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Low Fat Thai Chicken Lettuce Cup Recipe

Updated on February 28, 2012

Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups

This is a Thai Recipe I originally found on and one that I have made on several occassions, with a few variations. For the most part, I am sticking with the original ingredients in this post, however, I have slightly changed the cooking method and I have made suggestions for alternative ingredients in the ingredients list. I hope you enjoy this recipe as it is very simple to do and most importantly a great low fat recipe bursting with flavour.

Serves: 4-10 people pending on serving size (ideal as a starter)

Lettuce Cups with Chilli & Peanuts

Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups, served with extra Chilli & Whole Peanuts...
Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups, served with extra Chilli & Whole Peanuts...

Preparation / Mise en Place

Prepare all the Thai Chicken Cup ingredients before you start cooking the chicken!
Prepare all the Thai Chicken Cup ingredients before you start cooking the chicken!

Lettuce Cup Ingredients

Before you go through the ingredient list, I would like to point out that this recipe is extremely versatile and all ingredient measures are flexible.

In other words, if you prefer more or less of an ingredient, by all means, amend it. I suggest starting off with the correct amount of Chicken and Chicken broth, but from there on out, adust according to your taste buds.


  • 4x Chicken Breast Fillets (600-700 Grams) skinless, boneless chicken breast, coarsely chopped.
    You can pulse your Chicken with a blender, although I prefer chopping using a knife / cleaver. (You could also use chicken mince.)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Nut Oil
    Any other oil that can handle high heat can be used instead. Olive oil can also be used, but then it is recommended that you keep your pan/wok heat lower.
  • 200ml Chicken Stock (Low Sodium / Low Fat broth recommended)
  • 1 Teaspoon minced peeled fresh Ginger (or Galangal)
    I use a fine grater to get the Ginger very fine and juicy (use the juice too)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Water Chestnuts (or Bamboo Shoots)
    Tinned Water Chestnuts / Bamboo Shoots are fine.
  • 1/4 cup chopped Red Onion
    I have sometimes swapped the Red Onion with finely chopped Lemon Grass
  • 1/4 cup sliced Green Onions (Spring Onions)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Corriander
    Due to availability this can be swapped out with Thai Basil, although it is best with the Corriander (Cilantro)
  • Juice of one Fresh Lime + Lime Zest
    The original recipe calls 1/4 Cup LIme Juice, but I found it actually tastes better using the juice of 1x Lime and then to also use the Lime Zest. This also saves you money!
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
  • 12 Iceberg/Bibb Lettuce Leaves
    Tear Lettuce leaves to form small to medium sized 'cups'
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Peanuts (for Serving)
    You can chop the peanuts if you wish; I prefer them whole
  • 2-4 sliced Thai Chilli (for Serving)
    If you cannot find Thai Chillies, substitute for any other medium to hot chilli.
    If you don't like the heat, then use less chilli or none at all.
    You could also use dried Chilli Flakes

Cooks Tip No.1: Please prepare all your ingredients before hand. In other words, have everything chopped and ready before cooking the Chicken as you will need it immediately after cooking. In Chefs terms, this is known as "Mise en Place".

Preparing the Chicken

Chicken, Ginger & Stock in Electric Wok
Chicken, Ginger & Stock in Electric Wok

Part 1 - the Chicken Mixture

In it's entirety, this recipe is extremely simple to do and I have broken it up into two parts, comprising of preparing or cooking the chicken and the second part, of combining all the other ingredients.

Preparing the Chicken

  1. Add the Nut Oil and heat a large non-stick Frying Pan or Wok to high heat and wait for the oil to start smoking ever so slightly.
  2. Add the chopped chicken to the Wok/Pan, being careful not to splash the oil and stir fry quickly to slightly colour the chicken (i.e. slightly opaque). About 1x minute is sufficient as you will cook the chicken through in the chicken stock.
    I find it best to work with two spatulas, so you can seperate the chicken pieces into small bits.
  3. Add 3/4 of the chicken stock and all the Ginger to the pan/wok. The stock will bubble furiously due to the heat and you can turn down the heat slightly, but it must stay at a vigorous simmer.
  4. Stir continuously and cook the chicken, ginger and stock mixture until the stock has almost completely disappeared/evaporated (5-8 Minutes). Taste the chicken to see if it is soft and tasty. If it is a little too firm, add the rest of the stock and cook until evaporated.
  5. Drain chicken and place it into a large mixing bowl.

Cooks Tip No. 2: You can leave out the Nut Oil if you want to reduce the overall fat content. If you opt to do this, then cook the chicken as follows: Place the stock & ginger into the Pan/Wok and bring up to a fast simmer. Add the chicken pieces in batches so that the stock doesn't cool. Stir to seperate the chicken bits and cook until stock evaporates (as per initial instrutions, above).

Thai Chicken Mix for Cups

Thai Chicken Mixture
Thai Chicken Mixture

Part 2 - Combining Ingredients

You should now have your bowl of cooked chicken, ready to take on the rest of the ingredients. It is best to do this while the chicken is hot, although you can serve the dish hot/cold. I am going to share another tip, before we move on, as this may influence the outcome of your individual Thai Chicken Lettuce Cup dish.

Cooks Tip No. 3: Don't add all of any single ingredient, at once. Rather use half of everything and then, taste. Now, you can add more of which ever ingredient appeals to your taste buds, making this your unique version. Remember: One can always add more of an ingredient, but removing it if you use too much may be impossible (especially with the liquid ingredients)

  1. Add Chestnuts
  2. Add Red Onion or Lemon Grass
  3. Add Green Onion (Spring Onions)
  4. Add Corriander or Thai Basil
  5. Add Lime Juice & Zest
  6. Add Sugar
  7. Add Fish Sauce

Mix all the ingredients together and allow for the flavours to mingle. Taste and add more of any ingredient you feel is necessary (refer to Cooks Tip No.3).

Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups

Large Servings of Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups
Large Servings of Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups

Serving Lettuce Cups

It is best to server the Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups whilst the chicken mixture is still warm. The contrast of the warm chicken against the coolness of the crisp lettuce cups adds to the depth of flavours & textures of this meal.

Note: Don't forget about the last two ingredients

  • Put the chopped Chilli in a bowl (serve seperately)
  • Put the Peanuts in a bowl (serve seperately)

To serve, all you need to do, is add a spoonful or two of the chicken mixture to the lettuce cups. It is up to you whether you want to serve indivual portions or serve as a platter for guests to help themselves. Don't overfill the lettuce cups as the idea is that your guest can still add his/her own Chilli and Peanuts and then still wrap/roll up the lettuce cup to eat.

You can also serve with extra Soy Sauce on the table!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and feel free to post your comments...
Thanks for reading!


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    • Duane Reeve profile imageAUTHOR

      Duane Reeve 

      6 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thanks Judy!

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • Duane Reeve profile imageAUTHOR

      Duane Reeve 

      6 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      @Charmaine, Thank You!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Really delicious


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