This Chicken Lettuce Wrap Recipe brings together a quick, easy, and lite weeknight dinner or appetizers for any party you are planning. They have an authentic Asian flair and are both delicious and healthy. Ground chicken swims in a delectable sauce that is savory with a hint of sweetness. The bonus, 30 minutes in and out of the pan, that's it. Super simple and super yummy.
If you're like me, there were a few added pounds this past couple of years from all the food I was trying to find comfort in, aka brownies, homemade pizza, and pasta., etc. I'm looking to pull back on my caloric intake, step onto the treadmill a little bit more and park my bum on that stationary bike that is sitting downstairs. It's that time of year, when everything is evaluated and the need for change is screaming.
I'm not one that likes to sacrifice flavor and the pure joy that comes with good food just to lose some weight. Life is too short and there are too many amazing foods out there to cheat yourself. But the beauty of this day and age is a plethora of recipes that are not only good and healthy, but they taste fantastic as well. These lettuce wraps are just that.
What Ingredients are needed for this Chicken Lettuce Wrap Recipe?
The ingredient list may seem rather sizeable at first glance and a couple of items may need to be purchased at an Asian Market, but in all honesty, the combination of all these ingredients is what makes for a delicious lettuce wrap. Let's look over the list.
Go for 99% fat-free ground chicken if you can find it. 93% would work as well. Organic, no hormones or steroids, no antibiotics are my healthy preferences for the chicken. You'll pay a little more, but your health is so worth it.
You can definitely use olive oil if you prefer but I like the additional hint of an Asian taste that comes from the sesame oil. Don't use toasted sesame oil as it does not perform well when frying and the toasted flavor is a little overbearing. Sesame oil is worth stocking your pantry with and if stored in a dry cool place it has a long shelf life.
Onions - I prefer sweet onions over yellow onions for this dish because they are milder in potency and their flavor quietly stands in the background not overpowering the taste.
Shitake Mushrooms - you can use any type of mushroom but one of the most popular in Asian dishes and the one I choose to use here in this recipe is shitake. It can be a little difficult to find fresh ones in your grocery store. If that's the case, you can use dried shitake mushrooms and rehydrate them. Although the dried ones tend to have a stronger aroma and flavor than fresh ones.
- How to rehydrate dried shitake mushrooms - thoroughly rinse with cold water and let them soak in cold water for 15-20 minutes.
Finely Chopped Celery & Water Chestnuts - these two ingredients give this beloved lettuce wrap a nice crunch. Make sure and chop them fine though in order to keep uniformity with the other ingredients.
Minced Garlic, Finely Grated Ginger & Scallions - both garlic and ginger are integral to Asian cooking. The unique tang of the ginger and the pungent taste of garlic, once sautéed, soften and provide the perfect subtle flavor without taking over. Scallions are an added texture with a sharp somewhat spicy peppery taste.
Hoisin Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Low Sodium Soy Sauce, Red Pepper Flakes, and Cornstarch - The sauce is definitely what brings to life the chicken filling and what makes an unbeatable Lettuce Wrap Recipe. The red pepper flakes are what give the filling some heat. If you're not crazy about a little spiciness, you can always leave out the red pepper flakes or reduce the measurement.
How to Cook these Chicken Lettuce Wraps
#1 - Start with Cooking the Ground Chicken
Use a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the ground chicken in a little bit of sesame oil until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the skillet with a slotted spoon and cover with foil to keep warm. Wipe the pan with paper towels to remove any juices.
#2 - Saute the Vegetables
In the same skillet, at the same temperature, and with an additional tablespoon of sesame oil, add the onions, mushrooms, celery, and water chestnuts. It should take anywhere from eight to ten minutes until they're tender. The celery and water chestnuts should still have a little crunch left in them.
Garlic and ginger always go in after the other veggies are tender because it literally takes one minute or less for them to be ready. You don't want to burn these two brilliant ingredients. The scallions enter the skillet after the garlic and ginger.
The ground chicken goes back into the skillet where it's gonna find its purpose in life, to be joined together in holy matrimony with the glorious Asian sauce that is to follow.
#3 - Making and Adding the Sauce
While the vegetables are sautéing it's time to make this luscious super-sauce that will take the chicken and vegetables to new heights. Without it, this chicken lettuce wrap recipe would be bland and savorless. But! Oh! My! When you pour in this secret sauce, the chicken filling just got bumped to first class.
Basically, a sauce doesn't get any better or easier than this. Hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and cornstarch, are all whisked together in one small bowl.
Then the magic happens by pouring and stirring this sauce into the chicken mixture and cooking until it thickens to your desired liking.
#4 - Spooning the Chicken Filling into the Lettuce Cups
All that remains is filling the edible green cups and adding the garnishment. Well, actually the final step is stuffing it into your mouth!
This recipe makes 12 good-sized lettuce wraps depending on how full you make them.
What Type of Lettuce Works Best?
Lettuce comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. Round leaves are best for lettuce wraps. You want to choose a green that is deep enough to hold the chicken and strong enough not to wilt when you add the warm heavy filling.
Romaine, Iceberg, and Baby Gem are good options but I prefer the Butter Lettuce (also known as Bibb or Boston) leaves for these reasons. 1) the leaves are rounded and expansive therefore able to hold a lot of filling and 2) the leaves are strong but malleable, bending easily around the filling. When eating, I use two leaves just for added support.
