Sweet, citrusy saba banana and juicy jackfruit slices encased in a fried and crunchy wrapper and drizzled with sweet caramel–turon are my favorite kind of lumpia.
Since street carts selling turon are hard to find in the US or you can’t be bothered to visit a local Filipino restaurant, this easy to follow turon recipe will give you fresh homemade banana lumpia in under 30 minutes!
What is turon?
Turon is often sold from street vendors in the Philippines and is actually a dessert version of lumpiang shanghai. It’s traditionally filled with ripe saba banana slices coated with sugar and layered with strips of jackfruit, wrapped in a thin crepe-like spring roll, deep-fried to a golden crisp, and rolled in a crunchy caramel coating. Think of it as a dessert spring roll.
I’ve been to many different Filipino parties where they catered a tray full of turon and Filipino restaurants, like Salo Salo Grill, that offered turon as a dessert option. My favorite part is the sweet and crunchy outer layer, so I sliced the saba banana thinner than most recipes and added equal amounts of jackfruit strips. I also used a one-step roll of wrapping the turon that many catering companies use–this gives you more crunch!
Ingredients in turon
Types of banana to use
Saba bananas are the traditional type of Filipino bananas used in this dessert and it’s also used in many dishes in the Philippines, like banana cue and maruya. Ripe saba bananas are firm and super rich in flavor with slight hints of citrus.
They look thicker and stockier than regular American bananas and have super thick peels. When you cut them into slices, you will notice a stickier texture than American bananas. This is great for coating in brown sugar when making the filling.
I’ve found them previously at Filipino grocery stores both fresh and frozen. However, if you can’t find saba bananas nearby, you can also use regular American bananas and cut them in half so they aren’t too long when rolling. Make sure to pick ripe, but firm bananas when you buy them at the store.
I like to use canned jackfruit, or “langka,” in my turon because I will be slicing them into strips and don’t need too much of the fruit. If you’ve never seen a jackfruit plant, they are ridiculously large and the process to cut them open, removing the pits, and preparing them can be a lengthy and sticky process. Canned jackfruit is often sold at many Asian grocery stores and much more accessible.
Both saba bananas and jackfruit are traditional fillings for turon, but these days I’ve seen plenty of new fillings like ube halaya (which is a jam made of ube), coconut, and more.
The spring roll wrappers
Choosing the spring roll wrapper is as important as choosing the fillings. While you can make your own spring roll wrappers, I would recommend buying them to save time. I’ve been using Spring House spring roll wrappers for lumpia and turon for years and it’s also mom-approved.
These wrappers are thin enough but sturdy enough to keep the banana and jackfruit encased without soaking through the wrapper. When you fry them, it also cooks evenly throughout the wrapper while warming up the filling inside.
How to wrap turon
To wrap a turon, you can use a basic egg roll or spring roll technique where you center the saba and jackfruit about two inches from the bottom corner.
Take the bottom corner and fold over the filling, take the left and right corners and fold them towards the middle, and continue rolling upwards and sealing with water.
Personally, I LOVE more crunch and prefer using a much easier technique that’s popular for many Filipino catering companies. All you have to do is add the sugar-coated saba slice and jackfruit filling in the center, take the bottom corner and fold over the filling, and continue to roll upwards until it’s complete. Seal the last corner with water. This roll will give you a more crunchy surface area.
The sugary caramel sauce
Traditionally, turon has this super crispy outer layer that has a nice caramel coating–I LOVE this coating. After you fry the turon in neutral cooking oil, you pour sugar on top of the frying turon. The sugar caramelizes in the oil fairly quickly. To coat the turon in the caramel, you need to turn it in the oil before both the turon and sugar burn.
While this sounds manageable, after a few tries I realized this was harder than it needs to be. I got the sugar to stick to the turon, but ultimately, I ended up burning some of the sugar and still had a few batches of turon to coat. I don’t know about you, but burned sugar in a hot oil pan is not the best scenario for any type of cooking.
To reduce my headaches (and also fear for my next oil burn), I fried all of my turon first and then made a quick side of caramel sauce in another pan. I made the sauce by adding the sugar in a nonstick pan and heating it over medium-low heat for about one to two minutes or until it’s melted and light brown.
