Are Chinese spring rolls gluten-free? (3 concerns of gluten)

In this article, we will answer the following question: “Are Chinese spring rolls gluten-free?” and discuss what spring rolls may not contain gluten, how can spring rolls contain gluten, why is gluten a concern and what foods contain gluten. 

Are Chinese spring rolls gluten-free?

No, Chinese spring rolls are not gluten-free.  Chinese spring rolls are made with wheat flour wrappings and therefore contain gluten. Spring rolls can also be made with rice wrappings, however, these can contain gluten, depending on the method used to produce them (1,2). 

The ingredients added as fillings are generally pork and vegetables and therefore gluten-free, however, if they are cooked with sauces, these may contain gluten (3). 

Spring rolls are traditional in Asian cuisine, including China, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines and Indonesia and can be made with a great variety of ingredients. To be sure that the spring rolls do not contain gluten, it is important to verify how the spring rolls were produced and what they contain (1).

Which spring rolls are gluten-free? 

Gluten-free spring rolls are spring rolls produced with rice wrappers. They are found generally in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Rice paper wrappings are made with soaked milled rice that is then steamed in fine sheets (2).

However, it is possible that to make spring rolls with rice papers, a combination of water and wheat is used to bind the rice wrappers together before they are steamed or fried. This results in the addition of gluten to the recipe (1).

How can spring rolls contain gluten?

Spring rolls can contain gluten in various forms (1,2,3):

  • They can be made with wheat flour wrappings
  • They can be made by adding flour in the wrapping procedure, to bind the rice paper sheet after the filling before they are fried or steamed
  • They can be contaminated with gluten during the improper preparation of storage
  • They can be made with ingredients that may contain hidden gluten, that is, where gluten is not explicit in their formulation. Some examples of these ingredients are sauces and seasonings

What is gluten and why is it a concern?

Gluten is the main protein found in wheat and other cereals and is composed of many fractions. Gluten is a concern because it can cause undesirable symptoms in individuals who are sensitive to gluten or are allergic to wheat protein (4).

There are three types of unfavourable reactions to gluten:

Gluten intolerance, which is called celiac disease, is characterized as an auto-immune disease that triggers several symptoms as the result of gluten ingestion.

Gluten sensitivity, which is present in individuals who are not diagnosed as celiac (do not have an auto-immune disease), but have unpleasant symptoms after ingesting gluten.

Gluten allergy, which is an immunologic reaction to the gluten protein, is mediated by the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.

The first two types of negative reactions to gluten can lead to symptoms, such as diarrhoea, bloating, malnutrition and inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, while the third one can lead to urticaria, asthma and anaphylaxis. 

In what foods is gluten found?

Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, and triticale and may be found in reduced quantities in many cereals due to cross-contamination during milling and processing (3).

Gluten is therefore found in pastries and baked products and in beer and can be found in small concentrations as food ingredients in sauces, dressings, seasonings, processed meat and soups.

It is recommended for a celiac patient or gluten-sensitive individual to check food labels regarding the possible presence of gluten and avoid restaurant foods that may contain gluten.

What foods are gluten-free?

Foods that do not have cereals and are not processed are generally gluten-free. These include non-processed meat and fruits, and beverages such as wine and coffee.

Gluten-free cereals include rice, corn, amaranth and quinoa (these two last are pseudo-cereals). Carbohydrate-rich foods that are gluten-free are also cassava, potatoes and beans (3).

Other FAQs about Spring Rolls that you may be interested in.

Is Panda Express Spring Roll vegan?

Are spring rolls always vegetarian?


In this article, we answered the following question: “Are Chinese spring rolls gluten-free?” and discussed what spring rolls may contain gluten, how can spring rolls contain gluten and why gluten is a concern.



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