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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

  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. Yes, T = Tablespoon.

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

  5. Ahh, I see. Thanks so much!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

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

  9. 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!!!

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

  11. 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!

  12. Becki, that does sound good!

  13. 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!

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

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

  16. Kitty, thanks! Glad you liked them.

  17. 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!

  18. 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….

  19. 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*

  20. 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.