You don’t want to overcook the caramel or it’ll burn and turn bitter. While the caramel is still hot, use a spoon to drizzle the sauce over the fried turon or dip and roll the turon in the caramel pan (use tongs to not burn yourself).
Here are some of the other tips I learned:
- Use ripe bananas not only because they’re tastier, but because unripe bananas will not stick to the dark brown sugar coating.
- Coat each banana slice as you roll each turon. Don’t pre-coat in dark brown sugar because the ripe banana will end up soaking too much of the sugar. I like sugar, but I don’t want it overly sweet.
- Use thin and stretchy spring roll wrappers, like Spring House spring roll wrappers, and not thicker wrappers you would traditionally use for egg rolls, like Menlo, because they brown faster and will cook before warming up the filling. You can also use water to seal the turon with spring roll wrappers, whereas using flour and water paste is needed to seal Menlo wrappers (this is a much stickier situation).
- Pre-peel the spring roll wrappers and keep them under a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out (spring roll wrapper 101).
- If you are using the one-step wrapping technique, make sure that the pan you are using to fry will allow your rolls to fit since your turon will be longer than normal.
- Only use a wire rack when draining and/or cooling the freshly fried turon. Don’t use paper towels because the caramel sugar coating will stick to the paper.
Serving and storage
Once the turon is fried and coated with caramel, you should eat it as soon as possible to savor the crispy shell. Turon has a tendency to soften over time, but you can toast them in the oven to revive them.
If you have leftover turon, I would recommend placing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat the turon, I would toast them in a toaster oven for one to two minutes or until the outer layer is nice and crispy again.
Don’t stop at learning how to make turon, there are a ton of other easy Asian recipes (and desserts) that will give you a happy belly!
Turon (Crispy Filipino Banana & Jackfruit Lumpia)
- 3 ripe saba bananas cut into 12 slices
- 1 c or ½ (20 oz) can of jackfruit cut into strips
- ½ c dark brown sugar packed
- 12 individual spring roll wrappers
- bowl of water for sealing wrappers
- neutral cooking oil for frying, vegetable oil preferred
- ½ c white sugar
- Prepare the saba banana by peeling and cutting into even slices about three millimeters thick. Three ripe bananas will give you about 12 pieces total. Prepare the jackfruit by slicing into strips.
- Prep your workstation by putting the dark brown sugar in a shallow plate, pre-peel the individual spring roll wrappers and cover them with a damp cloth, and place a water bowl next to your surface.
- Basic egg-roll technique: Place a spring roll wrapper in a diamond shape in front of you (one corner is at the top of your workstation, while another corner is facing the bottom). Take one banana slice and coat it lightly with the brown sugar, then place it about two inches from the bottom center. Take two to three strips of jackfruit and place it on top of the banana slice. Lift the bottom corner and cover the filling. Take the left and right corners and fold them towards the center. Finish rolling the entire turon upwards until you have about one inch left. Use your fingers to brush the top corner with water and complete the roll to seal. Repeat with the rest of the turon.
- One-roll technique: Place a spring roll wrapper in a diamond shape in front of you. Take one banana slice and coat it lightly with the brown sugar, then place it about two inches from the bottom center. Take two to three strips of jackfruit and place it on top of the banana slice. Lift the bottom corner and cover the filling. Continue to roll upwards until you have one inch left of space. Use your fingers to brush the top corner with water and complete the roll to seal. Repeat with the rest of the turon.
- In a pan wide enough to fit the width of your turon (this is important especially if you used the one-roll technique), fill enough vegetable oil (or other neutral oil) until it’s about two inches high. Heat your oil to 350 °F.
- When the oil is hot enough, carefully lower the turon into the oil. Deep fry for about one minute before turning over and cooking for another minute or until the turon is nice and golden brown. Remove the turon and place them onto a wire rack. Repeat with the rest of the turon.
- In a new saucepan over medium-low heat, add the white sugar and watch carefully until it begins to melt. Use a spatula to move the melted sugar around and continue to cook for about one to two minutes or until the sugar is light golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat immediately.
- Use a spoon to drizzle the caramel over the fried turon or use tongs to dip and roll the turon right into the caramel pan. Be careful when dipping because the caramel can be very hot. Let the turon rest for about one minute. The caramel should harden and it should be ready to serve!