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Thai Steak Lettuce Cups

June 10, 2024

Steak is marinated in a dressing that sings with bright, zingy, Thai flavors, then seared and served in crisp lettuce cups in our beefed-up riff on the classic Laotian salad, Larb Gai.


lettuce cups with Thai style steak sliced up, bell peppers, carrots and sauce inside

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.
close up of prepared Thai style steak lettuce cups
close up of prepared Thai style steak lettuce cups

Tools You’ll Need:

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!

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Thai Steak Lettuce Cups

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  45 min
  • Cook Time:  10 min
  • Calories: 387


Thai Dressing

  • ½ cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste, such as Sambal oelek

Steak Lettuce Cups

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ pounds flank or skirt steak, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, green onions, and chili paste.

  2. Using a casserole dish or a plastic zip-top bag, cover the steak with half the dressing. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, up to 8 hours.

  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet, over high heat. Remove flank steak from marinade. Discard marinade. Once the oil is glistening, cook the steak until a crust forms on the one side, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn the steak over and sear the other side until the internal temperature of the steak reaches 120°F on a meat thermometer, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain.

  4. Spoon the steak into the lettuce leaves. Top with carrots and bell pepper. Sprinkle with mint, basil, and cilantro. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories387
  • Protein42 g
  • Carbohydrates10 g
  • Total Fat19 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol113 mg
  • sodium1785 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g

Thai Steak Lettuce Cups

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Evelyn

    Me again. Could you use a cheaper cut of steak like round steak? I have tons of round steak (steak de pierna) from a 1/2 cow we got and I have no idea what to do with it :). Thanks!!

    Round steak is a lot tougher so you'd need to cook it in a different method and lot longer than this recipe to make it tender enough for the lettuce cups.

  • Evelyn

    Can I stop at step 3 and freeze it to cook another day?

    You can. You only use half of the marinade/dressing by step 3 and the other half is for drizzling on top when serving. So the half you aren't using to freeze will stay god for about 5 days in the fridge. If you want to freeze it longer than that we'd recommend doubling the meat and using the entire marinade to freeze and then making a freeze marinade/dressing for drizzling when you cook it. Hope you enjoy!

  • OrganicChick

    Amazing recipe, easy to follow, you can add, takeaway or substitute to this delicious meal. Very refreshing and kid friendly. My 6 year old daughter even ate the lettuce thanks to the sauce. I added apple honey to the sauce for sweetness which adds another level to this meal. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe.

    So glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  • Lena

    I made this dish tonight and it was actually really refreshing and tasty! I did however make some adjustments to the recipe but kept it pretty true to the main ingredients. My take was adding minced ginger and red onion. I sauteed the veggies. Marinade the meat for longer than 1 hour (only because I had the time to do so) I believe one hour is enough time in a pinch. Follow the recipe otherwise and I believe this will be a go to dinner. One thing my boyfriend said was, he would want some rice as a base for the butter lettuce. I thought it was great exactly how they are. Just maybe a tip. Great recipe!

    Yum! The addition of ginger and red onion sounds delightful! Yes, rice would also be a great addition!