Kalyn's Kitchen

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey (Video)

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey  are a delicious low-carb and gluten-free dinner idea that’s also fun to eat!

PIN the recipe to try it later!

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey finished lettuce cups with peanuts

I vividly remember when I first had lettuce wraps, at a Chinese restaurant in Salt Lake where a friend named Mike was hip enough to order them even though they weren’t on the menu. This was years ago; now lettuce wraps like these Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey are somewhat mainstream, and made with lean ground turkey like this, they make a wonderful low-carb, gluten-free, and dairy-free dinner option. And you can easily adapt them to use ground beef for Keto or use gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos for gluten-free or Paleo.

This dish with spicy meat eaten inside pieces of lettuce can be called lettuce wraps or lettuce cups, but I like to pile up the lettuce cup with lots of filling rather than wrapping it, so I’m calling them lettuce cups.

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

What is Fish Sauce?

Just like the name says, Fish Sauce is an Asian condiment made from fermented fish. If you’re not familiar with this, don’t be put off by the smell because it adds amazing umami flavor to Asian dishes. I’m a fan of Red Boat Fish Sauce (affiliate link) which is gluten-free and doesn’t have added ingredients.

What kind of lettuce should you use?

I like to use Boston Lettuce or Butter lettuce for this recipe, but you can also use Iceberg Lettuce or Green Leaf lettuce if you can’t find the other kinds of lettuce or don’t want to spend quite so much.. 

Asian Lettuce Cups process shots collage

Steps for making the lettuce cups:

(Scroll down for complete recipe, including nutritional information.)

  1. Chop red onion. Measure out minced garlic and minced ginger.  
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, Chile Garlic Sauce, and fish sauce.
  3. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan; add onion and cook about 2 minutes.
  4. Then add garlic and ginger root and cook about one minute more.
  5. Add ground turkey to frying pan and break apart with turner. Add the sauce mixture to the ground turkey.
  6. Cook until turkey is brown and crumbly, and the sauce is absorbed into the meat, about 5 minutes.
  7. While turkey cooks, wash and chop cilantro. Chop peanuts and put in small bowl.
  8. When turkey is done, add chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  9. Remove the core end from lettuce, separate leaves, and wash in salad spinner and spin dry.
  10. Serve filling and lettuce leaves in separate bowls, with chopped peanuts in another small bowl.
  11. Each person takes a lettuce leaf, fills with turkey mixture, adds chopped peanuts, and then eats the mixture from the lettuce cup.

close-up photo of Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey, finished lettuce cups with peanuts

Make it a Low-Carb Meal:

You could make a meal out of these lettuce wraps, but if you want a heartier dinner, Chinese Cucumber Salad would be a good side dish for a low-carb meal.

More Tasty Lettuce Wraps:

The BEST Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Lettuce Wraps ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
Low-Carb Lettuce Wraps Round-Up ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
The BEST Instant Pot Lettuce Wraps ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

Weekend Food Prep:

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey have been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey finished lettuce cups with peanuts

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey

Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey would make a delicious and fun-to-eat meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 T peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 T minced red onion or shallots
  • 2 T minced garlic (I used minced garlic from a jar but fresh garlic would be great)
  • 2 T grated ginger root or minced ginger from a jar
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 4 T soy sauce (see notes)
  • 1 T Chile Garlic Sauce (or slightly more if you like spicy foods)
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce 
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional, but good)
  • 1 large head or 2 small heads lettuce (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Chop red onion. Measure out minced garlic and minced ginger. (You can also make this with fresh minced garlic and minced ginger root if you prefer.) 
  2. Whisk together soy sauce or Gluten-Free Soy Sauce, Chile Garlic Sauce (affiliate link), and fish sauce.
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add onion and cook about 2 minutes.
  4. Then add garlic and ginger root and cook about one minute more.
  5. Add ground turkey to frying pan (with a bit more oil if needed) and break apart and spread out with turner. Add the sauce mixture to the ground turkey.
  6. Cook until the turkey is brown and crumbling apart, and the sauce is absorbed into the meat, about 5 minutes.
  7. While turkey cooks, wash and chop fresh cilantro to make 1 cup.  Chop peanuts and put in small bowl to serve at the table.
  8. When turkey is done, add chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  9. Remove the core end from lettuce, separate leaves, and wash in salad spinner and spin dry (or wash under running water and dry with paper towels.)
  10. Serve filling and lettuce leaves in separate bowls, with chopped peanuts in another small bowl.
  11. Each person takes a lettuce leaf, fills with desired amount of turkey mixture, adds chopped peanuts, and then eats the mixture from the lettuce cup.
  12. I like to fold the lettuce cup over when I eat it, so it’s kind of taco-shaped, but some people like to wrap the lettuce clear around the filling.

