What’s Vegan Egg Roll in a Bowl? Well, you know the savoury filling inside a Chinese egg roll? Use the same ingredients, but instead of rolling them up and deep-frying, turn them into a dish in its own right. And now I’ve veganized it. Traditional egg rolls are time-consuming to make, but this stir fried version satisfies all the same flavour cravings in under 45 minutes.
History & Origins
Unlike spring rolls, which stretch back thousands of years into China’s ancient past, egg rolls are a modern Chinese-American invention.
The difference between spring rolls and egg rolls is in the wrapping:
- Spring rolls feature a thin, flaky pastry wrapper, made of just flour, water, and oil. (In fact, you can make them yourself using my Hot Water Dough.) Once rolled, they can be deep-fried, pan-fried, or air-fried. The outside texture is crisp and papery.
- Egg rolls, on the other hand, traditionally use egg in the dough. Shocker!! They are almost always deep-fried. Once fried, pastry becomes thicker and bumpier than spring roll wrappers, and they are more crunchy than crispy.
Recently, the concept of “egg roll in a bowl” has become popular.
Not sure why we love food in bowls these days (burrito bowl, veg sushi bowl, buddha bowl)… maybe it’s to cut down on carbs. But I’m totally on board with this idea when it comes to egg rolls and spring rolls. Making a real spring roll from scratch is time-consuming, because each pastry has to be individually folded. Skipping the wrapping allows us to satisfy our craving for the same flavours any day of the week—without spending hours in the kitchen.
Vegan Egg Roll Filling
The “egg” in egg rolls is only found in the wrapper, not the filling. (And many “egg rolls” these days don’t use egg at all, to cut down on cost.) Since this egg roll in a bowl recipe dispenses with the wrapper, I didn’t need to find a substitute for the eggs.
The only other ingredient usually found in egg rolls that is not vegan is the ground meat. Instead, you can use any plant-based ground meat alternative. I’ve tested this recipe with:
Try to use an “unflavoured” or “original” product to ensure the flavourings in the meat product don’t clash with the egg roll spices. That said, I once made this recipe using Yves Chorizo Round. It tasted pretty good, just with a bit of a different flavour profile.
If you prefer less processed alternatives, you can make your own “ground beef” using TVP or crumbled tofu.
Read on to see the rest of the ingredients for this vegan egg roll in a bowl.
What You’ll Need
The aromatics found in classic egg rolls are: onion, garlic, ginger, scallions, and white pepper. Ground ginger is a suitable substitute if you don’t have fresh ginger. (Since I’m only cooking for myself these days, I never go through ginger quickly enough so I’ve been relying on ground ginger a lot. Luckily, this recipe is not super ginger-forward so dried ginger does the job.) Also, if you don’t have ground white pepper, feel free to sub with the more commonly-found black pepper.
You’ll also want some oil to fry in. If you want to avoid oil, I’ve found a good substitute to still get that rich flavour: tahini. You know when you leave tahini sitting untouched for a few days, and it separates into two layers: with the thick creamy sesame paste settling at the bottom, and a clear layer of oil on top? The oily top layer is a perfect alternative to refined oil.
The amount of oil to add can depend on which veggie meat alternative you are using. For example, I find that the Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger products are formulated with more oil and have a richer taste than lighter options like Yves or Lightlife. So if using a higher-fat alternative, you can cut back on the amount of added oil; vice versa if you’re using a lower-calorie product, consider adding more oil to give it that nice rich flavour.
Chopped cabbage and shredded carrots not only bulk up this egg roll in a bowl, they also add sweetness to balance out the flavour. As you cook down the veggies, they release their natural sugars!
Use soy sauce to add salty and umami flavours. I’ve used a low-sodium soy sauce here, so if you’re using regular soy sauce, add only half the amount specified.
Another ingredient I add when I want a more filling meal: thin sweet potato noodles (aka glass noodles). These noodles are best known in Japchae, a colourful Korean stir fry. However, many spring rolls and egg rolls contain some kind of thin vermicelli, so glass noodles work nicely here. You can also use rice vermicelli, or mung bean thread noodles. Or leave out the noodles entirely, it’s up to you.
Step 1: Heat oil in a large wok or skillet on medium-high heat. Or, use the top layer from a jar of tahini, like I’m doing here.
Step 2: Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and scallions, and sauté until soft and aromatic (5–7 minutes).
Step 3: Add the carrots. I used my food processor to dice up the carrots. You can also dice them, shred them, or julienne them.
Step 4: Next add the cabbage. Sauté the veggies for another 5 minutes, or until the cabbage gets wilty and soft.
Step 5: Stir in the vegan ground and cook until it’s heated through.
Step 6: Season with white pepper and soy sauce to taste.
Step 7: Throw on any additional toppings you like. I added some chopped scallion tops.
Make Ahead & Storage Tips
Fridge: Vegan egg roll in a bowl can be refrigerated for up to five days in an airtight container. I’ve taken this to campus a few times and nuked it in a microwave for lunch. It reheats very well so it’s a great meal prep option!
Freezer: I have not tried freezing this recipe. Let me know how it works out for you.
If you’re following a specific diet or need to be aware of allergies, here are a few ways you can modify this recipe:
- Gluten-free: Use tamari or coconut aminos in place of soy sauce (unless you can find a wheat-free soy sauce).
- Oil-free, WFPB: The only non-compliant foods here are vegan ground meat, which you can sub with crumbled firm tofu, and oil, which you can sub with the top layer of a separated jar of tahini. (See details in the What You’ll Need section above.)
- Low carb: Skip the noodles and make sure to use a low carb vegan ground meat.
If you made this recipe with a successful substitution, please let me know! Post a comment describing what you did so I can add it to this section and help future readers. (Leave your name blank if you don’t want to be credited.)
More Chinese Recipes
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Vegan Egg Roll in a Bowl
Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.
- Large wok or skillet
- 1 tbsp oil *can sub with 2 tbsp tahini liquid; see Note 1
- ½ small onion, diced
- ½ head garlic, minced
- 1/2- inch piece ginger, minced *can sub with 1 tsp ground ginger
- 3 scallions, diced
- 1 lb cabbage, shredded or sliced thin
- 2 carrots, shredded or diced *can sub with more cabbage
- 1 lb vegan ground
- 1 tsp white pepper *can sub with black pepper
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce *can sub with 2 tbsp regular soy sauce
- 3 oz sweet potato noodles, soaked in cold water for at least 15 minutes *optional
- Optional toppings: sesame oil, sesame seeds, crushed nuts, cilantro, chili oil, more scallions
- Heat oil in a large wok or skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and scallions, and sauté until soft and aromatic (5–7 minutes).
- Add the carrots and cabbage, sauté for another 5 minutes or until cabbage wilts.
- Stir in the vegan ground and cook until heated through.
- Season with white pepper and soy sauce to taste. Garnish with any additional toppings you like.
- If you want to keep this meal WFPB-compliant, I’ve found a good substitute for the oil: tahini. You know when you leave tahini sitting untouched for a few days, and it separates into two layers: with the thick creamy sesame paste settling at the bottom, and a clear layer of oil on top? The oily top layer is a perfect alternative to refined oil.
- Nutrition facts are calculated without the optional sweet potato noodles.