I first attempted summer rolls (or rice paper rolls) like these a few years ago, and I simply could not master them. The rice paper wrappers kept tearing, no matter how gentle I was, and they had a funky smell. That was a packet of 50 rice paper wrappers, so I had plenty of room for trial and error, but nothing worked. So I shelved it. (Along with homemade hummus, which I swore I wouldn’t attempt again for at least 10 years after the first disastrous attempt. I did give the hummus another go recently—indeed, 10 years since the last try!—and the results were mediocre, which is not what I was hoping for, but certainly a vast improvement, so I’m willing to try again without waiting another 10 years.)

Every summer I see rice paper rolls popping up on all the blogs and recipe sites I follow, and they look so tempting—fresh and crunchy, with all kinds of interesting dipping sauces. So, a few weeks ago I decided to free myself of my latent rice paper resentment and have another crack at it. I bought three different brands of rice paper, spent some time researching techniques for successful rolling, and waited until I had time to work on it without being rushed for time. Trying to do fiddly things under pressure rarely ends well.

I discovered that the brand of rice paper seems to make a huge difference! Of the three I tried, the one that worked easily and had no smell was the Natural Earth brand. I’m sure there are other good ones, too, but that’s what’s been working best for me. I also found that soaking the rice paper very, very briefly is crucial. Too long and they tear.

Everything else you need to know is in the detailed directions below, and here are some pictures that will help you.

This is what rice paper wrappers look like before you soak them. Afterwards, they are virtually translucent.

Cut your vegetables very finely. This will help prevent the rice paper from tearing.

Step-by-step pictures of how to roll them. (This is my preferred method; you may prefer it a different way.)

I served them with the almond-miso dipping sauce that I’m loving lately. I also used it as a dressing for this kale salad. You could use a peanut sauce or a soy-sauce based dipping sauce, if you prefer.


  • 10 rice paper wrappers
  • 2 cucumbers, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 mango, finely sliced
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 40 spinach leaves (approximately)
  • Optional: fresh herbs like parsley, basil, or mint


  1. Prepare all the fillings before you begin. Julienne the carrots and cucumbers (cut them into matchstick size/shape). Wash and check the cabbage and spinach for bugs. Shred the cabbage finely. Cut the mango as finely as possible. Lay out all the fillings in small bowls around your work area, or line them up on a cutting board.
  2. Lay out a piece of parchment paper. This will be your workspace, so the rice paper doesn’t stick to your countertop or cutting board. Prepare a dish of water. The dish should be large enough to fit the rice paper wrapper into, so use a large plate, casserole dish or baking pan.
  3. Submerge the first rice paper wrapper in the water for 3–4 seconds. Remove and place on the parchment paper. It should still be firm, because it will continue to soften while you fill it. If you soak it until it’s completely soft, it will be too difficult to work with.
  4. Place the filling on the first third of the wrapper, but not quite at the edge (see picture above). Begin with a couple of spinach leaves. This will help protect the rice paper from the harder vegetables, making it less likely to tear. Layer your ingredients, and top with another couple of spinach leaves.
  5. By now the rice paper should be soft and pliable. Gently fold the two sides in, so they cover some of the filling on each end. Then roll up tightly, tucking the ingredients in gently with your fingers as you go, if necessary. Place on the side and continue until you’ve rolled all 10. Cut in half and serve with the almond-miso dipping sauce (recipe below).

NOTE: These do not store well. You can prep the vegetables in advance, but do not assemble and roll until within an hour of eating.

TIP: You might have trouble rolling the first few. The rice paper is fragile and can tear. But if you are consistently finding it impossible to work with, try a different brand. There are some that are simply unworkable (in my experience). I’ve been very happy with the Natural Earth brand.

Almond-Miso Dipping Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ cup almond butter
  • 1 tbsp. white miso
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2½ tbsp. soy sauce
  • 6–8 tbsp. water
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or sliced
  • 1½-inch chunk ginger, sliced

Almond-Miso Dipping Sauce Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate for up to two weeks in an airtight container. If the sauce thickens too much in the fridge, thin is out with a little water before using.