This ground pork lettuce wraps recipe is a total crowd pleaser! Tender browned ground pork mixed with crunchy veggies and a tangy sweet and sour sauce, all wrapped up in a cool and crisp bibb lettuce leaf, makes for a surprisingly satisfying meal in under 20 minutes.
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Pork Lettuce Wraps
The high today is forecasted to be 82 degrees here in Central Ohio, and you know what that means… Time to break out all of my favorite warm weather recipes — like these light and delicious pork lettuce wraps! Browned ground pork and crisp veggies in a tangy Asian-inspired sauce are wrapped up in bibb lettuce leaves for a surprisingly filling dish that’s totally perfect for either lunch or dinner.
Ground pork lettuce wraps are also an ideal quick and simple appetizer. Have guests coming over? A platter of them is sure to please. No one will guess it only took you 20 minutes to throw them together. I love a good versatile recipe, don’t you?
Why Ground Pork Lettuce Wraps?
You might be wondering why I chose to make these lettuce cups with ground pork and not ground chicken, which is what you’ll typically find on the menu at most restaurants. It comes down to FLAVOR. Ground pork is naturally slightly higher in fat than ground chicken, and as we all know, fat = flavor! So using ground pork makes these Asian pork lettuce wraps extra flavorful and juicy.
Plus, buying ground pork at my local grocery store is a fantastic way to support my favorite Ohio Pork farmers! If you’re been around for awhile, you might recall I mentioned meeting Farmer Tom Graham last year? Well, I had the opportunity to visit Oaklawn Farms in person last week, and I learned a TON about the journey that pork makes from farm to table.
Shower in, shower out
But first I had to take a shower… Yep, really. NO ONE is allowed to enter a pig barn without first taking a shower to avoid spreading disease. So I showered and put on a super (not) cute blue coverall and giant rubber boots for my tour. And then I got to take another shower upon leaving — which I was very grateful for, LOL! Pig barns aren’t necessarily dirty, but they do have a distinct odor that clings to everything you’re wearing.
Pig farming has changed immensely over the last 30 years. Pigs are raised indoors these day, and complex computer systems monitor everything from the water and feed being consumed on a daily basis to the air quality and temperature range of the barn.
But that doesn’t mean that pig farmers can remain hands off. They walk the barns daily (often several times a day!) to interact with and inspect the pigs, and there’s still a good amount of paperwork that’s kept by hand. Honestly, I was surprised at the amount of work Farmer Tom manages to tackle in a day with very little assistance, especially since he grows other crops on the farm.
A few more facts I learned:
- As I mentioned, pigs are raised indoors now, which means they have very regulated diets and environments that create uniform and healthy pork.
- Air is circulated throughout the barns every 30 seconds, which helps to keep it clean and regulate the temperature. There are also curtains that can be raised or lowered, to help keep it consistent.
- The floors in a pig barn are comprised of slats a few inches apart. This allows the pig manure to fall through, and it’s then recycled with enzymes into fertilizer for crops, many of which are used to feed the pigs, creating a symbiotic cycle.
- Farmer Tom’s farm is what’s known as a finishing farm. He receives the piglets when they’re a few weeks old and raises them until they’re market weight. A pig reaches market size in just about 6 months, and the weight of a market-ready hog is about 270 pounds!
Easy Pork Lettuce Wraps Recipe
Okay, back to this easy-peasy pork lettuce wraps recipe… The ground pork mixture is extra flavorful with a lovely sweet and sour profile, thanks to a simple sauce made with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and freshly grated ginger. Aside: I just adore the scent of fresh ginger. It’s so invigorating!
I also toss in some diced onion, diced water chestnuts, and a couple of cups of shredded coleslaw mix to bulk it up and add texture. I recommend looking for a colorful coleslaw mix that has both green and red shredded cabbage, along with shredded carrots for the very prettiest pork lettuce cups.
How To Make Ground Pork Lettuce Wraps
20 minutes — that’s truly all you need to get these ground pork lettuce cups on the table! Pull all of your ingredients out, prep any that need dicing, and then follow along below.
- Start by browning the ground pork over medium-high heat with a little olive oil. Season it with a little salt and pepper, and break it up as it’s cooking. Continue cooking it until there’s no pink remaining, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add in the diced onions and stir in the sauce ingredients: garlic, fresh grated ginger, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Continue cooking until the onions become translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, and then stir in the cole slaw mix and chopped water chestnuts. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon approximately 1/4 cup of the ground pork mixture into the lettuce leaf of your choice. Roll or fold like a taco and enjoy!
What kind of lettuce should you use for lettuce wraps? Well, I prefer to use Boston bibb lettuce or butter lettuce, because their leaves are soft and flexible with a fairly neutral flavor. If you prefer a little more crunch, you can choose iceberg or romaine. However, iceberg lettuce doesn’t fold as easily, making for messy eating, and romaine has a bit of a stronger flavor.
How To Serve Pork Lettuce Wraps
You can serve these Asian pork lettuce wraps one of two ways: 1) prep a big platter of pre-filled lettuce cups, or 2) serve them tapas style with a bowl of the ground pork mixture and a stack of lettuce leaves. Both have their advantages and work equally well. I lean toward ready-made lettuce wraps when I serve them for dinner, because I have teenage boys that like to really load them up, leaving not-quite-enough for others.
Tapas style is perfect for a party setting, especially when served with some additional toppings, like diced green onions and toasted sesame seeds. You can also mix up a separate batch of the oriental sauce to drizzle over them, and some lime wedges on the side provide a bit of acid that wakes everything up.
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Wondering what to serve with pork lettuce wraps? Here’s a few simple and tasty choices:
- Asian Cucumber Salad — this simple Asian cucumber salad recipe is super light and refreshing… Rice vinegar and dark sesame oil, along with toasted sesame seeds, give it a delicious oriental flair!
- Coconut Milk Rice — this simple coconut milk rice recipe is a total family favorite. Savory, with a very mild coconut flavor, it’s also the perfect base for tacos, fried rice, meal prep bowls, and more!
- Quick Pickled Veggies — these sweet & spicy quick pickled veggies are a simple mixture of your favorite vegetables submerged in a quick pickle brine with a bit of spice. Makes for a super easy, healthy, and flavorful side or condiment!