Easy Lettuce Wraps Recipe with Dumplings
We’re putting a unique twist on a lettuce wraps recipe with a flavorful dumpling filling. And we’re stepping it up with peanut sauce, crushed nuts and cilantro.
A yummy, versatile appetizer or light main dish in just 20 minutes.
The sky is the limit for building the flavors you love with this easy and delicious recipe. Depending on my guests, I use frozen vegetarian, pork, chicken or shrimp dumplings. Pot stickers or wontons work well too.
The star of the show is the dumplings – frozen or fresh pre-made – to keep things quick and simple. After that it’s up to you.
Choose your wrap, the sauce/drizzle and the garnishes. My only suggestion is to work in a crunch factor with a garnish or two.
Two serving options: 1) already bundled or 2) lay out the ingredients and let guests build their own.
What to expect
Quick: This 20-minute recipe is a great way to prepare an easy appetizer or light meal when you’re short on time.
Easy: Frozen or premade dumplings make this an easy recipe anyone can make.
Delicious: The homemade peanut sauce gives this lettuce wraps recipe great flavor using just a few pantry staples.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Play around with this dumpling lettuce wrap idea with a few of these variations and substitutes.
Use any kind of dumpling, pot sticker or wonton you like or have on hand. You can pan fry, steam or boil them as you prefer. See FAQ for details on ‘how to’.
Use iceberg lettuce, Boston, bibb, little gem or butter lettuce. You just want the fresh lettuce leaves to be sturdy and large enough to hold the dumpling filling even when adding warm dumplings. Romaine leaves are sturdy enough but sometimes a little too narrow to hold the filling.
I tried savoy cabbage (as pictured) which is very sturdy, but it’s not for everyone. If you prefer a softer wrap, more pliable wrap, use lettuce.
My go-to garnishes are crushed nuts, lemon or lime zest, carrots and cilantro. Other options are bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, spring onion, pea shoots, chopped canned water chestnuts, chopped cucumber, or radish.
Instead of cashews, try toasted pine nuts, peanuts or sesame seeds.
Instead of the peanut sauce in the recipe card, drizzle the filling with a soy-based mixture of 1/4 cup regular or low-sodium soy sauce (or coconut amnios),1 tablespoon rice vinegar, pinch of fresh ginger and a minced green onion. Add as much heat and extra flavor as you want to the peanut sauce with sriracha, red pepper flakes or chili oil.
Step by step instructions
The easiest way to cook frozen or fresh dumplings is to boil them. You lose a bit of flavor and texture, but the garnishes can take care of that.
You can steam, boil or pan fry dumplings. Boiling is the easiest way. Here is a step-by-step article on by Serious Eats on how to cook frozen dumplings.
Dumplings are dough with a filling, often wrapped in a pleated shape. They can be steamed, boiled or fried. Wontons are similar but have a thinner dough and often served in a broth. Pot stickers are typically pan fried and then steamed and have a thicker dough than wontons.
Excess liquid is the cause of lettuce wraps getting soggy. After you wash the lettuce leaves, make sure you allow them to dry to remove any small amounts of water. You’ll also want to wait to fill the lettuce cups until right before serving to ensure the peanut sauce doesn’t cause them to become soggy.
If you have a peanut allergy, you can make this savory sauce using almond butter instead.
What goes well with lettuce wraps?
These lettuce wraps make a great starter or appetizer, but you can also them as a side or with other appetizers. Here are some options for an Asian theme.
- vegetable rice paper rolls
- vegetable Wonton Soup
- Thai curried shrimp and vegetables
- Chinese vegetable fried rice
- easy egg drop soup with vegetables
Here’s a couple of good shortcuts (in addition to using frozen dumplings of course).
- store-bought peanut sauce instead of homemade peanut sauce recipe
- store-bought sweet chili sauce or teriyaki drizzle
- pre-roasted nuts and pre-grated carrots
Both the dumplings and peanut sauce can be made ahead. Just add a few drops of oil before covering and storing the dumplings in the fridge in an airtight container, to prevent them from sticking to each other. Warm them in a microwave for 40-60 seconds.
Peanut sauce can be left at room temperature. Garnishes can be prepared ahead as well. Assemble the lettuce wraps when you’re ready to serve the next day.
Other easy lettuce wraps you might like
- shrimp lettuce wraps with mango slaw
- PF Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps (simplified copycat)
- tofu with peanut sauce (in lettuce wraps)
- butternut squash salad cups
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Easy Lettuce Wraps Recipe with Dumplings
- 10 small frozen or fresh dumplings or pot stickers (or 6-8 larger ones)
- oil (if pan frying dumplings)
- 4 lettuce (Boston Bibb, butter, iceberg)
- Garnishes (choose 2-3): e.g. 1/4 cup toasted crushed cashews or peanuts; 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, shredded carrots and/or minced green onions; radishes, water chestnuts, lemon/lime slices
- 2 tablespoon peanut butter
- 3 tablespoon warm water
- 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
- lemon or lime juice to taste (1-2 tsp)
- sriracha hot sauce to taste (optional)
- PREPARE LETTUCE AND GARNISHES. To toast nuts, shake in dry pan over medium heat until light brown and toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and roughly chop.
- COOK FROZEN DUMPLINGS: Cook dumplings (or potstickers) according to package directions. You can boil (4-5 minutes) or pan fry in a large skillet (about 10 minutes). Set aside.
- MAKE PEANUT SAUCE: Whisk together all ingredients for peanut sauce in a medium bowl until creamy smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and level of heat (if you like a spicy peanut sauce, add more of the hot sauce, or you can add less if you want it milder). This can be made ahead.
- ASSEMBLE AND SERVE: Cut dumplings in half or thirds (or keep whole if preferred). Place equivalent of 4-5 halves small dumplings in each lettuce leaf. Drizzle on peanut sauce. Sprinkle with garnishes (carrots, green onion, nuts, and/or cilantro). Serve on cutting board, platter or individual plates. Pass lime/lemon slices to squeeze on top if desired.
- Dumplings: Use any kind of dumpling, pot sticker or won ton you like or have on hand. Pan fry or boil them as you prefer.
- Lettuce: Use Boston Bibb, iceberg, little gem or butter lettuce. Or try savoy cabbage (as pictured), but if you prefer a softer wrap, use lettuce.
- Garnish: used nuts, lemon, carrots and cilantro as garnishes. Other options are: bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, pea shoots, chopped cucumber or radish. Instead of cashews, try toasted pine nuts, peanuts or sesame seeds.
- Peanut sauce: Instead of peanut sauce, drizzle with a soy-based mixture – 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, pinch of fresh ginger and a minced green onion.
- Make Ahead: Dumplings can be made ahead and kept covered in the fridge for several hours, adding a few drops of oil to prevent sticking to each other. Warm them in the microwave on High for a minute or so before assembling. Peanut sauce and garnishes can also be prepared ahead.