Recipe: Filled Lettuce Cups

We all have those days where it seems like cooking anything is too much trouble. These filled lettuce cups saves the day because they’re really quick to throw together, easily adapted to better suit your tastes, they can feed a lot of people with a few ingredients, and because I said so. It’s also a fantastic way to eat a lot of veggies without it seeming like a salad. The leftovers are easy to take to work for lunch too!

In my recipe below, I’ve also included notes for vegan options! And if you want to see a video of this recipe.


Filled Lettuce Cups


  • Lettuce leaves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or any other flavorless cooking oil)
  • 1 pound ground meat (I used 96% lean ground beef – you can also use ground bison, deer, lamb, pork, chicken, or turkey. VEGAN NOTE: Use 1 pound cauliflower, riced in a food processor, or a 19oz block of firm tofu broken up into crumbles, or 1 pound of diced mushrooms)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger paste
  • 2 stalks green onions (scallions), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce (VEGAN NOTE: Use the mushroom version instead, it’s usually found next to the oyster sauce in stores)
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • Asian style hot sauce
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • Additional toppings such as: bean sprouts, slivered cucumber, tomato wedges, toasted almond slivers, crispy won ton strips, sliced sweet peppers, sliced jalapeno, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, etc, etc, etc…


  1. Carefully remove the lettuce leaves from the core/stem and submerge in cold water to crisp the leaves.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add ground meat to the pan and break apart with cooking utensil while it browns. (If using cauliflower or tofu, simply stir frequently until it gets some coloration.)
  4. When the meat is mostly cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan, then pour out the extra oil and liquid. Return the meat to the pan and continue to cook over medium heat. (Skip this step if you’re using cauliflower or tofu or mushrooms.)
  5. Add minced garlic and ginger paste to the meat (or cauliflower/tofu/mushrooms) and mix well, letting cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce (mushroom sauce), hoisin sauce, hot sauce, and ground black pepper. Mix well to coat everything in the sauce.
  7. Mix in the sliced green onions and finish cooking for another 2 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat and drizzle in sesame oil, mixing well to ensure everything is combined, then pour into a bowl to serve.
  9. Gently wash the lettuce leaves in the water it had been soaking in, then rinse off. Shake off as much excess water as you can.
  10. Trim the lettuce into smaller ‘cup’ sized pieces.
  11. Spoon the desired amount of filling into the lettuce cups.
  12. Top with additional toppings – I used tomatoes, cucumbers, and bean sprouts – and extra hot sauce if you want.
  13. Put it in your mouth and eat because that’s what you do with food!


If you’re bringing the leftovers to work, I suggest that you keep the veggies apart from the filling until you’re ready to eat them. Happy cooking!

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