Paleo Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Fresh, flavorful, and FAST, these healthy chicken lettuce wraps will be on the table in no time. They’re a major crowd pleaser! (Gluten-Free, Whole30)
Photos, post & video updated March 2020. Originally posted September 2014.
A few years ago, I read the French Kids Eat Everything book. It was a great read–completely fascinating. There were a few things I just couldn’t fathom at that point in my life (with one picky toddler and one problem feeder preschooler who was in the middle of feeding therapy), like children eating beets and liver at school lunch.
Perhaps the most dreamy concept in the book was the idea that French kids eat well (and politely) in restaurants. At the time, I just couldn’t imagine what that would be like.
Because that was…not…my experience.
Going out to eat with tiny kids felt less like a leisurely shared meal and a lot more like a constant dance of trying to keep everyone quiet and entertained while waiting for food, trying to encourage everyone to try what was on the menu, and making sure no one spilled their water for the third time.
You know what? We’re a few years down the road and–generally speaking–going out to eat with my kids has grown into a really enjoyable experience. We’re still absolutely dealing with picky eating at our house (though thankfully, just the run-of-the-mill stuff now), but eating in restaurants as a family, whether we’re traveling, or just out and about on the weekend, has become a really fun thing for us.
One of our favorites is going out for things like egg drop soup and lettuce wraps and stir-fried chicken & veggies. Both kids really enjoy the experience (like basically bottomless rice, let’s be honest), and that means a more pleasant meal for all of us! So, we’ve re-created some of our restaurant faves at home to get to enjoy them even more often.
These paleo chicken lettuce wraps are a great example. Fast (under 30 min!), flavorful (the veggies! The sauce!), and fresh (made from real-food ingredients!), these lettuce wraps are always a BIG hit at our house. Here’s all you need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO MY CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS RECIPE:
- Ground Chicken (Or Turkey Or Pork). I like starting with ground chicken, though other ground meats work. People have made this recipe using turkey, beef, pork, and even veal over the years. Use what you like! (Don’t know where to find ground chicken? See the FAQ for a quick and easy tip!)
- Minced Mushrooms. Michael was a mega mushroom hater when we got married. Like, he didn’t even want to think about them. Aaand he loves these lettuce wraps. The mushrooms are finely diced and really don’t add a lot of texture here since the whole mixture is pretty finely ground/chopped. What they *do* add is a dose of umami (that amazing little something that gives some lovely depth of flavor). They also help fill out these paleo chicken lettuce wraps while keeping things light.
- Water Chestnuts. Fact: I couldn’t tell you what a fresh water chestnut looks like because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. This recipe uses canned water chestnuts (just water chestnuts + water), which add a little bit of crunch and texture that’s crucial for this lettuce wraps recipe. I can get them in the Asian section of most major grocery stores where I live. (People have also tried using finely minced jicama or other veggies like carrots or celery, too!)
- Green Onions, Ginger & Garlic. Now, come the aromatics. This simple trio of flavor boosters gives these chicken lettuce wraps SO much flavor! Lately, I’ve been using frozen garlic and ginger, which I get in the freezer section. It’s easy to keep on hand and tastes as vibrant as fresh without any additives.
- Coconut Aminos (Or Gluten-Free Tamari Or Soy Sauce). Lastly, you’ll add a drizzle of coconut aminos, gluten-free tamari, or soy sauce, depending on your dietary needs. (Coconut aminos is gluten-free, soy-free, paleo-friendly, and Whole30, so keep that in mind if you follow one of those diets!) If you’re using tamari or soy sauce, I tend to recommend low-sodium or reduced-sodium sauces to help moderate the salt content.
- And Lettuce! They wouldn’t be chicken lettuce wraps without lettuce! I’ve used all kinds of lettuce for these lettuce wraps. Butter lettuce, romaine lettuce, and iceberg are my top 3 faves. (See the FAQ below for more details!)
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST PALEO CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS:
CAN’T FIND GROUND CHICKEN? HERE’S HOW YOU MAKE IT! I typically buy ground chicken breast at Sprouts, but making your own is REALLY easy and usually takes under 2 minutes. All you do is put 1 lb. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thighs) into a food processor fitted with the metal S blade, and run it till the chicken is ground finely.
CAN I USE GROUND TURKEY (OR GROUND PORK/BEEF) TO MAKE THESE LETTUCE WRAPS? LOTS of readers have made these with ground pork or turkey over the years without any trouble!
WHAT’S THE BEST KIND OF LETTUCE FOR LETTUCE WRAPS? It’s totally personal preference, but butter lettuce, romaine, and iceberg are all nice. Butter lettuce is the most flexible (and doesn’t tend to break as much when you’re pulling leaves off the head of lettuce), but romaine and iceberg have a little more crunch if that’s something you like. (P.F. Chang’s uses iceberg on their popular lettuce wraps.)
MAKE THESE LETTUCE WRAPS TO FIT YOUR DIET. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, you can use soy sauce for this recipe. For a gluten-free option, we usually use tamari. If you need a paleo or soy-free option, coconut aminos works beautifully.
WHAT DO YOU USE FOR A DIPPING SAUCE? I based my dipping sauce on the one I cobble together at P.F. Chang’s. It’s a mix of equal parts dijon mustard + tamari (or coconut aminos or soy sauce). You can also add a few dashes of chili oil or sriracha if you want a little kick.