If you’re looking for a new twist on an easy weeknight dinner these Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps are sure to please. Full of Asian flavor and delectable textures, this recipe comes together in just 20 minutes. It has the best tender, savory ground beef coated in a homemade Korean sauce and served with crunchy fresh toppings.
Enjoy a dinner your family will crave, a quick lunch from leftovers, or make a spread of toppings as an appetizer bar at gatherings. It’ll be your own little adventure of flavors and textures bundled up in a lettuce cup.
Korean Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps – The EASY Way!
Busy weeknight meals call for easy-to-make recipes, but that doesn’t mean you should hold back on the flavor! Each bite of these Korean ground beef lettuce cups is bursting with Asian flare and crunchy texture for a meal the whole family will love!
Plus, you can switch up the toppings to fit anyone’s tastes. Lettuce wrap lovers rejoice! You’ve found a fun and creative way to enjoy ground beef with new and exciting flavors with the same hand-held crisp lettuce cup you love.
Why I LOVE this recipe!
- The best flavor. I love using my Korean beef recipe because it is rich and savory on its own, but we take it a step further by glazing it in a sweet and salty sauce full of Asian flavors like soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil.
- Easy to make. From start to finish, this Asian ground beef lettuce wrap takes just 20 minutes to make in one pan by simply cooking the beef and coating it with sauce.
- Adaptable recipe. It’s already so delicious and full of flavor, but you can switch things up by serving the beef over a salad, in a taco, or in a bowl with all your favorite toppings.
- Great for leftovers. Store the beef separately and reheat for a quick and easy lunch with fresh, crisp lettuce and toppings.
What to Serve with Korean BBQ Beef Lettuce Wraps
Since this dish has the classic flavors of Asian cuisine, it will pair well with many of your favorite Asian side dishes. There are both classic options and some healthy options to keep it light.
Side Dish Ideas
You can choose one or add a few sides to make a wholesome, well rounded dinner.
This Korean Beef Lettuce Wrap recipe is as simple as promised! Just 20 minutes for a family friendly meal.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use when making this recipe to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Ground beef – I like to use leaner beef for less grease, but don’t go too lean. You want that classic beefy flavor to pull through in the finished recipe.
- Onion – Use yellow or red for a stronger oniony flavor or white for a lighter bite.
- Water chestnuts – Drain and rinse first before adding to the beef mixture.
For the Korean sauce
- Soy sauce – You can use regular or low-sodium. For a gluten-free alternative, try coconut aminos or tamari.
- Brown sugar – Brown sugar adds a deep sweetness to the sauce. Honey or maple syrup would also work.
- Garlic + ginger – Fresh is best and highlights the Asian flavors were seeking in this recipe, but you can use jarred minced for a quick substitute if needed.
- Sesame oil – This gives you the signature asian flavor, but can be swapped for any other cooking oil if desired.
- Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes
- Cornstarch + water – A slurry will add body and viscosity to the sauce as it coats the beef.
For the lettuce wraps
- Lettuce – I love butter lettuce for these wraps, but you could also use bib, romaine, or Boston lettuce.
- Shredded carrots
- Green onions
- Spicy mayo
- Yum yum sauce
- Let the sauce work its magic. Once the beef is cooked, the next step is glazing it with a delectable Asian sauce. Let the sauce and beef simmer until it has thickened and clinging on to each beefy morsel for an explosion of sweet, savory, meaty filling for this Asian lettuce wrap recipe.
- Use tortilla shells. Of course, this recipe is all about being light and enveloped in a soft but crisp lettuce shell, but you can always roll up a taco with soft shells, too. Keep the lettuce and fill a flour or corn tortilla with all the fixings!
- Make it as simple or fancy as you’d like. The great thing about tacos or lettuce wraps is making they are unique to your taste with various toppings. For a simple lettuce wrap, enjoy it with just meat! It’s full of flavor and perfect for a quick bite. But, if you want to elevate your Asian lettuce cups, then fill them with beef, sliced green onions, spicy mayo or YumYum sauce, Asian slaw, or shredded cabbage and carrots.
Recipe Short Cuts
If you need to make this recipe, but are extra short on time, here are a few ideas that can help make this recipe even faster!
- Make the beef ahead of time – If you’re cooking up another meal with ground beef, reserve some without seasoning and store it in the fridge. Then, when you’re ready to indulge in these beef lettuce wraps, you can toss the precooked beef in a pan with the sauce to heat up and serve in minutes.
- Use storebought, pre-prepped veggie toppings – When it’s time to top your wraps, you’ll enjoy the simplicity of pre-shredded carrots for a quick topping.
- Use hoisin sauce – This homemade sauce for glazing the ground beef with an array of Asian flavors can be simplified using hoisin sauce. It’s not exactly the same flavor, but it will still give you a delicious-tasting beef.
If you love this recipe as much as we do and want some quick ways to change it up for variety, these little tips will do the trick!
- Korean Pineapple Beef Lettuce Wraps – Add ½ a cup of diced pineapples to the sauce after browning the meat. Pineapples are sweet and mix well with savory beef to slightly modify this recipe. For a crunchy addition, try topping them with pineapple salsa!
- Korean Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps – Skipping the beef is easy using ground turkey instead. It’s lighter and less rich than beef but still super delicious when glazed in the Asian sauce. A little less traditional, but worth trying!
- Korean Lettuce Wraps with Cauliflower Rice – Want a low-carb Asian lettuce wrap but craving something more filling? Scoop a spoonful of soft, fluffy cauliflower rice into the lettuce shell. It will add heft to your wrap without the extra carbs, and its mild flavor doesn’t take away from the true star of this recipe: the sauced-up ground beef.
Korean Beef Lettuce Wrap Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making Korean-style ground beef lettuce wraps, then it is your lucky day! They save and reheat well, and can make the start of another delicious dish.
To save leftovers, keep the beef separate from the lettuce and toppings in airtight containers and store:
- in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
- the beef stored in the freezer up to a month.
More Asian-inspired Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I really hope you will take a moment to grab a few more easy recipes for another busy night!
You can check out all of my dinner recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 can water chestnuts, drained and diced
For the Korean sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 teaspoons water
To prepare the Korean Ground Beef
- Prepare the Korean sauce by combining the soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh garlic, ginger, sesame oil, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Whisk until combined. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and water until it becomes a thin paste. Then stir it into the Korean sauce.
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and onion over medium high heat, breaking the meat up with the spoon as it cooks, until no longer pink. Stir in the water chestnuts.
- Add the Korean sauce to the beef and bring to a simmer. Cook about 5 more minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
To assemble the lettuce wraps
- Core lettuce and gently remove leaves to avoid tearing. Rinse and dry.
- Place a spoonful of the Korean Beef in each lettuce leaf. Top with shredded carrots and green onions. Drizzle with your choice of spicy mayo or yum yum sauce if desired. Serve immediately.