DNX FOOD Recipes Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce post thumbnail image

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps are a lower-cal version of Vietnamese rice paper rolls. The fresh herbs and peanut dipping sauce are key here! Everything else you can switch: prawns for shredded chicken, fish or even tofu, with any shreddable veg you want. Excellent no-cook meal!

Vietnamese lettuce wraps
Vietnamese lettuce wrap platter

Vietnamese lettuce wraps

These lettuce wraps are not strictly Vietnamese authentic (as far as I know), but they certainly embrace all that we love about Vietnamese food – fresh and light yet never boring, using an abundance of crunchy vegetables, herbs and a killer peanut dipping sauce.

That’s definitely a signature of Vietnamese food – wickedly good sauces that make everything delicious! Honestly, you could just smother a bowl of otherwise bland boiled vegetables in that sauce and it will make it 100% scoff-able!

Vietnamese peanut sauce for Vietnamese lettuce wraps
Drizzling sauce on Vietnamese lettuce wraps

Ingredients in Vietnamese lettuce wraps

Here’s what you need to make these. Yes there are a fair few components. But once you gather everything, it’s just a matter of a bit of chopping then piling everything on platters for people to help themselves. No cooking! 🙌🏻

The peanut dipping sauce

I’m putting this first because, frankly, it makes you forget you’re eating healthy because it’s so good!

Vietnamese peanut dipping sauce
  • Natural peanut butter – Pure peanut butter is made with JUST peanuts – no sugar, oil or other additives – so the peanut flavour is stronger. It’s also thinner which makes it more suitable for making sauces – commercial spread will make the sauce much thicker. You’ll find natural peanut butter in the health food section or alongside other spreads in regular grocery stores.

  • Hoisin – Sweet and savoury, this is a flavour shortcut so don’t skip it!

  • Lime juice – For fresh tang. Substitute with rice vinegar.

  • LOW FAT coconut milk – Thinner than full fat (so the sauce isn’t too thick) and also the coconut flavour is not as strong so it doesn’t overwhelm the other flavours. If you only have full fat, that’s fine, just thin it with a little water, directions in the recipe notes.

  • Garlic – Because it makes it better.

  • Sambal oelak – A chilli paste with flavourings, for a bit of heat. It doesn’t make this sauce spicy. Substitute with any other chilli sauce or paste (just add a bit and taste) or feel free to leave it out.

  • Dark soy – Deepens the sauce colour and adds flavour plus salt. You can substitute with regular or light soy sauce, but the sauce colour will be a bit paler.

  • Sugar – For a touch of sweetness. If you use full fat coconut milk or commercial peanut butter spread, you might not need this.

  • Salt – Just the soy isn’t enough, and adding more made it too soy-saucey, I found, and overtook the peanut flavour. So I switched to adding a bit of salt.


Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Prawns
  • Prawns/shrimp – Here in Australia, we are blessed with great prawns! Sold pre-cooked, boiled straight out of the water to lock in freshness. However, feel free to cook your own, I’ve included directions in the recipe notes.

    Other protein options – Because the peanut sauce is so good, you can literally use any protein even if it’s plain! Think – shredded poached chicken, or leftover pan-fried fish or salmon (flake into big chunks), and even non-Asian foods like bits of roast beef. And of course, leftover Lemongrass Chicken or Pork would literally be perfect. 🙂

  • Lettuce – Use any lettuce you want suitable for wrapping or stuffing. I’ve used baby cos (romaine) which are nice and crisp, which are natural boat-shapes making them ideal for making lettuce wraps. Butter lettuce, which have soft leaves so they wrap without breaking, are also ideal. Iceberg lettuce can also be used.

  • Beansprouts – Perky and fresh, and no chopping! (Tip: Store in a container of water, fully submerged, change the water every couple of days. They will stay fresh for a week, compared to 2 – 3 days in the bag).

  • Cucumber – Julienned. Not too finely, a bit of crunchy is nice!

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Prawns
  • Fresh herbs – The classic combination of mint and coriander/cilantro, to be used in abundance! For those of you who can’t stand coriander/cilantro, use more mint plus chives and/or green onion (cut into batons).

  • Vermicelli noodles – or glass noodles. These fill out the meal a bit so it’s not just vegetables. But if you’re really counting carbs, you could omit them or opt for a lower-carb option like konnyaku (konjac) which are the famous Japanese zero-calorie noodles that you can even find in regular grocery stores these days (like this one at Woolworths in Australia).

