This recipe for tofu lettuce wraps is as tasty as it looks! We combine the flavors of soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, with a dollop of sesame oil, and a hint of sweet brown sugar for a delightful cooking sauce for your tofu and veggie mixture. These tofu cubes have the perfect texture – a little firm on the outside with a creamy center, and just soaks up that yummy sauce!
I’m happy to bring you this tasty tofu lettuce wrap recipe. It is a tasty, easy-to-prepare meal that any plant-eater will love!
Truth be told, I was not always a fan of tofu. When I first started experimenting with vegan cooking, I did not understand the preparation process necessary to make tasty tofu dishes – you know, the draining, pressing, coating, and seasoning before you even begin the cooking.
So what I was left with were some pretty sad attempts (just ask my kids) to replace non-vegan meat with tofu. And it wasn’t delicious. Or eatable… Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot about cooking tofu over the years and have developed some delicious and easy tofu recipes that the whole family will enjoy!
Tofu is a bit of a miracle vegan ingredient because it's neutral flavor and sponge-like texture easily absorb the flavors you use for seasoning.
Make the tastiest tofu
The best baked tofu uses a combination of freezing and soaking in a rich flavorful sauce. And sausage tofu crumbles get their chewy texture from pressing most of the liquid from the tofu before crumbling and tossing it together with the sauce ingredients.
When preparing tofu for recipes like these flavorful tofu lettuce wraps, it’s all about the preparation and the seasoning! I can’t say that one is more important than the other because whether you are making pepperoni tofu crumbles or a vegan blue cheese dressing, preparation and seasonings work in perfect harmony to bring you the perfect tofu dish!
The ingredients you’ll need to make vegan lettuce wraps with a flavorful tofu and veggie filling
For the saute pan
- 14 ounces firm tofu drained and pressed – Sometimes I can buy my tofu in 14-ounce blocks and other times all I can find is a 16-ounce block. You can substitute one for the other in this recipe. If you use a 14-ounce block, you will have a little less tofu for your lettuce wraps but they will be nice and saucy. If you use a 16-ounce block, you will have a few more pieces of tofu that will be a little less saucy but still plenty flavorful.
- 1 medium carrot peeled and matchstick sliced – You can substitute the thickly shredded carrots you can find in the produce section. If you shred your own carrots they may be too thin so if you have a shredder with larger holes then that would be best. Finely shredded carrots would get too mushy for this recipe.
- 5-6 radishes matchstick sliced
- 2 green onions thinly sliced – You can use both the white (bulb) and the green (shoots) parts.
- avocado oil or other neutral oil
- 12 large leaves of butter leaf lettuce – Butter lettuce may also be called Boston lettuce or bib lettuce….or Boston bib.
- garlic – You will be mincing the garlic. Feel free to use jarred minced garlic. You will use about one teaspoon of minced garlic per clove.
- fresh ginger peeled and minced – Feel free to use jarred minced ginger. You will use about one Tablespoon per inch of fresh.
For the sauce
- soy sauce – Use tamari sauce if gluten-free.
- brown sugar – You will only use one Tablespoon for this recipe. One Tablespoon of brown sugar does not really make the sauce sweet. If you want a sweeter sauce then experiment with adding a little more sugar, one teaspoon at a time.
- sesame oil
- rice vinegar – I use seasoned rice vinegar. If yours is unseasoned then you might need to play with adding in some salt and more sugar.
- ground black pepper
- mustard powder
- Optional: toasted sesame seeds to garnish
How to make tofu lettuce wraps
The exact ingredients with measurements can be found in the recipe card below along with more concise abbreviated instructions. Read on for more details, tips, and tricks so that you will feel confident making this recipe.
Step one: Prepare the tofu
The best tofu to use for this recipe is firm tofu. You can use medium-firm or extra-firm in a pinch. But firm tofu gives the perfect creamy center and a firm outer layer that holds up to sauteeing in this recipe. You can read more about the different types and textures of tofu on Serious Eats.
After opening and draining your package of tofu, take a few paper towels and pat it dry. Then place the block of tofu in a tofu press and press for 30 minutes.
If you don’t have a tofu press you could always try to old-fashioned method and put a bunch of plates on top. I seriously recommend buying a tofu press. It’s so much easier!
You will want to make sure your tofu press does not squish the tofu. I like to squish my tofu when I’m making tofu crumbles because it makes it easier to crumble the tofu into small pieces or “crumbles”. For this recipe, we will be cutting this tofu into squares though, and don’t want it too squished or broken.
After the tofu has been pressed for 30 minutes, drain off the excess liquid and slice it into one-half-inch squares. I do this by slicing it in half lengthwise first and then cubing it into smaller pieces.
Steps two – five: Prep the vegetables
While the tofu is pressing you can prep the vegetables and make the sauce. Start by cutting off the base of the butter leaf lettuce. Pull the leaves off and discard any that are not intact. Rinse leaves in cold water and drain. Pat the leaves dry and set aside. It is important to pat the leaves dry because they won’t dry enough on their own in the time given and you don’t want soggy tofu lettuce wraps!
Next, wash and peel a medium-sized carrot. Thinly slice the carrot into ¼” or thinner sticks no more than 2” long. If you are substituting thickly shredded carrots you can buy in your produce department, then use about one-half cup. Set the carrot sticks aside.
