Tempeh Lettuce Cups

tempeh lettuce cups

File this under “Why didn’t I make that sooner?!”

Remember when those Thai Chicken Lettuce Cup appetizers were all. the. rage. oh about six years ago when everyone was wrapping everything from burgers to sandwiches in lettuce? People were obsessed with lettuce-wrapped-anything, and I never got the appetizer hype since I never ate chicken. But I’ve heard about people using tempeh in place of the chicken and since I love tempeh, I knew it’d be an easy recipe to duplicate. I was more than right.

Not only was it insanely easy, but it took everything in my power not to scarf these down, and to savor every bite. The tempeh and peanuts were nutty, the lettuce crisp and fresh, and I added some heat from the red pepper flakes and sriracha sauce. It was a party in my mouth. I have no idea what those chicken wraps taste like, and I don’t care! These may even fool your favorite poultry fan.


1 block tempeh, diced and crumbled

1 bunch Romaine lettuce leaves

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 minced garlic cloves

1 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp lime juice

1 tsp sriracha sauce

Red pepper flakes to taste


Trim and wash lettuce leaves.

Heat garlic in sesame oil in a large skillet for a few minutes. Then, add tempeh and cook for about one minute, using a fork to break up and crumble the tempeh. Meanwhile, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice, and sriracha sauce. Pour over tempeh and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Scoop about two heaping tablespoons of tempeh into each lettuce leaf. Top with peanuts and red pepper flakes, if desired.

Dig in!

vegan lettuce cups


  1. Posted June 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I love tempeh! This is a great idea–such a fun little appetizer to go with an Asian meal!

  2. Posted June 18, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    This looks delicious!
    I have tried tempeh once and was on the fence about it. I really should give it another try.

  3. Janel
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Kristen – I think it’s like tofu, and once you figure out the best way to cook it, its a game changer 🙂 Another favorite tempeh recipe is this one for tempeh tacos http://eatwellwithjanelblog.com/crunchy-tempeh-tacos/
    I think one trick with tempeh is that if you cut it in cubes, and then steam it for about 5 minutes in a steam basket, it takes away a lot of the bitter bite people don’t like, and then it makes it so much softer to crumble and use almost like ground beef/turkey. Let me know if you try it! Hope you had a great trip to SD 🙂

  4. Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    These look fantastic, and I can tell they’ll be dripping with flavor. Can’t wait to try them.

  5. Emily
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I seriously can’t put into words how much I love this recipe – I make it on a weekly basis it seems. Thank you!

  6. Janel
    Posted August 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Aww, I’m so glad you love it Emily! Actually, you reminded me that I kinda want to make it again soon. Putting it on my dinner agenda for next week!

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