  • Peanuts – for sprinkling.

  • Birds eye chilli – for an optional hit of fresh heat and a lovely sprinkle of red colour on the platter.


You can totally just use plain carrots, finely julienned using a shredded or box grater, or some nifty knife work.

Or you can add great extra flavour into your wraps by making Vietnamese pickled vegetables! These are the same pickles used in Banh Mi and it’s one of the things that makes it so special: the crunch with the tang balanced with a bit of sweet. Here’s what you need:

Chicken Banh Mi ingredients
  • Carrot and daikon (white radish) – These are two pickled vegetables commonly used in Vietnam, including in Banh Mi. They are cut into thin batons so you get a terrific crunch (albeit pickled-softened-crunch!) when you bite in them. Don’t be tempted to shortcut cutting the vegetables by using a box grater. I tried (the lazy cook in me couldn’t resist) – and it just wasn’t the same. A big vinegary pile of coleslaw-like mush. I missed the crunch!

  • Rice wine vinegar – This is the vinegar used for the pickled vegetables, an Asian vinegar made from rice. Substitute with apple cider vinegar.

  • Salt and sugar – For pickling. These pickled vegetables are a bit sweet and bit salty, nice balance between the two.

Pickled vegetables for banh mi

How to make Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps

It’s no cook, if you use pre-cooked prawns like I do!

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Prawns
  1. Soak vermicelli noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes (or whatever your packet says). Then drain, rinse under water (so they don’t stick together) and allow excess water to drain off thoroughly before using (about 5 minutes in the colander).

  2. Quick pickled vegetables – Dissolve the sugar and salt in hot water, then mix in the vinegar.

  3. Pickle the carrot and daikon for 2 hours then drain. Or keep them in the pickling liquid for weeks!

  4. Cut the prawns in half horizontally and remove the vein (that’s a nice word for poop shoot which I really wanted to avoid writing, but for clarity, decided I better include it 😂).

    I like to cut the prawns thinner because they sit inside lettuce wraps better. I find whole prawns a little too chunky, though if I was using small prawns I would use them whole.

Lay it all out on a platter

Basically, once the above prep has been done, you just lay everything out on a giant platter or in various bowls, plonk it on the table and tell people make your own dinner! 😂

Vietnamese lettuce wrap platter


And as for the lettuce wrap part, there really are no rules. But here’s a guide for the order in which I do it:

  1. Noodles first then whatever vegetables you want to add. Because – newsflash – you don’t have to stuff everything you see on the platter into every lettuce wrap!!

  2. Prawns – Top with prawns and stuff the herbs down the side.

  3. Sauce – Drizzle with sauce, sprinkle with peanuts and chilli.

  4. Then bundle it up and bite!

Vietnamese lettuce wrap bundled and ready to eat

And there you have it. Another one of my DIY spread meals. I’m a big fan of these for gatherings! Take more of what you like, avoid the things you don’t. Everything can be prepared well in advance, piled onto the platters then kept in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Bonus: It travels well. In fact, I sent the platters you see in this post to my team at RecipeTin Meals. They cook for the vulnerable 5 days a week, so it’s the least I can do to cook for them every now and then. (Well, technically shoot leftovers…..same, same! 😈).

Got more suggestions for fillings? Share them below so others can read your ideas! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Vietnamese lettuce wraps

Vietnamese Peanut Sauce Lettuce Wraps

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5 from 15 votes
Servings4as a meal
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Recipe video above. Such a great DIY summer spread, a regular all through summer in my circles! It’s essentially a lower-cal version of Vietnamese rice paper rolls. The fresh herbs and the peanut sauce are key here! Everything else you can switch: prawns for shredded chicken, pan fried salmon or other fish (flake into big chunks) or even tofu (I pan fry batons). Use whatever shreddable veg you want. Emergency version: store bought roast chicken (shredded) + packet shredded coleslaw veg + peanut sauce + noodles. SO GOOD.


