Thai Steak Lettuce Cups

lettuce cups with Thai style steak sliced up, bell peppers, carrots and sauce inside
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Flank steak is marinated in an ultra-savory, limey, herb-flecked Thai dressing, then seared and served in crisp, crunchy lettuce cups in this beefed-up riff on the classic Thai and Laotian salad, Larb Gai.

Steak Cups? Please, Lettuce Explain.

Sorry about the pun—we just had to. And no, we don’t mean a cup made out of steak. We mean butter lettuce leaves used to “cup” a portion of marinated, seared steak slices and then eaten taco-style. Traditionally made with spiced, ground chicken, you may have tried “Larb Gai” (sometimes called “Laab”) in a Thai restaurant before. We’ve opted for a meatier, steak-centric filling, because we’re huge steak fans, and we’re keeping the marinade ingredients super simple so that you don’t have to hunt down any unusual ingredients.

ingredients laid out for thai style steak lettuce cups

Kid-Friendly, Keto-Friendly, Weeknight Dinner Magic.

Bright, crisp veggies and ultra-savory, seared beef topped with more of that zingy marinade—and you get to eat it with your fingers?! These umami-rich, paleo / keto / gluten-free / you-name-it Thai steak lettuce wraps are a whole-family pleaser. Plus, the only actual cooking required is a quick stove-top sear for the steak, but you could even cook the marinated flank steak outside on the grill to make it that much easier.

bowl with sweet scallion soy sauce for Thai style steak lettuce wraps
raw flank steak marinating in a pan with soy sauce and fresh scallions

Marinate, Marinate, Marinate.

These Thai steak lettuce cups are all about the marinade. As we’ve mentioned, we’re not calling for anything hard-to-find—no lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves. Just stir together a few easy-to-find Asian ingredients and let this marinade work its flavor-giving magic on that juicy, tenderized steak. For the dressing, you’ll need:

  • Tamari or soy sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • A lime
  • Fresh garlic, cilantro and scallions.
  • Chilli paste
small plates with carrots, grilled sliced steak, fresh herbs and bell peppers laid out for steak lettuce cups

How to Slice Steak.

Flank steak or skirt steak are the best choices for these Thai steak lettuce cups because they offer deliciously meaty, intensely beefy flavor and are nice and lean. Because they’re lean, you run the risk of winding up with tough steak, so we’ve added the extra (easy) step of tenderizing the meat before marinating it. Both that tenderization and the marinade help to ensure juicy, flavorful, tender steak. 

As for slicing the steak, always slice against the grain so that the slices of steak are tender and easy to chew—if you cut with the grain (i.e. the way the muscle fibers are aligned) you’ll wind up with tough steak pieces, no matter how thin you’ve sliced them.  

hand holding thai style steak lettuce wraps

All Dressed Up.

While toothsome, juicy flank or skirt steak wrapped in a crispy crunchy butter lettuce leaf is good on its own, we love to garnish our Thai steak lettuce cups with:

  • Julienned (super finely sliced) carrots.
  • Julienned (super finely sliced) sweet red bell peppers.
  • Vibrant fresh herbs, like mint and cilantro.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A sharp knife.
  • Meat tenderizer (or a rolling pin, in a pinch.)

Other Simple Steak Recipes:

Steak feels like the forgotten weeknight meat—it cooks up quick, everyone loves it, and it’s so adaptable. Here are three of our favorite easy weeknight (keto and Whole30-approved!) steak recipes:

Did You Love These Thai Steak Cups? Lettuce Know!

Again, sorry. We just can’t stop ourselves! Anyway, did you love them? Snap a photo of your Thai lettuce cups in action, and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed them to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Thai Steak Lettuce Cups

Serves 4

Ingredients

1.5 lbs flank or skirt steak, cut in half lengthwise
1 tbsp oil
1 head butter lettuce, separated into lettuce cups
1 large carrot, julienned
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
fresh mint
fresh basil
fresh cilantro

Thai Dressing/Marinade

1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
3 green onions, finely minced
1 tbsp chilli paste

Method

  1. Lightly tenderize meat, by hitting with a tenderizer or a heavy rolling pin.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together all dressing ingredients.
  3. Using a casserole dish or a ziplock bag, cover the tenderized beef with half the dressing and marinade for at least 1 hour.
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on high heat until oil is smoking. Cook marinated steak 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Slice very steak very thin. When ready to serve build your lettuce cup by adding steak, veggies, herbs and dressing to lettuce and wrapping like a taco.

Note: If using this recipe for meal prep, store fresh herbs and vegetables in one container, steak in another and dressing in a third.