Thai lettuce wraps
Thai lettuce wraps

Thai Lettuce Wraps

On a hot day, there’s nothing more refreshing than a spicy and clean tasting lettuce wrap. These Thai wraps have flavors of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter and are incredibly easy to make.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

3 lettuce wraps on a wooden plate with lime

These pork lettuce wraps were inspired by a dish I had in New York at a magical restaurant called Up Thai. I ordered pork lettuce wraps as an appetizer and was so delighted with the taste that I swore I could make a meal out of those alone.

In this recipe, I use traditional Thai ingredients like shrimp paste, shallots, galangal, tamarind, and chile to bring about the salty, bitter, sour, spicy, and sweet tastes found in Thai cuisine. If you like Thai food, you will love these wraps.

Thai Lettuce Cups
Clean foods are the cure for over-indulgence. These spicy, sour, sweet, bitter Thai Lettuce Wraps are so fresh!

Don’t be turned off by trying new ingredients. Going to the Asian market is exciting and trying new things is part of becoming a better cook.

If Thai flavors are new to you, prepare yourself for a bold, full-flavored experience. Thai cooking aims to balance more of the flavors equally so people often refer to it as loud or punchy. This just means, it aint bland.

When I was in Thailand for over a month, I definitely wanted a break from the strong flavors and would seek things like salad with oil and vinegar to give my taste buds a break. I guess these lettuce cups are the best of both worlds because the ground pork is very strongly flavored, while the raw lettuce gives it a light, crisp lift.

Tip: Pairing cooked and raw foods is a pleasant way to enhance the experience of a dish.

Textural Elements in these Thai Lettuce Wraps

  • chopped peanuts
  • diced shallots
  • shaved carrot
  • cilantro
  • shaved green papaya/mango
  • lime
  • fresh or dry thai chili
Ingredients for making lettuce cups
My favorite fix-ins to sprinkle on my cups are carrot, shallot, lime, thai chili, cilantro, and peanuts.

Note: You can adjust the spice level to your preferences by sprinkling extra thai chili flakes on top. This recipe is only mildly spicy.

3 lettuce wraps on a plate

Thai Lettuce Wraps

On a hot day, there's nothing more refreshing than a spicy and clean tasting lettuce wrap. These Thai wraps have flavors of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter and are incredibly easy to make.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: gluten free, lettuce wraps, pork
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 4 people (4 wraps each)
Calories: 366kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 dry Thai chilies
  • 1 shallot
  • 1- inch piece galangal ginger as substitute
  • 2- inch piece lemongrass tough outside layer removed
  • 1 T shrimp paste
  • 3 T palm sugar cream unrefined cane sugar as substitute
  • 1 T tamarind paste sold as a solid block with seeds removed
  • 2 T water
  • 1 T cooking oil refined coconut oil, palm oil, or lard
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 heads butter leaf lettuce cleaned and leaves separated


    toasted peanuts, diced shallot, diced thai chili, shredded carrot, cilantro, and lime for serving


      • With a mortar and pestle, pound the salt, garlic, dried thai chilies, shallot, galangal, and lemongrass to form a smooth paste. Add shrimp paste and mash to combine. In a small pot, bring the palm sugar cream, tamarind paste, and water to a simmer over medium heat. Use a spoon to break up any chunks as much as possible, then strain using a sieve into the mortar and pestle. Use your spoon to scrape the strained tamarind sauce off of the bottom of the sieve.
      • Warm a saute pan over medium heat with the oil. When it's hot, add the ground pork and transfer the paste to the pan. Saute, mixing with a wood spoon, 3 minutes. Keep the hot pork separate until ready to eat so as not to wilt the lettuce. I recommend serving with lime, diced shallot, chili, peanuts, cilantro, and carrot. Green papaya/mango would also make a nice topping.


      Calories: 366kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 565mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2700IU | Vitamin C: 4.5mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2.5mg

      *Inspiration: Up Thai restaurant

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