Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps


I la-la-love the flavor palette of this time of year: lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, cranberries, sweet potatoes… everything is earthy and warm and makes me want to curl up under a blankie with a cup of tea.

But we superheroes-in-training can only afford to do that on rare occasions. The rest of the time, we need foods with bright colors and bright flavors that get us fired up to lift heavy things, run fast, beat the clock, and demolish our preconceptions about what we can do.

Yes, I know: that’s a lot to expect from a plate of food. But you know what? These lettuce wraps deliver. They’re easy to make from ingredients you probably already have in the house, and I guarantee, you will feel ready to take on the world after your snarf down these babies.

Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps with Sunbutter Sauce
Serves 2-4, depending on their size and how much they lift heavy stuff

The Beef:
  • favorite fat for sautéing (I like unrefined coconut oil.)

  • 1/2 onion, diced fine

  • 2-3 fresh chili peppers: hot, mild, or a mix, washed, seeded, and sliced thin

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 lb. happy cow ground beef

  • a handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)

The Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup Sunbutter

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 teaspoons coconut aminos or homemade substitute

  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

  • 1/4 cup water

  • pinch dried ginger

The Go-Alongs:
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 head lettuce: red, green, butter, or a mix, leaves washed and separated

  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced

  • 2 carrots, shredded


Prepare the go-along vegetables. Wash and slice the vegetables. Place on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Put in the fridge ’til you’re ready to eat.


Make the sauce. Place all ingredients in a food processor/blender and blend until smooth. Set aside. (You can also mix by hand if you want an arm workout. Try your non-dominant hand!)


Make the beef. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite fat in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and peppers, sauté until vegetables are slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the ground beef and crushed garlic. Stir fry until the meat is cooked through. To make it really sing, throw in the basil leaves and cook just until the basil is wilted.


Serve and eat! Serve everything family style so your fellow foodies can make their own wraps to order. I like to start with a lettuce leaf, add a few slivers of onion and cucumber and some carrots, then top with the meat mixture, and drizzle that with some of the Sunbutter sauce. Just roll up and eat! It’s fun finger food that’s packed with nutrition, bright colors, and a tasty contrast of flavors: meaty richness, cool veggies, creamy sauce, and a hint of fire from the peppers. And because it’s communal and potentially messy, it invites lots of conversation and “try it this way” idea sharing. It represents the best of eating with family and friends.

Bonus dessert: Berries or mango with coconut milk and a spinkle of grated coconut.

I’m excited to once again join the punk rock foodies on Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.


Print this recipe
Classic (Paleo) Beef Stew

There's something so comforting about a velvety bowl of meat and potatoes. This recipe doesn't include any exotic spices or surprising ingredients, and the technique...

Read More
A Spicy-Sweet Paleo Dinner Party

Our rental house in Vermont has plenty of room to spread out, and frequently, our extra-large dining table is surrounded by Dave's classmates from the Center for...

Read More



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.