Lettuce wraps might sound like a dull meal, but they’re quite the opposite. Think of lettuce leaves as flavor carriers; they’re just the vessel for the most vibrant and delicious fillings. Add to that the freshness in the lettuce leaves, and they’re lovely crunch, and you’ve got yourself a fabulous heavy lunch or light dinner.
So, what to fill the lettuce leaves with? That’s up to you. There’s nothing you can’t serve inside a lettuce leaf, from shrimp to barbecued pork to crab meat. The sky’s the limit!
Today, though, we’re sticking with a traditional spicy beef filling with a twist. You might think there are not too many ways of cooking minced meat, but you’ll soon see our filling is not only delicious but also colorful!
Try these fantastic beef lettuce wraps and let us know what you think. We’re sure you’ll soon add these to your meal rotation. They’re that good!
The Ingredient Rundown
For this recipe, we’re using good-old, ground beef. As it’s the main ingredient, make sure it’s of the nicest quality, and adjust the fat to lean meat ratio to your dietary needs. Your best bet is visiting your local butcher and have the folks there ground the meat just for you — that way, it’s always fresh.
We’re flavoring the meat filling with onion and garlic, you can’t go wrong with these, and you can also add some ginger for an Asian feel.
Let’s add some color and a crunchy bite with bell peppers. Nicely diced, these are juicy and very flavorful when roasted. You can use red, green and yellow bell peppers for added impact. In the recipe below, I use only red and green. We’re adding another type of peppers, though spicy ones! One good green hot pepper, finely diced, will do the trick.
Did you know bell peppers of all colors are the exact same veggie? They’re just at distinct ripening stages. Red and yellow bell peppers are sweeter than green ones, but they show their best when combined.
As for the seasoning, there’s nothing better than Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. When the beef is good, you need not do much to it.
The cherry on top is serving the lettuce wraps with lime wedges. A slight acidity really livens the meat and veggie flavors, making these lettuce wraps irresistible.
How Many Lettuce Wraps Can You Make?
The recipe below makes around 16-20 ounces of filling, which is more than enough to pack around eight lettuce leaves. Of course, it all depends on the size of the leaves.
I have used the recipe below to feed my hungry family of four with ease, and everyone has doubles. As a general rule, the recommended intake for minced beef is 3-4 ounces per person.
Keep in mind the veggies add some volume to the dish, so you’ll probably be all right with the amounts in the recipe below.
Can You Store Chili Lettuce Wraps?
In case you end up with leftovers, there are some things to consider before storing them for future enjoyment.
Lettuce wraps with filling and all hard to store, the filling relaxes the lettuce leaves over time, and they get soggy. Store the meat in a BPA-free plastic container with a lid in the back of the fridge for up to five days. To store leftover leaves, place a paper towel or napkin inside a Zip-lock bag together with the leaves; they might still be okay after 2-3 days. Make sure you wait until it cools down to room temperature before storing it in the fridge or freezer. It’s that easy.
It comes without saying the minced meat filling is incredibly stable once cooked. You can cook it beforehand and even freeze it for a few months. When the day comes to serve the lettuce wraps, buy fresh lettuce and reheat the minced beef filling.
Substitutions and Variations
For lettuce wraps, there’s lots of room for substitutions and recipe variations.
- Use minced pork instead of beef or a mixture of the two.
- Use sautéed mushrooms instead of bell peppers. Any other veggie will work nicely as well.
- Use soy sauce instead of the Worcestershire sauce for Asian-inspired wraps.
- Substitute the meat altogether for a seasoned grilled veggie mixture for all-out vegetarian lettuce wraps.
- Toss the minced meat mixture with shredded cheese for cheesy lettuce wraps that kind of taste like burger bites.
- Use grapevine leaves instead of lettuce for a take on the classic Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dolmas.
- Instead of individual lettuce wraps, toss everything together in a bowl and serve it table-center for a meaty warm salad.
As you see, it’s all about thinking outside the box. Every new recipe learned can become a wide variety of exciting dishes to add to your repertoire.
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 green hot pepper
- 14 ounces of minced beef
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 lettuce leaves
- Olive oil as needed
- Lime wedges as garnish
- Mince the garlic, onion and hot pepper. Dice the bell peppers removing the seeds. Reserve.
- Wash and disinfect the lettuce leaves. Pat them dry and store them in a cool place until ready to use.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add two tablespoons of canola oil. Once hot, add the onion, hot pepper and garlic until the garlic is golden and the onion translucent.
- Add the green and red bell peppers and roast while stirring occasionally.
- Incorporate the minced beef and mix everything together. Let the meat brown.
- Season the mixture with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
- Turn off the heat and allow the minced beef mixture to cool down a little.
- Spoon the mixture to fill the lettuce leaves generously but not over-filled.
- Tuck the filled lettuce wraps tightly on a platter. Drizzle them with olive oil and serve them with a side of lime wedges.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 407Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 253mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 28g