These lettuce cups are super addictive with tangy, sweet hoisin sauce, crunch from fresh vegetables and peanuts and just messy enough to add a little fun to dinner. Our version takes 25 minutes and can easily be adapted to be vegetarian (made with chopped tofu).
Yes, these are a copycat version of the Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups of a certain chain restaurant. And yes, we think our version is even better than theirs.
Why It’s a Weeknight Fave
Lettuce cups are a DIY weeknight dinner at our house. We make a big batch of filling and let everyone assemble their cups / wraps at the dinner table. Using ground chicken (or pork, or turkey, or beef, or even tofu – any will work) makes prep super fast. Chop a few vegetables and combine everything in a great big wok or skillet.
And this sauce. Sweet, tangy hoisin sauce balanced with soy sauce and fresh lime juice.
I could eat this sauce with just about anything.
Drizzled over salads, tossed in a stir-fry, as a dipping sauce for chicken wraps…
I could practically drink this stuff.
Make Ahead / Pack for Lunches
And as great as they are for a quick weeknight dinner, lettuce cups like these make awesome leftovers. The filling can be entirely cooked and assembled a day ahead and just reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave. With everything cooked in advance, you can literally have dinner on the table in 5 minutes flat.
And they’re a pretty spectacular lunch as well. In my book, saucy, fresh lettuce wraps trump a boring old PB&J any day. Just pack the filling and the lettuce leaves in two separate containers so the lettuce doesn’t get soggy. If eating them taco-style is too messy for the middle of the work-day, just pour the topping over the lettuce and eat it like a salad – it’s great either way!
- ¾ cup Hoisin Sauce
- ¼ Soy Sauce (low-sodium preferred; reduce to 2 Tbsp if using regular soy sauce)
- 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 2 tsp grated Fresh Ginger
- 3 tsp Cornstarch
- ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes (opt)
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- 1 Bell Pepper (any color), chopped
- 1½ lb Ground Chicken (or use ground pork / beef / turkey or finely chopped extra-firm tofu)
- ¼ cup Water Chestnuts, rinsed and drained and finely chopped
- 16 leaves Lettuce (Boston bibb or the outer leaves of a head of Iceburg)
- ½ cup Roasted and Unsalted Peanuts
- 1 Lime, cut into wedges
- In a small mixing bowl (or a mason jar with a lid), combine all ingredients for the sauce. Whisk or shake until smooth and evenly combined. (Sauce can be made up to a week ahead.)
- Prep all remaining ingredients and set them beside the stove.
- Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and when it begins to shimmer, add bell peppers and saute until tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add ground chicken and saute until chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Carefully drain off any liquid in the pan and return the pan to the heat. Add water chestnuts and sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sauce thickens and coats chicken, 2 minutes. Squeeze the juice of 2 lime wedges over the filling (reserve the other wedges to serve with dinner).
- Set filling, lettuce cups, and peanuts on the table so that everyone can assemble their own or scoop roughly ¼ cup of filling into each lettuce leaf and serve peanuts in a bowl in the middle (chip and dip sets work great for this!).
One of my little mischief-makers (*cough* Clara) is so eager for dinner these days that she figured out how to pull out the dining room chairs and take a seat. Now she’s eyeing the table as her new favorite spot to play.