Tender chicken, fresh veggies and herbs, and a tangy Asian-inspired sauce make these chicken lettuce wraps a flavorful weeknight meal. Ready in 15 minutes!
Asian-Inspired Chicken Lettuce Cups
Food and friends create memories. So many of my favorite recipes come from times that I spent with good friends.
Laughing and sharing time together made memories that I cherish to this day. And when I make the food that we shared; I can relive some of my favorite times.
This was one of those times.
While my husband and I were living in a small town in Texas, three friends and I formed a small close group. When I got off work on Friday at noon, we’d usually head off on some adventure, usually involving a drive to Houston or another bigger city.
I have never before or since, laughed as much as in those days.
Eventually, the first of us moved away. Fortunately, she moved to Colorado and invited the three of us to come visit.
This was about 12 years ago, and the trip involved a lot of laughs.
When we arrived at my friend’s house after traveling, my friend had a lunch prepared ahead of time for us. It was Asian-inspired chicken lettuce wraps.
Up until that point, I had never had anything like that! Nowadays, seeing lettuce wraps on a menu is common. It’s a great way to have a delicious wrap without any gluten or flour.
Since then, I’ve tried many versions in restaurants, but they never quite measure up to my friend’s version. To this day, this is my favorite version of lettuce wraps!
The heart of the dish is the tender ground chicken, sautéed with garlic, ginger, and herbs in a sweet and savory soy-based sauce. When enveloped in a big, crisp lettuce leaf, the contrast of flavors is amazing!
It’s also easy to make. You cook everything in one pan. You can chop and add to the pan as you cook. This recipe is great when it is just cooked and still warm and it’s also great the next day cold from the refrigerator.
What I especially love about this dish is that it is so versatile and can be served as an appetizer, lunch, or light dinner. Plus, it’s very fast to make, with only a few minutes of prep time and only 15-20 minutes total time!
- 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil or another light tasting oil
- 1 medium red onion minced
- 1 Tablespoon of chopped ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 pound of ground chicken
- 1 TB of soy sauce
- 1 TB fish sauce
- 2 TB coconut sugar or brown sugar
- Lime zest from one lime
- ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 2 scallions, sliced
- Lettuce leaves
Optional Garnish Ideas
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped mint
- Chopped dry roasted peanuts
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat to medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and ginger and cook, stirring often for about five minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Do not brown (turn down the heat if needed).
- Add the ground chicken and break up with your spoon as you cook it. Add soy sauce, lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and red pepper flakes to the chicken mixture. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.
- While the chicken cooks you can chop the fresh herbs you plan to use. When the chicken is cooked through, stir in the herbs (I used green onion, cilantro, and mint) and remove the pan from heat.
- Garnish with chopped peanuts and additional herbs if desired. You can also squeeze extra lime or add a dash of sriracha for a little spicy kick.
Once the filling is cooked, I usually add it to a serving bowl and place the lettuce leaves on a plate on the table so everyone can serve themselves and build the perfect lettuce cups. It’s also a nice touch to set out a small bowl for each of my extra toppings, such as chopped nuts, shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms, fresh herbs, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, sesame seeds, or anything you like on your lettuce wraps.
A few notes about the ingredients:
- Ground Chicken — I prefer the packages that have dark meat included — this increases flavor and tenderness. You can also use ground turkey or even ground pork as your protein.
- Oil —Instead of sesame oil, which has strong taste, I used avocado oil. If you don’t have this on hand, feel free to use another light tasting oil. Olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
- Fish Sauce — Fish sauce is a core flavoring in this recipe. If you aren’t familiar with it or haven’t used it much, it might seem to have a funky smell. It does! However, when you use fish sauce in cooking, it imparts a distinctive flavor that harmonizes perfectly with the soy, sugar, and citrus. Fish sauce is essential!
- Soy Sauce — You could also use coconut aminos, which is what I usually prefer. Coconut aminos aren’t made with wheat, so they are a great gluten free alternative to soy, with a similar flavor. I’d actually recommend using coconut aminos instead of low sodium soy sauce, if you’re looking to reduce sodium content. Low sodium soy sauce is essentially just watered down.
- Sugar — I love the taste of coconut sugar and prefer it in this recipe. However, you can use regular sugar, brown sugar, or a sugar substitute. It’s up to you!
- Herbs — I like cilantro and mint. Cilantro is usually a love it or hate it thing, so if you don’t like it, feel free to try parsley instead!
- Ginger — Fresh tastes best. I like it very finely chopped. If you only have ground ginger, you can use that, but the ginger flavor will not be as distinct.
- Onions — I used red onion this time, but you can also use yellow or white.
- Lettuce — Butter lettuce or Boston lettuce works great for lettuce wraps because it has large, cup-shaped leaves that perfectly hold all the fillings. Romaine lettuce, bibb lettuce, or even iceberg lettuce could work too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are These Similar to PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps?
Similar, yes. But not exactly the same. However, if you like the lettuce cups at PF Chang’s you will most likely love these too! (And the fact that you can make them at home much cheaper!)
PF Chang’s lettuce wraps are made with Hoisin sauce and topped with fried rice noodles. Those would be two of the main differences that I can think of right off the bat.
Our recipe adds flavor with fish sauce, which is salty like Hoisin, but a little sweeter. We also used light tasting oil, rather than sesame oil, which has a stronger flavor. If you’re not a fan of sesame oil, then you should definitely try our version!
Again, similar, but not quite a copycat! I think I like ours better if I’m being completely honest (and perhaps a little bias!)
Are Chicken Lettuce Cups Low Carb?
With just 10 grams total carbs per serving and 9 grams net carbs (total carbs minus fiber content), this recipe could definitely fit into a low carb diet. If you’re doing keto, I suggest swapping the sugar with a low carb sweetener.
Related: You might also like this Keto Lettuce Wraps recipe on my keto website!
How Long Can Lettuce Wraps Last in the Refrigerator?
I usually store the filling separately from the lettuce. That way the lettuce is still crisp when I’m ready to serve. Keep the meat in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
To reheat, I pop the filling into a sauté pan and cook until just warmed through. Then I serve as normal on the lettuce.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe (Printable Copy)
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Easy Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Sauté pan
- 2 Tablespoons Avocado oil or other light-tasting oil
- 1 Medium red onion minced
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 pound Ground chicken
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or coconut aminos
- 1 Tablepsoon Fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoon Brown sugar or coconut sugar
- Lime Zest of one lime, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon Red pepper flakes
- 2 Scallions sliced
Optional Garnish Ideas
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped mint
- Chopped dry roasted peanuts
- Heat oil in a large skillet to a medium heat.
- Add chopped onions and ginger. Cook, stirring often for about five minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Do not brown.
- Add the ground chicken and break up with your spoon as you cook it.
- Add soy sauce, lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.
- Stir in scallions, cilantro, and mint.
- Garnish with chopped peanuts and additional herbs if desired. You can also squeeze extra lime or hot sauce on for additional flavor.
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