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Thai Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps Recipe

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Thai ground beef lettuce wraps recipe is your go-to for a quick and healthy snack. Lean ground beef tossed with a hint of chili and full of those classic sweet, sour, and spicy Thai flavors – all wrapped up in fresh, crunchy lettuce. It’s an easy homemade dish that’s perfect as a light appetizer or main with sticky rice.

Overhead view of Thai ground beef lettuce wraps with red chili, garlic, and dried chilies on the side.

This list of Thai recipes is just as simple to whip up and can be a fantastic filling for these easy lettuce wraps!

Thai ground beef lettuce wraps

Lettuce wraps with ground beef tossed in a tasty dressing of fish sauce, tangy lime juice, nutty toasted rice powder, spicy Thai chili flakes, and sugar. This is the kind of simple appetizer that fills my tummy with joy.

Close-up of seasoned ground beef tossed with Thai dressing and spices.
Seasoned ground beef tossed with Thai dressing and spices, the perfect filling for healthy lettuce wraps.

They’re meaty, slightly salty, a touch of sweet, with a zing of sour and a kick of spice. Totally the Thai flavors you crave in a wrap!

They are so easy to make and make the perfect starter to get your party going or simply serve them up for a fancy, light dinner.

Each wrap can be customized and dipped into your favorite dipping sauce – peanut sauce, sweet chili sauce, you name it.

Hand holding a Thai chili beef lettuce wrap with fresh green herbs.

Guilt-free, insanely delicious, and total comfort food!

Why try this ground beef appetizer recipe

  • Healthy ground beef lettuce wraps: Made with high-protein beef, fresh vegetables, and fresh herbs, these treats are as healthy as they are delicious.
  • Introduction to Thai cuisine: If you or your guests are new to Thai food, this meaty snack is a tasty introduction to the flavors and typical ingredients of Isan cuisine.
  • Authentic Thai flavors: These crispy wraps are full of lean ground beef tossed in a Thai dressing of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty all at once.
  • Quick and easy: You can whip up this appetizer in no time, it’s perfect for your busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings. All those delicious flavors are ready in less than 20 minutes!
Thai ground beef lettuce wraps with chili arranged on a bed of lettuce.

Best lettuce for wraps

The ideal lettuce for lettuce wraps is sturdy enough to hold all the filling without falling apart.

  • Romaine hearts
  • Cabbage leaves
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Butter lettuce
  • Bibb lettuce

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Top-view of ingredients for lettuce wraps: Lettuce, water, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chili flakes, toasted rice powder, shallots, fresh herbs, and ground beef.
  • Ground beef – Ground beef is lean, juicy, and soaks up all that delicious dressing with ease. Using lean ground beef keeps these lettuce wraps on the healthier side, packed with protein and nutrition. Try mincing your own steak for the best flavor.
  • Coriander or culantro – Choose your favorite herb, or use both, to add a fresh flavor and color. Feel free customize.
  • Green onions – Green onions add a mild onion flavor that complements the beef, and they bring a crunchy texture.
  • Shallots – A key ingredient in Thai larb salads – shallots add a sweet, subtly onion taste.
  • Lettuce – As mentioned earlier, you can use any type of lettuce that’s sturdy enough to hold the filling.
  • Toasted rice powder – Toasted rice powder is made from ground, toasted glutinous rice. It’s a staple in Thai cooking, giving our salads, dipping sauces, and more extra texture and a slightly nutty taste. You can get it at any Asian grocery store or make them yourself using my recipe for toasted rice powder.
  • Thai chili flakes – Customize the heat to your taste. If you’re having these with kids, you can simply omit the chilies. You can make them from scratch with my recipe for Thai chili flakes, or get them at an Asian supermarket.
  • White sugar – A bit of sugar is crucial for balancing out the spicy and savory flavors. Balancing the flavors is what Thai food is all about.
  • Fish sauce – Adds umami and a depth of savory that pulls all the flavors together.
  • Lime – Fresh lime juice adds a tangy flavor to the dressing and a zingy freshness to the recipe.
  • Water – For cooking the beef.

How to make Thai lettuce wraps

Cooked ground beef in a wok.

