If you love Asian-inspired food as much as United Kingdom-based recipe creator and blogger Susan Olayinka, who shares content to help you get great food to your table ASAP at The Flexible Fridge, this easy lettuce wrap recipe is sure to spice up your weekly menu. We love how simple cleanup is given the one-pan preparation. And according to Olayinka, her lettuce wraps are a "great way to use up ground beef and any leftover vegetables." She also told Mashed about her recipe, "It a great mid-week meal that can be made quickly."
So let’s recap — this meal offers something a little different, won’t leave you with a huge mess in the kitchen, and keeps your unused groceries from going to waste. Plus, it’s super easy to throw together and tastes both filling and fresh at the same time. This lettuce wrap recipe sure sounds like a winner to us!
Grab your ingredients to make the lettuce wraps
This recipe may require a quick trip the store, as you will need just a few speciality ingredients to get it going. But remember, the payoff is that you can serve something you aren’t totally tired of at the end of your efforts! Your shopping list includes lettuce, ground beef, garlic — fresh or jarred is fine — plus ginger, soy sauce, mirin, scallions, kecap manis — which Olayinka explains is simply sweet soy sauce — as well as a carrot, a pepper, sesame oil, salt, and finally, pepper.
Not familiar with what mirin is? Olayinka explains, "Mirin is a condiment used in Japanese cuisine." She told us about the flavor, "It’s a sweet rice wine and is very similar to sake, but it’s higher in sugar and lower in alcohol content." Still not sure how mirin may enhance your lettuce wraps? Olayinka also added, "It tastes like a sweet vinegar."
Brown your ground beef for the lettuce wrap filling
To kick things off with this lettuce wrap recipe, you will first brown the ground beef in the sesame oil in a skillet placed on your stove at medium heat. The browning process takes seven to ten minutes according to Olayinka, so in the meantime, you can prep your veggies. Mince up your garlic if it is not already pre-minced, and dice up that carrot and pepper. Olayinka recommends a "matchstick chop" here, so in other words, you’ll create "thin vertical lines" with the vegetables, which will look so colorful and pretty when combined with the ground beef.
Meanwhile, we also asked Olayinka to suggest a substitute for ground beef for those who prefer a non-meat option. "There are many brands that do vegan meat alternatives that can be used in substitution," she told Mashed. Try Beyond Meat, or a soy-based product, or tofu if that is your cup of tea.
Add your veggies to the skillet for your lettuce wraps
Once your ground beef or chosen alternative is nice and browned, you will add in the salt, pepper, minced garlic, and your chopped ginger. At this point, go ahead and cook the mixture for 3 more minutes. Note that delicious smell! Our mouths are watering, too.
Now, the one-pan magic comes into play, as you will simply stir in your matchstick pepper and carrot, along with the soy sauce and that sweet soy sauce-like kecap manis and the mirin. Cook the ground beef and veggie combo for five more minutes before removing the lettuce wrap filling from the heat.
Believe it or not, this delicious, vibrant-looking, flavorful, and fun meal is about ready to be served! All that is left is sprinkle on the scallions — though you can cook the white parts with the other veggies if you want — and then pull apart a few pre-washed lettuce leaves. Yum!
Assemble your lettuce wraps
Your final step before enjoying your Asian-inspired mid-week meal is to assemble them. Olayinka recommends laying out your lettuce leaves and spooning your meat mixture into each lettuce leaf. At this stage, you can top your creation with more scallions and season to taste. Craving some spice? Keep a bottle of sriracha nearby!
Finally, note that while this recipe serves three to four people, we will not blame you for inhaling two (or more) wraps. Ultimately, this recipe makes a fun appetizer for a small group or a satisfying meal for two. If you are serving a larger crowd, you can easily double or triple the recipe. Allow guests to create their own lettuce wraps or pre-assemble them for a visually appealing display. Don’t forget to keep soy sauce for dipping on hand.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ tablespoon chopped ginger
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon mirin
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
- 1 chopped carrot
- 1 chopped pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- Brown the ground beef in the sesame oil on medium heat. This will take 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 3 additional minutes.
- Add carrots, peppers, soy sauce, kecap manis, and mirin, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat, and spoon the minced mixture into the lettuce leaves. Top with scallions.