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I have a strong attachment to egg rolls. I grew up on Chinese American food, frequenting our local red-boothed suburban strip mall restaurant at least once a week. Peking Palace was an affordable indulgence for my family of six. But when we were growing up, we all knew not to expect “extras.” No drinks other than the complimentary hot tea and water, no appetizers, and definitely no dessert.
Our weekly post-church visit, however, meant we all got to order our own individual lunch specials. Which meant not only did I not have to share my moo goo gai pan, but it also came with my very own egg roll (and I probably got to eat my brother’s too). Dunked into a saucer of bright-red sweet-and-sour sauce, there was no greater luxury at 10 years old.
I still think fondly about those freshly rolled and fried egg rolls. And sometimes the mood strikes or hunger sets in. When that happens, I start looking for something (almost) as good in the convenience of my own home. So I recently tried a dozen frozen versions in attempts to find the winner. Turns out, I ended up finding two, plus a noteworthy runner-up.
How I Tested Frozen Egg Rolls
I visited four different grocery stores and picked up seven different brands. I skipped anything labeled as a spring roll, wanting to stick to the crispy-chewy Chinese American classic I grew up with. My searching revealed lots of vegetable and chicken options, but only one pork, so I went with those first two categories. I labeled the boxes with numbers, arranged one of each on a baking sheet (that I also labeled) and baked them off in the oven, flipping them halfway through the cooking time. (I don’t have an air fryer, but I would guess this would be the time to use one if you do!)
Some of the egg rolls came with packets of sweet-and-sour sauce, which I thawed while the egg rolls cooked. When the egg rolls were done, I moved them to a wire rack, cut them in half, and let them cool briefly before tasting them on their own and also with sweet-and-sour sauce. While it wasn’t a truly blind tasting, I generally wasn’t aware of which brand I was eating.
The Best Frozen Chicken Egg Rolls: Chung’s Chicken Egg Rolls
This was the first one of the batch I tried, and immediately thought, “Oh, this is the winner.” Chung’s frozen chicken egg rolls do the best out of all of the options of recreating a freshly fried egg roll. (I thought the same for the brand’s vegetable version, although the filling is very cabbage-heavy.) The wrapper is crispy and chewy, with just enough grease without being overwhelming. Chung’s has been around for more than 40 years, and they hand roll each egg roll. The filling is a mix of chicken and vegetables with an undeniable savory quality that vegetable egg rolls lack. Chung’s also includes a sweet-and-sour sauce packet.
Runner up: Crav’n Frozen Chicken Egg Roll
As soon as I cut these egg rolls in half, I could tell that they were different. The filling is positively packed with chicken, almost like a meatball or sausage filling. It manages to stay juicy, despite being all white meat. And the wrapper on these egg rolls is dry and sort of flakey — some pieces fell off as I was eating it. While Chung’s won the overall top spot, the two are different enough that I thought they both deserved mention. Crav’n also includes sweet-and-sour sauce for dipping.
The Best Frozen Vegetable Egg Rolls: Pagoda’s Frozen Vegetable Egg Rolls
Pagoda’s Frozen Vegetable Egg Rolls took the top spot for me. Most of the egg rolls I tasted had a combination of cabbage, carrots, and celery. While I do think the distinct mustard-y bite of cabbage is a trademark flavor of egg rolls, Pagoda’s version adds bok choy, water chestnuts, and vermicelli noodles to the mix. I can’t say I could pick out each individual flavor, but the overall impact was a lot more balanced than the others I tried. For that reason, it’s a clear winner!
Did your favorite make the list? Sound off in the comments below.