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Close-up of a hand holding a healthy Asian beef lettuce wrap.
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Healthy Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps

Recipe adapted from Build-a-Bowl, by Nicki Sizemore. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.
These beef lettuce wraps are a soul-satisfying and fun meal or appetizer, and they come together in just thirty minutes. Lean ground beef gets simmered in a flavor-packed homemade sauce and is served with crispy lettuce leaves for wrapping. For a more substantial meal, serve the lettuce wraps with cooked rice (you can pile the rice right into the wraps or eat it alongside). Don’t forget the toppings—they add brightness and crunch!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: asian lettuce wraps, beef lettuce wraps, healthy asian lettuce wraps
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Sauce

  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken or beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons fish sauce, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • 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 ginger
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (or you can use bison, turkey or chicken)
  • 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

  • 1 batch cooked rice (optional)
  • 1 head Bibb or Boston lettuce, leaves separated
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped peanuts or cashews
  • Sriracha, hot sauce or sliced jalapeño

Instructions

Make the sauce

  • 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.

Cook the meat

  • 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, ginger and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Add the beef and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 3 minutes. 
  • Give the sauce a whisk, then pour it into the meat mixture. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add a dash or two (or three or four...) of sriracha, to taste. 
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Taste and season with additional sriracha and/or lime juice, if desired.

Serve

  • Serve the meat filling with lettuce leaves for wrapping, along with cooked rice, if you’d like. Sprinkle the lettuce wraps with cilantro and peanuts, and drizzle them with sriracha or hot sauce (or top them with sliced jalapeño) if you like it spicy!

Notes

Tips:
  • Be sure to use lean ground beef (preferably 90 percent lean) to prevent the ground meat mixture from being greasy. You can also use ground bison (a favorite in my house), or ground turkey or chicken—if you use turkey or chicken, go for dark meat for the best flavor and texture. 
  • You can make the sauce up to 3 days in advance and refrigerate it. Be sure to whisk it well before using, as the cornstarch will settle at the bottom.
  • Different brands of fish sauce vary widely in their intensity, so add it to taste. I prefer Red Boat Brand, which is milder than others (I use 2 teaspoons).
  • I love this brand of organic Sriracha, which is free of MSG.
  • For a slew of other vibrant, healthy meals, check out my book, Build-a-Bowl!