Asian chicken lettuce wraps are super easy to make and ready in under 30 minutes! The meat and veggies are stir-fried, tossed in a delicious savory sauce, and scooped into crisp pieces of lettuce.
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Chicken lettuce wraps are a must when dining at Chinese restaurants, but making them at home is easier than you might think. Yep, it’s a fast and flavorful meal that comes together in one large pan. The key is in the ingredient preparation, so you can drop it in the wok and let it cook for 10 minutes.
This healthy low-carb recipe is perfect for serving as an appetizer for a party and hearty enough to feed a hungry family for dinner. I like to pair it with my favorite Chinese dishes like potstickers and crispy egg rolls for a complete meal.
I use lean ground chicken in the recipe as a quick-cooking protein option. You’ll need to purchase a 1-pound package. You can also use pieces of chopped chicken breasts or thighs but cut them into small, ¼-inch dice for stir-frying.
Alternatively, you can try my ground turkey lettuce wraps or substitute ground beef to switch things up! I also have tofu lettuce wraps for a vegetarian option.
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Add vegetables to the filling
Chicken has a neutral flavor and is low in fat, about 4%. Without mix-ins, the taste will be bland. I add colorful vegetables like carrots, water chestnuts, yellow onions, and green onions. Briefly stir-fry them until crisp-tender.
I cook them in sesame oil with garlic, and ginger, to bring out the natural sweetness of the root vegetables and alliums. Other types of vegetables can be added, like red bell pepper, brown mushrooms, and bamboo shoots.
Cook the chicken
The ground chicken cooks very quickly, especially when using a wok. To get a flavorful browned surface on the meat, ensure the oil and pan are hot and ready to sear. Quickly break the protein down to make bite-sized pieces.
Let it sear until a golden crust forms, then stir-fry to ensure that the poultry is fully cooked, flavorful, and doesn’t dry out. The process takes about 4 minutes. I season with a bit of salt and pepper before tossing in the sauce.
Add savory sauces
To make a simple three-ingredient umami-packed sauce for the lettuce wraps, all you need is hoisin, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. The combination of various fermented soybean products, balanced with sweet and tangy ingredients, makes the savory taste of the chicken stand out.
Just add it directly to the stir-fried chicken, and mix it in! Stir in the vegetables, and you’re ready to fill the lettuce cups.
For tender lettuce wraps, butter lettuce is the best choice. The outer and middle leaves make big boats to hold plenty of filling. Other types of lettuce can be used, like bibb, iceberg, or romaine hearts.
How to make chicken lettuce wraps
Once you combine the stir-fried ground chicken and vegetables with the sauce, it’s ready to wrap. Fill one lettuce cup with the meat mixture, then top with fresh slices of green onion and crunchy cashews or peanuts. If needed, you can double up on the lettuce to make a thicker or larger wrap.
The lettuce wraps taste the best when served warm, or you can chill them to meal prep for a quick lunch or dinner. If you have leftover filling, serve it on top of steamed rice for a heartier meal with extra vegetables like bok choy.
Serve this with
Ground chicken meat stir-fried with a mixture of vegetables then tossed in a savory soy sauce. The filling is served wrapped inside lettuce cups, topped with chopped nuts and green onions, and enjoyed as an appetizer or light meal.
For sturdy and foldable lettuce wraps, butter leaf lettuce works best. The leaves are curved to hold the filling and are pliable to cover it up, making it easy to eat. If you prefer a crisp option, iceberg or romaine are excellent choices but are much more rigid.
To make the chicken filling spicy, you can add dried red chili flakes, chili oil, or chili paste like sriracha. Add it at the end of cooking, using a tiny amount, ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon at a time to gradually increase the heat.
Wait to add the garlic and ginger
In traditional Chinese stir-fry dishes, garlic and ginger add aromatics and intensity to the dish. When using minced pieces, they can burn quickly in the wok and oil. Saute the vegetables first, so there is residual moisture in the pan. Add aromatics, and it will gently infuse.
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Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ cup finely diced carrots
- ½ cup minced yellow onions
- ½ cup finely chopped water chestnuts
- ½ cup sliced green onion, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped, optional
- 1 head butter leaf lettuce, washed and dried, 12 leaves
- Cook the Vegetables – Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and sesame oil. Once hot, add the carrots and onions, and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the water chestnuts, ¼ cup green onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium bowl, and set aside.
- Cook the Chicken – Return the wok to the stovetop, and heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat. Add the ground turkey, break into smaller chunks, and stir-fry until the meat is no longer pink, about 3 to 4 minutes—season with salt and pepper.
- Add the Sauces – Stir in the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Add the stir-fried vegetables—season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Plate & Serve – Evenly divide the chicken filling among the lettuce cups. Garnish with peanuts (if using) and remaining green onions. Top with additional hoisin sauce if desired.
- Wok Spatula
- Recipe Yield: 3 cups of filling
- Serving: 1 wrap
- Storing: Store cooked chicken filling in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Cover and cook on high heat in 15 to 30-second intervals until hot.
- Make it Spicy: Stir in red chili flakes, sriracha, or chili oil. Add ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon at a time until the desired heat level is reached.
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3 Comments Leave a comment or review
Mary Caffrey says
Hoisen sauce is not usually gluten free. Is there a GF brand that you suggest, or another substitute?
Jessica Gavin says
I saw that san-j and kikkoman sells gluten free haisin sauce. You may have to order online if your local grocery stores does not carry it.
Keith Kase says
Hi Jessica, Wow, what a Great Recipe! Thank you again for your Amazing and easy to prepare delicious recipes!!