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Korean beef lettuce wraps — a sticky-sweet twist on the low-carb appetizer

I remember the first time I had lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s (when that place was totally new and all the rage), probably about 15-plus or so years ago. I saw them on the restaurant’s appetizer menu, and my life was forever changed. OK, slightly dramatic? Yeah, probably. But for real, the idea of lettuce wraps probably would’ve never entered my mind otherwise.

Now they’re one of my favorite ways to enjoy meals with just a little less guilt than normal (usually involving carbs of some sort).

Korean beef is crazy delicious. If you’re a fan of that sticky-sweet thing so many Asian-inspired dishes have, you’ll love Korean beef. That said, it’s usually served over noodles of some sort (or white rice). To keep things a bit lighter, crispy bibb lettuce wraps make an excellent substitution and a fun way to enjoy this dish in a lower-calorie way.

Korean beef lettuce cups
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Korean beef lettuce wraps recipe

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes


For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon red chili paste
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

For the lettuce wraps

  • 1 head bibb lettuce, outer leaves carefully torn off, washed and patted dry
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Chopped green onion, for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce, whisk them together, and set aside.
  2. Into a large skillet over medium-high heat, pour the sesame oil.
  3. Once the oil is hot, add the beef, and cook, breaking it into small pieces with a spatula until browned.
  4. Drain any excess fat from the pan, and then add the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes until reduced and thickened, fully coating all the beef.
  5. Spoon the beef into the lettuce leaves (doubling up the leaves is a good idea to limit the dripping), and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

More lettuce wrap recipes

Tofu and veggie lettuce wraps
Chicken and pineapple lettuce wraps
Healthy fish taco lettuce wraps

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