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Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling (Video)

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling are a delicious low-carb meal! This recipe is also dairy-free, and South Beach Diet phase one, and with the right ingredient choices it can be Keto, gluten-free, Paleo or Whole 30! Use the Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

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Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling!

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling found on KalynsKitchen.com

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 about 20 years ago; now lettuce wraps like these Asian Lettuce Cups (or wraps) with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling are somewhat mainstream, and made with lean ground turkey like this, they make a wonderfully low-carb and low-glycemic 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.

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling found on KalynsKitchen.com

Steps for Making Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling:

  1. Start with finely minced red onion (or shallots), garlic, and ginger, which are sauteed in oil before the meat is added.
  2. Then add ground turkey, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and a touch of fish sauce and saute until the meat is well done and infused with all the other flavors.
  3. While the ground turkey was cooking, I used the bowl attachment of my immersion blender to finely chop about half a bunch of fresh cilantro. If it was summer and I had herbs from my garden, I might have chopped some fresh mint to garnish the lettuce cups.
  4. Add the chopped cilantro to the cooked meat mixture and cook a few minutes more.
  5. Cut out the core from a head of Boston lettuce, butter lettuce, or even iceberg lettuce, wash the lettuce and spin dry, and you’re ready to eat!

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 Lettuce Wraps or Lettuce Cups:

The BEST Slow Cooker Lettuce Wraps with Beef, Chicken, Pork, or Turkey ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
Delicious Low-Carb and Keto Wraps with Lettuce, Collards, or Cabbage ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Lettuce-Wrapped Chicken from Rasa Malaysia
Ground Beef Gyro Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki and Tomatoes from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling have been added to a new 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 Filling

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling would make a delicious summertime meal!


  • 1 T peanut oil or vegetable oil (or slightly more, depending on the pan you have)
  • 3 T minced red onion or shallots
  • 2 T minced garlic (I used minced garlic from a jar but fresh garlic would be even better)
  • 2 T grated ginger root
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 4 T soy sauce (I used Tamari; use gluten-free soy sauce if needed. For Paleo use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.)
  • 1 T Chile Garlic Sauce (or slightly more if you like spicy foods; look for a version without sugar for Paleo)
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce (probably optional, although I like fish sauce!)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (about 1/2 large bunch)
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional, especially for braces wearers!)
  • 1 large head or 2 small heads Boston Lettuce or butter lettuce, or substitute 1 head iceberg lettuce


  1. Chop onion and set aside.
  2. Peel ginger root, then grate with the large side of a cheese grater.
  3. Then chop garlic if using fresh garlic.
  4. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
  5. Add onion and saute about 2 minutes.
  6. Then add garlic and ginger root and saute about one minute more.
  7. Add ground turkey to frying pan (with a bit more oil if needed) and break apart and spread out with turner.
  8. Then add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and fish sauce.
  9. Cook until the turkey is brown and crumbling apart, and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  10.  While turkey cooks, wash and chop fresh cilantro to make 1 cup.
  11.  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.)
  12.  Chop peanuts and put in small bowl to serve at the table.
  13.  When turkey is done, add chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  14.  Serve filling and lettuce leaves in separate bowls, with chopped peanuts in another small bowl.
  15.  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. I 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.


Recipe adapted from California Sol Food.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
With lean ground turkey and other low-carb ingredients, Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling are a perfect dinner option for any phase of the 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 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.

Nutritional Information?
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into this nutrition analyzer, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

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143 comments on “Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling (Video)”

  1. Sofia, so glad you enjoyed them! I love the idea of lemongrass as an addition.

  2. These were so delicious! I used to make Asian lettuce wraps a lot before going on SBD, but my old favorite recipe relied on a lot of hoisin sauce (way too high in sugar), so I hadn't made them in quite a while. This version is better than my old favorite! I love the addition of cilantro and fish sauce. The filling has a very complex, satisfying flavor.

    Next time, I think I might add a little bit of minced fresh lemongrass.

