Thai Beef Basil Lettuce Wraps

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It has been way too long since I posted a good Thai dish. I don’t know about you, but I crave good Thai food at least once a week, if not more. Living in Seattle, it’s not hard to find good Thai food (or Vietnamese Pho for that matter). I would almost go as far as to say, there is probably a Thai and Pho restaurant on every other block in the urban areas of town.

We happen to live one block from a really great Thai restaurant and last week when I was sick, I got some take-out soup from there. Simultaneously, I was in bed reading the new issue of BonAppetit Magazine and spotted what looked like a phenomenal recipe for Thai Basil Beef over Rice. I ripped it out and put it in my kitchen, knowing that I was going to make some version of it once I was back on my feet.

Fast forward not even a couple of days and these Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps graced our dinner table. The original recipe is meant to have more of a sauce and be served over rice but I changed it around a bit and adapted it to become lettuce wraps.

These are perfect for a quick mid-week dinner and as long as you keep the spice level under control (see NOTES below for more on that), toddler and kid-friendly.


  • If you want this spicy, try to get a red Thai chile. For a more mild flavor, a red jalapeno will work. Since chilies can really vary in spiciness, smell or taste a tiny piece before you decide how much you want to use. I used half a large red jalapeno for the entire recipe and it was mild. I did this so my son could enjoy it (which he did!) but personally, I would have liked it much spicier!
  • Feel free to sub fermented soy sauce or Tamari for the coconut aminos, but if you are trying to avoid soy and can’t find the aminos in your local stores, Amazon sells it for a reasonable price!
  • I’ve been trying more brands of Coconut Palm Sugar and have found that Wholesome Sweeteners is a good value (at least online!).
  • I am really liking Red Boat Fish Sauce as it is exceptionally high quality and made in a traditional fashion without any added water, preservatives or MSG.
  • As for lettuce, use any rugged leafy green lettuce.  I used Organic Iceberg but Boston Bibb or Butter lettuce or even crisp Romaine leaves would work!

Inspired and Adapted From: Thai Beef with Basil from BonAppetit Magazine – November 2013 Issue

5.0 from 2 reviews
Thai Beef with Basil Lettuce Wraps
8 Points Plus Per Serving -- Serves 6
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tablespoons high heat oil (I used avocado oil), divided
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (both white and green)
  • 1 red chile, thinly sliced (see NOTES on heat), divided
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade and divided
  • 3 medium (or 6 small) carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 6 to 8 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 5-ounce can sliced, peeled water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1¾ pounds pastured ground beef
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt plus a pinch for carrot slaw
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ Tablespoons fermented soy sauce or Coconut Aminos
  • 1½ Tablespoons fish sauce (see NOTES)
  • ½ Tablespoon coconut palm sugar
  • Lettuce Leaves for serving (see NOTES for recommendations on lettuce)
  1. Thinly slice scallions (both white and green).
  2. Thinly slice red chile. Clean basil leaves and place into a single stack. Roll and then thinly slice (chiffonade). Clean carrots, peel and julienne. Squeeze lime juice into a small dish.
  3. Peel and thinly slice garlic.
  4. Drain and rinse water chestnuts and roughly chop.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together coconut aminos, fish sauce and palm sugar until sugar is mostly dissolved.
  1. Combine scallions, half of red chile, 2 cups of basil, carrots, lime juice, 1 Tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Toss until well coated and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  1. Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add all of the sliced garlic and half of the sliced red chile. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add chopped water chestnuts, continue cooking and continuously stirring for 30 more seconds.
  3. Now add ground beef, kosher salt and black pepper. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until beef is cooked through and no pink is visible.
  4. Drain beef through a fine mesh colander and return to pan. Continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes over high heat to try and brown some of the meat and let it crisp up a bit.
  5. Add 2 cups of the basil leaves and the fish sauce dressing, cook for 1 minute, stirring, until wilted and fragrant.
  6. Remove from heat, place in a serving dish and serve with the carrot slaw and crisp lettuce cups. Enjoy!

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps from

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  1. Linda says

    Have made these several times and they are amazing! Quick and easy recipe that can be varied for produce on hand. I have added cilantro or red pepper to bolster up the slaw when I ran low on basil and it was still wonderful. Love you recipes!

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