Spicy Braised Chicken Lettuce Wrap

December  4, 2018
19 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 2 or more
Author Notes

Meet my new favorite go-to weeknight dinner. It's saucy, flavorful, fresh, and it comes together in about half an hour. I developed these chicken and lettuce wraps while on Whole 30, so they fit that bill if you need 'em to. Or, feel free to swap the toppings for anything you like—crispy rice would be wonderful. So would almost any herb, pickle, or thinly sliced vegetable. Winner, winner, braised-chicken-thigh dinner. —Ella Quittner

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 30-Minute Chicken & Lettuce Wraps for When You've Had Too Much Holiday Food. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Spicy Braised Chicken Lettuce Wrap
  • Chicken and creamy avocado vinaigrette
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 5 thighs)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika (use less if you prefer milder spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less if you prefer milder spice)
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup canned tomato puree (if you're following Whole 30, look for a brand that’s just tomatoes, no sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, plus more as needed
  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup warm water, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped green herbs (like cilantro, chives) and/or green onions
  • Lettuce cups and toppings (feel free to sub in any favorites)
  • 1 head Bibb or butter lettuce, rinsed and separated into lettuce cups
  • 1 avocado, sliced into thin wedges, for garnish
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 2 radishes, sliced thinly on a mandoline or by hand
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
  1. Rub the chicken thighs all over with 2 teaspoons of salt. In a non-reactive Dutch oven over a medium flame, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs and sear thoroughly on both sides to brown. Make a well in the center of the pan by pushing the chicken to the edges, and add the paprika and cayenne. Let the spices toast for 30 seconds, then add the onion and garlic pieces. Stir to distribute and sauté for a few minutes, until the onions begin to turn translucent.
  2. Add the tomato puree and 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover. Let simmer for about 25 minutes, or until you can easily shred the chicken with two forks. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Shred and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, as the chicken cooks, prepare the other components.
  3. Make the creamy avocado vinaigrette: In a food processor, blend together 1 avocado, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/4 cup warm water, and 2 tablespoons herbs until fully smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper, and lime juice. Adjust consistency with additional warm water to thin, as needed—you should be able to drizzle (or squeeze bottle) the vinaigrette over the lettuce wraps, and have it hold its shape.
  4. To serve, assemble individual cups with the saucy, shredded chicken, avocado vinaigrette, and toppings, using the lettuce as shells.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Susan L Eichman
    Susan L Eichman
  • Alisa Loughlin
    Alisa Loughlin
  • Molly
  • Victoria Anderson
    Victoria Anderson
  • Ella Quittner
    Ella Quittner

13 Reviews

Susan L. October 1, 2020
We really liked the ease and flavor of these wraps. The chicken was tasty just with rice, too (as my daughter ate it). Creamy avocado sauce is delicious. Will be making again!
Jb454 September 1, 2020
Similar to previous reviewer- not sure what the hype is around these. They were fine. Probably won’t make again
Wendy W. August 28, 2020
I made these last night, and was not all that impressed. I did like the avocado dressing, but I likely won't make the chicken again.
Alisa L. October 9, 2019
These are now a repeat in my rotation. So easy and flavorful.
Molly September 12, 2019
So easy, and so flavorful. Definitely going on repeat!
Mary &. January 21, 2019
Made this tonight for myself. My husband was having a filet and smashed potatoes. After tasting this, he abandoned his filet and ate this!!! We loved it! This recipe has earned a spot in our dinner party menu's. If anyone has suggestions for a lettuce wrap alternative I'm all ears!!
Sophia December 27, 2018
Just made this and it was unreal! So easy to put together. So happy I got around to making it! Super tasty and FILLING!
Ella Q. December 30, 2018
Hi Sophia,

So happy to hear it!

Victoria A. December 17, 2018
By far the best Whole30 recipe I've had! Tasted amazing and came together super fast. New staple in our dinner rotation.
Ella Q. December 17, 2018
Hi Victoria,

I'm so, so happy to hear that! Thank you for the nice note.

melissapage December 11, 2018
I made this for dinner tonight. So good!! This will be part of the weeknight rotation now. Thank you!
Ella Q. December 11, 2018
So happy you enjoyed it, Melissa!
Teresa E. August 1, 2020
Hi Ella, how long will the ving last?