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Tofu Lettuce Wraps

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Calories: 221
Four tofu lettuce wraps shown on a white platter next to a spoon full of seasoned soy sauce.

Soy sauce, lime juice and a little chili paste make a simple, delectable sauce for these easy tofu lettuce wraps.

An Easy, Delicious, Vegetarian Lettuce Wrap Recipe

Quick, healthy, vegan, AND yummy?! Yep! This easy tofu recipe truly does it all. It was initially inspired by classic Thai larb gai which is, very simply, a “meat salad”. Specifically, a dish made with quickly cooked, boldly flavored ground meat—usually ground chicken or pork, though it can be made from fish or even (as in this lettuce cup recipe) tofu. These wonderfully snacky, handheld cups of deliciousness reside in the no man’s land between appetizers and main dishes. If you’re not wildly hungry, this tofu lettuce wrap recipe could stand alone as a light dinner, or you may want to serve it alongside some favorite side dishes—think bowls of simply steamed white rice or noodles. Either way, it’ll be a fast favorite.

Tofu Lettuce wraps shown close up on a white platter.

The Best Lettuce Wrap Sauce, Ever

Juicy, crisp, cool lettuce stuffed with mounds of piping hot, umami-rich tofu crumbles—these tofu lettuce wraps are pretty darn good straight out of the pan. But if you take just 30 seconds and whisk together this lettuce wrap sauce to drizzle over the finished tofu lettuce cups, you’ll taste just how truly transcendent a vegetarian dinner (that you made yourself, no less!) can be! Here’s the ingredients you’ll need to make it:

  • Soy sauce (or tamari works, too)
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Chili paste (like sambal oelek)
  • Brown sugar
Ingredients for tofu lettuce wraps shown in small bowls including butter lettuce, crumbled tofu, green onions, mint, cilantro

What Is The Best Lettuce For Lettuce Wraps?

You could probably make any decently-sturdy lettuce work for these lettuce cups—you just need something strong enough and large enough to cup the crispy, crumbly, super-savory tofu filling. Romaine lettuce, for example, would be fine. However, our very favorite type of lettuce to use for lettuce wraps is butter lettuce. Also called bibb lettuce or Boston bibb lettuce, butter lettuce has a naturally cupped shape that’s unbeatable for these cups. It’s nice and sturdy, and—best of all—it tastes really good. That slightly sweet, truly buttery flavor and gorgeous tender texture mean that it’s our favorite lettuce for just about anything, including (but decidedly not limited to) this tofu larb recipe.

Toasted rice shown in a large metal skillet
toasted rice shown blended in a blender until a fine powder is formed.
shallots shown in a large metal skillet
tofu, chili paste, brown sugar and lime zest shown in a large skillet
seasoned crumbled tofu shown in a large skillet
crumbled tofu, seasoned with soy sauce and other spices shown in a large metal skillet topped with fresh herbs.

How To Make Tofu Lettuce Wraps

A healthy, vegetarian dinner is just six ingredients and about 15 minutes away! Here’s how to make these zesty tofu lettuce cups:

  1. Make the (optional!) toasted rice powder. Toasted rice powder—or khao khua—is a traditional ingredient in Thai cuisine and isn’t hard to make. It adds a lovely texture and somewhat nutty, hard-to-place flavor to the finished tofu larb, but it’s totally OK to skip this step if you’re crunched for time.
  2. Sauté shallots, then add the crumbled tofu and cook a bit.
  3. Time to season the tofu larb filling! Add the toasted rice powder, brown sugar, lime juice, zest, salt, and chili paste. Sauté a little more!
  4. Make that lettuce wrap sauce (if you haven’t already).
  5. After you take the tofu off the heat, add the fresh herbs and scallions.
  6. Serve! You can set the sauce, lettuce cups and tofu filling out and let people assemble their own, or you can serve them fully assembled—you do you!
Tofu for lettuce wraps shown in a large metal skillet topped with fresh herbs and red onions
crumbled tofu for lettuce wraps shown in a large bowl along with homemade sauce, lime wedges and lettuce leaves

What To Serve With Lettuce Wraps

Tofu lettuce wraps are an edible party of both texture and flavor—hints of spicy and sweet, big bursts of tart and umami—so they really can stand alone as a light meal. However, they also make a killer heavy appetizer (pair with icy cold beer) or any of these lovely dishes:

tofu lettuce wrap filling shown in a large skillet and topped with red onions and fresh herbs

Tools You’ll Need:

That’s A Wrap!

These tofu lettuce wraps are impossible not to love! When you make them, show us your stuff! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see and celebrate your culinary success! Happy eating!

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Calories: 221

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Short-grain white rice, toasted and ground (optional)
  • 1 lb Firm tofu, crumbled with your hands
  • 1 tbsp Untoasted sesame oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup Shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Lime juice
  • 1 tsp Lime zest, packed
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chili paste
  • 1/2 cup Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3-5 Green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 Heads boston or butter lettuce

Sauce

  • 2 tbsp Soy sauce (or tamari if gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp Lime juice
  • 2 tsp Chili paste
  • 2 tsp Brown sugar

Method

  1. Toast the raw sushi rice (dry, no oil) in a small sauté pan until it turns a bit brown and fragrant. Grind the toasted rice in a food processor or high speed blender until it is the texture of a fine powder. Set aside.
  2. Cook the shallots in the oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the crumbled tofu and sauté until it is warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add powdered, toasted rice (if using), brown sugar, lime juice, zest, salt, and chili paste. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Remove from heat. If rice isn't fully cooked, allow tofu filling to sit for 5 minutes until rice is soft.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients for the tofu lettuce wrap sauce.
  6. Add the peanuts, cilantro, mint and green onions to the tofu mixture, and toss to combine.
  7. Remove lettuce leaves from the stalk. Fill each lettuce leaf with the tofu mixture. Serve drizzle with a little sauce and extra fresh herbs if desired. Enjoy!