These quick and easy ground beef lettuce wraps are loaded with savory ground beef and nutritious veggies doused in an umami-rich Asian-style soy-ginger sauce! You can enjoy them with the beef filling nestled in crunchy lettuce as appetizers or snacks, or make them substantial enough for lunch or dinner by adding rice or grains. These delicious, protein-packed wraps are super versatile, can be prepared ahead of time, and are made easily gluten-free too!
The juicy flavorful beef filling paired with the crunch of the crispy lettuce is downright dreamy. This recipe is light and healthy but still comforting in the way only good Asian-inspired dishes can be. Serve these as a tasty appetizer or a full on meal, the choice is up to you.
If you are looking for a vegetarian version of lettuce wraps, you can try my taco vegetarian lettuce wraps recipe instead. You can also try filling them with Thai Fried Brown Rice instead of plain steamed rice to double up on flavor. I like stacking mine with kimchi and cucumbers but you can also try pairing with egg rolls, curry carrot fries with peanut sauce, roasted sugar snap peas, or fried rice noodles!
Easy ground beef lettuce wraps
These homemade Asian ground beef lettuce wraps are so easy and delicious! You don’t have to go to PF Chang’s to enjoy lettuce wraps when you can make this easy dinner at home. The ground beef filling is cooked using one pan and will only take you 15 minutes to make. It’s very similar to my ground beef bulgogi recipe so if you like the sound of this or are just looking for more ground beef recipes, you’ll love that one too.
It’s tossed in a flavorful sauce made with real Asian condiments like sesame oil, gochujang, and mirin to give it a nice umami tangy flavor with just enough spice. While using gochujang may make these seem like Korean beef lettuce wraps, they really are a mash up since mirin is from Japan and other ingredients are borrowed from all over the continent.
Are they healthy?
While it might not be the most authentic recipe on the planet, this Asian fusion style recipe is as healthy as it is delicious. These Asian beef lettuce wraps are a great way to get your kids to eat healthy meals without all the fuss. Mixed in the savory beef filling are red bell peppers, carrots, green onions, cilantro, water chestnuts, and onions – not to mention the crisp lettuce cups it’s all served in!
They’ll get tons of vitamins and nutrients from the veggies, protein from the beef, and energy-giving carbs from the rice (if you are including it). Or use cauliflower rice to keep the whole meal low-carb but make it more filling. It’s an all-in-one, family-friendly main dish that can make even the fussiest veggie eater go for seconds. Who knows, it might even be a new family favorite recipe.
What you’ll need
If you cannot find the Asian condiments needed to make the sauce, don’t worry. I included alternatives that you can use to make these Asian lettuce wraps. I always stock sesame oil, mirin, gochujang, and other Asian seasonings and condiments because they are easy to store for long periods and it makes it more convenient. This is also the perfect recipe to use up leftover vegetables in your fridge! Here’s what you’ll need:
For the ground beef filling:
- Oil– you can use avocado, sesame oil, or any high smoke point oil.
- Vegetables– I used diced onion and red bell pepper, grated carrots and chopped water chestnuts, cilantro, and green onions. The combination of textures, taste, and colors are amazing! You can use other vegetables like shallots, ginger, mushrooms, bean sprouts, parsley, and peas.
- Ground beef– I used 85% lean. It has the ideal fat-to-meat ratio for a juicy and flavorful filling. Ground chicken, bison, turkey or even pork can be used in place of ground beef if desired but you may need to add more or less soy sauce or tamari if using a different kind of meat.
- Sesame seeds – a sprinkling of these will add more crunch and nutty flavor to the wraps.
- Lettuce– the best lettuce to use are butter lettuce (aka Boston or bib) or red or green leaf. Romaine lettuce is ok but kind of oversized and iceberg lettuce breaks too easily and makes a mess.
For the sauce:
- Fresh ginger– gives the sauce a sharp, pungent flavor and you can easily use jarred ginger to make prep even faster. You can use ground ginger if you must but keeping jarred ginger in the fridge will give you the same convenience with much better results.
- Garlic – makes everything better
- Coconut sugar– to give the sauce a deep caramel-y sweetness. You can swap this with brown sugar or honey.
- Soy sauce- reduced sodium will give you a great-tasting sauce without all the unnecessary salt! If you are making this gluten-free, you can use tamari instead or coconut aminos.