Notes

Use Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (affiliate link) if needed. If you're not a cilantro fan, I'd use thinly sliced green onion. I like Boston Lettuce or Butter lettuce for this recipe, but you can also substitute Iceberg Lettuce if you prefer that.

Recipe adapted from California Sol Food.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 337Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4.4gUnsaturated Fat: 13.3gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 850mgCarbohydrates: 6.7gFiber: 1.6gSugar: 2gProtein: 34g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey thumbnail photo of assembled lettuce cups

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
With lean ground turkey and other low-carb ingredients, these Asian Lettuce Cups are a perfect dinner option for any phase of the original South Beach Diet or other low-carb eating plans. If you use gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce this can easily be suitable for gluten-free or Paleo/Whole 30 eaters. For Keto, you might want to use higher-fat ground beef, which will still be delicious in this recipe.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Lettuce Wraps to see more recipes like this one! Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2009, and it became an instant hit on the blog. It was updated with better photos in 2021.

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Pinterest image

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    149 Comments on “Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey (Video)”

  1. Hello, this looks delicious. A bit of a thick question but in the ingredients list, does 2T and 3T (capital T) mean tablespoon? Thank you

  2. Love this recipe!! We make it often. Thanks!!

  3. I have a question. This looks absolutely delicious and I would love to make it. However I am on a low calorie, low fat and low carb diet. How can I make this so it’s lower fat than what it currently is what? What can I substitute?  Thank you! 

    • The peanuts add a lot of fat, and be sure to use lean ground turkey. And I couldn’t imagine the recipe really had that much fat, so I ran it through the nutrition calculator again, and it is a bit lower. I’m updating that info now.

  4. This is one of our favorite family recipes. We usually eat the turkey in cabbage leaves and it is so delicious. I love all of your recipes. Thank you Kalyn!

    • I’m such a cabbage fan; love the idea of eating this in cabbage leaves! So glad you’re enjoying the recipes; thanks for taking time to tell me!

  5. Pingback: Sriracha Shrimp and Hummus Lettuce Wraps - Aggie's Kitchen

  6. I must have done something wrong. These were really salty and I couldn’t eat them. ?

    • I’ve probably made them close to 50 times, always delicious. Maybe you put soy sauce in twice, that would make it salty. But I know the recipe is good the way it’s written.

  7. Is this a Phase 1 or Phase 2 South Beach recipe? Thanks!!!

    • If you look immediately after the recipe where it says "South Beach Diet Suggestions" every recipe on my site will tell which phases I think it's suitable for. When it works for any phase (like this one) I put all phases.

  8. I made these last night after finding your recipe on Pinterest. I had to come back on here and let you know how amazing these were. Our whole family loved them. FANTASTIC RECIPE!!

  9. This recipes was AMAZING! We couldn't find the Chile Garlic Sauce, so we used Chile Paste and it was out of this world!

  10. I made this recipe this evening (Day 7 of Phase One and desperately in need of some new flavors). WOW! This is incredible whether you are doing SB or not. I will be adding this to our rotation and would double the recipe next time to have more leftovers. Easy lunch or would eat it again later in the week. THank you so much for this website, Kalyn! Phase One would have been so much harder without all of your AWESOME recipes!!!

  11. Taylor, love the idea of eating this in collard greens!

  12. This was soooo good. I ended up using collard greens because the closest grocery store didn't have butter lettuce, and I really didn't want to use iceberg (boring). The collards were very strong and held the filling really well, and didn't provide a too-bitter taste. I did put too much soy sauce in, so be careful of that. Otherwise, I will definitely make this again!

  13. Rose, so glad you have enjoyed the recipe!

  14. Absolutely love your recipe, I don't need the lettuce cups at PF Changs anymore, I prefer these. They are a huge hit every where I go.

  15. Jill, so glad you enjoyed it!

  16. I finally made this recipe last night and it's a definite keeper! My husband loved it. It was a fun sharing meal too, which I always love. Finger foods and family style serving. Thank you Kalyn for all of your creative ideas!

  17. I love that 4 years later people are still raving over this recipe! I'm shopping for the ingredients tonight to make these tomorrow for dinner! I can't wait! My mouth is already salivating! lol

  18. I don't think chili powder will be a very good substitute. Chili Garlic sauce is a hot vinegary sauce, so maybe regular hot sauce or Sriracha would be good. I would add extra garlic if you substitute the sauce.