  3. This looks yummy! I am just wondering, when you write "T" on the recipe, do you mean tablespoon?

  4. Ahh, I see. Thanks so much!

  5. Diana you could leave out the cilantro, but I would not use sesame oil to cook the meat. (It's my understanding that sesame oil is used as a flavoring oil and not actually for cooking things in.) You can use any type of neutral flavored oil such as canola or grapeseed oil though if you don't have peanut oil.

  6. These look fab! What do you think of subbing sesame oil for the peanut/conola oil? Will it change the flavor? I also have to nix the cilantro too.

    Great Blog! Thanks!

  7. Figs, Bay, Wine, how fun, hope you enjoy!

  8. Oh WOW. As son as the shops open I'm heading out for some lettuce and ground turkey. I forgot all about these. They used to be one of my absolute favorite things to order in restaurants. Thank you Kalyn!!!

  9. Rachel, so glad you liked them, and good tip about the sesame oil!

  10. I just made these and my (non south beach) husband and I devoured them for lunch! I didn't have fish sauce so I used about a Tablespoon of Sesame Oil and it was still delicious. These wraps make phase one much easier. Thanks!

  11. Becki, that does sound good!

  12. This has become one of my family's favorite recipes. The other night we had a little of the filling left over, and I tossed it together with some leftover whole wheat spaghetti noodles for a sort of Phase 2 lo mein for lunch the next day. It was great!

  13. CJ, glad you liked it. Great idea to use water chestnuts!

  14. To die for… absolutely loved this recipe and have shared it with many… I substituted the peanuts for some water chestnuts and tasted great!

  15. Kitty, thanks! Glad you liked them.

  16. These are just great!! Made them in about 15 minutes as I had all the ingredients on hand and tried a sample before I serve for dinner tonight! I had to hold myself back from just having a "snack". Really great…keep up the great blog!

  17. I've had pork lettuce tacos cooked for me by a chinese friend, your recipe is darn close – thank you! They are cooking as I type! The only thing she had in hers as well was chopped bamboo shoots….

  18. Hi Kalyn! Thank you so much for this recipe. I have made it several times and I actually dream about it in between the times I get to enjoy it. I use the exact ingredients you suggested. I am not one to measure my ingredients, I just eyeball it and double the garlic. You are wonderful and I can't wait to try more of your recipes!! Mar*

  19. I would just make the recipe without the cilantro, unless there's another herb you're especially fond of that goes well with Asian flavors.

  20. Kalyn – These look great!! I'm going to try them tonight! I however, hate cilantro 🙁 Since you use so much of it here, I am wondering if you think there is a good substitute for it in this recipe? I think I'll also add some finely chopped mushrooms, water chesnuts, and bamboo shoots! Thanks!!

  21. I've been making a version of these for years. It's great to know that they're SB. My version comes from a restaurant in Manhattan called Ruby Foo. I add lots of veggies to bulk it up and sometimes just mix it with spaghetti squash or stir fried Shiratachi noodles. I just found out about this site from a friend on another cooking site. I'm so glad she told me about you. Joyce

  22. MelRae, you're welcome! Always love to get comments like that.

  23. Yesterday was the first day of Phase 1 for my husband and me, and I made these wraps! They "rocked our faces off"! lol! No really, our mouths were burning in a good way! We could not believe that this was "diet food". We agreed that we could eat these every 3 or 4 days on Phase 1. My husband has requested that we try ground chicken and ground beef (I know, extra lean!). We both were down at least a pound this morning. Thank you, Kalyn for this great blog!

  24. Great idea to use water chestnuts. Glad it was a hit.

  25. We couldn't use nuts in these because of my daughter's peanut and tree nut allergy. I really wanted something to add crunch, and fortunately I had some water chestnuts on hand–they worked great! My ten year old son asked me twice to make these again–a definite hit!

  26. Kirsten, that chili garlic sauce is pretty darn good! Glad to hear you liked it.

  27. My husband and I ate these for dinner tonight and they were delicious. He was so excited about it…or perhaps it is the garlic chili sauce. How cares. The recipe was a hit. I'm so glad to have found your blog. We are on our second week and eating better than ever. Thanks!!!

  28. Linda, so glad you liked it! This is one of my own favorites too.

  29. YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY!!! I love this and hubs did not even add additional heat. Thanks for a great recipe. I am so glad I found your blog. I have shared it with my mom who is also a SBDer! BTW, I have the red lentil stew on the stove as I type away. That will be lunch for a few days this week or next.

