Thai Venison Lettuce Cups Recipe

This is one of my absolute favorite ways to cook with any type of ground meat. It is not only healthy, but also super flavorful. 

My recipe is based off a minced meat salad common in northern Thailand called “larb” or “laab.” It is typically served in lettuce cups to be eaten as a salad with an intensely flavorful sauce, but you can also serve it with rice or veggies. 

The ingredients call for fish sauce, which has a distinctive flavor that is prevalent in Thai cuisine. However, you can easily substitute soy sauce. You can also adjust the heat level by adjusting the amount of chili pepper. This recipe is a little bit spicy.

Serving size

4 as a meal, 6 as appetizers


3 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
4 tbsp. neutral-flavored oil (such as avocado, grapeseed or canola oil)
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 lb. ground venison
2 shallots, sliced
2  Fresno chilis, minced (or bird’s eye chili for more heat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil, and/or mint, chopped
1/4 cup glutinous (sticky) rice or substitute with 2 tbs. crushed peanuts
2 heads of Boston leaf or iceberg lettuce, leaves separated

Also works with

Any ground wild game meat


  1. Make the Thai sauce by combining the lime juice, honey, fish sauce and chili paste in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the neutral-flavored oil until emulsified. Set aside.
  2. In a dry sauté pan over medium-high heat, toast the glutinous rice, stirring often so it doesn’t burn (3-5 minutes). Transfer the rice into a small grinder and pulse to a coarse, granular consistency. Set aside.
  3. Over medium-high heat, sauté the shallots, jalapeños, ginger and garlic in coconut oil until softened. Add the ground venison and brown until cooked through. 
  4. Remove from heat and let the meat cool off for a few minutes. Stir in the green onions, toasted rice (or crushed peanuts), herbs and about half of the sauce. Season to taste and serve the ground meat inside the lettuce cups and drizzle on the extra sauce to taste.