Get your hands around healthy PF Chang’s vegan lettuce wraps filled with 'meaty' bulgur, the best homemade hoisin sauce, topped with firecracker dipping sauce.
A restaurant favorite gets a plant-based remake that any home cook will appreciate. The meaty texture of quick-cooking bulgur replaces more traditional ground meat or crumbled tofu filling for an alternative that is as easy as it is economical.
This post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. Below, you'll find a handy table of contents with links. But if you're in a rush, please use the link at the top to jump to the recipe card at the end!
⭐Why this recipe works
This easy recipe is a must-try if you love lettuce wraps, even if you usually don't eat vegan recipes. There's no tofu in this one. Bulgur and homemade hoisin sauce lead the flavor charge. Top this easy filling with our 3-ingredients firecracker sauce and prepare to embrace a state of wrap nirvana.
This PF Chang's copycat-with-liberties recipe is even better than the original (in our opinion). It's made with ease, flavor, and health at the forefront. That's one reason you won't find tofu or other traditional meat alternatives. Healthy is also why there's no added oil anywhere near these yummy wraps.
📋 Key ingredients and notes
Bulgur: Bulgur takes on flavors and holds the ingredients together. Because bulgur is par-boiled and then dehydrated, it cooks in 15 minutes and is so easy it's foolproof.
Dried mushrooms: Use dried porcini, shiitake, or other dried mushrooms. Mushrooms are used to give the bulgur a deeper flavor. 3 - 4 chopped fresh button mushrooms (½ a cup) can be substituted. Cook them along with the ginger and garlic until they release their moisture.
Vegetable broth: Use broth or veggie stock to cook the bulgur and mushrooms. You can also use water.
Fresh ginger: Use ¼ of a teaspoon of ground ginger for 1 tablespoon of minced ginger.
Garlic: 3 cloves of garlic is about 1 tablespoon if you use the prepared stuff (which I personally love).
Green onions: Scallions (their other name) are a great way to add a nice crunch and mellow onion flavor. Use 3-4 (white and green parts) to add to the filling. Extra would also make a tasty topping as a garnish.
Water chestnuts: Don't skip the buttery flavor of perpetually crispy water chestnuts. Grab a can, and don't worry if they are sliced or whole. You'll want to chop them into small pieces anyhow.
Hoisin sauce: Homemade hoisin sauce is our favorite because it’s made without added sesame oil (and you’ll never miss it). It’s just a matter of tossing ingredients in a blender or food processor. That said, you can use a commercial hoisin sauce that’s to your liking. It likely won’t be the flavorful sauce you’d get from making your own, but it will work.
Soy sauce: Use tamari as a gluten-free option. You can also use coconut aminos in equal amounts. Most coconut aminos are gluten-free and soy-free.
Rice vinegar: Rice wine vinegar has a distinctively Asian tang. For a more intense citrus flavor, consider using lime juice for filling or dipping sauce.
Chili sauce: Our go-to sources for making spicy sauces are sambal Oelek or sriracha. You can also use crushed red chili or chili powder (ground red chili) in a pinch. The idea is to make the firecracker sauce as spicy as you like it. You can also spice up the filling with a dash of chili as an option.
🔪 Pro tips & notes
Start by tossing the hoisin sauce ingredients in the blender and mixing them smooth. Skip this step if you have a prepared sauce you are using. It’s easier to have the sauce ready first so that you can prep the lettuce leaves and any extras while the bulgur cooks.
Start with a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Before adding any ingredients, set it over medium-high heat. Once you add the garlic, ginger, and mushrooms, simply stir them around for about 30 seconds. Add the dry bulgur and let it toast for a minute, stirring it constantly. Then add the veggie broth.
Bring the broth to simmer. Then lower the heat to medium before covering the pot. One good thing about cooking bulgur is that you can lift the lid periodically to check it. It is very sturdy and doesn't tend to get mushy. When the liquid is absorbed, the bulgur should be tender. If it isn’t, turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let it sit for a few minutes.
While the bulgur cooks, take 5 minutes to whip up the firecracker sauce. You can also make it ahead of time if it makes you feel more organized to do that.
Our recipes and instructions never include added oil in the preparation or cooking processes. Oil is highly processed and adds extra saturated fat we choose to avoid. Feel free to add oil to the cooking process if you desire.
What if the bulgur sticks?
Distractions happen. Try as you might, the broth absorbs, and the bulgur starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. What to do? First, get it off the heat. Next, add a few tablespoons of broth (if it's handy) or water. Stir that into the bottom of the pot, cover it, and leave it to sit for a few minutes. Solved.
