Beef, Food, Recipes

Thai Basil Beef Lettuce Wraps

Late last week I was on the hunt for some Thai basil; which is very different from the sweet basil you typically pick up from your local grocery store or that you grow in your garden. Thai basil has a very unique flavor and look; it’s leaves are a bit more narrow and thin and the stems are purple.

The taste of Thai basil can be described as peppery and has a hint of licorice flavor (it helps to give that distinct flavor that you might often notice when you eat Thai food!)  You can use sweet basil in Thai dishes and the end result will still be delicious but if you are able to get your hands on some Thai basil for this dish or other Thai inspired meals, I highly recommend it.

So, back to my basil hunt. I was searching through the fresh herbs at one of our local health food store and all I could find was the typical sweet basil but there was none to be found.  As I relented and grabbed a bunch of sweet basil, a friend of mine walked up to say hello!  I lamented to her that I could not find any Thai basil and yup, you guessed it – she told me proudly that she had some Thai basil growing right in her own garden!!!  Score!!  I followed my friend to her house where she generously snipped off a huge bunch of Thai basil; and this was the beginning of what was soon to be a delicious meal for my family.  Thank you Yvonne for the awesome Thai basil!!

For those of you who are struggling to find Thai basil, see if your town has a local Asian market.  Since that fateful day I have found some fresh Thai basil here in Chico at our local Asian market and it seems to be the only place that carries it.  I have yet to make it to our farmers market to check, but I have a feeling I would be able to find it from one of the vendors there as well.  Either way, it’s worth hunting for but if you can’t find it, do not skip out on making this dish, just simply use sweet basil instead – you’ll still have a yummy meal; I promise.

Thai Basil Beef Lettuce Wraps

2 pounds ground beef

1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 bunches Thai basil leaves or sweet basil leaves (reserve half a bunch for garnish)

3 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 tablespoons coconut aminos

2 teaspoons fish sauce (I used Red Boat Fish Sauce)

1-2 teaspoon hot chili sauce (I used Sriracha – use more or less depending on your desired level of heat)

Juice from 1 a lime

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Several butter lettuce or other large green leaf lettuce leaves for the wraps

More Thai basil leaves and chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

1. In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the bell peppers and onions and saute until tender.

2. Remove the bell peppers and onions from the pan and set aside.

3. In the same pan, brown the ground beef.

4. While the ground beef is cooking, whisk together the coconut aminos, fish sauce, lime juice, hot chili sauce, sesame oil and garlic.

5. Add the bell peppers and onions back to the pan with the ground beef, pour in the sauce, add the Thai basil leaves, and stir just until the basil leaves are wilted.

6. Turn off the heat and you are ready to serve!

7. Fill lettuce leaves with big scoops of the meat mixture topped with chopped cilantro and more basil leaves for garnish.  Top with more hot chili sauce if you want it spicier.

Serves 5-6

As always, enjoy!

Sarah Fragoso

Sarah Fragoso is an international best selling author of 6 books, co-owner of the Chico, CA based gym JS Strength and Conditioning, and founder of the Everyday Paleo franchise. Sarah is the co-host of the popular Sarah and Dr. Brooke Show podcast and she also conducts workshops and retreats on the subjects of nutrition, lifestyle and fitness.

Her message is from the heart and she carries a genuine desire to help other families looking for guidance. These attributes have contributed to her successes and provide the drive to keep the discoveries coming.

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  1. Katie Wood says:

    Looks amazing! Going on the menu next week…LOVE Thai foo. Thanks, Sarah!

  2. Michele Barden says:

    I have a ton of Thai basil in my garden! Now, I know what is for dinner!

  3. Janie says:

    Recipe sounds yummy! And here’s a word to the wise–basil is super-easy to grow, including Thai basil. A packet of seeds is well worth the investment. It’s an annual, but it self-seeds, or you can save the seeds after it blooms and plant it specifically where you want it. You’ll never have to buy it again! I envy you folks in California~~

  4. AddieMay says:

    this was so good… i lied to my boyfriend that it was all gone so i could have it for lunch tomorrow;)

  5. Chris says:

    Can you tell us where you found “coconut aminos” I’ve never heard of it and would love to try this recipe out.

    1. Sarah says:

      You can find it typically at any health food store or at a Whole Foods. You can also order it online from Amazon.
      Another option would be Wheat Free Tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos which is easier to find. : )

  6. Laura Howell says:

    This was fantastic!!!

  7. calichelle says:

    I was so excited when I found Thai Basil at my local LA farmers market yesterday. I immediately exclaimed to my friend “I just saw a recipe for this!”. This is what is for dinner tomorrow. Sounds delicious!!

  8. Oh man, this is an amazing recipe! Every bite is an explosion of wonderful flavor!

  9. Thanks for the recipe. I love making larb. It’s so healthy and delicious. Mine is different (I use a lot of cilantro, sesame seeds, red and green onion, etc.). I’d like to try your out. I especially love the addition of the red bell pepper.

  10. sally says:

    omg! we adore all things thai! got some fresh thai basil….this is about to go down at my house!

  11. Made a marinade for chicken and vegetables (onions, peppers, asparagus) using the ingredients above. Skewered the chicken and vegetables and grilled them. It was phenomenal!!!!

  12. Aleesa says:

    This is really good! We are big lovers of Thai food and this really hit the spot. We followed the recipe exactly. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Loved the recipe. Tweaked it ever so slightly. I added 1/2 packet of Goya Sazon for a little bit of extra seasoning and I did not have any fish sauce at hand so I only used the Sesame Oil.

    I will make this over and over. I’ve ordered it twice from a Thai restaurant near my job and I’m ecstatic that it was so quick to make and much more filling!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Sylvia!

  14. clara says:

    What sriracha sauce do you use? Thsnks!

  15. Stephanie says:

    I made this tonight for my kids and myself. My youngest who is 8 said she didn’t expect the meat to taste so good. I kept the peppers separate from the meat or dinner would have been ruined for them. I thought it was fantastic. I will make this regularly for sure. All the kids ate it but didn’t go for seconds but they liked it.

    Thanks for what you do!

  16. Marilyn Bennett says:

    Just made this. We used purple cabbage instead of bell pepper and added salt. It was amazing.

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