1. Cook ground beef: Cook ground beef with water in a skillet over medium heat. Make sure not to overcook.

Thai spiced ground beef in a clear bowl.

2. Toss with spices: Transfer the cooked beef to a mixing bowl and toss it with toasted rice powder, Thai chili flakes, lime juice, fish sauce, and white sugar.

Seasoned ground beef tossed with herbs and shallots, ready for lettuce wraps.

3. Mix in fresh herbs: Lastly, gently stir in green onions, coriander or culantro, and shallots.

4. Assemble lettuce wraps: Take a lettuce leaf and lay it flat on your plate or palm. Spoon a generous amount of the seasoned ground beef mixture into the center of the leaf. Serve immediately with your choice of dipping sauce on the side.

Kitchen tools

  • Large wok or skillet with spatula for cooking your ground beef.
  • Mixing bowl for tossing the beef with your dressing.
  • Granite mortar and pestle for grinding the spices.
  • Cutting board and sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups

Recipe tips and tricks

  • Keep the beef tender: Don’t overcook the ground beef, this can make it tough and dry. Cook it until it’s just done, this way it remains juicy and flavorful. If you’re mincing steak yourself, go for healthy and tender cuts like sirloin round or tenderloin.
  • Balance the flavors: Thai cuisine is all about balancing the flavors. Taste the dressing as you go and adjust the flavors if needed – more fish sauce for saltiness, lime juice for acidity, sugar for sweetness, and chili flakes for spice.
  • Cook from scratch: Make the toasted rice powder and chili flakes yourself for an authentic Thai touch.
  • Fresh ingredients: For the best flavors, use fresh ingredients like fresh lime juice and the freshest herbs you can find.
  • Prep in advance: This Thai ground beef lettuce wraps recipe is perfect to make ahead of time. You can cook the beef in advance and choose to toss it with the dressing early or when you’re ready to serve. Assemble the wraps when you’re about to serve.

How to serve

Lay out your crispy lettuce leaves and spoon a generous amount of the savory ground beef onto each leaf, garnish with freshly chopped herbs like coriander or green onions. Serve with steamed jasmine rice or Thai sticky rice, and fresh vegetables like yard long beans and Thai eggplants.

Alternatively, you can let your guests build their own wraps and provide various toppings and sauces for dipping:

How to store and reheat

You can store your leftover beef in an airtight container in your fridge for up to three days.

Reheating instructions: Simply warm the seasoned beef in a skillet over low-medium heat until warm.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use a different type of meat?

Yes! You can use any meat you want – chicken, pork, turkey, shrimp, etc.

Are these lettuce wraps gluten-free?

All ingredients are gluten-free, but some brands of fish sauce might contain gluten. Check your labeling for gluten-free.

How spicy are these?

They are medium spicy, but easy to adjust by using more or less Thai chili flakes.

Can I make these vegan?

To make vegan wraps, swap fish sauce for a vegan alternative and use tofu instead of beef.

More authentic Thai beef recipes you’ll love

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Thai Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps Recipe

Thai ground beef lettuce wraps on a bamboo mat garnished with red chili and herbs.
These Thai ground beef lettuce wraps are easy to make and even easier to customize! Adjust them to your taste and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Appetizer, Snack
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 8.8 ounces ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted rice powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes add to taste
  • 1.5 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1.5 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 0.35 ounces coriander or culantro
  • 0.35 ounces green onions finely chopped
  • 1 ounce shallots finely chopped
  • lettuce see notes

Instructions

  • Cook ground beef with water in a skillet over medium heat. Make sure not to overcook.
  • Transfer the cooked beef to a mixing bowl and toss it with toasted rice powder, Thai chili flakes, lime juice, fish sauce, and white sugar.
  • Lastly, gently stir in green onions, coriander or culantro, and shallots.
  • Take a lettuce leaf and lay it flat on your plate or palm. Spoon a generous amount of the seasoned ground beef mixture into the center of the leaf. Serve immediately with your choice of dipping sauce on the side.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Lettuce: You can use any type of lettuce that's sturdy enough to hold the filling.

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