  30. Tried this tonight and OMG it is awesome. I used green onions, low sodium soy sauce and increased the heat. Absolutely delicious and perfect to start our diet with. My husband wants it on a weekly rotation he loved it so much. Thanks!

  31. Good luck on the diet, glad to hear you're enjoying the blog. I think you'll find there are lots of great things you can still enjoy!

  32. Hi Kalyn,
    I started the SBD 5 days ago. Diets have always scared me because i love food so much but as i researched for ideas on what to eat your blog came up in google. I am soooo thankful to have stumbled upon it because now i know i can be a foodie, enjoy my food and try this diet out. I love all your recipes and suggestions they really have made the start of my diet less "painful" and in fact quite enjoyable.
    Thanks for sharing these delicious recipes! The printer-friendly reciepes are also great!

    I'll be back!

  33. Sara, so glad to hear you like them! One of my own favorites too.

  34. I make this every week. Hard to quit eating them!

  35. Laura, thanks for that nice feedback, and thanks for the kid-friendly variation too!

  36. I love your recipes, and this is one of our favorite! I add some diced red bell pepper and diced water chestnuts. For my kids I just spoon it over brown rice and they love it. Thanks for continuing to share all of your great recipes, photos and other good stuff!

  37. Anonymous, if I wanted to do it ahead, I'd prep the lettuce and store in plastic bags, chop nuts and save, and then cook the turkey but don't add the cilantro. The day of the party I'd reheat the turkey filling and add the chopped cilantro. Hope that will work for you!

  38. Is it possible to make this the night before a party? I really like this recipe but I won't have a lot of time before the party….

  39. Jessica, LOVE the idea of adding cabbage to this. Just brilliant. I haven't ever thought about fresh water chestnuts, but I'll definitely try it if I run across them. And thanks so much for the very nice feedback.

  40. Kalyn, Thanks for another extremely flavorful dish. I made these for dinner last night and they were a HUGE hit. I actually shredded some red cabbage into the mix, because, I, too, am "going steady" with cruciferous vegetables right now.

    Oh! And I wanted to mention something to you…I was not a fan of water chestnuts (the texture – yick!) until my husband and I found some (whole, fresh) in our local Asian market's produce section. We took them home, peeled them, and popped them into a stir fry and they were unlike any canned water chestnut I've ever tasted. They've become one of my favorite fresh foods, never to be eaten from a can again.

    Best wishes and thank you for providing healthy DELICIOUS recipes. I never knew that I could get this much flavor out of my own kitchen – and on a diet, to boot!

  41. These are sooo good. I packed them in my lunch today.

  42. Kim, so glad you liked the recipe! I need to make these again myself.

  43. I made these tonight for a Tasting Dinner (many different foods on the menu) I served these first and out of the the 4 main dishes, these were liked best – I will definitely make them again!


  44. Lisa, I love the idea of using jicama! (I hate water chestnuts too; for me it’s a texture thing. They just seem too squeaky!)

  45. We tried this a few weeks ago and it is outstanding! I had to make a substitution because my partner does not like ginger (or water chestnuts, which are also often in these kinds of dishes), so I added diced jicama along with the cilantro. I don’t even think of these as “healthy” or “diet food,” they’re just really good — and I’d serve them to company.

  46. Deb and January, so glad you liked the recipe. I loved it too. (Carrots sound good. Sorry though, no water chestnuts for me. No idea why not but I’ve never liked them even though I love crunchy foods in general.)

  47. My husband and I loved this recipe! I used 1 lb. turkey and added diced water chestnuts for added crunch. I think water chestnuts are ok for Phase 1 according to the list of “Foods to Enjoy”. Thanks for such awesome recipes and ideas!

  48. Hi. Made the lettuce wraps tonight. Delicious! Easy! Added some (commercially shredded) carrots for color (nor for Phase 1, obviously). Concocted a dipping sauce from things I found in my fridge, plus some tamari and fish sauce. Will make these again. Thanks for the recipe.

  49. Lin, great to know it was still good with dried cilantro! Thanks for letting me know you liked it.

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