Ground beef lettuce wraps with a Thai flair are quick, cheap, and so easy to make kid friendly. Have a better than takeout, healthy Thai meal on the table in less than 15 minutes. Paleo friendly and gluten free.
Ready to change up your boring rotation of ground beef recipes for something that feels like take out but saves you a boatload of money?
Cool, because that is exactly what I have for you today. You get your Asian food cravings satisfied with ground beef lettuce wraps that are super easy and wonderfully flavored with Thai flavors.
Ground beef is like the most versatile, tastiest ingredient you can use in a kitchen. And if you are like me, you love a great dinner recipe that gives you something to do with your ground beef. And dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes is like winning a million dollars. These Thai lettuce wraps are like winning the ground beef lottery.
If ground beef Thai lettuce wraps could talk they would tell you that they:
- taste sweet and salty and a little spicy with a ton of umamai flavor
- are a sneaky way to get you to eat your protein and veggie at the same time
- are extremely economical
- taste great as leftovers
- are easy to customize for the picky eaters
- make a great bowl if lettuce wraps aren't your thing
- Paleo friendly and gluten free
Let's talk specifics of this recipe shall we?
It's super duper fast
First, priorities. Busy mom's need easy recipes with minimal prep. Ain't nobody got time for a recipe with 56987 steps on a weekday. You need dinner on the table and you need it stat so you don't go thru a drive thru.
I get it.
Thai lettuce wraps need zero prep, assuming you have thawed ground beef from your freezer. You get away with zero prep because you do all of the steps and tasks while it is cooking. To me this is the best way to make dinner on busy nights.
There is minimal chopping so while your beef sautes you get to whip up your sauce, tear apart some leaves and that is pretty much it.
Your dishes will also be minimal. Nothing is worse than when everyone conveniently disappears after dinner, and you are left with a wreck of a kitchen to clean up. Make life easier on yourself and make these wraps.
Ingredients for Ground Beef Thai Lettuce Wraps
To make these wraps you will need
- ground beef
- butter lettuce (or your favorite)
- fish sauce* (don't be scared you can't taste it)
- coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
- lime juice (real, from a medium lime)
- coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- fresh ginger (optional)
- garlic chili paste (find this with the Asian foods)
- salt and pepper
- Toppings- green onions, chopped cabbage, and peanuts
A few words about fish sauce and chili paste
If you, like me, are freaked out about adding fish sauce to food in fear of it tasting fishy, I assure you it doesn't.
Years ago when I first started using it, it took me the longest time to muster up the courage to try it. It just didn't sound appealing. But it makes a huge difference in the flavor of your food and is pretty essential to Thai cooking. The amount used in this recipe does not yield a fishy taste or smell.
If you still can't bring yourself to use it, just leave it out. Typically a substitute for fish sauce is a soy sauce plus an acid. We are already using lime juice and coconut aminos (or soy sauce) so no need to add anything extra.
Chili paste is found in the Asian food aisle along with the fish sauce. If you don't feel like spending the money on this and have sriracha on hand, I think it would be a pretty close substitute.
Step by step instructions
Oh this recipe is so easy!
You are going to multi task while your ground beef browns. This will ensure you get your dinner on the table fast. If you aren't in a hurry you can do things in whatever order that pleases your soul, friend.
Start with browning your ground beef. Set a large skillet on med heat and add your ground beef once it is hot. Break the ground beef apart as you brown and cook. I like to use a wooden spoon for this and I like to break my ground beef into the smallest pieces possible. I feel like if I make it super small it goes further as far as servings and leftovers.
While the ground beef is browning, mix up the sauce *(see kids hacks below for picky eaters before making sauce)*.
Chop your green onions (that you have rinsed and dried first) and set aside. If you are topping with peanuts, which highly suggest you do, you could roughly chop these if desired. I did not because I was lazy, but they did fall off easily because they were so large. You can also prep your lettuce my rinsing and drying. I used 2-3 butter lettuce leaves per wrap.
Add your sauce to the ground beef once it is cooked thru and no longer pink. Let the beef and sauce simmer for 5 minutes on low-medium heat.
Once it is finished simmering remove from heat. Add beef to lettuce wraps as you eat them, not ahead of time. Top with some coleslaw mix and peanuts and enjoy.
Kid hacks (how to make it kid friendly)
Let's talk about ways you can make these wraps kid friendly if you think your kid might not be down for this recipe as is.
- For the pickiest of eaters take out a serving of ground beef that is cooked and still plain and set aside. Serve the ground beef plain or how your child would like it. Probably doused in ketchup if I had to guess.
- For the slightly picky kids who don't like it spicy. Make the sauce leaving out the chili paste and ginger. Add the sauce to the beef let it simmer, then take out a serving for the kids that don't like spicy foods. Then if desired add the chili paste and ginger in separately and give it a good stir.
- If you kids hate lettuce serve this beef with a side of their favorite veggie or as a dip to their favorite veggie. Make it fun by letting them use celery or whatever they love as a spoon.
What should I serve this with?
Honestly you don't need to add anything to the lettuce wraps since you technically have a complete meal with your protein and veggie. But if you want more, add your favorite rice????.
The first time I made these I made rice and put the rice in the lettuce cups as well. This was filling and delicious.
Alternatively you could make a bowl and add the beef and toppings on top of the rice.
I hope you guys love these wraps as much as we do. This did get an "add it to the rotation" from my husband, which is the highest honors a recipe I make can get from him. So I hope you love these, and it makes it into your "dinner rotation" as well.
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