American-style egg roll, with a view of its interior.
An egg roll is an appetizer which was
originally eaten in East Asia but has spread throughout the world as a
staple of Asian cuisine. Many Asian countries are claimed to have
originated the dish, and variants of the egg roll exist in multiple
Asian cuisines but Southern China is the most likely source, as it stems
from features of Cantonese cuisine.
An egg roll is made by wrapping a combination of chopped
vegetables (often mostly cabbage), meat, and sometimes noodles, in a sheet of
dough, dipping the dough in egg or an egg wash, then deep frying it. It can be
closed or open ended.
When compared with its cousin, the
spring roll, the egg roll is generally
larger; has a thicker, puffier skin; is crunchier; and has more filling than the
spring roll. However, the terms "spring roll" and "egg roll" are often used
somewhat interchangeably. The egg roll dough is wheat-based while the spring
roll is sometimes rice-based.
In mainland China, many Chinese-speaking regions of Asia, and Chinese immigrant
communities around the world, egg roll is predominantly referred to as the
egg-based, flute-shaped pastry, with typically yellowish, flaky crust often
eaten as a sweet snack or dessert commonly eaten by Asians. Some varieties are
made with sesame seeds or other flavorings/toppings, such as chocolate, cream,
or strawberry. The term may also be used to refer to another modern Asian
breakfast cuisine that mixes the western omelet with thin egg roll wrappers.
In American Chinese cuisine, egg rolls are called either "Fried Egg Roll" or
"Fried Spring Roll"—both terms are used interchangeably.
In Britain, "egg roll" also commonly refers to a fried egg in
a bread roll (a breakfast item) or chopped, hard-boiled egg with mayonnaise in a
bread roll (a party buffet item). The terms "pancake roll" or "spring roll" are
often used by Chinese restaurants in the UK to describe what is called an "egg
roll" at Chinese restaurants elsewhere.
A "Mexican egg roll" is an egg roll wrap filled with beans, cheese, and,
optionally, meat, as well as various peppers and spices. It is then deep-fried
and served with sour cream or
salsas, like the
chimichanga. In Mexico the
residents refer to it as a
burrito or in some rare cases, a
In the Philippines, the egg roll is called Lumpiang Shanghai but is more popularly referred to as
In the United States, several restaurant chains (such as
Chili's) market a "Southwest Egg Roll", which is a Tex-Mex dish consisting of a
tortilla containing (among other ingredients) corn, black
beans, spinach, chicken, monterey jack cheese, peppers, and other spices.