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Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Cups
with rice / mango pear smoothie

Active: 45 minTotal: 45 min
20180514 vietnamese meatball lettuce cups nm 2.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Crisp lettuce leaves used as cups (or wraps) make this a lighter and more summer-friendly way to enjoy flavorful Vietnamese-inspired meatballs.


Mango and Pear Smoothie:
  • Pears - 1/2 lb, peeled and chopped
  • Mangos, frozen cubes - 12 oz (sub fresh mangos peeled and chopped)
  • Lime juice - 2 Tbsp
  • Coconut water - 1/2 cup
Vietnamese Meatballs:
  • Ginger - 1 tsp, grated
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
  • Cilantro leaves - 2 Tbsp, chopped
  • Beef, ground - 1 lb
  • Eggs - 1
  • Panko - 1/4 cup
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Fish sauce - 2 tsp
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Stock, any type - 1/4 cup
  • Soy sauce - 2 Tbsp
  • Honey - 1 Tbsp
Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Cups:
  • Rice, uncooked white or brown - 3/4 cup
  • Carrots - 5 oz, shredded (look for pre-shredded)
  • Vinegar, rice - 1 Tbsp
  • Sugar - 1 tsp
  • Oil, cooking - 2 tsp
  • Lettuce, romaine - 12 leaves (sub green leaf or iceberg)
  • Vietnamese Meatballs (ingredients listed separately) - ~16
  • Peanuts, roasted and unsalted - 1/2 cup
  • Hot sauce (opt) - for serving

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 4
Amount Per Serving
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% Daily Value
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  1. Rice - Skip if made ahead for Monday. For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Ginger / Garlic - Prep as directed and combine. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Pickle carrots - Combine carrots with vinegar, sugar, and oil (portion for lettuce cups). Toss everything together. Marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 days. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
  4. Lettuce / Pears - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
  5. Make meatballs - Chop cilantro. Combine cilantro, ginger, garlic, beef, eggs, panko, salt, and fish sauce. Form into 1” / 2.5 cm meatballs. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
  6. Make smoothie - Blend pears, mangos, lime juice, and coconut water in a blender.


  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil (portion for meatballs) and then meatballs. Gently saute meatballs until golden brown on all sides, ~5 minutes total.
  2. Whisk together stock, soy sauce, and honey. Add to skillet. Cover meatballs with a lid or foil. Reduce heat to low. Cook meatballs, covered, until cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes more.
  3. Reheat rice if made ahead.
  4. Stir carrots and season with a pinch of salt.
  5. Assemble lettuce cups by filling lettuce leaves with rice, pickled carrots, meatballs, and peanuts. Add some hot sauce, if you’d like. Enjoy smoothies on the side.

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This meal has 49 reviews

A favorite for sure! Have made many many times.

By: Amanda
Posted: Jan 14, 2019
Diet: Original

Delicious!!!! Will make again. . . Except we didn't make the smoothie. . . Didn't know what the purpose was, maybe next time?

By: Suzanne
Posted: Jul 09, 2018
Diet: Gluten-free

I LOVED this! We discussed using falafel instead of meat for our vegan daughter. The flavors were terrific!

By: Margaret
Posted: Jun 07, 2018
Diet: Original

I wasn't sure if it would turn out good while making it, but it was really good. I'd recommend chopping the peanuts up to have a more even flavor though. The meatballs were so tender and juicy. And the hot sauce is the perfect finishing touch.

By: Quirky
Posted: Jun 05, 2018
Diet: Original

Subbed Worcestershire sauce for the fish sauce in the meatballs - everything was so delicious especially the sauce for the meatballs, yummy!!

By: Sarah
Posted: Jun 02, 2018
Diet: Original

Easy, delicious, and relatively healthy. Yes!

By: Jenna
Posted: May 29, 2018
Diet: Original