How to Use Rice Paper Wrappers

Learn about rice paper wrappers, the best ones to buy, plus my favorite ways to use them, including summer rolls!

How to Buy and Use Rice Paper Wrappers

If you’ve enjoyed a summer roll (or salad roll) at a Vietnamese restaurant, you’ve already encountered rice paper wrappers. These are incredibly thin, slightly chewy wrappers traditionally made from rice, water, and salt. They’re transparent so that you can see the delicious fillings inside.

While they’re often filled with shrimp, pork, fresh vegetables, and noodles, rice paper wrappers are incredibly versatile. You can get creative and use them with almost any filling you can imagine. We’ve even made BLT summer rolls using bacon, lettuce, and tomato!

Red Rose and Three Ladies Brand

Depending on where you live, you might find rice paper wrappers in the international food aisle of your local grocery or health food store. Otherwise, Vietnamese or Chinese markets are your best bet, or you can easily order them online.

Tips for Choosing Rice Paper Wrappers

  • Avoid 100% Tapioca: These can be tricky to work with. Instead, look for wrappers made with rice or a combination of rice and tapioca. (Rice paper wrappers are naturally gluten-free, so if a package lists wheat, it’s likely a translation error).
  • Size: I recommend 8 1/2 inch wrappers, as they’re the easiest to handle compared to smaller or larger sizes.
  • Brands: Look for the “Three Ladies” brand or ones with a red rose on the label. These are widely considered high-quality options.
  • Price: If there are multiple choices, go for the priciest one. Rice paper is relatively inexpensive, so spending a bit more for quality is worth it.

How to Store Rice Paper Wrappers

Once opened, place the package in a resealable plastic bag and store it in your pantry or cupboard. This will help keep them fresh and prevent them from drying out.

Ways to Use Rice Paper Wrappers

The most well-known way to use rice paper wrappers is to make fresh summer rolls (sometimes called spring or fresh rolls). You can also use these thin wrappers to make rice paper dumplings or Vietnamese fried spring rolls (see Andrea Nguyen’s article for her expert tips on frying rice paper rolls).

Other nontraditional but super fun ideas include using them as a base for pizza, rolling them up as sushi, and even making vegan bacon.

Rice paper is sold in dried sheets. Before using it, you must rehydrate it to make it pliable. I fill a shallow dish with warm water and then dip one rice paper wrapper at a time into the water for a few seconds, just until it becomes pliable and soft (usually 5 to 10 seconds). Any longer, it will become too soft and difficult to work with.

Dipping the rice paper

How to Wrap Rice Paper Rolls

You can wrap just about anything in rice paper, from cooked shrimp, grilled chicken or beef, and baked tofu to fresh vegetables like shredded carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, lettuce, avocado, bean sprouts, and herbs like mint, cilantro, and basil. Then, add some cooked and cooled rice vermicelli noodles to make your rolls more substantial.

Wrapping rice paper is as easy as wrapping a burrito and becomes even easier with practice. Don’t worry about perfection!

As mentioned above, since rice paper comes in dried sheets, you’ll need warm water to make it pliable. Fill a shallow dish or baking tin wider than your rice paper with warm water. Then, slide one sheet at a time into the water for 5 to 10 seconds (any longer, and it’ll become too soft and sticky). Think of it as a quick dip.

Remove the moistened sheet and place it onto your work surface for a minute or two. It will become even more pliable and slightly sticky, ready to be filled and rolled.

How to Wrap Rice Paper Wrappers: Don't worry if it tears when rolling

Now, wrap it up like a burrito:

  1. Place your filling in the middle of the lower third of the wrapper.
  2. Bring the bottom edge up and over the filling.
  3. Fold in the two sides.
  4. Roll it up tightly, using your fingers to keep the filling snug in the center.

If the rice paper tears a little, don’t worry! Just overlap the torn edges and continue rolling. No one will notice once it’s all deliciousness inside.

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39 comments… Leave a Review
  • Jerry June 7, 2023, 4:06 pm

    My question is how long do you dip the paper in water? I have read 2 seconds, 6 seconds, 15 seconds, 50 seconds. When making the rolls with various soaking times, I find that when ready to eat the skins are always sticky, even after several minutes after making them. When we went last to a Thai restaurant and ordered spring rolls, I don’t remember them sticking to my fingers.

