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What Is a Biscuit Roll?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 16, 2024
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A biscuit roll is a snack food frequently found in Asian cuisine, and it can come in a number of versions, such as the light-textured spring roll and the slightly heartier egg roll. Different incarnations of the crispy biscuit roll date back centuries, particularly in traditional Chinese culture. Basic techniques for making these types of biscuit rolls involve stuffing a narrow cylinder of dough with a variety of vegetables and chopped meat or seafood prior to immersion in a deep fryer. The dough for any kind of biscuit roll is traditionally made from scratch according to recipes that have sometimes been handed down through several family generations.

Although a spring roll and an egg roll are often classified in the same crisp biscuit roll category, their recipes have some fundamental differences. The dough for a spring roll usually does not contain eggs, making it less filling and often crunchier. The origins of spring rolls can be traced to traditional Chinese New Year celebrations when families would serve visiting friends these light rolls along with tea. Days immediately following New Year's Eve are considered the beginning of spring, particularly in Cantonese culture, and the spring roll's name is thus attributed to this time of each year. Homemade spring roll dough is typically made from a simple mixture of flour, water, and sometimes a pinch of salt to taste.

An egg roll is another part of the biscuit roll family that can be found frequently in Chinese cuisine. It is generally considered a staple for traditional dim sum servings, the name of which translates into a Cantonese term for varied small appetizer servings eaten as an alternative to larger entrees. Many Chinese restaurants feature a range of egg roll options in their dim sum menu options. The typical recipe ingredients for egg roll dough from scratch include one or two beaten eggs, all-purpose flour, water, and cornstarch. The thickness of the egg roll dough largely depends on the amount of cornstarch the cook uses.

The filling used for these types of Asian biscuit rolls can range from chopped cabbage to finely-chopped crab, chicken, or duck. Some vegetarian recipes for spring rolls call for fresh lettuce leaves and other vegetables to be wrapped in thin spring roll sheets. These are generally not fried and are instead eaten as an alternative to salad. Heartier spring rolls and egg rolls filled with meats and cooked vegetables are often considered best eaten soon after they are pulled from the deep fryer.

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Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On Nov 12, 2014

@Grivusangel -- I thought the same thing you did. My mom used to make a butter roll, which was rolled out biscuit dough, butter and sugar and baked with a milk glaze. Yummy.

If we're talking about savory rolls though, my personal favorites are crispy spring rolls and then the soft summer rolls like you get in Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. I like them much better than the fat egg rolls. Those are good, but I love summer rolls. One local place serves them with a delicious spicy plum sauce, topped with crushed peanuts. They're so good!

By Grivusangel — On Nov 11, 2014

OK. I've never heard an egg roll, spring roll or lumpia called a "biscuit roll." This is a new one on me. I've heard them called rolls, yes, but never with a biscuit as a qualifier.

To me, a biscuit roll is biscuit dough rolled out and then sprinkled with butter and sugar, or butter, sugar and cinnamon, rolled up, then sliced crossways and baked. I can't imagine how biscuit started being applied to an egg roll! It doesn't make any sense. It's not like a cookie, in the British usage, or a quick bread, as in the Southern U.S. usage. I'd call it a "pastry roll" before anything else, if you had to call it something like that. Makes no sense.

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