Fresh flavors, crunchy veggies, sweet pineapple, and a drizzle of peanut sauce make these Thai Lettuce Wraps a keeper. These wraps are loaded with protein and are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. Enjoy the light spice of the Thai curry paste paired with the sweetness of grilled pineapple in this light but filling healthy dinner recipe.
These lettuce wraps are an easy way to eat lots of veggies with flavors that are better than takeout. Fresh veggies are perfect together with a red curry marinated chicken in this light dinner.
These lettuce wraps are a go-to in our house whenever we’re craving fresh flavors. And even though they’re a lighter dinner, they’re still enough to keep you full. The peanut sauce takes them right over the top and keeps you coming back for more.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Chicken – I like to use chicken thighs because they’re easier to cook without drying out, but chicken breasts work as well.
- Curry paste/fish sauce/garlic – Thai red curry paste is combined with fish sauce and garlic to create a flavorful marinade for the chicken. The recipe calls for a mild amount of curry paste, so feel free to use more. You can also use coconut aminos or soy sauce in place of the fish sauce.
- Lettuce – butter lettuce leaves make great lettuce wraps. But green-leaf and red-leaf lettuce also work great here too. You can also use any lettuce you like and chop up everything like a salad if your lettuce won’t work for wraps.
- Pineapple – sliced fresh pineapple gets grilled to add depth of flavor to this recipe. I don’t recommend canned pineapple in this instance because the flavor is dull and won’t compliment the freshness.
- Red cabbage & bell pepper – are my favorite crunchy veggies to pair together with these lettuce wraps, but you can use any crunchy veggies you like. Shredded carrots and sliced cucumbers both work well in this recipe.
- Green onion & cilantro – add fresh flavor to these wraps, but you can choose just 1 to simplify
- Peanut sauce – you can use your favorite bottled peanut sauce in this recipe to save time if desired. Also if you can’t have peanut butter, try my recipe with cashew butter. Almond butter also works here as well as sunflower butter as a nut-free option.
How to make these Thai Lettuce Wraps recipe step by step
Step 1: Start by mixing together the Thai red curry paste, fish sauce, and minced garlic in a bowl. Add the chicken and coat evenly with the marinade. Marinate the chicken in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight for more flavor.
Tip: I like to use Mae Ploy curry paste in all my curry recipes because the flavor is so good!
Step 2: Make the peanut sauce by combining all the ingredients listed and stir until the sauce is warmed through. Set the sauce aside in a container or transfer to a squeeze bottle for serving if desired.
Don’t try and use a squeeze bottle if you use chunky peanut butter or nut butter because it will clog.
Step 4: Preheat the grill and cook the chicken and pineapple slices until the pineapple is lightly softened and the chicken is done in the center.
Dice up the chicken and pineapple as soon as they’re cool enough to touch and serve.
Ways to serve this
- Serve everything family style so each person can assemble their own lettuce wraps as desired. Drizzle peanut sauce over each lettuce wrap and enjoy!
- Serve these lettuce wraps with steamed rice or rice noodles to ‘bulk’ up the meal a bit. You can even add a bit of rice or rice noodles to each lettuce wrap.
Butter lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and red leaf lettuce all work well for lettuce wraps. Iceberg doesn’t fold well enough for lettuce wraps, and lettuce like romaine with a large crunchy center doesn’t work well either. See my tips below for how to make these lettuce wraps into a rice bowl if you don’t have the right kind of lettuce.
Simple side dishes like steamed rice or rice noodles work really well with lettuce wraps. Add a simple Asian-inspired cucumber salad to round things out. Or serve the lettuce wraps as an appetizer to your favorite Asian-inspired meal.
- To store – store any leftovers separately in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you assemble the lettuce wraps, refrigerate and use them within 1 day. They will wilt a bit.
- Make ahead – the peanut sauce can be made ahead and the chicken is best marinated overnight.
Tips & Tricks
- For an easy stovetop version, try using ground chicken, ground pork, or ground turkey and cook it like you would taco meat adding the curry paste, garlic, and fish sauce after you’ve broken up the meat. Leave the pineapple fresh rather than trying to sauté it, it splatters a lot!
- These Thai lettuce wraps are perfect to serve at brunch, ‘fancy’ lunches, bridal showers, and baby showers. In that case, assemble them as pictured and place them on a tray. You can assemble, cover, and refrigerate the lettuce wraps for up to 4 hours before serving. Let them come back up to room temperature for 30 minutes, then drizzle with the peanut sauce and serve.
- Chop up everything into bite-sized pieces and serve this as a salad rather than a lettuce wrap. Or serve all the chopped-up ingredients over steamed rice (or rice noodles) as a ‘bowl’ dinner instead of wraps.
Dietary Options & Substitutions
- Nut-free – use sunflower butter in place of the nut butter in the ‘peanut’ sauce.
- Paleo – use the cashew butter or almond butter option in place of the peanut sauce.
- Vegan or Vegetarian – you can use tofu in place of the chicken in this recipe. Omit the fish sauce and use coconut aminos instead. And finally, be sure to check the labels on the curry paste you choose, red curry paste often isn’t vegan or vegetarian.
I really hope you enjoy these Thai Lettuce Wraps! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Red Curry Chicken:
- 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs - or chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste - or more if you like a little heat
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
Creamy ‘Peanut’ Sauce:
- 1 pound slices fresh pineapple - about 5 – 1/2" slices, cored
- 1 tbsp avocado oil - or cooking oil
- 2 heads butter lettuce - or leaf lettuce of choice
- 1.5 cups red cabbage - finely shredded
- 1 red bell pepper - thinly sliced or diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
- Mix together the curry paste, garlic, and fish sauce until smooth. Add the chicken and turn it to evenly coat with the marinade. Cover and marinate the chicken 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
- To make the 'peanut' sauce, combine the nut/seed butter of your choice with the maple syrup, chili paste, and coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir just until the mixture combines, then remove it from the heat and whisk in the lime juice, sea salt to taste, and water as necessary to get the right consistency. Place the peanut sauce in an airtight container or squeeze bottle. If you're not using it right way, it can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
- To make the pineapple slices, cut out the core, then slice into 5 – 1/2″ rounds. Evenly brush the oil over both sides and set the pineapple aside.
- Prep all the veggies for the lettuce wraps, then preheat the grill over medium high heat until a steady temperature of 350º-400ºF is reached.
- Then place the marinated chicken and oil brushed pineapple on the grill. Grill the pineapple for about 5 minutes per side, or until grill marks appear and it caramelizes. When the pineapple is done, remove it from the grill and set it aside to cool a bit.
- Grill the chicken for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until completely done and no longer pink in the center.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and when it's cool enough to handle thinly slice it and cut the pineapple into bite sized chunks.
- Serve the grilled chicken slices with the pineapple, all the veggies/lettuce leaves, and the 'peanut' sauce.
This recipe was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2023 with new photos, more tips, and more information.