These healthy Asian lettuce wraps are one of our very favorite weeknight meals. It’s a hands-on, soul-satisfying and nutritious one-bowl dinner that your whole family will love!

Healthy Asian Lettuce wraps on table with hands eating

Photo by Katrin Bjork, excerpted from Build-a-Bowl

I’m so excited to be featuring these healthy Asian Lettuce Wraps from my book, Build-a-Bowl this week (new VIDEO below)! These are one of Ella’s very favorite meals (which says a lot coming from a child who could eat pasta every single day for every single meal). But while it’s kid-friendly, it’s far from your average kid food. Naturally lean ground bison (or you could use lean ground beef or turkey), gets simmered with in a flavor-packed sauce and is served with rice and lettuce leaves for wrapping. It’s sophisticated but fun, and I think you’re going to love it.

Build a Bowl book

The meal is easy to make, especially if you break it down into steps. First, you whisk up a quick sauce of chicken broth, tamari (or soy sauce), garlic, ginger, fish sauce (just a touch for umami complexity), brown sugar and cornstarch (which will thicken the sauce). Next, you brown a pound of ground bison (or you could use lean ground beef or turkey), pour in the sauce, and bring it to a simmer. The meat is finished with fresh lime zest and juice, which are like a spotlight brightening all of the flavors.

Healthy Asian Lettuce Wraps in bowl with toppings

We serve the meat over brown rice with lettuce leaves for wrapping, along with peanuts, cilantro and sriracha for topping. I love to serve a few cucumbers alongside for crunch. Ella, James and I pile everything onto lettuce leaves like wraps, whereas Juni prefers to eat everything separately with a spoon (I make little piles of each component on a plate for her).

Cook bison for healthy Asian lettuce wraps

Tips for making Asian lettuce wraps

  • You can use ground bison, lean ground beef or ground turkey in the wraps. If using turkey, I prefer dark meat since it’s juicier.
  • You can cook the meat in any large skillet you have, but I prefer to use an enameled cast iron skillet, which provides even heat and a natural non-stick surface.
  • I serve the meat over brown rice (you could use white instead), which provides substance and helps the meal stretch further. I couldn’t live without my rice cooker, which I use to cook a slew of different grains (Build-a-Bowl features rice cooker instructions for several different whole grains—just be sure to buy a model with a brown rice setting). When cooking brown rice, I always make a double batch and freeze half for down the line (white rice can get mushy once defrosted, so I usually make that fresh).
  • The cooked meat can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, meaning you can make it ahead! Reheat it gently in a skillet, adding a few splashes of water to moisten, if needed.
  • Go for Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves for these wraps. They’re sweet and tender yet hold their shape fairly well.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to get your hands messy! That’s half the fun. 🙂

Healthy Asian Lettuce wraps in hand

You can get a slew of other vibrant one-bowl meals in Build-a-Bowl! (P.s. Can I just tell you how blown away I’ve been with all your support over the book? I have LOVED, LOVED, LOVED seeing all of the dishes you are making from the book—seriously, it makes me so stinking happy! Keep them coming, and don’t forget to tag @fromscratchfast so that I can share!)

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Healthy Asian Lettuce Wraps: A One-Bowl Dinner!

Excerpted from Build-a-Bowl © by Nicki Sizemore. Used with permission from Storey Publishing. This is one of our weeknight staples and one of Ella’s most requested dinners. Naturally lean ground bison (or lean ground beef) is sautéed with onion, bell pepper, gingerroot, and garlic, then simmered in a quick, Asian-inspired sauce of tamari, fish sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and chicken broth. The meat is completely irresistible, and you might find yourself sneaking spoonfuls straight from the skillet like Juniper is apt to do (don’t worry, I won’t tell). It is served over rice, with sriracha, cilantro, and peanuts, and then everything is tucked into lettuce leaves and rolled up like tacos. It’s a messy, soul-satisfying type of meal that might just become a staple in your house, too.
Course Main Course
Keyword Easy lettuce wraps, Healthy lettuce wraps, Lettuce wraps recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

Sauce

  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons fish sauce, as desired
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Meat

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground bison or lean ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sriracha or hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Toppings

  • Cooked rice or quinoa
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped peanuts or cashews
  • 1 head Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves separated

Instructions

Make the sauce

  1. Whisk together the chicken broth, tamari, fish sauce (I use 2 teaspoons of Red Boat brand, which is milder than others), sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch.

Make the meat

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, gingerroot, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

  2. Add the bison and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth mixture, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a dash or two (or three or four . . . ) of sriracha. Remove the pot from the heat and add the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Taste and season with additional sriracha and/or lime juice, if desired.

  3. Spoon the grains into bowls. Top with the meat mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts, and drizzle with sriracha, if you’d like. Serve with lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Recipe Notes

  • The meat mixture can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a skillet, adding a splash or two of water if needed to moisten.

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