Can the Chicken Filling Be Made Ahead of Time?
Definitely! Who doesn't love a make-ahead recipe? The convenience of being able to pull something from the fridge and have it ready in minutes before rushing out the door is worth its weight in gold. The filling can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. When ready to eat, pull it out, heat it up either in the microwave or on low heat over the stove then pile it on the lettuce leaves.
Can you Freeze the Chicken Filling?
Absolutely! You can make a double batch and freeze it by packaging the filling into quart-size freezer bags to pull out when serving a family meal. You can also freeze individual servings that will provide a hungry student an after-school treat or send in a lunchbox along with some lettuce leaves. The filling will last in the freezer for 3 months in airtight freezer containers.
To reheat, pull it out and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Reheat in the microwave or over low heat on the stove. To serve directly from the freezer, slowly defrost in the microwave then heat it to the right temperature. Serve with fresh lettuce leaves.
What Garnishment can you add?
I chose chopped scallions, shredded carrots (because they add such beautiful color), and chopped raw peanuts (because they add a nice crunch).
What are the Best Ways to Serve this Chicken Lettuce Wrap Recipe?
1 - Our family has always loved a Sunday night taco bar, so in lieu of that, another great idea is building your own lettuce wrap bar. Lay all the ingredients out on an island or a countertop along with the garnishments and let everyone fill their own lettuce cups.
2 - Another way is to fill a platter of the lettuce wraps, add the garnishments and pass it around the table for everyone to enjoy.
3 - These lettuce wraps can serve as appetizers to any Asian dish you are planning for dinner or they're great for parties. I will confess though, they are a tiny bit messy if trying to walk around with them.
Are you looking for more Asian Inspired recipe ideas?
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Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe
This Chicken Lettuce Wrap Recipe brings together a quick, easy, and lite weeknight dinner or appetizers for any party you want to throw. They have an authentic Asian flair and are both delicious and healthy.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 12 Lettuce Wraps 1x
- Category: Appetizers
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: Asian
- 2 tablespoons Sesame Oil (divided)
- 1 pound Ground Chicken
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 large Sweet Onion, chopped
- 5-ounce package Shiitake Mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped
- 4-5 stalks Celery, finely chopped
- 8 ounce can Water Chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Fresh Ginger, finely grated
- 6 large Garlic Cloves, minced
- ¼ cup of Scallions
- ⅓ cup Hoisin Sauce (I prefer Lee Kum Kee)
- 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- ¼-½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
- 1 head Butter Lettuce, leaves separated
- Garnish with Shredded Carrots, Chives and Chopped Peanuts (optional)
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of Toasted Sesame Oil.
- Add 1 pound of ground chicken and cook until it is no longer pink.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and drain any liquid.
- In the same skillet add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and heat to almost smoking.
- Add 1 chopped large sweet onion, 5 ounces finely chopped shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), 4-5 finely chopped stalks of celery, and 8 ounce can of water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped.
- Sauté the vegetables until tender about 8 minutes.
- Add six minced garlic cloves and 2 teaspoons of finely grated ginger. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the chicken back into the skillet.
- While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together ¼ cup of hoisin sauce, 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce, ¼-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.
- Slowly stir in the sauce with the chicken mixture and cook until it thickens to your desired liking.
- To serve, spoon the chicken into the separated cups of butter lettuce and garnish with shredded carrots, chives, and chopped peanuts.
- You can use olive oil or avocado oil instead of sesame if you prefer but I like the additional hint of an Asian taste. Don't use toasted sesame oil as it does not perform well to fry and the toasted flavor is a little overbearing. Sesame oil is worth stocking your pantry with it and if stored in a dry cool place it has a long shelf life.
- You can use any type of mushroom but one of the most popular in Asian dishes and the one I choose to use here is shitake.
- It can be a little difficult to find fresh ones in your grocery store. If that's the case, you can use dried shitake mushrooms and rehydrate them. Although the dried ones tend to have a stronger aroma and flavor than fresh ones.
- How to rehydrated dried shitake mushrooms - thoroughly rinse with cold water and let them soak in cold water for 15-20 minutes.
- Romaine, Iceberg, and Baby Gem are good options but I prefer the Butter Lettuce (also known as Bibb or Boston).
- Butter lettuce leaves are rounded and expansive therefore able to hold a lot of filling and are also strong but malleable, bending easily around the filling. When eating, I use two leaves just for I added support.
- The filling can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. When ready to eat, pull it out, heat it up either in the microwave or on low heat over the stove.
- You can make a double batch and freeze it by packaging the filling into quart-size freezer bags to pull out when serving a family meal. You can also freeze individual servings that will provide a hungry student an after school treat or send in a lunchbox along with some lettuce leaves. The filling will last in the freezer for 3 months in an airtight freezer container.
- Serving Size: 2 Lettuce Wraps
- Calories: 222
- Sugar: 8 g
- Sodium: 627 mg
- Fat: 13 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 4 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 15 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 15g
- Cholesterol: 57 mg
Keywords: chicken lettuce wraps, lettuce wraps, lettuce wraps recipe, asian lettuce wraps