17 Creative Ways To Use Rice Paper In Your Cooking

The continent of Asia is home to some of the world's best cuisines. From the savory sauces of Southeast Asia to the innovative use of soybeans in East Asia and beyond, the culinary history of the land goes back millennia. One handy contribution from Asian cuisine is edible rice paper, which is especially widespread in Vietnam, where it's called bánh tráng. Rice paper is typically made from rice and tapioca starch, water, and salt, and commonly used as edible wrapping for spring rolls and dumplings. 

Beyond those uses, with creativity, rice paper can be used for so much more. Its versatility stems from its neutral flavor and texture, which becomes bendable, stretchy, and easy to manipulate when soaked in water. Skip the scramble and start the day with a rice paper omelet. Make a vegan BLT with rice paper bacon. Those are just two of many creative ways to amp up your cooking with rice paper. 

Transform rice paper into tteokbokki

No matter where you travel, trying street food is one of the best ways to experience the local cuisine and culture. In South Korea, spicy tteokbokki is one of the most popular street foods around. It's a simple dish that consists of cylindrical rice cakes that are stir-fried with sweet-and-spicy tteokbokki sauce, which gets its piquant kick from Korean chili paste. At a glance, it resembles penne pasta, but rather than being hollow and tubular, the rice cakes are dense and chewy.

Tteokbokki can be found at Korean restaurants, and rice cakes are widely available at Asian supermarkets. If you happen to live in a city without those options, you can still experience this crave-worthy Korean street food classic. The rice paper hack for your homemade tteokbokki starts by softening rice paper with water. Once pliable, roll each sheet into thin tubes and slice them into short pieces. Next, cook the rice paper "cakes" in a pan with tteokbokki sauce for a few minutes, and voilà, enjoy your homemade rice paper treat. 

Create fusion cuisine with rice paper pizza

In the debate over which cuisines are the best, Chinese and Italian are mainstays. Although the latter often holds the top spot, broth-flavored noodles are just as smile-inducing as sauce-smothered pasta. When faced with such a challenging decision, sometimes the best solution is culinary fusion. Rice paper is an unlikely bridge between both culinary realms, as it can be used as a low-carb alternative to pizza crust.

Rice paper pizza, also known as Vietnamese pizza, is a popular street food called bánh tráng nướng in Vietnam, where vendors grill rice paper sheets over charcoal. These sheets are traditionally topped with eggs, scallions, shrimp, sausage, sriracha, and more. While you can attempt to make an authentic version of Vietnamese pizza, you can also swap the traditional ingredients with your favorite pizza toppings on a sheet of rice paper, and then bake, grill, or fry it. Unlike pizza dough, rice paper is neutral-flavored, and a more direct vehicle for delivering tastiness into your muncher. It's a low-maintenance snack that'll surely satisfy your pizza fix.

Start your day with a rice paper omelet

From savory scrambles to flavorful frittatas, eggs are one of the most dynamic and nutrient-packed foods around. When it comes to egg-based breakfasts, omelets arguably reign supreme. They incorporate elements from scrambles and frittatas, which makes them poultry-provided perfection.

That said, as amazing as traditional omelets are, your mornings will never be the same after you try rice paper omelets, which are something of a variation on Vietnamese pizza. You only need eggs, a rice paper wrapper, your choice of protein and other fillings, salt, and cooking oil. Start by beating the egg yolk in a bowl and preparing your ingredients. Pull out your go-to frying pan, add a bit of oil, and place a sheet of rice paper inside. Next, distribute your diced ingredients atop the rice paper, followed by your egg yolk. Once it has a solidified consistency, fold it like a regular omelet and put it on a plate to enjoy. 

Make crispy ramen rice paper wraps

There's nothing like a chewy, crispy, and tasty treat to quell your munchie monster, and when you don't need utensils, it's even better. One type of finger food that's sure to get you salivating is rice-paper-wrapped ramen. Although ramen purists may scoff at the idea, this no-frills snack not only satisfies, but can be enjoyed on the go as well. Rice paper-wrapped ramen is cheap and easy to make. You can skip brewing broth and save your ramen seasoning packets for future recipes.

To make them, you only need ramen and rice paper. You simply soften the paper and noodles, then wrap the ramen spring-roll-style in a log or square shape. If chewiness entices your chompers, you can enjoy it as is, but if you prefer more bite for your bucks, fry them in a pan with oil. Trust us, a crispy and moist consistency combined with a delicious dipping size will have you making rice paper-wrapped ramen all the time. 

Swap traditional pork with rice paper bacon

If dictionaries used images rather than words to define things, the term "flavorful" would be perfectly described with a picture of bacon. It's simple, bacon tastes delicious. From the smoky aroma to its delectable curling, most meats only dream of being as beloved. Each morning it serves as a centerpiece atop breakfast tables across America — at least for meat eaters. 

