These easy Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps combine fresh ingredients and come together in less than 30 minutes, resulting in an excellent packable lunch or a quick and easy everyday dinner!
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These Asian chicken lettuce wraps are somewhat inspired by PF Chang's lettuce wraps, but the taste is quite different so I wouldn't really call them a copycat recipe.
Lettuce wraps are an easy alternative to a salad, making them a great lunchtime staple. This quick and easy recipe provides an excellent packable lunch that transports well. And it comes together in less than 30 minutes, so they are also a great option for a quick and healthy weeknight meal.
The bold flavors in this recipe come from the hoisin-like sauce that I created using fairly common ingredients. It's super easy to make and gives the chicken the perfect balance with the fresh veggies and crisp lettuce leaves.
This is a great recipe to add to your everyday meals recipe collection. Read on to learn more about how to make these Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps, or jump straight to the recipe to start cooking!
The full list of ingredients and quantities can be found in the recipe card below.
- Ground chicken: By using ground chicken, you get the texture of a traditional taco filling.
- Butterhead lettuce leaves: Fresh butter lettuce gives you a nice slightly rounded leaf shape, which is ideal for lettuce wraps.
- Yellow onion, green onion and garlic cloves
- Creamy peanut butter: The creamy version gives the sauce the right consistency, and you'll be adding roasted peanuts as a topping.
- Sambal: This adds a little kick to the sauce.
- White miso paste: You're only using a little bit so if you don't have white miso on hand, any type of miso will work just fine.
- Tamari: I personally prefer Tamari over soy sauce. It has a slightly richer flavor and is typically wheat-free or nearly wheat-free. I think it makes Asian dishes a little more interesting. You can find it in most grocery stores. If you prefer, you can substitute regular soy sauce.
- Water chestnuts: Look for sliced, canned water chestnuts in the Asian food aisle in your grocery store.
- Fresh lime juice: Adds a fresh, bold flavor to the lettuce wraps.
- Carrots & napa cabbage: Check the salad bar if you want to skip chopping these two ingredients.
- Roasted peanuts: The crunchy peanuts create a nice balance with the fresh veggies.
- Fresh cilantro
- Spices: ground ginger, kosher salt, ground pepper
- Pantry staples: rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, dark sesame oil
How to make lettuce wraps
I love this dish because it’s basically a one-pan meal and it’s really easy to make, which means it’s ideal for a weeknight dinner or a make-ahead lunch.
Step 1 | Brown the chicken. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until crumbly and browned.
Step 2 | Add the seasonings. Once the meat is browned and crumbly, add the peanut butter, tamari, ginger, vinegar, sambal, miso, sugar and ground pepper. Mix well and then cook for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and is mostly absorbed by the meat.
Step 3 | Add the veggies. Stir the water chestnuts and green onions into the mixture until well incorporated.
Step 4 | Keep warm. Turn the heat to low to keep the chicken mixture warm while finishing the prep.
Fill the lettuce cups. Once the chicken mixture is ready simply add some to a lettuce leaf and top it with the other remaining ingredients. Wrap the lettuce leaf around the chicken filling and dig in!
Meal Prep & Storage
You can make the chicken filling in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
If you are going to store the cooked chicken filling before serving or if you are taking this to work for lunch, pack the chicken separately from the carrots, cilantro and cabbage. This makes it easy to reheat the filling. I also keep the lettuce leaves and the peanuts separate. Some type of bento-style container works well for this - I actually like them for packing all kinds of lunches. Separating the chicken filling from the veggies ensures a nice crisp lettuce wrap when you are ready to eat!
Variations & Substitutions
Cole slaw mix. You can use a bagged cole slaw mix as a topping for these lettuce wraps.
Lettuce leaves. While butter lettuce is my favorite for making lettuce wraps you can also use bibb lettuce or romaine leaves.
Red bell pepper. If you want to add some extra veggies to the wraps, chopped pepper makes a great additional topping.
Tools you'll want for this recipe
Large skillet or wok – You'll need a pan large enough to fit the ground chicken and other filling ingredients. A 10 or 12" pan is the best choice.
Julienne Peeler – You can certainly julienne veggies by hand, however, since I make a lot of salads this is one kitchen gadget that I find handy to have around. It makes the process of creating fine veggie strands quick and easy.
More make-ahead lunch recipes
If you are looking for more easy lunch options check out these reader favorites:
- Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocados. Chicken salad is always an excellent option for a quick and easy packable lunch. Stuff that chicken salad into an avocado half and you've got an extra tasty option.
- Peanut Noodles with Grilled Chicken. These cold peanut noodles topped with seasoned grilled chicken are so tasty that you won't want to stop eating them!
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Easy Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe
For the chicken:
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 pound ground chicken, you can use a combination of breast and thigh meat
- ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon Tamari
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon sambal
- 1 ½ teaspoons white miso paste
- ¾ teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup water chestnuts, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced green onion
For the wraps:
- 8 butter lettuce leaves
- ½ cup julienned carrots
- ⅓ cup shredded napa cabbage
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts
- chopped cilantro for garnish
- Cook the chicken. Heat 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; sauteé for an additional minute or two.
- Add the seasonings. Add tamari, ginger, vinegar, sambal, peanut butter, miso, sugar and ground pepper. Stir until well mixed. Cook for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens and is mostly absorbed. Add water chestnuts and green onions to the mixture and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat to low to keep the chicken mixture warm while finishing the prep.
- Assemble the wraps. To serve the lettuce wraps, place a leaf of lettuce on a plate or serving tray. Add a scoop of hte chicken mixture. Top with carrots, cabbage and peanuts. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Repeat with remaining lettuce leaves. Serve immediately.
This post was originally published in August 2016. It was updated in April 2023 with some new information and photos. No changes were made to the original recipe.