Everything You Need to Know About Lumpia

We just can't get enough of this crispy golden Filipino roll!

IMAGE Majoy Siason

Crispy, crunchy, savory, or sweet, the lumpia is ubiquitous as a Filipino viand no matter the occasion. Fresh, fried, served by itself, or with a sauce, these easy-to-make and even easier-to-eat rolls are always welcome as a meal or snack.

What is Lumpia?

Generally speaking, lumpia is a fresh or deep-fried Filipino spring roll that has a savory or sweet filling, and is wrapped in a starch skin called lumpia wrapper. And when you're talking about Filipino food, there's no doubt that lumpia will come up in the conversation!

There are many kinds of Filipino lumpia, but by far, the most popular variant is the lumpiang Shanghai, a crispy fried roll filled with a mixture of ground meat, carrots, onions and spices. If you see "lumpia" on menus of Filipino-Chinese restaurants, or at buffets and parties, it's probably referring to lumpiang Shanghai.

lumpiang shanghai on a platter
Lumpia may be Chinese in origin, but Filipinos have well and truly made it their own.
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Table of Contents

History and Origin of Lumpia

How to Cook Lumpia

How to Serve Lumpia

Classic Lumpia Recipes

Regional Lumpia Recipes

Other Lumpia Recipe Variations

Tips for Making the Best Lumpia

• Lumpia Storage Tips

History and Origin of Lumpia

closeup of many pieces of lumpiang Shanghai
Thes golden brown rolls are filled with veggies!
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Lumpia as a dish was introduced by Chinese seafarers who traveled to the Philippines and traded with the locals. This was originally a soft crepe-like pancake wrapper that enclosed fillings made from local ingredients at the time. Eventually, we as a people adapted the dish to our own tastes, until it became the crispy fried, cigar-shaped roll we know today. 

How to Cook Lumpia

lumpia being fried in a pan
Pan fry lumpia in just enough oil.
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The most common version of the lumpia is the lumpiang Shanghai. The basic lumpiang Shanghai is made with lumpia wrappers, which are commonly available in any grocery store, and a filling mixture, usually made with ground pork, chopped shrimps, onions, carrots, and egg as a binder.

To make lumpiang Shanghai, you'll need to prepare the filling first: mix all the lumpiang Shanghai filling ingredients together in a bowl, and set aside. Then, prepare the lumpia wrapper. These are usually stuck together when they come from the store, so peeling them off individually can make the rolling process more efficient.

Once these components are ready, the lumpiang Shanghai can be assembled. To wrap the lumpia, filling is arranged carefully in the center of the lumpia wrapper, and then it is tightly rolled. Wrapping lumpia well can be tricky, but it's easy to learn and master! Often, plain water is enough to keep the lumpia from unrolling but you can ensure it doesn't by using either a cornstarch slurry or an egg wash to more securely seal the rolls.

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The lumpia can then be fried in oil or kept chilled or frozen for later.

How to Serve Lumpia

lumpiang Shanghai arranged in a foil-wrapped bilao, with sauce in the center
You can't just have one! Lumpia is always a crowd pleaser.
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You've got to eat and serve lumpia freshly cooked, as this is the time when the crispy skin and juicy filling are at their peak. Most eat it with a sweet-spicy chili sauce, but any sauce or dip that suits your taste is fine as well.

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Lumpia is of course best eaten with rice, especially Chinese fried rice. But you can't go wrong with a good pancit canton, too. Silog-style with a fried egg and garlic rice is also pretty popular, and probably the easiest to find when you're having the late-night munchies.

Store-bought frozen lumpia are also widely available in stores when dining out isn't possible and you have your lumpia fix now. Try wrapping it in a lettuce leaf before dipping it in sauce, for a fresh taste that balances the fat.

Lumpia Recipes

1 Lumpiang Shanghai Recipe

spicy lumpiang shanghai piled on a plate
Add some spice to your classic lumpiang Shanghai recipe!
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When there's a will, there's a way; and when the will is to eat lumpia, no matter what the filling, there's probably a way to make it! But before we explore the many, many ways you can make lumpia fillings, we think it's important to first master the most classic version: the lumpiang Shanghai.

Here is our classic lumpiang Shanghai recipe, and here it is in Filipino.

2 Lumpiang Sariwa Recipes

lumpiang sariwa topped with sweet sauce and garnished with crused peanuts on a green plate
"Sariwa" means "fresh" in English, and that's exactly what you get with these rolls!
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For lumpiang sariwa or fresh lumpia, the fillings, a combination of fresh and cooked ingredients like carrots, pork, tofu, onions, green beans, and camote or sweet potatoes, are loosely enveloped by a soft crepe-like egg wrapper which is also prepared beforehand. This is a vibrant-looking roll, especially when you bite into it, revealing the colorful fillings inside.

