Southwest egg rolls are addictive. Wrap some ooey gooey Mexican filling in flaky, crunchy egg roll wrap, and you get a treat that is really hard to walk away from. Serve them as a party treat, an appetizer, a side dish, or make them the star of the meal. Southwest egg rolls are delicious and versatile enough to deliver however you have them.
I used to be afraid of making egg rolls. They are one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but I used to think they were much too difficult to prepare at home. I had nightmare visions of a disaster in the fryer, as my unskilled attempts to roll a perfectly sealed egg roll went south, and the filling escaped the wrap into the hot grease. But my friend Kim Nguyen had some of us over to her house a few years ago, and taught us how to roll Vietnamese egg rolls (I LOVE Vietnamese egg rolls!!!!!). And it was not hard at all! I was hooked!
Of course, Chili’s (the restaurant chain) is famous for their southwest egg rolls. And many recipes follow their lead, using flour tortillas for the wrap. But I like a traditional egg roll wrap much better. I find it lighter and crispier. It also makes for a smaller roll, which I prefer. It makes me feel like I’m getting fewer carbs, a flakier crunch experience, and the thinner wrap absorbs less frying oil than the thicker tortilla. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
So hey! If you love southwest egg rolls and and have been scared away from making them because you thought they would be too difficult, this is the recipe for you!
Let’s Make Some Southwest Egg Rolls
The Whole Foods in downtown Austin , TX makes a delicious southwest egg roll. But the ones I had there were vegetarian. I like to improve the glycemic index of my meals by adding protein and fiber whenever I can. For the protein, I went with turkey instead of chicken. I’ve been substituting turkey a lot lately. Must be a phase.
And as I said, egg roll wraps instead of flour tortillas.
As with most foods that have some kind of pastry with a cooked filling, cook the filling first so that it has time to cool.
Start with the turkey, onion, and garlic in a little olive oil. Cook until the turkey is no longer pink on the outside.
Then add the corn, black beans, red pepper, and jalapeño. Stir and cook just until the peppers are somewhat softened.
Then stir in the seasonings. There will be some juices in the bottom of the pan. Stir and cook until the juices are reduced to about 1/4.
Turn off the burner and remove the pan to allow it to cool.
When the mixture is barely lukewarm, add the herbs and the cheese. Stir to distribute everything well.
It’s now time to assemble your egg rolls.
On a clean, flat work surface, lay one egg roll wrap with a corner pointed towards you.
Add 2 tablespoons of the filling into the wrap. I like to do it so that the top edge of the filling is even with the middle and the majority of the filling lies below the center.
Then dip your finger in a water bowl and wipe a wet trail around the inside edges of the wrap. When instructing us Kim had us use beer instead of water, explaining that the alcohol would better retain the flaky crunch of the fried wrap. If you want to use beer instead of water, go for it!
Next, fold the corner closest to you over the filling and pinch it down and back with the ball of you finger to make a snug tube. Be careful not to rip the wrap, but the rolled filling needs to be held pretty snugly when the egg roll is fully wrapped.
Then fold the sides over the little tube of filling so that you have something that looks a little like an envelope. Press down along the top edge of the filling to maintain the tube shape.
Then, using two hands, with your thumbs on the side of the filling closest to you and your finger tips directly on top of the filling, gently but firmly roll the tube towards the flap of the “envelope” to seal the egg roll.
Dip your finger in the water and trace the edge of the wrap to help seal it.
Transfer the assembled egg rolls to a parchment covered pan.
Fry them in oil heated to 350°F in batches until they are golden brown. About 3 minutes or so.
The size of your frying vessel will determine how many you can fry at a time. You don’t have to use a fryer. You can use a deep, heavy pan. I prefer the fryer because I can set the temperature to the level I want and forget it.
Transfer the fried egg rolls to a metal rack to drain. I prefer this method to draining directly on paper because I feel it allows more oil to drain off AND it keeps the egg rolls crispier.
As soon as your last batch is done, you are ready to serve! You want to serve them right away because that is when they are the crispiest and at their highest quality.
Look at that tender, gooey filling! And that outside is so crispy and light it just breaks apart in your mouth!
Talk about flavor! I was NOT kidding when I said they are addictive. And did you see how easy that was? Seriously? What excuse is there for not whipping up a batch right now?!!!!
Go on…go for it…you won’t regret it!
- 1 pound turkey breast cutlet or tenders, chopped to ½" pieces
- 20 egg roll wraps
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup sweet onion, chopped small
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup red pepper, chopped small
- 1 cup sweet corn
- 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and deveined, then diced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup shredded cheese, Mexican blend or Colby/Jack
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet.
- Cook the turkey, onions and garlic until the turkey is no longer pink on the outside.
- Add the red pepper, jalapeño, corn, and black beans.
- Stir and cook until the peppers are slightly tender.
- Add the seasonings. Stir and taste. Adjust salt as needed.
- Cook until pan juices are reduced to ¼.
- Turn off burner and remove pan to cool.
- When the mixture is barely lukewarm, add the cheese and chopped fresh herbs. Stir to distribute evenly.
- On a clean work surface, lay an egg roll wrap so that a corner point is towards you.
- Add two tablespoons of filling so that the outside edge (in relationship to you) is on the center line of the wrap and the bulk is under the center line.
- Dip your finger in a bowl of water and trace a wet path along the very edge of the wrap on all sides.
- Fold the corner of the wrap closest to you over the filling and press it down so that is fits snugly over the filling, creating a tube.
- Fold the sides in to form triangles over the filing, so that the wrap and filling now resemble an envelope with the flap open.
- Using both hands, place your thumbs on the side of the wrap closest to you, with your finger tips over the center of the tube of filling. Gently but firmly wrap the filling towards the flap of the "envelope", pressing down to keep a snug fit.
- Dip your finger in the water and trace the triangle edge of the flap overlap to seal the egg roll.
- Transfer to a parchment-covered pan.
- Repeat until all the filling is used.
- Preheat oil to 350° F in a fryer or a deep, heavy pan.
- Fry the egg rolls in batches (about 3-5) until golden brown (about 3 minutes)
- Transfer to a rack over a pan to drain.
- Serve immediately after frying.
- Serve plain, or with a dipping sauce such as an avocado ranch dip, salsa verde or fresh tomato salsa.