People transitioning to a plant-based diet lament missing out on the bacon experience, as most meatless alternatives fall short of the original. Just because you're anti-pork doesn't mean you have to be anti-delicious. With its neutral taste and malleable consistency, rice paper is the ingredient to make vegan bacon that's actually crispy. To get started, simply soften the rice paper, slice it into strips, and add flavor by marinating the strips. This can be done by using liquid smoke, the key to vegan-approved bacon flavor. You can also experiment with ingredients like soy or tamarind sauce, maple syrup, paprika, garlic, onion powder, or pepper. After infusing, bake the strips in the oven until they are nice and crisp. 

Turn rice paper into crunchy chips

One of the easiest ways to use rice paper is to turn it into crunchy chips. With a little time and hot oil, you can quickly cure your snacking pangs, and it's so easy you'll wonder why you didn't try it sooner. Using a wok, heat some oil and carefully dip a single sheet of rice paper in it, which instantly transforms it into a puffy and crispy chip. 

Although this process is easy peasy, there are some things to keep in mind. First, the oil needs to be on high heat similarly to when you fry foods, and second, you should use a tong to hold and dip the rice paper in and out of the oil rather than allowing it to rest, because the paper puffs immediately. After it resembles a wrinkly crispy treat, set it on paper towels to soak up the remaining oil, sprinkle on any seasoning you like, and dig in. You can also dip rice paper chips, top them with ceviche, or load them with other diced ingredients.

Substitute ramen noodles with rice paper

Since we're on the topic of creative ways to use rice paper, here is a clever ramen hack that will subvert all expectations. With a few easy steps and flicks of the wrist, rice paper can be used as a crave-worthy substitute for ramen noodles.

As with just about any recipe for rice paper, you'll need to first soften the edible sheets. After they become pliant, place the sheets on a cutting board and massage out any noticeable air bubbles. You then slice each sheet of rice paper into thin and stretchy strips, and soak them in cold water to prevent them from becoming sticky. Lastly, add the flavoring ingredients of your liking and toss it in a pan to cook, before using them in the ramen recipe of your choice. In no time, you'll be scarfing, slurping, and savoring a bowlful of rice paper ramen. 

Take a savory excursion with rice paper bourekas

From samosas and pierogies to empanadas and Cornish pasties, stuffed dough is enjoyed worldwide. Another doughy filled delight are bourekas, the savory Israeli pastry. It's a treat that's traditionally filled with ground beef, cheese, or vegetables like spinach, eggplant, or potatoes. Popular far beyond Israel, bourekas can be eaten for a midday snack, served during celebrations, and even enjoyed for breakfast.

While homemade pastry or store-bought phyllo are the usual go-to dough materials for making bourekas, why not trade these heavier materials for a healthier option? With rice paper, you can have the taste of the original bourekas within a lighter shell. To make them, the rice paper must be soaked in warm water for a few seconds until bendable, but not softened as much as for making spring rolls. If it's too soft, you won't achieve the ideal crunch as it bakes. Then stuff them with your favorite filling, and bake them until golden brown. 

Get your sweet fix with rice paper boba tea

Boba tea fans get bubbly when you bring up their most beloved milky beverage. Originally created in Taiwan, boba has only been around since the 1980s, but has since become a worldwide phenomenon. Boba, also known as bubble tea, is a sweet milky concoction loaded with miniature balls of black tapioca pearls along with brown sugar and black tea, though other types of tea work with boba as well. If "cute and bubbly" was a beverage, boba would be it.

A super clever boba hack that involves rice paper allows anyone to make homemade gluten-free bubble tea in no time at all. After wetting the sheets, roll each under your palm into thin tubular strips. Then cut the sheets into small rice paper bubbles, and cook them in a pan with brown sugar and water until they turn brown. It's that easy!

Put a healthy spin on cannelloni with rice paper

Traveling throughout the hills of Italy, you'll come across countless styles of pasta. Cannelloni, similar to American manicotti, is a stuffed pasta dish that's awesome for its variety of crave-worthy ingredients. From marinara and meatballs to mozzarella and pesto, it is a culinary canvas open to numerous pasta-bilities. Versatility aside, you can put a healthy spin on this Italian classic with rice paper.

First, decide what your filling will be. Soften your rice paper sheets with warm water and place them on a paper towel to dry. Make sure not to over-soften them, as they should still retain some firmness. Once dry and pliable, drop a dollop of your ingredients in the center, roll it up like an egg roll, and place each cannelloni in a baking pan. After you finish forming your cannelloni, top with cheese and sauce and put it in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. 

Get your Korean BBQ fix with bulgogi rice paper rolls

Quintessentially Korean, bulgogi is a style of barbecued beef delicious enough to compete with some of America's top BBQ classics. Its flame-grilled cooking method is reflected in its name, derived from how to say "fire meat" in Korean. Bulgogi is typically made using cuts of steak like ribeye, tenderloin, or sirloin, and served with rice, lettuce, and other flavorful sides — and it can even be made for vegetarians and vegans with bulgogi-style shredded tofu. Beyond its undeniable taste, the best part about enjoying bulgogi is the communal dining experience. Tables at many Korean BBQ restaurants feature built-in grills that allow guests to enjoy bulgogi together.

