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Kalyn's Kitchen

Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps

I love these Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps with spicy Thai Flavors! And these delicious Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps are low-carb, Keto, low-glycemic, gluten-free (with gluten-free fish sauce and soy sauce), and dairy-free. Use Lettuce Wraps to see more recipes like this one!

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Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps found on KalynsKitchen.com

It was pure serendipity that I discovered this recipe for ultra flavorful little turkey meatballs, served inside lettuce leaves with a spicy Thai-style sauce, some diced cucumber, and fresh mint. I didn’t have anything like Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps in mind when I thawed out a pound of ground turkey; I was actually thinking about using it in the Horseradish Meatloaf, before I changed my mind.

So there I was with a pound of turkey that needed to be used, and when I need recipe ideas in a hurry, I often stand in front of my wall of cookbooks and just flip through books, using the index to see what recipes I can find for that ingredient. I found the inspiration for Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps in The South Beach Diet Taste of Summer Cookbook, but this is a recipe I’d enjoy all year, maybe substituting cilantro for the mint when it’s out of season.

Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps found on KalynsKitchen.com

I use ground turkey that’s only 10% fat, but use ground beef or chicken if you prefer. Stir together the minced garlic, grated fresh ginger root, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce that you’ll be adding to the turkey. (I mixed this all together to be sure that flavors were well-blended.)

Add that mixture into the meat, then stir a few times to get the seasoning mixture distributed throughout the meat. (The meat mixture is really soft in this recipe, and if you have lots of time I would chill the turkey at this point before making the meatballs.) I used a metal 1 T measuring spoon to make small meatballs, which turned out to make exactly 24 small meatballs like the recipe said.

I heated a couple of teaspoons of peanut oil before I started frying the meatballs. Fry 12 meatballs at a time, or as many as you can fit without crowding them in the pan. As I said, the meatballs were really soft, and next time I might make little meat patties instead or even just brown the meat, but even though a few meatballs fell apart, they tasted fantastic.

Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps found on KalynsKitchen.com

One of the main changes I made to the recipe was to increase the amount of the spicy dressing made of fish sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and hot pepper flakes. I must have been feeling lazy, because I just stirred this together with the measuring spoon! (If you’re not that familiar with fish sauce, you might want to decrease it a bit. I love Thai food and used the Three Crabs Fish Sauce I got from my step-sister Karyn after I learned about it from Lydia. Another good brand is Red Boat Fish Sauce.)

While meatballs are frying, pull mint leaves off the stem, wash, and spin dry (or use chopped cilantro if you prefer) and cut the cucumber into matchstick pieces (or just chop the cucumber if you don’t want to be that fancy.) I arranged the cucumber, dressing, and mint on a plate so it was ready to garnish the lettuce wraps. I love butter lettuce which the recipe called for, but I had romaine hearts in the fridge, so I just used the sweet inner pieces of romaine to wrap the meatballs. Put 2 or 3 meatballs inside a lettuce leaf, spoon some dressing over, and garnish with chopped cucumber and mint leaves (or chopped cilantro.)

Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps found on KalynsKitchen.com

The Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps were seriously yummy, and a nice alternative to a salad!

Make it a Meal:

It’s definitely a mix of cuisines, but I think Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps would taste great with Spicy Mexican Slaw for for a low-carb meal.

More Tasty Recipes for Lettuce Wraps:

The BEST Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Lettuce Wraps ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
15+ Low-Carb and Keto Wraps with Lettuce, Collards, and Cabbage ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
The BEST Instant Pot Lettuce Wraps ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps

These Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps with spicy Thai Flavors are amazing!


