Vegan Lettuce Wraps are perfect for lunch, and they make a great appetizer or light dinner. These asian-inspired wraps are made with tempeh and Thai peanut sauce, and they're super easy to put together. This recipe is vegan with a gluten-free option.
Back when I worked in an office, we would go out to eat for lunch on Fridays. We almost always went to one of those chain restaurants that are so ubiquitous across the U.S. Without fail, one of my coworkers would always order some sort of lettuce wrap. Their plate would be full of bright green lettuce leaves and a multitude of colorful vegetables, along with a pile of some sort of ground meat. They would assemble their wraps and cheerfully chew their lunch, while I watched and secretly wondered why no one was offering a meat-free version of this dish. Lettuce wraps just seen to scream, “Vegan!”
Vegan Lettuce Wraps
So, I created my own Thai Tempeh Lettuce Wraps, using crumbled tempeh and hearty mushrooms. I’m a sucker for spicy peanut sauce, and it pairs perfectly with tempeh. If I had my own chain restaurant, these wraps would definitely be on the menu.
I originally created this recipe when I was taking Rouxbe’s Professional Plant-Based Certification program. This dish was for a project towards the end of the course. The assignment was to cook a dish using tempeh with a flavor profile from another area of the globe. I love Thai peanut sauce (a lot), so decided to take my dish to that area of the world. Rather than create a standard stir-fry, I opted for something a little different.
I've taught this recipe in many cooking classes to show people how to use tempeh, and it's always a hit. Even die-hard mushroom haters have told me that love it. If you chop the mushrooms up fine enough, they get mixed up in the tempeh, and most don't even notice them. I like to give them a few pulses in my food processor, to save time, rather than chopping each one by hand.
How to make Vegan Tempeh Lettuce Wraps
This recipe may look like it takes a while, but it's super easy.
- First you simmer the tempeh in a bath of stock. This will help the tempeh absorb the sauce later, and it also helps it crumble easier.
- While the tempeh is simmering, you can chop the vegetables for your wraps.
- Next you cook the onion in a little oil until it begins to soften and brown.
- Then you crumble the tempeh into the pan and add the mushrooms. You cook them until the mushrooms soften and the tempeh browns a little.
- While they're cooking, you mix together the sauce.
- Next you pour the sauce into the pan and let it thicken.
- Finally, you assemble your wraps by placing a little bit of the mushroom-temeph mixture on a piece of lettuce and topping it with the carrots, peanuts, peppers, and scallions.
How to Customize Your Vegan Lettuce Wraps
It's easy to make this recipe your own!
- You can add little cooked brown rice to the mushroom-tempeh mixture to make it a little heartier.
- If you can't find butter or bibb lettuce, you can use any leafy lettuce, or even a collard leaf.
- Whole grain wraps can be used instead of lettuce.
- You can add different toppings, such as sliced cucumber or diced avocado.
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake that originated in Indonesia. You can slice and marinate it and then stir-fry, sauté, or bake it. You can also crumble it and add it to dishes like chili and pasta. It can usually be found in the same area of the grocery store as tofu, which is usually the produce are or the refrigerated section.
Because it’s fermented, it can have discolored spots that almost look moldy. It’s perfectly safe to eat, though.
Some tempeh makers mix grains in with the soy beans to add a little texture. If you follow a gluten-free diet, make sure your tempeh isn’t made with barley or wheat berries.
Health coaching clients have told me that they don’t really like tempeh, because it tastes a too fermented. To get rid of that fermented taste, you can steam it before using it a recipe, or you can simmer it a bath of broth for about half an hour, like I do here in this recipe.
Thai Tempeh Lettuce Wraps
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 8 ounces tempeh
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 red onion diced
- 1 pound crimini or button mushrooms coarsely chopped
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon agave
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated or minced
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili paste or more to taste
- 1 head bibb or leaf lettuce carefully separated into individual leaves
- 1 small carrot julienned
- 1 red bell pepper julienned
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- ¼ cup peanuts toasted and crushed
- Sea salt
- Add the stock to a large pan over medium heat, and add the full block of tempeh. Allow to simmer for about half an hour.
- Remove the tempeh from the pan and allow to cool
- Over medium-high heat, add the peanut oil to a pan and then add the diced onion. Cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is fragrant and lightly browned.
- Crumble the tempeh and add it to the pan along with the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have softened and the tempeh has browned, about 10 minutes
- While the tempeh and mushrooms are cooking, whisk together the coconut milk, peanut butter, agave, garlic, ginger, tamari, lime juice, and garlic chili paste in a small bowl.
- Add the sauce to the pan and cook for 5 more minutes, until the sauce has cooked thoroughly and thickened. Taste and add more salt, if desired.
- Serve the wraps by placing a lettuce leaf on a plate. Place some of the tempeh mushroom mixture in the middle of the leaf and top with the red pepper, carrot, scallions and peanuts.
More Tempeh Recipes You Might Enjoy Include
- Lemon Dijon Tempeh with Mushrooms
- Tempeh Marsala
- Apple Pecan Tempeh Salad
- Sloppy Joes with Tempeh and Mushrooms
- Tempeh Piccata
More Recipes with Peanut Sauce You Might Like Include:
- Broccoli and Tempeh with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Peanut Satay Tofu Triangles from 5-Ingredient Vegan by Nava Atlas
- Peanutty Thai Quinoa Salad
- Coconut-Peanut Butter Chickpea and Broccoli Stir-Fry
- Carrot Noodles with Peanut Sauce from Vegan for Everyone by Laura Theodore