There are a few constants in life. And the one big question that we’ll always ask ourselves with a mixture of excitement and bewilderment is: What’s for lunch? Every day, until the end of time. Though we’re all motivated by different things, I know that if I’ve got a healthy and delicious lunch lined up, I’m sure to plow through my work a lot faster. That’s where these lettuce wrap recipes come in handy. I can stay focused and productive without worrying about rushing to get a meal together or ordering takeout between meetings when lunch hour hits.
Lettuce wraps are the underrated lunch you didn’t know you needed. I realize that the idea of lettuce may not excite you as much as let’s say—sourdough bread. But stick with me. Lettuce is the perfect blank canvas to let your main ingredients take center stage. It will enhance the flavor in whatever filling you choose, plus, lettuce wraps are one of the easiest meal prep ideas around. Just have your filling ready to go, put it together, and boom you’ve got a meal in under five minutes.
Not only is lettuce the most versatile canvas for your protein, taco fillings, or sautéed veggies, it also won’t weigh you down. We’ve rounded up some of our absolute favorite lettuce wrap recipes that will have your healthy lunches (and dinners!) covered. From juicy burgers to delicious fish “tacos” to some flavorful veg options—these are amazing dishes that will bring your WFH lunch to the next level. Just remember, when it comes to lettuce wraps, there are no rules. So get those creative juices flowing and top your greens with whatever sounds tasty!
How to choose the best lettuce for wraps
Not all lettuce is equal when it comes to creating a perfectly crisp bite of balanced goodness. You definitely want to use something that won’t get soggy quickly and make a mess. Nothing is worse than trying to corral a handful of lettuce wrap detritus! You’re going to want to gravitate towards lettuces like romaine, iceberg, butter, and even collard greens.
I find that collard greens are the sturdiest of all the aforementioned lettuces, but they are slightly more bitter than you might be used to when eaten raw. Butter lettuce and romaine have a size advantage, the leaves can be easily molded to fit your filling, and they have a nice crisp bite. Iceberg is always a solid contender, but I tend to turn towards the others since they have a bit more nutritional value.
Try one of these options for your next lettuce wrap:
- butter lettuce
- collard greens
- iceberg lettuce
- gem lettuce
- romaine lettuce
- savoy cabbage
- bib lettuce
Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
A veggie lettuce wrap does not have to be lacking in protein. These flavorful and hearty wraps are so satisfying and filling that you’ll have all the energy and brainpower you need to get through the rest of the day.
Why we love it: These vegan and gluten-free Mexican salad cups come together in 30 minutes and are healthy, flavorful, and yield enough leftovers to enjoy for days to come. It’s loaded with fiber, protein, and healthy fats—the ideal lunch situation.
Hero ingredient: The cilantro lime dressing adds a bit of cool creaminess without having to add dairy, keeping it light and fresh.
Why we love it: As a tofu obsessive, these wraps really hit the spot. They’re insanely flavorful, easy to make, nutritious, and a delight to eat. Collard greens keep the whole thing together tightly.
Hero ingredient: Store-bought curry paste keeps this recipe full of complex and exciting flavor without requiring additional labor. Just make sure you test the spicy levels before you use it, since they can vary.
Why we love it: Chock full of roasted sweet potato, cauliflower, and crumbled tofu and dressed in a creamy peanut sauce, these just might be my favorite veggie lettuce wraps. They’re tasty, fresh, and loaded with wholesome ingredients to leave you feeling full for hours.
Hero ingredient: The sauce cannot be topped.
Chicken lettuce wraps
Chicken is the perfect go-to when you’re craving animal protein but still want to keep your meal fairly light. It’s a neutral flavor that you can easily add to any of our veg options without overpowering other flavors. Craving Asian, Mexican, or burger vibes? These chicken lettuce wraps have it all.
Why we love it: It’s basically the healthier version of your favorite burger, so what’s not to love? Lean ground chicken, bibb lettuce, and Asian-inspired herbs and spices kick it all up a notch and add a burst of freshness.
Hero ingredient: Curry powder gives these wraps an Asian flair that can’t be beaten.