Once the bulgur is tender, add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Then add the water chestnuts and onions. Remember, it's all off the heat now, so cover it right after mixing to keep it warm.
How to crisp lettuce leaves
For the crispiest lettuce leaves, prepare them first. Rinse them under cold water and let the water drain off. Carefully pat each lettuce leaf with a paper towel to further dry them. Lay them on a plate in a single layer and place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
💭 Common Questions
Bulgur is made from whole, cracked wheat, which isn't gluten-free. Consider rice with finely chopped walnuts or quinoa if you need a gluten-free filling for healthy vegan lettuce wraps.
In my humble opinion, homemade hoisin sauce is the way to go. Use a high-quality jarred hoisin sauce if you can't make your own. For non-hoisin sauces, consider using a vegan oyster sauce, Chari Siu sauce, sweet BBQ sauce, or try sriracha BBQ sauce. A few tablespoons of peanut butter or a teaspoon of miso paste in any sauce will add a flavorful and creamy boost.
Great lettuce wraps require crispy lettuce leaves. The smaller iceberg leaves, close to the core, are the best if you are making lettuce cups. Iceberg, Romaine (romaine hearts), or butter lettuce are particularly suitable for wrapping.
🍽 Serving & storage
Keep the lettuce crisp by loading leaves right before serving or at the table. There is so much flavor. You can go total pf Chang by just adding firecracker sauce. If you want to add a few more garnishes, consider grated carrot, more diced green onions, or finely chopped red bell peppers.
Lettuce leaves make a great appetizer and go with various Asian dishes. They compliment Thai curries and make a satisfying meal with hot and sour soup bowls.
Store the filling, firecracker sauce, and lettuce leaves separately. Place the bulgur filling and dipping sauce in airtight containers and keep them in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the filling. Keep lettuce leaves in a sealed refrigerator bag or airtight container. Be careful not to crush or break them.
Reheat the filling on the stove over low to medium heat. Add a little water or broth to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Alternatively, you can reheat the filling in the microwave.
Want leftover filling to go further? Add chopped veggies such as carrots, finely chopped broccoli, cauliflower, or mushrooms.
📖 Related recipes
Healthy PF Chang’s Vegan Lettuce Wraps
Get your hands on healthy PF Chang’s vegan lettuce wraps with 'meaty' bulgur, the best homemade hoisin sauce, topped with firecracker dipping sauce.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 10 wraps 1x
- Category: Tacos and Wraps
- Cuisine: Asian
- Diet: Vegan
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon of ginger, minced or grated
- ¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms, diced small
- 1 cup dry bulgur
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 small can of water chestnuts (8 ounces/227 grams), diced
- 3 scallions (green onions), white and green parts sliced
- 8 - 10 lettuce leaves, separated, rinsed, and chilled
Firecracker dipping sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chili paste (Sambal Oelek/sriracha)
- Prep lettuce leaves. Separate a head of lettuce and select the largest, firmest leaves. Rinse and carefully pat the leaves dry. Place them in a shallow dish or plate and place them into the refrigerator until you serve them.
- Make hoisin sauce. Follow the instructions for making hoisin sauce. If you are using another sauce, skip this step.
- Cook the bulgur. Preheat a medium pot to medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir them for about 20 seconds. Then add the dried mushrooms, bulgur, and vegetable broth. Bring the broth to simmer, cover the pot, and let the bulgur cook for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Make the sauces. While the bulgur cooks, combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Set it aside. Then make the firecracker sauce by combining the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili sauce. Place this in a small bowl to be served at the table.
- Finish the filling. When the bulgur is tender, and the water absorbed, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the hoisin sauce mixture, then add the water chestnuts and green onions.
- Assemble and serve. Spoon the filling into individual lettuce leaves or set the lettuce leaves and filling on the table and let folks make their own. Serve the firecracker sauce on the side.
- Store the filling, lettuce leaves, and firecracker sauce separately. To reheat the filling on the stove, add a little water or broth to keep it from sticking. You can also reheat the filling in the microwave.
- Use 3-4 finely chopped button mushrooms instead of dried mushrooms. Saute them before adding the bulgur and broth. This allows them to release their moisture.
- If you can't make or find hoisin sauce, try a vegan oyster sauce or BBQ sauce as a substitute. Try or sriracha BBQ sauce as a quick replacement.
Keywords: PF Chang's lettuce wraps; bulgur; hoisin sauce; vegan lettuce wraps; lettuce wraps no tofu