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Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce

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Everyone seems to love Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. I too love these crunchy rolls bursting with the flavour of fresh herbs and vegetables that are all naturally gluten free.

I love watching people make these salad rolls in my cooking classes. They are a bit of a challenge at first but once you roll up a few and figure out how much filling to use they come together easily. I always suggest eating the first few or the ones that don’t look so great. Then you can save the nicest looking ones to serve at the table.

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Organize For Success – The Prep

I like to prepare all the ingredients including the nuoc cham sauce the day before I make and serve my salad rolls to company. Then when my guests arrive I just pull out the container(s) and invite everyone to start. I include rice vermicelli noodles, grated carrot, chopped lettuce, cooked shrimp and lots of fresh herbs. Always cilantro, and mint if I have it, but fresh Thai basil is the best if you can find it.

Next I fill a large bowl with hot water for soaking the rice paper (I know exactly which bowl to use for this purpose). Then the assembly line is ready so you can pour some wine and begin rolling.

Nuoc Mam vs Nuoc Cham – Sauce for Vietnamese Salad Rolls

Nuoc mam is the Vietnamese word for fish sauce and nuoc cham is the traditional dipping sauce that is made with fish sauce.

Two bottles of fish sauce
Two bottles of fish sauce -photo credit Jim Little

You can also serve salad rolls with hoisin sauce (store bought) or peanut sauce so serve it how you like it. My post for chicken satay includes one of my all time favourite recipes for Peanut Sauce.

Got vegan friends? Someone allergic to fish? Try this Vegan Fish Sauce Substitute so everyone can enjoy Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Even it you think it sounds weird I used it for one of my classes and no one thought they could tell the difference.

A jar of a Vegan Fish Sauce Substitute
Vegan Fish Sauce Substitute -photo credit Jim Little

Tips For Working With Rice Paper Wrappers

Rice paper wrappers are made from a mixture of rice flour, water and salt then rolled and dried into very brittle, thin shapes. The round papers are used for salad rolls and spring rolls, while the triangular ones are traditionally used at the table to wrap grilled foods. The wrappers are often sold in hard plastic containers and should be stored flat in the container or an air tight plastic bag. If left open they will curl up and loose their shape.

To use them soften sheets one at a time in hot water. Slip the wrapper into the water for less than a minute until it becomes flexible enough to work with. Place the wrapper on the counter or a cutting board and add a small amount of filling on the bottom third of the wrapper. Fold the bottom up to cover the filling. Then fold the two sides into the middle. Now roll the filling up until you have a small sausage shape roll.

I roll up about 12 or 24 salad rolls at a time depending on the occasion. Place them in a single layer on a tray and cover with plastic wrap. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 8 hours before serving.

Serving Vietnamese Salad Rolls

Salad rolls can be served whole or cut in half. You can garnish your plates or platter with the fresh herbs that you used in the filling. When I want an idea for a different presentation I just type the name of my recipe into the Google Images search bar and voila, more ideas than I have time to look at.

I’d love to hear in the comments below how your salad roll wrapping worked out.

More Vietnamese Recipes

Coconut Ice Cream
Dairy Free Coconut Ice Cream -photo credit Jim Little



rice paper wrappers
cooked shrimp, halved horizontally (3 halves per salad roll)
fine rice noodles
lettuce, finely shredded
carrot, finely shredded
cilantro, Thai basil and/or mint leaves
peanuts, chopped
½ tsp crushed chiles
½ Tbsp vinegar
½ cup fish sauce
¼ cup lime juice
¾ cup warm water
½ small carrot, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup sugar


Soak rice noodles in a large bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes. Drain completely and lay on a kitchen towel to dry thoroughly.
Combine all ingredients in a large measuring cup. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Prepare all other ingredients before making the salad rolls.
Use a large, flat bowl that is larger than the size of the rice paper wrappers. Fill the bowl with very hot tap water. Place one rice paper wrapper in the bowl and push it under the water. Let it soak for about 10 seconds to soften. Take it out of the water and place it on the counter. Replace the water in the dish as needed, it must be quite warm to soften the wrappers.
Place 3 shrimp halves at the bottom third of the wrapper. Top with a small sausage shaped pile of noodles. Top with a small amount of carrot, lettuce, herbs and peanuts. Whatever you place on the wrapper first is what will show through the finished salad roll. Vary the look by starting with herbs.
Fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling. Next fold over each side of the wrapper. Now hold the filling and roll it up keeping it as tight as possible. Place salad rolls in a single layer on a plate covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Continue making salad rolls and covering them up as you go. If not serving immediately, keep the salad rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for 4-6 hours.
Serve them whole or cut on a diagonal with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce or peanut sauce.


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