Why we love it: These Thai basil chicken lettuce cups couldn’t be easier to throw together, are full of fresh, crisp, and tasty flavors, and are Whole30 compliant.
Hero ingredient: You can use sweet basil, but Thai basil gives it something a little extra special.
Why we love it: This lettuce wrap recipe is fun to eat, easy to throw together, and ultra-healthy. It’s light, bright, flavorful, and (thanks to chipotles in adobo) a little smoky. Don’t be put off by the marinade time, you can meal prep them ahead of time or throw them together in the morning so they’re ready to go by lunchtime.
Hero ingredient: The mango avocado slaw is the unexpected twist that makes these chicken lettuce wraps next-level good.
Why we love it: These hoisin chicken cabbage tacos are so tasty you’ll not only be adding them to your lunch rotation, but want to whip them up for your next dinner party as well. Savory, full of flavor, and oh-so-good for you.
Hero ingredient: Camille is partial to the savoy cabbage leaves in this recipe, they hold together way better than iceberg so you can actually stuff it full of filling and not worry about it falling apart on you. Her trick is to blanch the leaves before serving so it’s easier to chew and less bitter.
Why we love it: The chicken is spiced perfectly in this beautifully colorful dish. It’s topped with a delicious pistachio basil goddess sauce that adds a bit of zest and brightness.
Hero ingredient: Pita bread! If you’re looking to add a little carb to your meal, pita bread is the perfect “bowl” for your lettuce wraps and makes it even easier to stuff them to the brim without falling apart.
Seafood lettuce wraps
Another great lean protein idea for your upcoming lettuce wrap is to go with some shrimp or fish. It’s a great mid-day protein that fills you up, is bursting with nutrients, and tastes like a party. Get your fill of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins like D, B2, calcium, and minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. You can’t beat that!
Why we love it: If you’re a shrimp lover, then you won’t want to miss out on these insanely flavorful lettuce wraps. You can get the shrimp already frozen and sans tails, or buy them fresh with tails on if you prefer.
Hero ingredient: Hot chili paste gives the shrimp a serious flavor explosion.
Why we love it: Craving something light and cool? Then check out these salmon lettuce wraps by Simply Recipes. You can use leftover salmon from another dish, or you can make it fresh with a salt and ginger rub and then poach it in lemon-infused salted water. Top it with jicama, cucumber, cilantro, onion, ginger, lime, and mint with some avocado slices. Yum!
Hero ingredient: It was a toss-up between the jicama and ginger, but today the jicama reigns supreme. Crisp, earthy, delicious, and insanely refreshing.
Why we love it: Few things beat a fish taco, whether you’re using Mahi Mahi, halibut, cod, or your fish of choice. It’s great both grilled or pan-fried and doesn’t get too mushy or crumbly. It’s so easy to make and yet feels like a celebratory meal, and who doesn’t want that kind of mini-joy in the middle of a workday?
Hero ingredient: The salsa verde sauce is irresistible.
Pork and beef lettuce wraps
Need a more substantial protein? These pork and beef lettuce wraps are just what you need. They are flavorful, healthy, hearty, and insanely satisfying. Get your fill with these absolutely can’t-miss wraps.
Why we love it: It’s got all the Bahn mi flavor but without the carby calories—think of it as a hearty spring roll. You can pre-make these patties and freeze them so they are ready to go on-demand or make them fresh and enjoy them for a few consecutive meals. Either way, it’s guaranteed to be a lovely lunch.
Hero ingredient: The funky, salty, sour, sweet dipping sauce.
Why we love it: These gluten-free lettuce wraps come together in just 15 minutes and are made with ground beef and kitchen staples you probably already have stocked in your pantry and fridge. The delicious bulgogi flavors make a perfect savory and sweet combo that is almost too good to be true.
Hero ingredient: Tamari! The taste is just too good.
Why we love it: These wraps couldn’t be easier to make and take just about 20 minutes. They’re loaded with flavor and easily customizable depending on your personal preferences. The base uses beef, mushrooms, carrots, and water chestnuts that are sautéed in a skillet with a bit of sesame oil.
Hero ingredient: Water chestnuts are always an unexpected delight that really jazzes up a dish.
This post was originally published on April 21, 2020, and has since been updated.