Lettuce wraps can be eaten as an appetizer but we eat them for a meal. They are light and full of flavor from the ground chicken and hoisin sauce, with a bit of crunch from the water chestnuts and lettuce.
I use ground chicken (I love)! Ground chicken is so easy to cook. have so many friends that had never heard of ground chicken and when I filled them in on this meaty goodness they were hooked! No trimming, cutting, or chopping those chicken breasts! Just throw the ground chicken in a skillet, and cook it fully! Just like ground beef, fast and easy but lean! Total game changer! I’m lucky enough that the Butcher Man is always grinding up fresh ground chicken so it’s always available! Ask your local butcher to grind some chicken breasts up for you if they don’t carry it!
The ground chicken combined with the Asian flavored sauce, the crunchy water chestnuts, and crunch of the Butter Lettuce is amazing. They taste light and fresh and will fill you up. You can top of the lettuce wrap/cup with chopped green onions if desired.
The Lettuce for Lettuce Wraps
For the lettuce wrap/cup, I use Butter Lettuce. This is also called Living Lettuce because its roots are left on to keep it fresh, as you can see in the photo. This type of lettuce gives you the perfect cup for these lettuce wraps. They are bright, fresh, crunchy, and slightly firm to hold the chicken filling. You can use romaine or even iceberg lettuce leaves in a pinch, but you will not get the same crunch and flavor. Other lettuce tends to fall apart and won’t hold the filling as well.
Before I start anything on this recipe I prepare the Butter Lettuce leaves so they are ready to be filled. I cut off the root ball first. Then I pull off and separate the leaves, rinse the leaves, and pat them dry with a paper towel. I lay them out on paper towels while I cook the chicken and prepare the sauce. If you lay them out they can air dry and will be ready for the chicken filling. (Aren’t they the perfect little lettuce cup?)
Making the Lettuce Wrap filling
After I get the lettuce ready, I heat the canola oil and sesame seed oil in a large skillet on medium heat. I then add the ground chicken and cook until done and no longer pink. Add the yellow onion to the ground chicken and cook it fully, adding the minced garlic near the end of cooking.
As the chicken cooks, drain and chop your water chestnuts as big or as little as you like. I chop them pretty small, but you can also leave them whole. If you are going to top the lettuce wrap with green onions (totally optional) then chop them and set them aside.
The sauce for the chicken easy! I use soy sauce, sweet chili sauce (bottled, found with the Asian foods), sesame seed oil, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar (cider vinegar works great too), garlic powder, salt, pepper, ground ginger and hoisin sauce. Hoisin is really the star of the show! I make my own hoisin sauce, but bottled is just as delicious! I mix the sauce ingredients together, and whisk it good. Note: if you are making your own Hoisin Sauce, I suggest making it first before starting the lettuce wraps).
Pour the sauce over the ground chicken and let it simmer/cook for 5-10 minutes. This allows the flavors fully come together!
Add the chopped water chestnuts and let them simmer for a few more minutes. Remove from heat.
Serving Lettuce Wraps
Fill up each leaf/lettuce cup with chicken filling (top with green onions if desired)!
You can drizzle extra soy sauce as needed. I like to drizzle some extra sweet chili sauce on top for a bit of a kick!
These will keep in the fridge up to 4 days! Store the chicken filling in an airtight container. Place the un-used lettuce leaves/cups in a zip top bag and store in the fridge. You may need to add some soy sauce when reheating if the chicken seems dry.
Hope you enjoy!
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- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp sesame seed oil for cooking the chicken, see notes
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 8 oz can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped *only 1/2 can is used
- 3-4 green onions, chopped (optional) *for serving
- 1 head Butter Lettuce, rinsed and leaves seperated
Sauce for chicken
- 1/4 cup hoison sauce or bottled see notes for my Hoisin Sauce Recipe- if you make my recipe it makes more than 1/4 cup so you will have leftover
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce *make sure it is low sodium or they will be salty
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar, or cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame seed oil for the sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce see note
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Prepare the Butter Lettuce. Cut off the root ball, pull off and separate the leaves, rinse the leaves, and pat them dry with a paper towel. Lay them out on paper towels or clean kitchen towel and let them finish air drying.
- In a large skillet, add the canola oil and 1 tsp of sesame oil on medium heat. Add the ground chicken and cook until done, no longer pink.
- Add the chopped onion to the chicken and cook until onion is translucent. When onion is almost cooked, add garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant.
- While the chicken is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, 1 tsp sesame seed oil, brown sugar, sweet chili sauce, ground ginger, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.*** NOTE: if you make my hoisin sauce it will make more than what is needed for the recipe… You only need 1/4 cup of Hoisin sauce so you will have some leftover
- Pour the sauce over the chicken, let it simmer on medium-low for 5-10 minutes.
- Add your chopped water chestnuts, stir and let simmer for 3-5 more minutes on med-low heat. Remove from heat.
- Place about 1/4 filling into each lettuce leaf. Top with green onions if desired. Serve immediately. Additional soy sauce or sweet chili sauce can be drizzled on top if desired.
- The chicken can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days in a sealed container. The lettuce leaves can be kept in a zip top plastic bag also.
- When reheating the chicken, some additional soy sauce can be added if chicken is dry.
- Sesame seed oil, hoison sauce, sweet chili sauce and water chestnuts can all be found with the Asian foods at your grocery store.
- You can chop the water chestnuts as as little or as big as you like (or leave them whole).
- Butter leaf lettuce (also called Living Lettuce) is the BEST kind of lettuce to use. It is fresh and crunchy but slightly firm to hold the chicken filling. You can use romaine or even iceberg lettuce leaves in a pinch but you will not get the same crunch and flavor, and they tend to fall apart more and don’t hold the filling as well.
- You can make your own Hoisin Sauce. My recipe will make more Hoisin Sauce than is needed for Lettuce Wraps so you will have leftovers- but it makes a great stir fry sauce!
- The Sweet Chili Sauce has a bit of heat so if you don’t like things spicy you can leave it out or start out adding a little and add it slowly to taste. I love to drizzle extra Sweet Chili Sauce on my lettuce wraps!