Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps With Herby Yogurt

overhead shot of 4 thai beef lettuce wraps with herby yogurt

Crisp, crunchy, savory, and oh-so-fun, Thai beef lettuce wraps are easy to make and a great way to switch up your weeknight dinner rotation. Inspired by larb gai (a popular dish in Northeastern Thailand and Laos made of ground chicken, fresh herbs, and onions with lime juice, fish sauce, and ground chiles), this version swaps out chicken for beef and adds an herb-flecked yogurt sauce to marry the Butter lettuce leaves and juicy ground meat. The yogurt is definitely not traditional, but it adds a cool creaminess to contrast the fatty beef and add a little heft to the greens. If you’d prefer, you can skip it and serve this with a few slices of avocado instead, for a similar textural effect.

Sticky rice is a tasty pairing to this light, healthy dinner, but you can swap in brown rice for a little more nutritional weight, or microwavable minute rice (the stuff is magic!) for a little more weeknight ease.

One more note, larb gai is typically made with toasted rice powder (rice that has been toasted in a skillet and ground into a powder), which adds a delicious nuttiness, but I wanted to keep the ingredients’ list as short as possible here so I left it out. I had my eye on the ultimate prize: Fast. Weeknight. Dinner. Let’s go!

How to make Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps

First, make the herby yogurt. Add yogurt to a small bowl, stir in chopped garlic, 2 tablespoons each cilantro and mint, and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Set aside while you make the beef.

sauteed onions on a skillet

Sauté onions in a skillet until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

uncooked ground beef on a skillet

Add in ground beef and smash into small pieces with the back of a spoon. Sauté until mostly cooked through.

cooked ground beef in a skillet

Add fish sauce, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and sugar and cook until the beef is cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of cilantro.

To serve, swirl a dollop of yogurt into a lettuce cup, spoon beef on top, sprinkle on fresh cilantro leaves and a few dashes of hot sauce.

More easy weeknight recipes:

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps With Herby Yogurt

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Dinner American, Thai
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

Crisp, crunchy, savory, and oh-so-fun, Thai beef lettuce wraps with a creamy herb yogurt sauce are easy to make and a great way to switch up your weeknight dinner rotation.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup whole milk yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped, divided
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, divided, plus whole cilantro leaves for serving
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (about ½ of a lime)
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef (I prefer 80% lean, 20% fat but 85/15 works too)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 head butter / Bibb / Boston lettuce, leaves separated from core
  • Hot sauce, for serving

Instructions

1

First, make the herby yogurt. To a small bowl, add yogurt, about 1 of the 3 cloves of the garlic, 2 tablespoons each cilantro and mint, and lime juice. Season with salt to taste and stir to combine. Set aside while you make the beef.

2

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-low. Add the olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and cook until softened and lightly browned around the edges, 3-5 minutes. Add remaining 2 of the 3 garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground beef and smash into small pieces with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with salt. Cook, without stirring, about 6 minutes, until mostly cooked through.

3

Add the sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir in remaining 1/4 cup of the cilantro. Season with additional salt to taste.

4

To serve, swirl a dollop of yogurt into a lettuce cup, spoon beef on top, sprinkle on fresh cilantro leaves and a few dashes of hot sauce.

Notes

You can substitute fish sauce for 2 more teaspoons of soy sauce. If you can’t find butter / Bibb / Boston lettuce, you can use whole romaine leaves. Serve with sticky rice, white rice, brown rice, or diced, roasted sweet potato.

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