Homemade egg rolls are one of my favorite hearty appetizers to make, but traditionally, you’d need at least a few cups of oil to pan fry the egg rolls.
No more! Thanks to the benefits of technology, I now use an air fryer to make my egg rolls and they turn out almost as crispy and delicious as the deep-fried version!
Why air fry your egg rolls?
There are two reasons why you might want to air fry your egg rolls.
- First, there is a health benefit to air frying over deep frying. While I do recommend very lightly brushing the egg rolls with oil before frying (which gives them some extra crispiness), you don’t have to do that. And either way, the egg rolls are definitely absorbing less oil than if you deep fry them!
- For me though, the bigger advantage is time. It takes 30 seconds to flip on the air fryer and the clean-up is worlds easier than dealing with vats of hot oil.
Some traditionally fried recipes adapt well to the air fryer, but egg rolls work really well. They come out crispy and browned, and if you have access to an air fryer, this is a must try!
How to make the filling
I give you my basic egg roll filling recipe for this version, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ll put almost anything in egg rolls (think leftover chicken and rice, steak and onions, etc.). It’s a fridge-cleaner appetizer for me. Any sort of cooked protein can probably be diced and added in. Almost any vegetable can be wilted down and folded in as well.
If I’m starting from scratch, however, I do it the Chinese takeout way: I usually start with a pork filling that has ginger, garlic, scallion, carrot, and cabbage. To make the filling:
- First, cook the ground pork in a large skillet until it’s cooked through.
- Then add the veggies and cook them until they are wilted down, maybe another few minutes.
- Season the filling well with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.
This should be no surprise, but the filling should taste good before you wrap it up. So taste it and adjust to your liking!
How to assemble the egg rolls
Egg roll wrappers are frequently found in the refrigerated section of your supermarket. They have a few simple ingredients like flour and eggs and are available nationwide these days. If you can’t find them, ask! It’s a good bet your supermarket has them somewhere.
Making egg rolls is like making little mini burritos, except with square tortillas. The key to getting it right is to make sure you turn the square wrapper so a point is facing you (like a diamond). Then place about 1/4 cup of filling in the middle of the wrapper, fold the side points over, and then roll it up!
To make sure the wrapper seals well, I recommend dipping your fingers in water and brushing the outer edges of the wrapper before rolling.
You should get about a dozen egg rolls out of the batch of filling.
How to air fry egg rolls
When it comes to air frying these, place them in your air fryer basket, but make sure they aren’t stacked or touching. You’ll probably need to do this in two batches.
Brush the egg rolls with a very light coat of oil before air frying. That will help really crisp up the shell. Air fry for about six minutes per side. While you’re at it, hit the basket with some nonstick spray just for good measure to avoid sticking.
Just a note: This recipe was developed using a standard air fryer with a single basket. However, there are many different kinds out there! If you have an air fryer that’s also a combination toaster oven, you may need to use the fryer basket on the lower rack to prevent burning.
Alternative pan frying method
If you don’t have an air fryer, have no fear. People were making egg rolls long before air fryers were invented.
If I’m not using an air fryer, I actually prefer to pan fry egg rolls. You only need enough oil to go about 1/2 inch up a skillet and then fry the egg rolls at 350°F for about four minutes per side. They will be golden brown and wonderful!
How to prep, store, and freeze the egg rolls
You can certainly make the filling a day or two in advance. Just be sure to keep it in the fridge, covered. If you make the filling right away, be sure to cool it down so it isn’t steaming hot before making egg rolls.
Once your egg rolls are cooked, you can store them in the fridge for five days and reheat them either in a 350°F oven or in the air fryer. Just heat them until they are warmed through. The air fryer will take just a minute or two and the oven about six to seven minutes.
You can also wrap the cooked egg rolls tightly in aluminum foil and freeze them for up to three months. If they are frozen, unwrap and reheat them in the oven only until they are thawed and crispy again. If you try to heat the frozen egg rolls in the air fryer, they will burn on the outside before the inside is thawed.