14 Filling Ideas For Egg Rolls, According To Culinary Experts

Egg rolls, wontons, and many other fully-sealed, dumpling-type items are the perfect way to customize filling options, use up leftovers, and experiment with flavor combinations. Just ask cookery school owner, chef, and cookbook author Jeremy Pang. Pang often tells students that as long as they can close their dumplings, they can fill them with whatever they like ... to an extent.

When it comes to the generosity of egg roll fillings, Pang often cautions against overfilling, or you risk losing that ubiquitous and satisfying crunch — not to mention half of your filling in the eating process. "When they're too big, they fall apart," Pang says. "Once you've taken the first bite, they start to fall apart, right? But it's not a burrito; it's finger food."

Who better to turn to for advice on creative egg roll fillings than Pang? Having worked with Pang for many years at School of Wok – his Asian cookery school in London — and on his four popular cookbooks, I've gained many years of first-hand experience across numerous Asian cuisines. Together, we've covered a lot of ground on possible choices for your next batch of homemade egg rolls.

Egg rolls, wontons, or jiaozi wrappers are perfect items to have on hand, tucked away in your freezer. Pull out a pack to feed a crowd, use up leftovers, or entertain yourself or your kids on a rainy day (save the deep frying for the grownups).


Bulgogi is a classic Korean dish, which includes thin strips of beef that have been well-marinated in a sweet and sour combination of soy sauce, Asian pear, palm sugar, garlic, and ginger. The meat is then cooked over high heat, by wok or grill, and served with the most delicious sauce — containing a mixture of gochujang and soy. Tender, savory, and packed full of flavor, bulgogi could also make a fantastic egg roll filling, especially if you want a great way to repurpose leftovers.

You can either use fresh, raw, and marinated meat or finely chop any leftover meat. Mix well with a teaspoon of sauce and finely sliced green onion or shredded cabbage for balance, then spoon into your egg roll wrapper and tightly wrap. These egg rolls would make a fantastic appetizer served with a variety of banchan (side dishes), including kimchi, pickled cucumbers, bean sprouts, or radish. For a final touch, add a batch of candied mushrooms, made from a mixture of shiitake and porcini mushrooms (from Jeremy Pang's "Simple Family Feasts" cookbook) to really stretch the leftover bits of beef into a full spread or meal, alongside some steamed jasmine rice.

Omelet and onion

"My favorites when we were growing up were actually perhaps less traditional but they just worked. My dad used to make a fried omelet, then sort of cut up or chop ... and then add it to vegetable spring rolls," says Pang.

Pang's father often created a mixture of omelet with onion as an easy, satisfying egg roll option. Though this filling isn't something we might consider initially, Pang explains why it works so well. He says, "It soaks up a lot of the liquid or moisture in the seasoning or the marinade, and it also sort of stays nice and bouncy." Eggs, unlike some other ingredients, can keep the marinade from leaking into the outer pastry, which means less risk of a soggy pastry when frying.

In Pang's second cookbook, "Hong Kong Diner," he provides a recipe for a tomato, egg, and soy dish — often eaten in Hong Kong — that would also make an exceptionally delicious filling (as would a Taiwanese-style oyster omelet).

Scallop and asparagus

Pang recalls some of his favorite egg rolls growing up. He says, "One that ... my dad used to do was like a fish and asparagus spring roll. Or scallop and asparagus spring rolls. Love the texture of the fish, scallops, or seafood."

Ingredients like fish and scallops have the perfect delicate textures to create that play of hard outside and soft inside that Pang loves. "You get this crispness but then the softness of the bite of the fish or scallop," he says. "It's really lovely."

Pang suggests using a Vietnamese-style marinade of turmeric and dill for the fish or scallops, which is kept raw alongside the asparagus when wrapping. Both ingredients only take a short time to cook, which can be done via deep frying the finished roll. The results, especially in thinner, Thai-style spring rolls, are a perfect and elegant dish for springtime. The textural differentiation is really what makes this combination so good. You can liken its appeal to other items that play off the same mix of textures, like a creamy macaroni and cheese casserole topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, sweet corn fritters, or even baklava with its flaky outer shell and soft, sweet filling. 


For those looking for a sweet treat, Pang has several delicious ideas, many of which center around using bananas and pairing them with other sweet offerings for the perfect dessert. If making the larger, Chinese-American-style egg rolls, you could keep the banana whole, provided it's on the smaller side. When making thinner, Thai-style egg rolls, Pang suggests slicing a banana lengthwise into thirds (the fruit offers a natural break). No matter which style you choose, consider pairing the sweet, soft fruit with chocolaty ganache, a heavy-handed swipe of Nutella, or even a homemade butterscotch or caramel.

During our discussion, Pang also takes inspiration from a Tasting Table article on the history behind Bananas Foster: "You could kind of work that into a spring roll. You could even have like a rum-flavored caramel sauce on the side of that. Or like a salted caramel rum dipping sauce," he suggests. As demonstrated by the list of delicious-sounding ideas, Pang quickly rattles off, deep-fried or even air-fried egg rolls lend themselves to a variety of sweet and savory fillings. Clearly, Pang has dessert on his mind when we speak, and now you probably do, too.