Here is our classic lumpiang sariwa recipe, and here it is in Filipino. We also have a Chinese-style fresh lumpia recipe!

Lumpiang Hubad Recipe

two plates of lumpiang hubad with sweet lumpia sauce on the side
Can't be bothered to wrap lumpia? This one's for you!
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"Hubad" is the Filipino word for "naked," which is what this lumpia technically is: unlike other kinds of lumpia, lumpiang hubad is prepared and served without the wrapper. Much like lumpiang sariwa, it is also served with a sweet sauce and garnished with crushed peanuts.

Here's a great lumpiang hubad recipe for you to try.

If you want to kick it up a notch, you can also try this lumpinag hubad with lechon kawali recipe!

Regional Lumpia Recipes

1 Lumpiang Ubod Recipe - Bacolod

lumpiang ubod with green onions in the wrapper, arranged on a white plate and topped with sauce and crushed peaanuts
Have you tried this lumpia with ubod before?
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Lumpiang ubod is a type of fresh lumpia that originates from Bacolod. Ubod in English is heart of palm or coconut heart, and this is the main ingredient in this delicious lumpia from the Visayas region.

Here's a fresh lumpiang ubod recipe for you to try.

Once you've mastered making lumpia wrappers, you may also want to try this fresh lumpiang ubod recipe with green onion flavored wrappers.

2 Beef Lumpia Recipe - Laguna

beef lumpia filled with sweet potato or camote, piled on a white plate
This beef lumpia has a special ingredient!
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What makes this particular beef lumpia from Laguna unique? Aside from the usual ingredients, Laguna-style lumpia also features kamote or sweet potato! The addition of the shredded kamote to the other savory ingredients in the filling gives this lumpia a sweeter, earthier bite.

Here's our Laguna-style beef lumpia recipe.

3 Lumpiang Buko Recipe - Nueva Ecija

buko lumpia on a beige plate. You can see the white strips of buko in one lumpia that was cut open
Buko meets lumpia in this unique lumpia from Nueva Ecija.
Photo by Majoy Siason
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If you like mixing sweet and savory, this lumpia from Nueva Ecija is for you. Aside from being vegetarian (yes, it contains no meat!) it also has buko or coconut meat, which adds a mild sweetness to the otherwise savory filling.

Here's our version Nueva Ecija's lumpiang buko recipe

Another way to incorporate buko in lumpia is by adding it to togue or bean sprouts, and that's what we did in this lumpiang buko-togue recipe! (Contains shrimp).

Other Lumpia Recipe Variations

Lumpiang Gulay or Veggie Lumpia Recipes

lumpiang togue is filled with bean sprouts, green beans, carrots, and other veggies
This lumpia is stuffed with togue, carrots, green beans, and other vegetables.
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These vegetable lumpia or lumpiang gulay recipes may not contain any meat, but they are no less flavorful! These vegetarian lumpia are usually served with a vinegar dipping sauce that has chopped onions, garlic, and chili, and can be eaten with rice or enjoyed as merienda or afternoon snack.

• Lumpiang Gulay Recipe

• Lumpiang Togue Recipe

• Sayote Egg Roll Recipe

2 Pork Lumpia Recipes

pork and shrimp lumpia garnished with parsely on a white plate
Pork and shrimp are a match made in lumpia heaven!
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One of the best things about lumpia is how easily its filling can be tweaked; that's why we have so many lumpiang Shanghai recipes!

• Spicy Lumpiang Shanghai Recipe

• Pork and Shrimp Lumpia Recipe

• Fried Lumpiang Adobo Recipe

• Chorizo Lumpia Recipe

• Longganisa Lumpia Recipe

3 Beef Lumpia Recipes

dynamite sticks on a wooden background
Will you be able to stand the heat of these dynamite stick lumpia?
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Give your lumpia recipe a different taste by swapping out the pork with beef. These savory rolls can also have unexpected lumpia fillings that will leave you wanting more!

• Beef Lumpia Recipe

• Beef and Mozzarella Flauta

• Dynamite Lumpia Recipe

• Taco Lumpia Recipe

4 Fish Lumpia Recipes

Fish lumpia cut into cross sections and piled on a white plate
Pork and beef aren't the only kinds of meat you can fill lumpia with!
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Yes, fish lumpia are a thing. Combining fresh, flaky fish with the crunch of the golden, crispy lumpia wrapper creates a contrast in texture and makes for a hearty bite.

