Get your hands around healthy PF Chang’s vegan lettuce wraps with firecracker sauce filled with 'meaty' quick-cooking bulgur spiked with hoisin-based sauce and topped with a fiery quick 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 recipe is even more delicious with healthy homemade hoisin sauce!
This post contains helpful tips and tricks to ensure success on 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!
Table of Contents
Why You'll Love This Recipe
✔ Crisp lettuce wraps come together easily with a PF Chang copycat-with-liberties recipe.
✔ Prep this recipe in advance for a quick light meal or lunch in no time.
✔ An easy recipe with the plant-based protein of bulgur.
Ingredients, Notes, and Substitutions
Bulgur. Takes on flavors and holds the ingredients together. Bulgur is parboiled and then dehydrated, so it cooks in 15 minutes.
Mushrooms. Dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms give the filling umami flavor. Use 3 chopped button mushrooms (½ a cup) as a substitute.
Fresh ginger. Use ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger for 1 tablespoon of minced ginger.
Garlic. 3 cloves of garlic is about 1 tablespoon of prepared garlic (bottled).
Green onions (scallions). Use the white and green parts. Extra would also make a tasty topping as a garnish. Red onion is a good substitute.
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. There is always an option of a commercial, vegan brand.
Soy sauce. Use tamari as a gluten-free option or coconut aminos.
Rice vinegar. Rice wine vinegar has a distinctively Asian tang. Consider using lime juice for a more intense citrus flavor for the filling or dipping sauce.
Chili sauce. Sambal Oelek or sriracha sauce is perfect for firecracker sauce, but any hot sauce can be used. No chili sauce? Red chili flakes work too.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Quinoa can replace bulgur as a gluten-free option, and it takes the same time to cook. Other plant-based protein options include vegan mince or soy crumbles (TVP). For tempeh lettuce wraps, I recommend making simmered tempeh crumbles.
Firecracker sauce is simple and sticks more with a p.f. Chang theme, but you can whip up a quick vegan peanut sauce. Two other sauce recommendations are sweet sriracha dipping sauce or oil-free wasabi dressing.
Step 1: Cook the garlic and ginger in a heavy-bottomed saucepan for 30 seconds. Stir in the bulgur, mushrooms, and broth. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the bulgur is tender.
Step 2: Make the sauce for the filling by combining hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.
Step 3: Make the firecracker sauce in a small bowl. Whisking sriracha, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.
Step 4: When the bulgur is cooked, stir in the hoisin sauce mixture, water chestnuts, and green onions.
For the crispiest lettuce, separate the leaves, rinse them in cold water, and pat them dry with a few paper towels. Lay them on a plate and chill them in the refrigerator.
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. 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.
Keep the lettuce crisp by loading leaves immediately before serving. Grated carrots or shredded red cabbage make great garnishes.
Lettuce leaves make a great appetizer or light meal. Use smaller lettuce leaves (or cut larger leaves in half) and serve with tofu hot and sour soup - a seriously wonderful meal!
I've also used the filling over rice noodles or mung bean sprouts for a less-messy, healthy meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bulgur is made from whole, cracked wheat and contains gluten. If you need a gluten-free substitute for healthy vegan lettuce wraps, consider rice with added finely chopped walnuts or quinoa.
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 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.
The best lettuce for lettuce wraps should be crisp, large, and sturdy enough to hold flavorful fillings. Several types of lettuce are suitable for making healthy wraps, including Iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce (Romaine hearts), or butter lettuce (Boston lettuce). If you are making lettuce cups, the smaller iceberg leaves, close to the core, are the best.
Store the filling, firecracker sauce, and lettuce leaves separately. Place the filling and dipping sauce in airtight containers and keep them in the refrigerator for 4 days. You can also freeze the filling. Keep lettuce leaves in a sealed refrigerator bag or airtight container, being careful not to crush or break them.
Cooked bulgur can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove. If reheating in a saucepan, stir in a little water or broth and stir frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
Do you have a question or recipe request or need a cooking tip? Leave a comment below or contact Denise. I’m here to help! If you want more healthy vegan recipes, please subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Facebook or Pinterest for the latest updates.
If you make this recipe, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating. It’s much appreciated!
Healthy PF Chang’s Vegan Lettuce Wraps
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- 3 cloves garlic - minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon ginger - minced or grated
- ¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms - diced small
- 1 cup bulgur
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons vegan hoisin sauce - see notes for recipe link
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 8 ounces water chestnuts - sliced, 1 an
- 3 - 4 medium green onions - white and green parts sliced
- 8 - 10 large lettuce leaves - separated, rinsed, and chilled
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chili paste - Sambal Oelek or 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 in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.
- Make hoisin sauce. Follow the instructions for making hoisin sauce. If you are using another sauce, skip this step.
- Cook the bulgur. Place a medium pot on the stove and set it to medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir them for about 30 seconds. Add the dried mushrooms, bulgur, and vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a 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 soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili sauce. Place this in a small bowl to be served at the table.
- Finish the filling. Remove the pot from the heat when the bulgur is tender, and the water is absorbed. Stir in the hoisin sauce mixture, 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. The filling will keep for 4 days. You can also freeze it.
- 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. Add them with the garlic and ginger. Let them Simmer to release their moisture before adding the bulgur and broth.
- If you can’t make or find hoisin sauce, try vegan oyster or sriracha BBQ sauce as a substitute.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.