Filipino food doesn’t have quite the amount of recognizability in the U.S. as Chinese, Thai, or Japanese food, but it’s just as delicious—and just as worth learning how to make at home. The Philippines is a diverse place, with more than 100 unique ethno-linguistic groups. This includes Chinese Filipinos, who over many centuries have made a distinct cultural impact on the island nation. And because food and culture are inherently linked, it’s no surprise to see that a traditional Chinese food—the egg roll—has evolved into a mainstay of Filipino cuisine. Lumpia, the Filipino version of an egg roll, is a delicious appetizer, snack, or side dish that serves as a great introduction to the food of the Philippines. Featuring traditional flavors of the island and an easy technique that anyone can pick up with a bit of practice, it’s an excellent way to try out Filipino cooking for yourself and taste what makes this humble snack so popular. Here’s how to make it.

What Is Lumpia?

lumpia
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Lumpia are Filipino egg rolls that are often served baked or fried for a crisp and crunchy exterior. 

Lumpia (also known as loempia, loenpia, or ngohiong) is a Filipino egg roll that features a sweet or savory filling inside of a thin pastry wrapper. It is also found in Indonesia, another Southeast Asian country with a long history of Chinese immigration.

In appearance and cooking technique, lumpia is similar to a traditional Chinese egg roll or spring roll. Lumpia may be served fried, baked, or fresh, and the filling is often made from vegetables or a protein such as ground pork or chicken.

Origin of Lumpia

The origin of lumpia dates back many centuries and can be traced to Chinese immigrants to the Philippines, many of whom came over between the 16th and 19th centuries. A majority of these immigrants were of Hoklo, or Hokkien, ancestry, hence the name lumpia—a combination of the Hokkien words “lun” (wet or soft) and “pia” (cake or pastry).

While its roots are strongly in Chinese cooking, lumpia has become a staple Filipino food with multiple varieties that embrace the native flavors of the island, such as coconut and cilantro. There is also a sweet, banana-filled variety of lumpia that’s a popular treat in the country.

What’s the Difference Between Lumpia and Egg Rolls?

Lumpia and egg rolls have a lot in common, but there are some major differences. The biggest is the wrapper, with lumpia wrappers being thinner and more delicate than the egg-based pastry dough that’s used for egg rolls. Note that some lumpia wrappers do contain egg, but even those recipes result in a wrapper that’s more crepe-like in texture than an egg roll wrapper.

Likewise, while both lumpia and egg rolls can be made with a wide variety of fillings, traditional fillings do vary in that egg rolls tend to feature Chinese spices and aromatics while lumpia feature Filipino spices and aromatics. Both are flavorful and versatile, though, and either one is likely to be a fast favorite among those with Westernized taste buds.

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How to Make Lumpia

We can talk lumpia for days, but let’s be honest: eating them is where the real joy comes in. And fortunately, it’s quite easy to make baked or fried versions, even if you don’t have any previous experience with Filipino cooking.

Below, we’re sharing the four easy steps that go into making these tasty treats, with filling ideas and quick explainers on how to cook lumpia to perfection. Let’s delve in.

Make or Buy Lumpia Wrappers

You can’t make lumpia without wrappers.

Also known as Popiah, the wrappers used for lumpia are more similar to crepes than they are to the doughy wrappers of egg rolls. Spring roll wrappers can be subbed in a pinch, but if your goal is to cook authentic Filipino cuisine, then pick up lumpia-specific wrappers at an Asian grocery store or—better yet—make them yourself for optimal taste and texture.

Homemade Wrappers

You need just four ingredients to make your own wrappers: flour, cornstarch, salt, and water.

From there, it’s just a matter of simple technique. Keep in mind that you will ideally want to rest your batter overnight, so make your wrappers the day before you want to cook up your lumpia.

Recipe (makes 15 wrappers):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold water

Combine all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water gradually, mixing with the paddle attachment until you get a sticky batter. Then, using the same paddle attachment, work the batter until it becomes thicker and more rope-like. Cover and let sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to cook your wrappers, heat a non-stick pan on medium-low heat and spray with cooking spray. Add a quarter cup of lumpia batter to the pan and gently swirl to thin it out. When the edges start to peel away from the pan, your wrapper is cooked.

