were a symbol of love, connection, and the enduring spirit that had brought us all together.

What’s the difference between spring rolls and summer rolls?

In Vietnamese cuisine, we have both summer rolls and spring rolls, but don’t be fooled by the names! While summer rolls are traditionally served chilled – perfect for those hot days when you crave a refreshing bite, spring rolls are always best when they’re piping hot and fresh out of the fryer. But the difference goes far deeper than just temperature.

The first key distinction lies in the wrapper. Summer rolls are wrapped in translucent sheets of rice paper, so thin you can almost see through them. These wrappers soften slightly as they’re dipped in water, creating a delicate and chewy texture that complements the fresh fillings within. On the other hand, spring rolls use a sturdier pastry-like wrapper. This thicker shell can withstand the heat of deep-frying, transforming into a crispy golden-brown exterior that contrasts beautifully with the savoury filling.

The fillings themselves also showcase the contrasting styles of these two dishes. Spring rolls typically boast a heartier filling of precooked ingredients like shredded pork, vegetables like cabbage and carrots, and sometimes even prawns. Pre-cooking ensures the fillings remain dry, preventing them from making the wrapper soggy during frying. Summer rolls, in contrast, are all about freshness. They burst with vibrant ingredients like lettuce, cucumber, herbs like mint and basil, rice vermicelli noodles for a chewy element. Sometimes we add cooked prawns or pork for a touch of protein. The raw vegetables and fresh herbs contribute to a light and healthy feel. Perfect for a summer meal or accompaniment to a BBQ.


(To make 8-12 rolls)

–              1 Pack Rice paper sheets

–              1 Pack Vermicelli noodles

–              200g Large Prawns (you can replace this with any protein you prefer)

–              200g thinly sliced cooked Pork belly (you can replace this with any protein)

–              1x Cucumber (you can also use carrots)

–              1x Soft lettuce (you can use purple cabbage as an alternative)

–              Herbs of choice (Perilla, Mint and Basil are most common)

–              Large bowl of water


In Advance

  • Some of the filling should be prepared ahead of time. If you’re using meat, it should be cooked, cooled, and sliced in advance.
  • Boil water and cover the prawns so they cook while you’re preparing the vegetables.
  • Juliette the cucumber and carrots if you’re using them and set them to the side.
  • Pre-soak your vermicelli noodles in warm water for 10 minutes, then boil them for 30 seconds (or follow the packet instructions). Rinse and drain the noodles, then set aside for assembly.


  • Prepare a large bowl of warm water to dip the rice paper wrappers into; you’ll also want some paper towels to wipe away any excess water.
  • Place a rice paper wrapper in the warm water and dab any excess. Be careful, as you’ll notice the water immediately activates the sticky paper.
  • Place your filling centre but on the edge closest to you, leave about an inch of space so you can roll it. In some parts of Vietnam, they will let full sprigs of spring onions stick out the sides, but that’s optional!
  • There are no rules for how you place your filling, but I like to start with shredded lettuce so it acts as a container. Then, place some of the vegetables, followed by fanning a spread of noodles, before adding the protein last. If you’re using whole prawns, lay them beside the vegetables furthest away from you so they show through the translucent wrapper.
  • Take the lip of rice paper closest to you and lay it over the bundle of your filling.
  • Fold each side inwards towards you.
  • Roll the Summer Roll so it seals shut with the remainder of the rice paper (like rolling a burrito!). You should end up with a neat parcel, remember it doesn’t have to be perfect or tight like a sushi roll would be.
  • Do this as many times as needed to use up all the ingredients.
  • Serve and enjoy immediately with some delicious Vietnamese dipping sauce.