- Sesame oil– aside from providing lots of nutty goodness and earthy flavor, it also gives the sauce a silkier consistency. Avocado, olive oil, or another mild-flavored oil can be substituted for sesame oil in the sauce.
- Gochujang– this is a fermented Korean chili paste that has a robust spicy, savory, and sweet taste. This will give the sauce layers of flavor that you will not get with anything else! If you cannot find this in grocery stores and don’t have an Asian store nearby, you can easily order it online. Use a gluten-free gochujang If needed.
- Mirin – this cooking wine is a staple in Japanese cooking and gives food a subtle tangy sweetness. You can substitute it with another cooking wine or sherry if needed but I recommend getting mirin.
- Lime juice– adds a bright zestiness that balances the spicy, salty, and sweet flavors well. Use lemon juice, rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar as alternatives.
Optional: rice, cauliflower rice or quinoa and kimchi
How to Make Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps
If you have an Asian food obsession like me, you know the pull restaurants can have on you. No need to get take out to enjoy lettuce wraps at home. It is so easy and fuss-free!
- Separate lettuce leaves, rinse and pat the leaves dry or use a salad spinner. Set aside.
- Dice, chop and grate the veggies.
- Make the Sauce. Add all sauce ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and whisk together.
- Sauté the Aromatics. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add avocado oil. When oil is warm, add chopped pepper and onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until starting to sear.
- Cook the Ground Beef. Add beef and brown, breaking it up with a spatula into small pieces as it cooks.
- Add the Sauce. Once the beef is browned, add about half of the sauce to the ground beef mixture and stir in letting the beef cook another 2 minutes while you continue to break it into small pieces.
- Add the vegetables. Add the grated carrot, water chestnuts, and remaining sauce to the meat mixture. Let cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, stirring to mix sauce evenly in.
- Garnish and Serve. Stir in green onion and cilantro and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with lettuce on its own or with white rice, brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice as a low carb option to make it more filling. You can also serve with kimchi or any other toppings you’d like. To eat, spoon beef filling into a lettuce leaf. Add any other filling desired, fold in the edges and eat it like a taco.
- You can adjust the amount of gochujang, lime juice, and sugar to your liking. Make it kid-friendly by reducing the gochujang in the recipe. Alternatively, you can spice it up by adding more gochujang, chili garlic sauce, red pepper flakes, or even just go heavy on black pepper.
- Allow the ground beef to cook undisturbed for a few minutes after breaking into pieces when cooking. This allows the pieces to brown nicely and have crisp edges. If you move the meat around in the pan too much, it will steam rather than sear.
- You can add various fillings to the wrap, then fold in the edges and eat it like a taco.
- Double the spicy sauce recipe and use half as a dip or serve it with peanut sauce, hoisin sauce or plum sauce. Yum!
- Make this recipe gluten-free by substituting low-sodium soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos and using gluten-free gochujang.
- For a fun flavor twist, try substituting the gochujang with thai red curry paste and 1 Tbsp. of the soy sauce with fish sauce.
Make-ahead and storing notes
All chopping can be done ahead of time and stored in airtight containers in the fridge. You can also make the Asian-style sauce in advance and store it in the fridge for a few days. It may even taste better stored overnight to allow the flavors to mellow and blend together.
While it’s best served fresh, the ground beef filling can also be made ahead of time and will keep well in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. All you need to do is microwave the meat and assemble the wraps when you’re ready. This dish is ideal for meal prepping and would be great to bring to work for lunch!
- 2 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/3 cup packed coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoon gochujang or more if you want it spicy
- 2 Tablespoon mirin can substitute with another cooking wine or sherry if needed or leave it out
- 2 Tablespoon lime juice
- Add all sauce ingredients into a medium sized bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add avocado oil.
- When oil is warm, add chopped pepper and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until starting to sear.
- Add beef and brown, breaking it up with a spatula into small pieces as it cooks.
- Once beef is browned, add about half of the sauce and stir in letting the beef cook another 2 minutes while you continue to break into small pieces.
- Add carrot, water chestnuts, and remaining sauce. Let cook 2-3 minutes longer, stirring to mix sauce evenly in.
- Remove from heat, add cilantro, green onion and stir lightly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with lettuce on it’s own or with rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice to make it more filling and with kimchee or any other toppings you’d like. To eat, spoon beef filling into a lettuce leaf. Add any other filling desired, fold in the edges and eat it like a taco.
- Rice not included in nutrition facts but lettuce is
- Adjust the amount of gochujang to your spice preference.