    • Joanne July 8, 2024, 8:33 pm

      Hi Jerry, Assume 5 to 10 seconds. Then lay it flat on your work surface where it will soften a little more. Hope that helps.

  • Chris April 14, 2018, 1:17 pm

    I noticed the rice paper we have at our local paper has a bad after taste. Any way to eliminate that after taste?

    • Joanne May 2, 2018, 2:48 pm

      Hi Chris, I’m not really sure how to eliminate this. I’d try a different store and see if you can find another brand sold in your area.

  • Ramona June 8, 2017, 2:09 pm

    Do you dip them in a sauce?

    • Joanne June 8, 2017, 3:03 pm

      Hi Ramona, For traditional spring rolls, we love a peanut sauce, although we do not have a recipe for one on Inspired Taste.

  • Missy Gold February 12, 2017, 11:19 pm

    A Vietnamese friend taught me to lay a damp kitchen cloth down to work on and use one to cover the rolls while you work if you are making a large number it does help. Her recipe used one red lettuce leaf, rice noodles, Thai basil, cilantro, mint leaves, shreads of carrots, cucumber sticks and chicken or shrimp.

    • Natalie August 16, 2017, 12:34 pm

      Excellent tip – thanks

  • Annetjie Rogers January 5, 2017, 2:43 am

    Can you deep fry a spring roll after softening the rice paper, filling and rolling it?

    • Joanne January 5, 2017, 1:46 pm

      Yes, you can deep fry the rice paper rolls. Since rice paper is so fragile, quite a few people prefer to use wrappers that are labeled as spring roll wrappers (which often have a bit of wheat flour added). These hold up a little easier.

  • Annie October 12, 2016, 1:45 am

    I should have read this site before I put all the rice papers in the water all at once! Very embarrassed now?It wasn’t so easy slowly separating them, but I managed and they were delicious
    5 stars

  • Janet September 7, 2016, 7:16 am

    Just embarking on trying my next burger on a rice wrap. I’m tired of losing all the good juice from a delicious burger (pickles, GF sauce, lettuce, onion). The BLT will be first on my ‘to-do’ list.
    Thanks for your good work on this subject!

  • Maureen Donovan July 22, 2016, 1:50 pm

    Yes, I also thought this was a great way to enjoy a BLT especially during this hot weather. I plan on taking them to a cookout. Can these be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator? Thank you for your wonderful help. I have never used rice paper wrappers before.

    • Joanne July 28, 2016, 4:57 pm

      Hi Maureen, Rice paper tends to dry out when left overnight. If you can, make them the day of and then wrap them with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.

  • Karen July 16, 2016, 1:04 pm

    Thank you for this info. I just saw a recipe I want to try but had no idea where to buy the rice paper or really how to use them. Now I do and cannot wait to try the recipe!

  • Lachlan December 14, 2015, 3:49 pm

    Hi, I opened my rice paper rolls a while ago! I put them in a zip lock bag in my cupboard, and recently wanted to make some Again! They’re the exact brand as that. I was wondering if you know if they exprire or not as I can’t read the package! Thank you!

    • Joanne December 22, 2015, 1:02 pm

      If the wrappers were stored in a bag (we like using a resealable bag) then they should last a couple years.

  • Barbara August 30, 2015, 8:06 pm

    I made theses today and all went well until I put then in a container to store and the stuck together. Any sugesstions for keeping them from sticking together. I rubbed olive oil on my hands and sort of got them unstuck but just wondering if there’s some sort of trick?

    • Joanne October 16, 2015, 12:55 pm

      Hi Barbara, We’re not sure of any special tricks on this one. Placing a piece of parchment paper in between the rolls or individually wrapping with plastic wrap is probably your best bet.

    • john September 6, 2016, 3:08 pm

      I wrap them and leave them whole then wrap lightly in saran wrap. I cut the rolls into smaller pieces just before I am ready to eat them. I even make them the night before and take to lunch the next day. love that little chew.


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