The lettuce cups:

  • 300g / 10 ozpeeled whole cooked prawns/shrimp, medium (600g/1.2lb unpeeled whole prawns – this is what I use) – Note 1
  • 75g / 2.5 ozdried vermicelli noodles(or glass noodles or rice)
  • 12 large or 16 -20 smalllettuce leaves(I used baby cos/romaine), eg iceberg, butter lettuce

Veg and herbs:

  • 1batchquick pickled carrots and daikon, below *recommended* OR 2 carrots finely julienned (use plain)
  • 2cupsbeansprouts
  • 2cucumbers, julienned
  • 2cupsmint leaves
  • 2cupscoriander/cilantro sprigs(sub with chives + extra mint)
  • 3birds eye red chilli, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1/4cuproasted peanuts, finely chopped (recommended)

Vietnamese Peanut Sauce:

  • 2tbspnatural peanut butter, smooth (ie not sweetened) – Note 2
  • 2tbsphoisin
  • 1 – 2tbsplime juice, sub rice vinegar
  • 1/3cupLOW FAT coconut milk(Note 3)
  • 1large garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1tsp+ sambal oelak(or other chilli sauce/paste of choice), can omit (adj to taste)
  • 1tspdark soy(Note 4)
  • 1tspwhite sugar
  • 1/2tspcooking salt / kosher salt

Quick pickled vegetables

  • 2medium carrots, peeled cut into 2 mm / 1/10″ batons
  • 1/2large white radish (daikon), peeled, cut the same as carrots
  • 1 1/2cupsboiling water
  • 1/2cupwhite sugar
  • 4tspcooking salt / kosher salt
  • 3/4cuprice wine vinegar(sub apple cider vinegar)


  • Pickle first – Put the boiling water, salt and sugar in a bowl. Mix to to dissolve, then add vinegar. Submerge vegetables and leave for 2 hours. Drain then use per recipe (or store in fridge submerged in liquid).
  • Peanut sauce – Mix the peanut sauce ingredients and set aside for the flavours to meld while you prepare the platter. Start with 1 tbsp lime juice and add more if you want tarter.
  • Prawns (shrimp) – Cut the prawns in half horizontally and remove the vein.
  • Noodles – Soak the noodles in boiling water per packet directions. Rinse under cold water (to prevent stickiness) then drain very well.
  • Lay it all out – Pile everything onto a giant platter or put things in little bowls, then let everybody help themselves!
  • Assemble – Here’s my order: lettuce leaf, noodles first, then veg* (carrots, bean sprouts etc), prawns, stuff herbs down the side, drizzle with sauce, sprinkle with peanuts and chilli. Bundle and bite!

Recipe Notes:

* Sometimes I like to be a rebel and not use all the veg in every lettuce wrap, especially if I’m using small lettuce leaves. Just put what you want in your lettuce wrap!1. Or cook your own – just toss 300g/10oz raw peeled prawns with a little salt and pepper. Preheat oil in non stick pan on high and cook each side for 1 1/2 min (medium) to 2 minutes (large ones), then remove.2. Natural peanut butter is just peanuts, no sugar no salt. Flavour is more intense and it is runnier than peanut butter spread which makes it idea for sauces. Mix well before use as it separates if not used regularly. Can sub with peanut butter spread but your sauce will be thicker with slightly less peanut flavour.3. Low fat coconut milk is thinner which makes the sauce not too thick. If you only have full fat, that’s fine, use 1/4 cup then top up with water.4. Dark soy is more intense flavoured than regular and light soy, and darkens sauce colour. But you can substitute with light or all-purpose soy (more on difference soy sauces here).Leftovers – The peanut sauce will keep for 4 days in the fridge or freezer for 3 months. Nutrition assumes all the sauce and vermicelli noodles are consumed, and half the pickles. You probably won’t use all the pickles but you’ll be fine with that because they last for weeks and weeks in the fridge!

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 320cal (16%)Carbohydrates: 40g (13%)Protein: 18g (36%)Fat: 9g (14%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 95mg (32%)Sodium: 1075mg (47%)Potassium: 748mg (21%)Fiber: 6g (25%)Sugar: 13g (14%)Vitamin A: 7316IU (146%)Vitamin C: 30mg (36%)Calcium: 167mg (17%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Life of Dozer

This is how he kicked off the new year – begging for the very croissant we just gave to Jeff*. Shame on you Dozer. Shame on you! 😂

* Jeff is a local who lives at Bayview dog park in the northern beaches of Sydney where I lived for 10 years until 10 months ago. I still take Dozer for a romp at the beach regularly! Jeff is a big reason why people travel from all over Sydney to visit Bayview dog park – because he is the reason why the park is so pristine.

Dozer final walk at Bayview

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