While nothing can replace the original, it's never a bad idea to put a different spin on traditional recipes. You can ditch the chopsticks without losing the communal feel by preparing rice paper bulgogi. Simply wrap your bulgogi meat in rice paper similarly to spring rolls, and serve them at your next gathering as tasty finger food.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with dessert spring rolls

Rice paper may be associated with savory dishes, but their versatility includes sweets as well. Enjoy a dessert spring roll filled with banana, chocolate, and coconut. Moist and decadent, it checks every box on the "perfect dessert" list of requirements. The best part is that it can be enjoyed delectably warm or at room temp. And if you're not cuckoo for coconut, there are countless other ways to make dessert spring rolls.

Rather than using sugary confections, try filling the rice paper rolls with a refreshing fruit combo. Sliced peaches, strawberries, and kiwi with a touch of mint leaves will have friends raving about your summer get-togethers. If you want to make your spring rolls fancy, try making oven-baked apple spring rolls. All you have to do is flex your creativity, listen to your gut, and let the good times roll — pun intended.

Wrap your samosas with rice paper instead of dough

Samosas are one of the most recognizable stuffed-and-fried pastry types in the world. As a staple of Indian cuisine, their aromatic and savory charm has enchanted many curious foodies. Whether you know the difference between a masala and biryani, or only recently experienced curry for the first time, samosas are the perfect gateway food to a world of potential new favorites. For a healthier twist on this tasty treat, use rice paper in place of dough. It's like fusing Asian cuisines to create a samosa-stuffed spring roll.

Portable, crispy, and filling, you'll be licking flavorful remnants from your fingers. Rice paper wrappers are vegan-friendly and gluten-free, and can save you time in the kitchen. While handling the everyday hustle and bustle, it's never fun to rush recipes. Serve this clever twist at your next get-together or as a midday snack for the family. 

Make vegan-friendly rice paper pork rinds

If rice paper chips get your munchies going, wait until you bite into rice paper pork rinds. Vegan-friendly pork rinds, you say? Yes, as wild as that sounds, it's just further proof of rice paper's versatility. If you think about it though, the concept isn't that far-fetched. When flash-fried, rice paper develops the same crispy consistency as pork rinds, so all you need to add is a bit of flavor. Making them only takes a total of a few minutes, too!

Once rice paper hits the hot oil, it'll puff up in mere seconds. It's an easy snack that can feed large gatherings and will likely spark curious conversation as well. To recreate the classic pork rind taste, season it with smoked paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper. Beyond plain chips and pork rinds, you can also sprinkle them with cheesy powder for homemade cheese puffs.

Embark on a culinary voyage with rice paper boats

Some foods were made especially for loading with tasty toppings, and rice paper is a perfect carrier of flavor. When fried into large chips, rice paper can be used as "boats" for countless ingredient combinations. You can ride the wave to Flavorville, and fortunately, sea legs are not required. Try topping rice paper boats with minced meat soaked in sweet-and-salty hoisin sauce. It's a delicious recipe that works with the ground protein of your choice, and it can also be made vegan with a plant-based option.

For poultry lovers, try pairing rice paper boats with your favorite style of saucy barbecued chicken. Trust us, your tongue will thank you after it experiences the first juicy and crunchy bite. For those looking to reduce their meat intake, try loading your rice paper boat with a fresh and spicy coleslaw mixture. For the final flavorful touch, get your fiery fix with a drizzle of sriracha. 

Elevate dessert with rice paper mochi

The list of creative ways to use rice paper in cooking is not only extensive, it's unpredictably interesting. This next recommendation is a dessert that's sure to put a smile on your sweet tooth. Did you know that rice paper could be transformed into mochi? For those not hip to this special Japanese dessert, mochi is a type of sweet delight that's made with rice flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and water.

While there are two varieties of this Asian treat — mochi and mochi ice cream — the former kind filled with chewy rice-flour dough can be made using rice paper as an outer layer. Rather than initially kneading dough into flat circles to hold the filling, just load your filling onto a softened rice paper sheet, add any extra ingredients, set it in the fridge for 30 minutes, and dive in.

Get on a roll with rice paper sushi

The most obvious way to creatively use rice paper is to make sushi rolls. Bite-sized, nutritious, and scrumptious, sushi is adored worldwide for a reason. Rice paper serves a similar purpose as nori sheets, also known as seaweed paper. Both are thin, come in a pack, and are typically used to wrap ingredients. The main difference is that rice paper is neutral-flavored, which makes it adaptable to a wider variety of recipes. Depending on the brand and flavor you choose, nori sheets can also cost more.

If you've rolled sushi before, making the switch to rice paper should be fairly easy. Choosing your ingredients will probably take some time, but after you've decided, follow the general rice paper softening steps to make rolling up your sushi nice and neat. For a touch of tradition, add a small piece of seaweed paper to the roll along with the other ingredients.