This super easy, tasty meal can be on the table in less than 20 minutes from start to finish! Juicy Thai Beef Lettuce Cups are made using simple ingredients, but the Asian flavours are bold, delicious and moreish. It’s a great catch-all recipe, ideal for using up vegetables in the crisper, and easy to vary to cater to different tastes – especially good if anyone in the family has specific dietary needs. It’s a nutritious meal that’s always a big hit at my place – I love to serve it in the centre of the table for everyone to load up on their fillings of choice.

Juicy Thai Beef Lettuce Cups
I love to serve all the components separately in the centre of the table so my family can have fun loading up their own perfect lettuce cup combos.

It can get a bit messy so have napkins on hand – but, trust me, the hands-on experience is all part of the fun! The addition of Thai basil is such a simple way of elevating the recipe and it makes me feel like I’m eating my favourite takeout. Even better, this dish is made using only one pan so there’s virtually no washing up. If you like, you can serve these lettuce cups with rice or noodles for an even more satisfying meal. The recipe is a great one for preparing ahead of time and the leftovers are delicious – if there are any!

Are there any recipe variations?

•    Different vegetables: Add up to 2 cups of vegetables of choice – use up any vegetables you have sitting in the crisper! Sliced snow peas (mangetout), finely diced mushrooms, cauliflower or broccoli, sliced baby corn, shredded cabbage, shredded Asian greens (such as bok choy/pak choy or choy sum) all work really well.

•    Noodles: You could also add rice vermicelli noodles to the beef mixture to bulk it out a little bit. Prepare 100 g (3½ oz) of noodles as per the packet instructions (they are usually soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes before being rinsed in cold water and drained), then stir them through the beef. (You can chop the noodles into bite-sized pieces first, if you prefer.)

•    Wrap it up: Another idea is wrapping the beef mixture in a rice paper roll. Prepare the rice paper as per the packet instructions (by dipping the rice paper in a bowl of warm water, then placing the softened rice paper on a damp tea towel/dish towel). Add the slightly cooled beef mixture and ⅓ cup of salads of choice. I like a combination of fresh Thai basil, shredded lettuce, sliced spring onion (scallion), fresh chilli and crushed peanuts. You could also use extra fresh grated carrot, bean sprouts or shredded red cabbage to the centre bottom third of the rice paper roll, before folding the left and right edges in, then rolling it up from the bottom. It will be sticky and seal itself. Eat immediately!

Juicy Thai Beef Lettuce Cups
These nutritious lettuce cups are filled with an absolutely delicious mixture of juicy minced (ground) beef and vegetables cooked in a rich, sweet and salty Thai-inspired sauce.

What can I serve beef lettuce cups with?

Although these lettuce cups don’t need any sides, you can make this an even more filling meal by adding a side of steamed rice, Easy Fried Rice or rice vermicelli noodles.

Meal prep it

Juicy Thai Beef Lettuce Cups are perfect to prep ahead, ready for when you need. Once cooked, store the beef mixture refrigerated in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave. I regularly make a double batch and refrigerate it with rice or rice vermicelli noodles in individual servings, ready for lunches.

What are some other quick dinner ideas?

When times are busy and energy levels are low, I like to meal-plan simple, quick and easy dinners that require little time and effort. Some of our favourite quick and easy recipes are Cheeseburger Pasta, Crispy Sticky Tofu Bowls, Beef Quesadillas and Creamy Tomato Chicken Risoni (Orzo). You can find more quick and easy dinner inspiration here.

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Juicy Thai Beef Lettuce Cups on a white plate

Juicy Thai Beef Lettuce Cups

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5 from 1 review

Juicy Thai Beef Lettuce Cups are delicious, easy and infinitely variable. They are a great catch-all, nutritious, family-friendly meal filled with healthy veg and are made in one pan in just 20 minutes.

  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


Units Scale


  • 1 tbsp tamari or all-purpose soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (see note 1 for substitutions)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (see note 1 for substitutions)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 tbsp water

Thai Beef

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp freshly minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp freshly minced ginger
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) beef (or chicken or pork)
  • 1 cup (100 g) green beans, finely sliced into 1 cm (1/2 inch) lengths
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks or grated
  • 2 handfuls Thai basil leaves (reserve 1 sprig for garnish, see note 2 for substitutions)

To serve

  • 12 cos (romaine) lettuce or iceberg lettuce leaves (try to choose the larger, outer leaves)
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), finely sliced
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) roughly chopped raw unsalted peanuts
  • 1 lime, quartered


  1. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to mix well. Set aside.
  2. For the beef, heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan on medium–high heat.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes.
  4. Add the beef, breaking it up as you go with a wooden spoon. Cook for 2–3 minutes or until just browned (the beef will continue to cook as the other ingredients are added).
  5. Add the beans and carrot and toss for a further 1 minute.
  6. Add the sauce and simmer for 2–3 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the beef is cooked through (see note 3 for sauce consistency).
  7. Serve the beef mixture in a bowl with the lettuce leaves, spring onion, chilli (if using) and roughly chopped peanuts with the lime wedges and reserved Thai basil leaves on the side. Allow everyone to spoon the filling into lettuce leaves and fill with the toppings. Eat with your hands and enjoy! Have some napkins ready, because this one is meant to be messy!


Note 1 – The fish sauce and oyster sauce give the Thai beef a lovely depth of flavour. If these are too intense for some of the eaters in your family, you can substitute either (or both) with more tamari or all-purpose soy sauce. The end result is milder in flavour but equally delicious.

Note 2 – Thai basil has a very distinct, aniseed-like flavour profile and aroma, which works so well in this recipe and elevates it from a nice stir-fry to an amazing, authentic-tasting Thai meal. Most major supermarkets stock Thai basil, but if you can’t get your hands on it, regular basil works as a substitute.

Note 3 – The sauce should be thick and clinging to the beef. If you would like to loosen the sauce, add 1–2 tablespoons of water at a time until your desired consistency is reached. If the sauce is too runny, increase the heat to high and cook for 1–2 minutes until it thickens and the juices begin to evaporate.

Make ahead:

Although this is a super quick and easy meal to prepare when you need to get dinner on the table fast, you can save even more time by washing the green beans ahead of time and cutting them, ready for when you need them. Store washed, cut green beans in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The carrot can also be prepared ahead of time. Cut it into matchsticks (avoid grating if preparing ahead), then place it in an airtight container and cover with water so that the carrot is completely submerged. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Juicy Thai Beef Lettuce Cups leftovers are even better the next day! Store the lettuce leaves and beef filing separately in the fridge, in airtight containers, for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave for best results.

  • Author: Nicole
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: mains, dairy-free, low-carb, budget-friendly, quick and easy, one pan, beef
  • Method: stir-fry, pan
  • Cuisine: Thai, Asian, Southeast Asian