Dressing Ingredients:

  • 4 T fish sauce (see notes)
  • 4 T rice vinegar (don’t use seasoned vinegar, which contains sugar)
  • 2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to taste, this was moderately spicy with this amount)

Meatballs Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey (Use turkey with not more than 10% fat for South Beach Diet; this can also be made with ground beef or ground chicken if you prefer.)
  • 1 tsp. finely minced garlic
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 T Asian sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce (regular or low sodium)
  • 2 tsp. + 1 tsp. peanut oil or grapeseed oil (for frying meatballs)

Lettuce and Garnish Ingredients:

  • 1 small cucumber, cut in thin slices, then sliced into matchstick pieces
  • 3/4 cup mint leaves (or use chopped cilantro if you prefer or when fresh mint isn’t available)
  • 8 lettuce leaves (I used romaine lettuce, but you could use other types, especially butter lettuce)


  1. Mix together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes and let the dressing flavors blend while you make and cook the meatballs.
  2. Chop garlic and grate fresh ginger root, then add sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.
  3. Put ground turkey in a bowl, then use a large spoon to mix in the seasoning mixture.
  4. The meat mixture is very soft. If you’re not rushed for time I would chill the turkey mixture for 20-30 minutes before making the meatballs, or just make small patties instead of meatballs.
  5. Heat 2 tsp. peanut or grapeseed oil in a large heavy frying pan, then use a tablespoon-sized measuring cup to scoop out turkey to make meatballs (or small patties), adding each one to the hot pan as you make them.
  6. Cook the meatballs in two batches so you don’t crowd the pan, cooking each batch until the outside is lightly browned and they’re cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. (I added the other tsp. of oil when I cooked the second batch.)
  7. While meatballs cook, wash and dry mint leaves (or chop cilantro) and cut the cucumber into thin slices, then slice into matchstick pieces. (You can also just chop the cucumber if you don’t want to be that fancy.)
  8. Wash and dry lettuce leaves. (I used just the tender sweet inside leaves and saved the rest for salad.)
  9. When meatballs are done, make Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps by putting 2-3 meatballs inside a piece of lettuce, drizzling on sauce, and topping with cucumber and mint or cilantro.
  10. If you make this for a dinner party, it would be fun to let guests assemble their own, and I’m betting you won’t have any leftovers!


I like Three Crabs Fish Sauce or Red Boat Fish Sauce; if you’re not that used to fish sauce you might decrease it a little.

This recipe adapted slightly from The South Beach Diet Taste of Summer Cookbook.

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This recipe for Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps is suitable for any kind of low-carb or low-glycemic diet plan. Made with low-fat ground turkey, this would also be approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet, and it’s a great alternative to salads for phase one. For some low-carb plans you may prefer ground beef instead of turkey for higher fat.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
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Nutritional Information?
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Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps found on KalynsKitchen.com

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    49 Comments on “Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps”

  1. I do think this would be great just cooked as crumbled meat and not bothering with the meatballs.

  2. These were tasty! Mine were a bit dry but the sauce evened it out. Maybe I cooked them too long?

    I also think this would be good crumbled up and just eaten like a salad/bowl. Less juice all over my hands and plate!

    Thanks, as always, for sharing!

  3. Clare, thanks for that nice feedback! So glad you are enjoying the blog.

  4. Made these meatballs for dinner last night and am currently eating leftovers for lunch today- they save very well! Might even freeze. This recipe really embodied why I love this blog- I get great tasting food with so much flavor and so much VARIETY compared to your usual "diet" fare. It makes low carb a real lifestyle instead of a diet.

  5. Well I may just have to step out of my comfort zone on try it. We do love Thai! But I wanted to make these today so maybe I'll just do it without and see what happens. Thanks Kalyn

  6. It's really the fish sauce that makes this have Thai flavors, and I'm not sure what would substitute for that. Maybe a much smaller amount of Worcestershire sauce? Try googling substitutions for fish sauce and see if you find anything. I bet if you like Thai food though, you would like this with the fish sauce.

  7. Kalyn, another yummy sounding recipe. Tell me though, if the thought of fish sauce is a big turn off – is there a substitution?? I tend to shy away from anything 'fishy'!! Thanks Kalyn

  8. Thanks Deborah!

    Suzanne, nothing in this recipe is really a limited food, but 2 or 3 lettuce wraps is probably what I'd eat. (On South Beach only high fat/calorie dense foods are limited in serving size. In general they say to eat until you are full, but not overly full.)

  9. Kalyn, how many lettuce wraps are a serving for this?

    Thanks. I'm new to SB