Leftover wrappers can be stored in the fridge. If you’re not planning to use them in the very near future, store them in the freezer and then thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Place a piece of parchment paper in between each wrapper to keep them from sticking together.

Make Your Filling

You have tons of options when it comes to filling, from savory vegetarian fillings to sweet fillings that make your lumpia into an ideal handheld dessert. In most cases, you’ll cook your filling ahead of time before rolling and baking or frying your lumpia, but not always. To be on the safe side, however, cook any fillings with meat prior to rolling.

Make up your own filling, or try out one of the filling ideas below.

Savory Lumpias

Traditional Filipino Lumpia Filling

  • Ground pork or chicken
  • Garlic
  • Red onion
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Garlic powder
  • Soy sauce

Nueva Ecija Lumpia

  • Ground pork or chicken; or crumbled tofu
  • Garlic
  • Red onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Mushroom
  • Thinly sliced coconut
  • Kalabasa (can substitute butternut or acorn squash)

Scallion & Cilantro

  • Ground pork or chicken; or crumbled tofu
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Red onion
  • Carrot
  • Scallion
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce

Fish

  • Shredded white fish, such as monkfish, tilapia, or cod
  • Garlic
  • Red onion
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Jicama
  • Parsley

Sweet Lumpias

Banana

  • Mashed banana
  • Brown sugar
  • Coconut milk

Sweet Potato

  • Mashed sweet potato
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Shredded coconut

How to Roll Lumpia

Before you bake or fry lumpia, you need to properly roll it. It’s a super simple process, but one that you’ll need to do carefully to ensure that you don’t allow any gaps where filling can leak out or fry oil can get in. Go slow as you get the hang of it and firmly seal your edges before moving on to the next step.

How to Wrap Lumpia in 4 Steps

1. Lay a wrapper out in front of you so that it has pointed edges top and bottom, like a diamond.

2. Place a tablespoon of filling on the wrapper, in the middle and about one inch from the bottom.

3. Fold the bottom over the filling and start to tightly roll your wrapper up. When you reach the halfway point of your wrapper, fold in the sides toward the center and then continue rolling upwards.

4. When there’s about one inch of wrapper left, lightly brush the unrolled part with egg wash and then continue rolling up. This will help seal your lumpia so it doesn’t come apart later.

Hint: Be careful not to overstuff your lumpia before you roll it. While it’s tempting to get as much filling in there as you can, too much stuffing can lead to a broken wrapper.

How to Cook Lumpia

You have several different options for how to cook lumpia, including just cooking your filling and then leaving your wrapper fresh and uncooked. If you want your lumpia to be cooked and crispy, though, frying or baking it is the way to go.

How to Fry Lumpia

To make fried lumpia, heat a few inches of vegetable oil in a pot until it reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Drop two to four lumpia into your hot oil (depending on how large your pot is) and fry for about three minutes, turning once. You’ll know your lumpia are done when the wrapper turns a nice golden brown.

How to Air Fry Lumpia

If deep frying isn’t your thing, then you can also fry lumpia using an air fryer. To do it, preheat your air fryer to 390 degrees Fahrenheit and cook your lumpia for eight minutes, turning at the halfway point. It’s important not to overcrowd the basket, so air fry your lumpia in batches if necessary.

How to Bake Lumpia

A final option is to bake your lumpia, which will give you a nice crisp texture without any frying. Heat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and spread out the lumpia on a parchment-lined baking sheet then brush with a light layer of oil or spray with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, turning your lumpia over after 10 minutes.

Other Filipino Dishes to Try

Feeling inspired to whip up an entire Filipino meal? You have lots of options to choose from. Try your hand at pancit—Filipino noodles that come in a variety of recipes—or other Filipino chicken dishes or pork dishes, many of which can be made vegetarian by swapping out the meat for tofu or extra veggies. You can also whip up one of many delightful Filipino desserts, such as halo-halo (a sweet shaved ice) or biko (a baked sticky rice cake).

Enjoy your foray into Filipino cuisine, and don’t forget to put lumpia on the menu! 

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Written by:

Laura Mueller