Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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These chicken lettuce wraps are fresh, exciting and full of intense and spicy flavors from soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. A terrific appetizer or even main course that’s fast and easy to make.

Closeup of a chicken lettuce wrap on a plate with a sake flask and cup in the background.

This post was originally published on Jan. 17, 2016.

This is a recipe I’ve been making for years and it’s an adaptation from America’s Test Kitchen. I love everything about it, it’s savory, a little bit spicy, very satisfying and takes little effort to put together.

You can serve these wraps as an appetizer but they are pretty filling so I find that they also make a great main course.

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How to make chicken lettuce wraps:

Step 1. Cut 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast into 2-inch cubes and put in the freezer for 10 minutes to make it easier to process. Transfer the chicken to the food processor.

Step 2. Pulse the chicken a few times to grind.

Raw chicken breast cubes in a food processor before and after grinding.

Step 3. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon corn starch. (The corn starch helps to keep the meat tender during the frying process later, a technique called velveting.)

Step 4. Mix the ground chicken into the marinade, cover and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Marinade being whisked in a bowl and ground chicken marinating.

Step 5. While the chicken is marinating, finish the prep work for the sauce:

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together:

  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 minced or pressed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch (to thicken the sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Step 6. Set the sauce aside and get 5 shiitake mushrooms, 4 green onions and 1 celery stalk ready.

Sauce being whisked in a liquid measuring cup and a cutting board with vegetables.

Step 7. Dice the vegetables, then set aside.

Step 8. Drain the chicken from the marinade.

Diced vegetables on a cutting board and ground chicken being drained in a colander.

Step 9. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and fry the chicken until cooked through.

Take the chicken out of the pan, then fry the vegetables (no need to clean the pan in between). 

Add the chicken back in, then pour in the sauce and cook until it starts to thicken.

Step 10. Transfer the filling into lettuce leaves and drizzle with hoisin sauce.

A wok with cooked chicken and lettuce leaves, chicken filling and hoisin sauce on a cutting board.

How do you eat lettuce wraps?

Spoon the filling into fresh lettuce leaves, drizzle with a bit of hoisin sauce and eat with your fingers.

FAQs:

What is the best lettuce for wraps?

I like to use butter lettuce for wraps. It tastes great and the individual leaves of a head of butter lettuce are sized and shaped perfectly to make individual wraps. Each leaf is like a miniature bowl with lots of nooks and crannies, so it’s perfect for holding the filling.

How do you cut lettuce for lettuce wraps?

As long as you use butter lettuce you don’t need to cut the lettuce at all. The individual leaves have just the right shape and size to make a wrap.

How do you keep lettuce wraps crisp?

The secret to crisp lettuce wraps is keeping the lettuce leaves cold and moist right until serving. Keep the lettuce leaves in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge and stuff a moist paper towel into the bag with them. That way the lettuce will stay fresh and crisp.

How to store leftover wraps:

Transfer any leftover filling into an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 1 day. Keep leftover lettuce leaves in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge along with a moist paper towel.

Are chicken lettuce wraps gluten free?

No, both the soy sauce and the hoisin sauce in this recipe contain wheat.

What goes with chicken lettuce wraps?

Chicken lettuce wraps make a terrific appetizer and work great with this Chicken Noodle Stir Fry.

More delicious light chicken dishes:

Made this recipe? It would be awesome if you could leave a rating. Either tap or click the stars in the recipe card or leave a comment below. Thanks!

Closeup of a chicken lettuce wrap on a plate with a sake flask and cup in the background.
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These chicken lettuce wraps are fresh, exciting and full of intense and spicy flavors from soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. A terrific appetizer or even main course that’s fast and easy to make.
Prep Time:20 mins
Cook Time:15 mins
Marinating Time10 mins
Total Time:45 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: chicken lettuce cups, chicken lettuce wraps
Servings: 2
Calories (estimated): 320kcal

Ingredients:

For the marinade:

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 medium–large shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 celery stalk
  • vegetable oil for frying

For the wraps:

  • lettuce leaves
  • hoisin sauce

Instructions:

For the marinade:

  • Cut the chicken into 2-inch cubes and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes (this will make it easier to process).
  • Grind the chicken in the food processor, set aside. 
  • Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, oil and corn starch together in a bowl large enough to hold the processed chicken. 
  • Mix the chicken into the marinade and put in the fridge for 10 minutes.

For the sauce:

  • Whisk sake, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, oil, sesame seeds, corn starch and pepper flakes together in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Dice the shiitake mushrooms, the green onions and the celery stalk. Set aside.
  • Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan on high heat.
  • Drain the chicken out of the marinade and fry it in the oil until it is cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • Add more oil to the pan and fry mushrooms, green onions and celery until they start to soften.
  • Add the chicken back into the pan, then add the sauce and cook until it thickens and turns translucent.

For the wraps:

  • Fill the lettuce leaves with the chicken mixture.
  • Drizzle with hoisin sauce and eat with your fingers.

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Closeup of a chicken lettuce wrap on a plate and raw shiitake mushrooms, celery and green onion.

14 comments

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you, Angela! When I do a studio shoot, I start by setting up my props and my lighting. So, I set things up the way I think they look good, take a shot, then adjust props and lighting millimeter by millimeter until I have them the way I like it. I take shots throughout that process and sometimes it takes longer than others but I’d say on average I take probably about 10 to 15 shots during that process. Then I make the food, bring it to the set, take a shot and then fine-tune again, moving the food around, adding flags or reflectors, making small adjustments to the food and taking shots throughout, probably another 10 or 15 until I have my final shot. Depending on the longevity of the food I sometimes try to get 1 or 2 more shots, exchanging props or changing from vertical to horizontal or vice versa. That doesn’t always work out though, I often end a photo shoot with only one final photo.

      • Angela - Patisserie Makes Perfect says:

        Thanks so much for all of the information – it’s really interesting that you set the shot up first without the food.

        I generally plan in my head how I want it to look, or think about the props I would use and then set everything up with the food.

        Thanks for the insight.

  1. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says:

    Wonderful shot! My heaven the lettuce looks like you just picked it out of the garden — after you washed it first, of course. The recipe itself sounds wonderful. I love the spices in it and I think it would make a perfect lunch. I’ve also read not to use square plates — I have some and I have used them. I like their looks. I really find it appealing and I think it looks good as a change. Thank you for the recipe and the photo inspiration.

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you, Marisa! I agree that square plates can look really good but I also find that they can be tricky to work with. I have very few successful shots that involve square plates but after digging up this photo I actually thought to myself I should use square plates more often. :)

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