Spicy lentil lettuce wraps make a tasty vegetarian meal to please all types of eaters. Lentils are a terrific budget-friendly ingredient to replace meat. A recipe that's easy enough for weeknights dinner or to make ahead for the week.
Recipe: $4.00 | Per Serving: $1.00 | Yield: 4
These lentil lettuce wraps are a little spicy, with a hint of sweetness from the tomatoes and the quick vinegar deglaze. Then top these vegetarian lettuce wraps with lime (100% required) and sliced or mashed avocado. You won't hate them, I promise.
Why You Will Love Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
- So cheap and tasty.
- About 15 minutes of hands-on time. The rest of the time is for cooking the lentils.
- A tasty recipe that's a great way to introduce more vegetarian meals to the family.
- Easy to make ahead to use for meals throughout the week and the lentils freeze great too!
Ingredients You Need
These vegetarian lettuce wraps with lentils are made using simple, wholesome ingredients. Let's take a look at the highlights.
- Oil: You can use olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee.
- Aromatics: I used red onion and fresh garlic but you can also use white or yellow onions.
- Veggies: Fresh carrot, canned diced tomato, and jalapeño add nutrition and flavor to your vegetarian lettuce wraps.
- Spices and seasonings: The spicy lentils are flavored with cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
- Vinegar: Adds a bit of acidic flavor to the lentils to balance and brighten the flavor. Use any neutral vinegar such as white vinegar, apple cider, or rice vinegar.
- Lentils: You will need uncooked brown or green lentils. This recipe will not work well with yellow or red lentils. Liquid: Use water to keep the veggie lettuce wraps more budget-friendly or you can use veggie or chicken broth for a boost of flavor.
- Lettuce leaves: Butter lettuce, romaine, Bibb lettuce, or cabbage all work best for lettuce wraps.
- Toppings: Fresh avocado and a squeeze of lime.
Substitutions and Variations
- Canned tomatoes: You can use one cup of fresh tomatoes in place of the canned ones if you prefer.
- Other wraps: If you don't want to use lettuce wraps you can also use regular wraps or gluten-free tortillas instead - we love these cassava flour tortillas!
- No lentils? You can make this with other legumes instead but make sure the beans are already cooked before starting the recipe.
- Don't like spicy? Eliminate or reduce the amount of jalapeño and red pepper flakes.
How to Make Lentil Veggie Lettuce Wraps
Are you ready to get cooking? Follow along with this overview of how to make this recipe. Detailed instructions are in the recipe card.
- Gather all the ingredients and prep the vegetables according to the ingredient list.
- Sauté the diced onion in oil until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and jalapeño and sauté for two minutes.
- Add the carrots, diced tomato, and all the seasonings except the salt. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Next, add the vinegar to the pan and use a spoon to scrape up any browned bits in the pan.
- Add the lentils and three cups of water to the pot and bring to it a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer until the water evaporates and the lentils are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Add a little more water if necessary to keep it from sticking.
- When the lentils are cooked, add the salt and let them cool briefly.
- Serve the spicy lentils on sturdy lettuce or cabbage leaves with sliced avocado and fresh lime.
- Let the lentils cool slightly before assembling the vegetarian lettuce wraps. This way the lettuce won't immediately wilt the lettuce.
- Store leftover lentils and lettuce separately. Store the lentils in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months. The lettuce will last in the fridge for 5-7 days. Make sure it is fully dry and stored in a container to keep it fresher longer.
- Adjust the spiciness according to your own tastes. If cooking for kids, you can leave out the spicy elements and serve them up on the side at the table.
- One serving is 2 large vegetarian lettuce wraps, which is the perfect size for lunch.
- If you want a little more food, you can use up to 1 ½ cups of dry lentils and ¾ cups more water without increasing the other ingredients.
- Add the salt at the end - tomatoes and salt both slow down the cooking time for the lentils, so if you add salt earlier, it might take up to twice as long to cook the lentils.
Romaine, Bibb lettuce, butter lettuce, and even cabbage leaves are sturdy enough to hold ingredients but also easy to fold around the additional ingredients to eat.
Of course, lettuce is a bit more delicate than other types of wraps but one technique that works great to make it a bit sturdier is to double up the leaves to support the toppings you add.
More Lentil Recipes
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Lentil Lettuce Wraps (Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil can also use coconut or ghee
- 1 medium red onion diced (white or yellow also ok)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeño or other spicy pepper, ribs and seeds included for spice, minced
- 1 carrot shredded (or diced ¼ inch)
- 1 cup canned diced tomato or 1 cup diced fresh tomato
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 1 tablespoon vinegar white, dark, apple cider, etc.
- 1 cup uncooked brown or green lentils
- 3 cups water or broth more as needed
- 6-10 lettuce leaves butter lettuce, romaine, bib lettuce, or cabbage
- 1 avocado
- 1 lime
- In large pot with a lid, sauté diced onion in oil until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add minced garlic and jalapeño and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add carrots, diced tomato and seasonings (except salt). Sauté 5-8 minutes until tomatoes start to break down. Deglaze the pot a bit with vinegar.
- Add lentils and 3 cups water. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer until water evaporates and lentils are soft (20-25 minutes). Add a little more water if necessary to keep it from sticking and then add salt.
- Let cool briefly (otherwise it will wilt your lettuce wraps right away!)
- Serve on sturdy lettuce or cabbage leaves with sliced avocado and fresh lime.
- Let the lentils cool slightly before assembling the lettuce wraps. This way the heat won't immediately wilt the lettuce.
- Store leftover lentils and lettuce separately. Store the lentils in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months. The lettuce will last in the fridge for 5-7 days. Make sure it is fully dry and stored in a container to keep it fresh longer.
- Adjust the spiciness according to your own tastes. If cooking for kids, you can leave out the spicy elements (cayenne, red pepper flakes, jalapeño) and serve them up on the side at the table.
- If you want a little more food, you can use up to 1 ½ cups of dry lentils and ¾ cups more water without increasing the other ingredients. This will take an additional 15-20 minutes to cook.
- Wait to add the salt until the end - if you add it earlier, the lentils will take much longer to cook.
This recipe was originally published in April of 2014. It has been updated with clearer instructions and new photos, but the recipe is the same. Thank you for supporting Frugal Nutrition!
Nutrition information is an estimate and should only be used as a guide. Data is pulled primarily from the official USDA database, which can be up to 20% off. Optional ingredients are not included in the nutritional calculations. Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and join me on YouTube!