Apples and cinnamon

There's an excellent reason why McDonald's deep-fried apple pies were so popular: Apple pie is inherently delicious. Add a flaky, crunchy, satisfying, deep-fried crust to it, and you've taken the siren calls of apple pie to an 11. While sadly, McDonald's has long since retired its original recipe and cooking method in favor of more heart-healthy baking options, you can recreate its essence at home with egg rolls. Pang remarks, "You know an apple crumble mix — like a nice cinnamon-flavored apple crumble — that would be good to have mixed up inside a spring roll. Delicious!"

Pang advocates for thinking outside the box when filling spring rolls while keeping texture and the ratio of filling-to-wrapper in mind. He cautions, "It's something that you want to take two or three bites, and you're done. And then eat another one. To me, it's important to have the right ratio of crispy pastry to filling."

Want to go extra over the top? Add a custard, ice cream, or caramel dipping sauce for the complete experience. Just take care not to burn your tongue or the roof of your mouth on the fried fruit filling.

Deep-fried tofu 

Want the bounciness of an egg, as Pang suggested, without using an animal product? When it comes to egg roll fillings, ingredients like deep-fried tofu deliver on flavor and texture. While traditional Chinese restaurants in the U.S. often have a classic filling that includes pork and shrimp, Pang prefers other options entirely. He remarks, "Chopped up slices of pork or chicken kinda do that job, but they don't do that as well as an egg-fried omelet or deep-fried tofu." Add the tofu to thinly sliced vegetables, herbs, or sauces for a bouncy, satisfying center.

Pang says he prefers the thinner style of deep-fried snacks, closer in size to those from Thai cuisine than the thicker, Chinese-American-style egg rolls. The reasoning behind this preference boils down to several things, including texture and the capacity to eat a large quantity of them in one sitting — which can be harder to accomplish with the larger varieties.

On the topic of using deep-fried tofu as a filling, Pang notes, "Those would be the more traditional flavors ... if you weren't talking about the wild and wacky options. Obviously the saying, 'If you can close a spring roll or a dumpling, then you can put whatever you want in it' still applies."

Sesame and miso eggplant

While I love the taste and texture of all different kinds of egg rolls, I also appreciate their ability to make otherwise underappreciated ingredients — including vegetables like eggplant — more appealing to my family. My daughters tend to like eggplant in one of three ways: Drowning in melted cheese and tomato sauce — like in eggplant Parmesan, undetected in a slow-cooked Bolognese or marinara sauce, or under a caramelized glaze of miso and soy sauce, which is then served over rice.

Much like Pang's use of softer textures including egg and deep-fried tofu in his egg rolls, an eggplant brushed with miso and soy glaze — then baked, grilled, or broiled until soft and silky — makes a fantastic egg roll filling. Let the eggplants cool completely before adding them into an egg roll skin, topping with finely sliced green onion and dusting with sesame seeds or a drizzle of tahini if desired (we don't due to food allergies, but if you can, you should). Then, wrap the mixture up tightly in an egg roll or wonton skin and deep fry until golden.


Satay is a popular street food dish found in several Southeast Asian regions, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, where the dish is thought to originate. Satay appeals to many for a number of reasons. Firstly, the sauce — known for its deep, rich peanut flavor balanced with the sweet and sour flavors of tamarind. These two intense and rich flavors are then accentuated with contrasting bites of chiles, ginger or galangal, shallots, and citrusy lemongrass in the marinades and pastes. Various proteins, including beef, chicken, tofu, and tempeh, lend themselves to this flavorful dish. Proteins are first marinated in a mixture of bright and flavorful ingredients before being grilled, then served alongside the irresistibly rich dipping sauce. These meaty, vibrant, and savory flavors would make for a delicious egg roll filling.

The principles of this dish remain the same. The well-marinated proteins are cooked over a grill or high heat to achieve that caramelized, charred flavor before being tucked into an egg roll wrapper and deep-fried or fried in an air fryer. I love these flavors tucked into a summer roll or served alongside a cooling smashed cucumber salad or thin slices of red pepper and shredded carrots. Serve with a thick, satay-style peanut dipping sauce, lime wedges, and a good amount of heat-packed sambal.

Roasted pork and shrimp

What could be a more classic Chinese American restaurant egg roll filling than roasted pork and shrimp? Meat eaters have a hard time resisting this classic combination, and for a good reason. It's a delicious filling, often mixed with shredded cabbage, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms for balance.

What is also fantastic about fillings like these is that they are easily customizable and extendable to include a few more guests at the table or a hungrier crowd. If you want to really blow your dinner guests' minds, try using roasted char siu pork inside the egg rolls. Pang has an excellent recipe in "Hong Kong Diner". 