• Fish Lumpia Recipe

• Malunggay and Fish Lumpia Recipe

• Easy Tuna Lumpiang Shanghai Recipe

• Tuna Lumpiang Shanghai Recipe

• Smoked Bangus Lumpia Recipe

• Smoked Bangus Rolls and Fish Chicharon Recipe

5 Cheesy Lumpia Recipes

chicken, pesto, and cheese filled lumpia cut in half to reveal fillings
These lumpia are filled with chicken, pesto, and lots of cheese.
Photo by David Hanson
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If it can have cheese, we're adding cheese! These cheesy lumpia recipes are going to be any cheese-lover's new favorite.

• Lumpiang Shanghai Recipe with Cheese

• Cheesy Pork and Shrimp Lumpia Recipe

• Cheesy Chicken Pesto Lumpia Recipe

6 Turon or Dessert Lumpia

banana rum turon piled on a blue plate and garnished with powdered sugar
These turon make great afternoon snacks.
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Lumpia are not limited to savory fillings; they can be made into dessert rolls, too! One of the most popular kinds of sweet lumpia are turon, which is filled with banana. But aside from this classic Filipino merienda treat, there are many other fillings you can use to make dessert lumpia recipes.

• Banana and Cheese Turon Recipe

• Banana Turon in Rum Recipe

• Ube Banana Turon Recipe

• Puto Bumbong and Cheese Lumpia Recipe

• Tikoy-Langka Turon Recipe

• Mango Spring Roll Recipe

Tips For Making the Best Lumpia

lumpia served in a basket with dip
You can eat lumpia plain, or serve it with your favorite dip.
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1 Keep your lumpia wrappers covered.

Lumpia wrappers tend to dry out fast, and when they do, they can become too brittle to be rolled. To avoid this, keep them covered with a damp kitchen towel as you work. If the lumpia wrappers are particularly difficult to peel off, letting them sit for 5-10 minutes while wrapped in a damp kitchen towel can also loosen them up! Just make sure that the towel is not too moist, as too much moisture will have the opposite effect: it will make the wrappers clump together even more, making it hard to pull apart, or worse, become soggy. 

2 Check if the oil is hot enough before you fry the lumpia.

This ensures the fillings will be cooked properly while keeping the wrapper from burning from excess heat or making it soggy from too little heat. To check if the oil is hot enough, you can dip a bamboo or wooden stick in the oil. If bubbles rapidly form around the stick, the oil is hot enough!

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Bonus Yummy Tip: A trick you can do is raise the temperature at the last minute of cooking which makes ecxess oil drip out of the lumpia better after you remove them from the oil.

3 Place the lumpia on paper towels or oil-absorbing paper immediately after cooking.

Too much oil will make the wrapper soggy, and nobody wants soggy lumpia. If you don't have paper towels, you can also place them on wire racks to allow the oil to drip off the freshly-cooked lumpia.

Lumpia Storage Tips

lumpiang shanghai cut in half, revealing that it also has cheese inside
Lumpia make great make-ahead meals!
Photo by Jeffrey Tan
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1 Lumpia can be made in advance and kept in the freezer.

They're pretty much ready to cook when frozen, and you can pop them in the hot oil straight from the freezer. Just make sure to fry them at a lower heat level than you would when you fry freshly-rolled lumpiang Shanghai because you don't want the wrapper to get crispy and golden brown before the fillings are thoroughly cooked.

2 Reheat soggy lumpia to make them crispy again.

If the lumpiang Shanghai have been out for a while and become soggy, you can restore them in all their golden, crispy glory by reheating them! Dry, direct heat helps in evaporating the moisture they may have absorbed from the air, making them crisp again. You can do this with a toaster oven or an air fryer.

3 Extra lumpia wrapper is better frozen than refrigerated.

Refrigerating lumpia wrappers tends to dry them out, and they can become too brittle to be folded or rolled when you take them out. A better way to store them is by freezing them in an airtight container; particularly, placing them in a resealable bag and pressing as much air out as you can is best. When you need to use them again, simply defrost them at room temperature.

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Lumpiang sariwa must be eaten as soon as possible.

The appeal of lumpiang sariwa is the fresh taste from all the ingredients involved, and since some of the ingredients are raw, these won't last long. If leftovers can't be avoided, they can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days. However, they definitely shouldn't be frozen as this would damage the delicate textures of the filling!

Trivia About Lumpia

• Though Chinese in origin, lumpia's popularity (mostly lumpiang Shanghai) has made it synonymous with Filipino cuisine locally and abroad, like in the United States, where Fil-Am restaurants like Kasama feature it prominently on their menu. 

• In Taste Atlas' 2021 Filipino food ranked list, lumpiang Shanghai was ranked as one of the best, along with tocino and sinigang.

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