This Asian lettuce wraps recipe is a delicious, flavorful, and super easy meal for a weeknight dinner or any dinner gathering. I guarantee this is a dish that will have your family and friends linking their fingers.
Why you will love this lettuce wrap recipe
This great recipe is one of the most popular dishes I make amongst my kids, family, and friends. You will never see my kids eat that much lettuce ever. Why we love this recipe so much:
- So simple and easy to make.
- The sweet and savory sauce makes the filling finger-licking good.
- Lettuce wraps are refreshing and tasty.
- Great for any time of year or on any occasion.
- Don’t like lettuce? You can pair the delicious filling with rice or noodles.
Ingredients Needed and Substitutes
- Ground pork – is used in many Asian recipes, especially dumplings, so you can find this in many grocery stores. If you can’t find ground pork, you can substitute it with ground turkey. But keep in mind that the flavor will not be as rich as using pork.
- Water chestnuts or daikon are mild in flavor but give a crunch to the lettuce wrap filling. You can usually find canned water chestnuts in the Asian aisle of the grocery store, but there were a few times I saw them out of stock. So daikon has been my go-to, but you can substitute this with radish, jicama, or turnips.
- Mushrooms – I like using shiitake or baby Bella mushrooms because they are a little firmer, but you can use any other kind.
- Garlic – fresh is best, but you can use jarred or frozen.
- Fresh basil – can be replaced with 1/2 tbs of dried basil.
The sauce is the key to making a sweet and savory filling for the best lettuce wraps. I recommend sticking with the ingredients listed as much as possible. Keep in mind that if you do substitute any of the ingredients, it can change the recipe’s flavor.
- Hoisin sauce – this is the key ingredient for this sauce
- Soy sauce – I like using low sodium soy sauce
- Dark soy sauce – gives it a rich dark color and a richer flavor. It can be substituted with half the amount of soy sauce.
- Rice vinegar – or apple cider vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Corn starch
How to Make Asian Lettuce Wraps
Separate and rinse lettuce leaves.
Make the sauce.
Chop up garlic, onions, mushrooms, basil, and water chestnut or daikon.
Cook the filling.
Tips and Tricks
- Try not to overcook the water chestnuts or daikon and mushrooms. You want to keep some of the firmness to balance out the texture of the ground pork, so your filling is not too mushy.
- Let the filling cool a bit before serving. Serving the filling too hot can wilt the lettuce and can be too hot to eat with your hands.
- You can easily double the recipe by doubling all the ingredients and sauce ingredients.
Asian lettuce wraps are fun to eat and make mealtime way more engaging. Add extra fixings on the side to build a variety of combinations. Here are some ideas:
- shredded carrots
- bean sprouts
- green onion
- chopped peanuts
- sesame seeds
- fried onions
- pickles (try these Homemade Dill Pickles)
- hot sauce or chili oil
What do you eat with Asian lettuce wraps?
My family enjoys lettuce wraps as an easy weeknight meal. The wrap is best served as an appetizer for a dinner party or with rice or rice noodles for a complete meal. Asian lettuce wraps pair nicely with a variety of Asian dishes, as a side dish to any entree or a grazing board.
Here are some recipe suggestions to try:
FAQs about lettuce wraps
Iceberg lettuce is my favorite for lettuce wraps. Although it is a bit more time-consuming to peel each leaf so it will stay intact, it gives the best crunch for lettuce wraps. You can get a similar crunch using romaine lettuce. Another favorite is butter lettuce. The softer leaves hold up the filling nicely to keep it in place, making it easier to wrap and eat, especially for kids.
We also enjoy trying out other varieties of lettuces we find at the farmer’s market. Like making a salad, the lettuce can cause a slight difference in the taste and texture. Serving a variety of lettuce to wrap can be fun for your guests and make a great dinner display.
With my kids loving lettuce wraps as much as I do, I always serve hot sauce on the side. If you want to add some heat to the fillings, you can add your choice of chili paste, red pepper flakes, chili powder, or hot sauce to the hoisin sauce mixture to spice up the filling.
Yes. You can use any ground meat with this lettuce wrap recipe. The versatility of the hoisin sauce mixture will go well with all kinds of meat. Keep in mind that there will be differences in flavor depending on the type of meat you choose to use.
I often make this recipe, and I love doubling the recipe to have the extra fillings for leftovers. I would eat it as lettuce wraps again, top it on a salad, or eat it with a side of rice.
You can store the leftover fillings in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you want to store it longer, freeze it. Defrost and heat up in the microwave or a pan. For the lettuce, remove as much water and store it in a ziplock bag.
Asian Lettuce Wraps
- 1 head lettuce leaves- iceberg, butter, or romaine lettuce
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 small onion- diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic- chopped
- 1 cup diced water chestnut or daikon-
- ½ cup diced mushrooms baby Bella or shiitake
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- Separate each lettuce leaf to rinse and set it aside to dry.
- Make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir or whisk until all ingredients are incorporated. You may still see bits of cornstarch, and that's ok. Set the sauce aside.
- Dice onions, water chestnuts, and mushrooms. Chop up the garlic and basil.
- In a medium-size cooking pan, heat your choice of cooking oil over medium-high heat.
- Add garlic and onions and saute till it's slightly translucent. About 2 minutes.
- Add the ground pork. Break apart the ground pork with a wooden cooking spoon to separate the meat into small clumps. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add sauce to the pan. Stir and mix until the ground pork is covered with sauce.
- Add and mix water chestnuts, mushrooms, and basil with the pork and sauce. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
- Transfer pork filling onto a serving plate or bowl and let it cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with lettuce leaves or other fixings of your choice.