Fresh And Fragrant Thai Basil Beef Rolls Recipe

If you're looking for a lighter dish that doesn't skimp on flavor, perhaps as a starter, or a lunch option, these Thai basil beef rolls are something a little different from a run-of-the-mill salad. Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Rye has created this recipe which combines richly fragrant spiced ground beef with fresh and crispy raw veggies in delicate rice paper rolls, making for an utterly irresistible, as well as healthy, meal option.

You may be more familiar with a Chinese spring roll, which usually consists of a sort of pancake made of pastry, wrapped into a cylindrical shape around a filling, and then deep fried. These rolls, however, use rice paper as a wrapper, which is more common in Vietnamese cuisine. Because they are not deep fried, they are a lighter choice, perfect for those who are looking for a slightly more health-conscious way of enjoying this well-loved dish. And, because they use rice paper, instead of a wheat-based pasty wrap, this also makes them gluten-free; perfect for any diners who need to avoid gluten! 

As well as flavorful, these Thai basil beef rolls are relatively quick to cook and prepare, and should be ready to eat in half an hour. Read on to find out how you can make this fresh and fragrant dish at home. 

Gather the ingredients for this fresh and fragrant Thai basil beef rolls

To begin this fresh and fragrant Thai basil beef rolls recipe, first, you will need to gather the ingredients. You will want ground beef, garlic, shallots, ginger paste, lemongrass, Thai basil, Chinese five spice, soy sauce (or a gluten-free alternative), sweet chili sauce, and some freshly squeezed lime juice.

You will also want scallions, cilantro, gem lettuce, and an avocado, to give the rolls a delicious freshness and crunch. Lastly, you will need rice paper rolls to wrap up the fragrant beef and the vegetables.

Brown the beef

The first step to making these Thai basil beef rolls is to fry the ground beef over medium-high heat, using a little cooking oil if you're using mince with a lower fat content. By doing this first, you are taking advantage of a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction. The ground beef will become caramelized on its surface as it cooks, sealing in the meaty flavor and making for a slightly crispy texture, as well as giving it an appetizing reddish-brown color.

Add the herbs and spices

With the beef nicely browned, add in the minced garlic, the ginger paste, the lemongrass, and the Chinese five spice to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Then add the shallots, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and lime juice, and cook everything together for a few more minutes to make a wonderfully fragrant beef mixture that should be moist and a little sticky. Lastly, add in the Thai basil just before removing the pan from the heat. 

Roll the Thai basil beef rolls

With the cooked element of the Thai basil beef rolls done, it's time to begin assembling the rolls. Soak the rice paper sheets one at a time in water to make them nice and malleable; you can either follow the packets instructions or use your hands to feel how soft they have become. Then remove the rice paper wrap from the water and lay it onto a cloth kitchen towel, and place some of the beef mixture along with the fresh ingredients into the centre of the wrap. Make sure not to overfill the wrapper, else it will be hard to roll it. To roll, think of the rice paper like a burrito, and simply fold in the sides and then roll it over to encase the other ingredients in a neat package. Repeat this process until you have used all the ingredients.

Serve and store

Once rolled, the Thai basil beef rolls are ready to eat right away. They can be enjoyed as they are or served with a variety of delicious dips. We recommend either a satay-style peanut sauce, or if that's not your thing, a sweet chili sauce will complement the Thai basil beef rolls perfectly, adding a lovely hint of sweetness and spicy zing.

If you need to store them for later, or if you end up with leftovers, it is important to store them correctly. Rice paper is prone to drying out or sticking, so it's best to wrap each roll separately in plastic wrap. Once wrapped they should retain their moisture, and can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two.

Fresh And Fragrant Thai Basil Beef Rolls Recipe
5 from 37 ratings
This recipe combines richly fragrant spiced ground beef with fresh and crispy raw veggies in delicate rice paper rolls, making for an irresistible meal.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Thai basil beef rolls
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sweet chili sauce
  • Juice ½ lime
  • ⅓ cup fresh Thai basil, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup gem lettuce, finely sliced
  • 1 avocado, finely sliced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 10 rice paper rolls
  1. Heat up a large pan to medium heat, and then add the cooking oil and the ground beef. Season well with salt and pepper and then brown the ground beef for around 5 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic, ginger paste, chopped lemongrass, and Chinese five spice to the pan with the beef and cook everything for a minute or two longer until it smells fragrant.
  3. Add the chopped shallots, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and lime juice, and then let everything cook for 5 more minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in the Thai basil, then remove the pan from the heat and set to one side.
  4. Prepare a surface area to assemble the rolls, by gathering together the scallions, cilantro, lettuce, and avocado, along with the beef mixture, and the rice paper rolls. Cover a surface with a cloth kitchen towel, and fill a plate with water.
  5. Place the rice paper rolls into the water on the plate one at a time, and soak them for roughly 30 seconds, or according to the packets instructions, until they are soft and malleable.
  6. Remove the rice paper wrap from the water and spread it out onto the kitchen towel. Place the a spoon full of the beef mixture into the centre of the wrap, and add a little of each of scallions, cilantro, lettuce, and avocado.
  7. To roll, fold in the edges of the rice paper wrap, and then roll it forward like you would a burrito, until the filling is fully encased in the wrap. Preserve completed wraps on damp kitchen towel before consuming.
Calories per Serving 891
Total Fat 40.1 g
Saturated Fat 10.9 g
Trans Fat 1.4 g
Cholesterol 80.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 95.5 g
Dietary Fiber 9.7 g
Total Sugars 9.2 g
Sodium 1,966.2 mg
Protein 38.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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