Kalyn's Kitchen

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey

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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    147 Comments on “Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey”

  1. I’m not going to publish comments criticizing me for using splenda. (Especially when I didn’t even include it in the recipe, good grief.) First and foremost, I believe people have the right to make their own food choices. I personally believe white sugar is harmful and use Splenda only rarely and in small amounts. Obviously I think it’s safe or I wouldn’t be using it, and I don’t need people telling me it’s “not healthy” whatever that means. If you have different feelings about it, obviously you shouldn’t use it, but let’s let everyone decide for themselves.

    • Wow can't believe someone would give you a hard time. I know how it is, though. I run a coupon blog. Some people just like to complain no matter what. I change up your recipes to my families needs all the time. Sometimes we don't have all the ingredients and with 2 kids I won't run to the store so I substitute 🙂

    • Stephanie, it's endless. I believe everyone should eat what they want and let others do the same.

  2. Abby, good luck with SB, and this is a great choice.

    Lydia, I thought of you when I made this because I know how you like ground turkey.

    Julie, agree, it’s all about the filling.

    Italian Dish, thanks!

  3. Love these. They are such a great low carb dish.

  4. Those look FAB! You stuff your wraps about as eagerly as I do! The lettuce is just the vehicle for the meat, right?

  5. This is absolutely my kind of dish (except for the cilantro, which I’d reduce, and I’d up the chili paste, because I love it spicy). I think this would work with tofu, too.

  6. Yeah Kalyn! My husband has signed on to SB with me as we prep for spring. He is Cambodian and just suggested lettuce wraps. We’ll try these this weekend. Thank you!

  7. I’m very excited that people are appreciating this recipe, because I loved it! Hope you guys will try it!

  8. I love the crunch that nuts give anything. I will try this. Thank you!

  9. mmm… love lettuce wraps. i use mince beef or lamb. never use turkey. this sounds yummmmmm!!!

  10. Yum, I’ve been looking for something to make with ground turkey for this weekend and I think this fits the bill!

  11. I think the only thing missing out of this recipe is water chesnuts! Otherwise, it looks yummy!

  12. OOH these look good. Have always wanted to make them. Thanks for the recipe.

  13. Yeah! I’ve been looking for a lettuce wrap recipe and your recipes never disappoint! Thanks!

  14. All I can say is WOW . . . love the seasoning and the variation opportunities like substituting some lentils or black beans for some of the turkey – oh lordy I’m never able to leave perfection alone.

    Ilva off stream . . . now that’s funny and so off the mark.

  15. Ah, I have always wanted to make these at home! Thanks for the recipe.

  16. This looks delicious! I’ll be sure to try it soon, as hubby and I are on a healthy food kick after he got yelled at my his doctor a couple of weeks ago… 😀

  17. The last lettuce wrap recipe I made was bland. This looks like it will have some kick to it. Hope the braces don’t have to stay on too long!

  18. These look amazing!! They are going on my menu next week!

  19. I am so off stream that I haven’t even thought about using lettuce leaves as wraps, what an excellent idea and I love this filling too! thanks Kalyn!

  20. Oh man, Kalyn. You totally read my mind. I came here thinking “I wonder if Kalyn has a good recipe for lettuce wraps” and there it was, just posted this morning!! Thank you so much, I look forward to trying it out.