If you need to substitute meat fillings for pork and shrimp, shredded chicken is an easy and delicious swap. The mixture also lends itself to using up vegetables in the crisper that might be on the verge of going bad. Shredded cabbage quickly adds bulk, carrots add a hint of sweetness, roasted pork provides bucketloads of flavor, and shrimp adds a juicy texture. This combination of ingredients also absorbs seasonings and marinates well. Just ensure your filling is well-drained before adding it to the egg roll wrapper to prevent it from going soggy.

It's no wonder egg rolls are a staple dish at many Chinese American restaurants. They're also a crowd-pleaser, especially when served with sweet duck sauce and a heat-packed Chinese mustard. 

Mushrooms, glass noodles, and shredded carrot

My kids and I make Vietnamese summer rolls fairly regularly, especially in the warmer months when the desire to cook or eat hot foods can take a dip. Our summer rolls often include a version of glass or rice noodles, shredded carrot, cucumber, mushrooms, tofu, or chicken, alongside a dash of kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), salt, and a squeeze of lime. Most of these same ingredients work well in a deep-fried version of the dish, perhaps swapping shredded cabbage in for the cucumber or leaving both out altogether.

Keep these egg rolls relatively thin and tightly rolled (to avoid losing any filling to the floor instead of your mouth, and prevent the noodles from overcooking). Mushrooms like shiitake add earthy texture and flavor, whether using fresh or dehydrated (which take mere seconds to rehydrate in hot water). You could even add slices of avocado for a satisfyingly soft element that will play well with the crispy outer layer and the acid-packed sauce. Serve with a sweet chili sauce for dipping, or even wedges of fresh lime to squeeze over the filling after the first bite.

Philly cheesesteak

There is something unbelievably satisfying about a Philly cheesesteak. The combination of thinly sliced and seasoned tender beef, the acidity hit of diced peppers and onions, and the melted cheese forms the perfect bite. This classic combination also lends itself well to fried dumplings or crispy Philly cheesesteak egg rolls for those looking to step outside the classics and try something new.

I can imagine serving something like this alongside a pile of wings and blue cheese dressing at a Super Bowl party, a weekend afternoon hangout with a round of cold beers, iced teas, or lemonade, or anytime you're looking to serve something for a meat-and-potatoes kind of crowd.

The trick with this filling, as with any other option on the list, is to ensure the oil is hot enough for frying and leave the egg rolls in until golden brown on all sides. After each roll is well fried, drain it on a plate with several layers of paper towel to remove excess oil, then serve it hot with a side of mustard or jus for dipping. Each step will help reduce any excess grease, ensuring you have a crispy, crunchy, satisfying outside — devoid of any sogginess — and a gooey, cheesy filling.

Smoked brisket

Smoked brisket could be considered the little black dress of the meat world: It works for just about every occasion. Brisket can start out as a special occasion food, but the uses of its leftovers are endless. Shred it up and tuck this savory, smokey meat into a quesadilla, grilled cheese, or homemade macaroni and cheese. Keep slices thick and create the world's greatest sandwich alongside a healthy helping of vinegar-smacked, creamy coleslaw, bookended with squishy slices of challah or tender white bread. 

Chop or shred the smoked brisket and tuck it into an egg roll wrapper for a tasty, if not slightly unexpected, snack. Once deep-fried, the combination of smokey, tender meat and a crispy, flaky wrapper ticks all the satisfying snack boxes. Serve with pickles, buttery corn on the cob, coleslaw, and dipping bowls filled with sweet chili sauce, barbecue, or spicy mustard for extra oomph!


It's hard to agree with anyone who claims not to like leftovers, especially when they can easily become the filling for delicious items like spring rolls. Pang agrees. "Spring roll filling is, I mean, just really whatever's left there in the fridge," he says.

Many of the best dishes across several cuisines started life as a way to use up leftovers. Home cooks should feel emboldened to use leftovers from a number of cuisines, too. Even Pang mixes it up at home. He says, "I quite like a bit of spice ... like a churasco chicken or any sort of leftover fajita mix. Those sorts of things work really well."

Pang came to understand this idea at an early age from his father, who would create an endless stream of crunchy, tasty snacks for his children simply by opening the fridge and seeing what needed to be used up. After all, once you open a pack of spring rolls or wonton skins, you're practically committing to using them all up — or risking the pastry drying out.

Soft foods

As Pang discusses throughout his suggestions, one of the appeals of a good egg roll is the contrasting textures. A crunchy, crispy outside is accompanied by a soft and succulent filling. Pang reminds us to strive for a good ratio between the two textures, taking care not to overfill egg rolls or risk tipping the finely balanced scales.

There are a number of soft foods that would make for delicious egg roll fillings. Tofu, egg, scallops, and fish make for an enjoyable bite that will keep you coming back for more. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Soft foods from meatloaf to mushrooms can also keep your palate interested. Even mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese could make a great filling if used in smaller amounts and paired with a vibrant dipping sauce. Consider the fridge and all of its contents your oyster when creating your next batch of egg rolls. After all, many of the world's most loved dishes and ingredient combinations are products of experimentation or a happy accident.