These vegan lettuce wraps with tempeh can be whipped up in a matter of minutes for a simple and delicious weeknight dinner meal. Crumbled tempeh gets stir fried in a flavorful sauce before wrapping in tender lettuce leaves. A favorite summer recipe of mine!
This post was originally published on 6/7/2019, but has been updated with more instructions and a few tweaks to make this recipe even better. I hope you love it!
Say hello to one of your new favorite weeknight recipes for summer! These vegan tempeh lettuce wraps take less that 30 minutes to whip up and are just jam packed with flavor. Crumbled tempeh gets stir fried in a flavorful sauce before wrapping in tender lettuce leaves.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Quick: Can be whipped up in less than 20 minutes in just one skillet on the stove.
- Warm Weather Friendly: A great option for warm weather since there is no need to heat up the oven and the time spent cooking at the stovetop is minimal.
- Versatile: Can be served as an appetizer OR as a light main entree.
- Gluten Free: With a couple swaps like gluten free tempeh and tamari instead of soy sauce this recipe can easily be made without any gluten. Tempeh is usually gluten free but you have to read the ingredient list carefully as some brands add grains to their tempeh that may contain gluten.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Tempeh: tempeh is one of my favorite plant-based proteins since it is so adaptable for recipes that typically feature a ground meat. Find tempeh in the refrigerator section of the grocery by the tofu. You can also sub crumbled tofu or a plant-based meat alternative like ground Beyond Meat for the tempeh.
- Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil: Adds lots of umami flavor. Use tamari instead of soy sauce if you want this dish to be gluten free.
- Peanut Butter: Adds a little richness to the flavorful sauce on the tempeh.
- Ginger: Pairs well with the other flavors in this wrap. Fresh ginger will add more flavor, but you can use about 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger instead.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic will have the most flavor, but you can use about 1 teaspoon garlic powder if you’d like.
How to Make this Recipe
STEP 1: Start by stirring up the marinade you’ll use for the tempeh which includes: soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, ginger, brown sugar, and broth.
STEP 2: Toss your tempeh in the pan with the oil to brown. Turn off the heat and and stir in the marinade.
STEP 3: Assemble your lettuce wraps and garnish with sesame seeds, chopped mint, chopped fresh cilantro, etc. Squeeze a bit of lime on just before serving.
- Serve it up in lettuce leaves for a super simple plant-based entree or appetizer. We used butter lettuce and purple romaine leaves for our lettuce cups but you could use iceberg lettuce as well. (I saw the purple romaine at the farmers market last week and had to get it for this recipe!) You can also serve the filling in a tortilla or flour wrap if you want.
- Jazz up your vegan tempeh lettuce cups up by garnishing them with some fresh cilantro, sliced jalapeño, green onion, extra sriracha, sesame seeds, mint, and/or a squeeze of lime. Go crazy and do them all or pick a couple that sound most appealing to you. Chopped Thai basil is also a great garnish option if you can find it.
- Want even more sauce? Drizzle on some of this peanut sauce!
- Add more veggies to bulk up the filling. Chopped water chestnuts are a popular addition (I just don’t like them!). You can also add a bit of shredded carrot, chopped peppers, or a bit of bok choy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that have been pressed into cake. Although that may sound unappetizing, tempeh is a great plant-based protein option for quick and easy meals like this one! For this recipe, you’ll crumble up the tempeh to use it in place of the ground chicken or pork that is normally used in lettuce cups.
Yep! Use firm tofu that has been pressed for a few minutes to remove the extra moisture. Crumble with your hands and stir fry it just like you would the tempeh in the recipe below.
Choose a lettuce with large leaves, usually wee and up buying a head of lettuce for this recipe vs bagged lettuce. Use a tender leaf lettuce like Bibb lettuce or butter lettuce for wraps that are easy to hold. If you prefer some crunch, use romaine lettuce leaves OR iceberg. You can also use cabbage leaves.
What to Serve with these Lettuce Wraps
Here are a few suggestions that would be tasty side dishes with these lettuce wraps:
Make Ahead and Storage
The filling for these lettuce cups can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge in an airtight container. To reheat, add to a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with a splash of water and sauté until warmed through.
Filling can be frozen and reheated in the microwave or in skillet on the stovetop.
Looking for other tasty tempeh recipes? Check out these!
Vegan Lettuce Wraps
- 1 non-stick skillet
- 1 microplane
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (tamari if gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 8 oz tempeh crumbled
- Lettuce leaves, jalapeño, lime, sesame seeds, mint, green onion
Make the Sauce
- Add the soy sauce, water, peanut butter, sriracha, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Make the Tempeh
- Add the oil to a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh to the pan with the leftover oil and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over the tempeh. Turn off the heat and stir to coat.
- To assemble, add tempeh to lettuce leaves and add desired toppings like green onion, cilantro, mint, sesame seeds, and a squeeze of lime.
- Serves 2 people as a main dish or 3-4 as an appetizer.
- Stir together the sauce ingredients and store in an airtight jar up to 3 days in advance. You can also make the filling a couple days in advance and reheat in a skillet with a splash of water.