Frozen dumplings are the main filling in these easy lettuce wraps which are a snap to make in just 20 minutes. Garnish them with peanut sauce, crushed nuts and cilantro for a yummy, versatile appetizer or light main dish.
The sky is the limit for building the flavors you love. Depending on my guests, I use vegetarian, pork, chicken or shrimp dumplings. Frozen pot stickers or wontons work well too.
The star of the show is the dumplings – frozen or 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.
What to serve with lettuce wraps
These easy lettuce wraps make a great starter or appetizer, but you can also them as a side or with other appetizers. Here are some options keeping with 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
Tailor To Your Taste
Play around with our 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.
- Pan fry or boil them as you prefer. Check out this article by Serious Eats on how to cook frozen dumplings.
- Use Boston Bibb, iceberg or butter lettuce.
- Or try savoy cabbage (as pictured) which is very sturdy, but not for everyone. If you prefer a softer wrap, use lettuce.
- I use crushed nuts, lemon zest, carrots and cilantro as garnishes. Other options are bean sprouts, alfafa sprouts, pea shoots, chopped canned water chestnuts, chopped cucumber or radish.
- Instead of cashews, try toasted pine nuts, peanuts or sesame seeds.
- Instead of peanut sauce, drizzle with a soy-based mixture of 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, pinch of fresh ginger and a minced green onion.
- Add as much heat as you want to the peanut sauce with sriracha, chili flakes or chili sauce.
Here’s a couple of good shortcuts (in addition to using frozen dumplings of course).
- store-bought peanut sauce instead of homemade peanut sauce
- store-bought sweet chili sauce or teriyaki drizzle
- pre-roasted nuts and pre-grated carrots
- note that boiling the dumplings will usually be easier than pan frying them.
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 to prevent them from sticking to each other. Warm them in a microwave for a minute or so. Peanut sauce can be left at room temperature. Garnishes can be prepared ahead as well. Assemble wraps when you’re ready to serve.
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
Easy Lettuce Wraps 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) or savoy cabbage leaves
- 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 tbsp peanut butter
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 1 tbsp 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 (about 10 minutes). Set aside.
- MAKE PEANUT SAUCE: Whisk together all ingredients for peanut sauce until creamy smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and level of heat (if using hot sauce). 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 or butter lettuce. Or try savoy cabbage (as pictured). 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.