Then prepare the radish. The recipe calls for five-six radishes. If the radishes are large then you can use five, if they are small then you will want six. Cut the radishes into sticks that are 1/4″ wide. I do this by removing the top and bottom of the radish. Then I slice from top to bottom (about 1/4″ thick). Then I go ahead and make sticks from the slices.
After that, slice the green onion and set it aside separately from the carrots and radishes. The carrots and radishes will be cooked with the sauce and tofu and the green onion slices are added at the end of the cooking.
It’s always a question of whether you should use the green “shoot” part of the green onion or the white bulb part. For this recipe, go ahead and slice both the white and green parts. Remember that you are slicing only wo green onions, not the whole bunch. (And do avoid any slimy parts – yuck!)
Next steps: Preparing the sauce
The tofu should still be pressing so now is a good time to prepare the sauce and then set it aside for cooking with the tofu later. You will need to first mince the garlic and the ginger and put both into a small bowl where you will be making the sauce.
You may save yourself a step and use jarred already minced garlic and ginger for this recipe if you’d like. If you do then my rule of thumb is to substitute one teaspoon of minced garlic for one clove and one Tablespoon of minced ginger for one inch. I have read that other people substitute 3/4 of a teaspoon for one clove of garlic. I like too much garlic and assume that I choose large cloves!
Now add the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, black pepper, and mustard powder to the bowl. Whisk everything together and set aside.
This is a good time to give your sauce a little taste. Would you like it to be sweeter? Then add a little extra sugar or agave. Just go slowly and add a little at a time. Remember that it is so easy to add more but impossible to take it away once you’ve added.
Final steps: Cooking the tofu and veggies in the sauce
By now your tofu should be well-pressed. Drain the tofu and slice it into half-inch cubes. I do this by slicing it in half vertically first and then cubing the thinner slices.
Heat the avocado oil (or other neutral-tasting oil) in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the tofu and cook for 4 minutes, stirring regularly and flipping the tofu with a spatula so that all side cook evenly in the oil.
Next, add the chopped carrots and radish sticks and cook while stirring and flipping for two more minutes. minutes. The vegetables should have begun to soften by now.
Now give the sauce a quick whisk again before adding it to the tofu and veggies. Cook for another two minutes till the sauce has heated through.
Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the sliced onions. Let the cooked tofu mixture sit for a few minutes while it cools down a little bit and the tofu absorbs the flavors from the sauce.
Now make those tofu lettuce wraps!
You will want to add the tofu to the butter leaf lettuce when it is comfortably warm – not steaming hot. I’ve allowed ten minutes for cooling time but do check after about five minutes to see if the tofu has cooled enough.
Once the tofu mixture has been added to the lettuce wraps, you will want to serve them right away. I find it best to place the dish of the cooked tofu mixture on the table and allow people to serve themselves and make their own wraps.
If you give people a large serving spoon then they should be able to serve out the appropriate amount when they make their tofu lettuce wraps. Have some (optional) toasted sesame seeds available to sprinkle on top of each wrap.
This recipe makes 12 (not overly filled) lettuce wraps. I have accounted for three lettuce wraps per person, so this recipe will serve four people. But you will want to serve some side dishes as well!
Storing the tofu lettuce wraps
You can store any leftover tofu mixture separately from the lettuce leaves. Store the tofu mixture in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. When you are ready to serve it, warm it in the microwave for about one and a half minutes. Add the warmed mixture to the lettuce leaves or just eat it with a fork. It’s pretty tasty!
The tofu mixture makes great meal prep too! You can prep the lettuce leaves ahead of time too. Just remember to store them separately until you are read to eat and enjoy.
The printable recipe card
Did you love this recipe?
Want to share the love? It would be great if you could leave five ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ stars and even a comment. Did you know that this will help Google to find this recipe when others are looking for something similar? Thanks, Cindy
Tofu Lettuce Wraps
Prep for the pan
- 14 ounces firm tofu drained and pressed
- 1 medium carrot peeled and matchstick sliced
- 5-6 radishes matchstick sliced
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral oil
- 12 large leaves butter lettuce washed and dried
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 inches fresh ginger peeled and minced
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar seasoned
- ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- Optional: toasted sesame seeds to garnish
Press the tofu and prepare the vegetables
- Drain the tofu and press it for 30 minutes. While the tofu is pressing you can prepare the other ingredients and have them ready.
- Cut off the base of the butter lettuce. Pull the leaves off and discard any that are not intact. Rinse leaves in cold water and drain. Pat dry and set aside
- Peel and thinly slice the carrot into ¼” or thinner sticks no more than 2” long. If you are substituting thick shredded carrots then use about one-half cup. Set aside.
- Cut the radishes into ¼” sticks. If your radishes are large then use five and if they are small then use six. Set aside.
- Slice the green onion and set aside.
Prepare the sauce
- Finely mince the ginger and garlic. If you have a garlic press, this is a good time to use it. Place the minced pieces into a small bowl.
- Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, black pepper, and mustard powder to the bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
Cook the tofu
- By now the tofu will have been pressed. Cut the pressed tofu into half-inch cubes.
- Heat the oil in a large pan on medium. Add the tofu and cook for 4 minutes, stirring regularly and flipping with a spatula so that more than one side cooks in the oil
- Add the chopped carrots and radish. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Pour in the sauce and cook for a final 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the sliced green onions.
- Serve a scoop or 2 in each lettuce leaf with a sprinkle of optional sesame seeds.
- Best if served warm but not super hot. Allow to cool slightly before putting the cooked tofu and veggies with sauce onto the lettuce wrap.