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Lettuce Wraps with Beef picture

Lettuce Wraps with Beef

Lettuce wraps are a real crowd pleaser. The ingredient list looks long but this tasty dish comes together really quickly. Rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, plum sauce and hot chile oil can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores.

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  • For the sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • For the filling:
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil (split)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 stalk celery, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) mung bean sprouts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 green onions (scallions), washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Asian style sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot chili oil
  • 1 head butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce, washed well, leaves separated and patted or spun dry

Serves 4 to 6

  1. Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sugar in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Heat a wok or heavy-bottomed saute pan over high heat until hot.  Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan (and sides if using a wok.)  
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry briefly, about 20 seconds.  Add the ground beef and stir fry until cooked through and beginning to brown.  Use a wooden spatula to break up the meat if necessary.  Remove the meat mixture to a wire sieve and allow to drain.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the pan.  When the oil is hot, add the celery. Stir fry for about 1 minute, and then add the red pepper and bean sprouts (if using).  Stir fry until the vegetables are brightly colored and slightly tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the sauce and stir to combine.
  6.  In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Stir the cornstarch/water mixture and then pour it into the middle of the pan, stirring the pan contents as the mixture thickens.
  7. Stir in the green onions and the sesame oil.  Return the beef to the pan.
  8. Add the plum sauce and hot chili oil.  Stir well and then taste and add more seasonings (salt, pepper, plum sauce, hot chili oil) as desired.
  9. Serve the beef hot with a stack of lettuce leaves so diners can make their own wraps. Pass extra plum sauce on the side, if you like.  (Note:  Filling can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator, or freeze the filling for up to 3 months.  Reheat before serving.)

Thanks. I have just started getting into the kitchen. My wife is a southern style cook and likes to make just about everything fried and unhealthy as possible. As I am about to hit the 40 yr old mark, I can't continue to eat this way unless I want to keep seeing those strange looks on my doctors face when he gets my yearly labs back. In other words, for the sake of my family's health, I have decided to take over the kitchen. Hopefully, I can do this without offending anyone. Thanks for the tips!

S. S.