Spicy Sambal Shrimp Lettuce Cups (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)

Spicy Sambal Shrimp Lettuce Cups (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)

It’s finally summer, which means less meals roasting in the oven and more of these light, refreshing suppers around here.  

This recipe is a perfect weeknight dinner, as the shrimp get a quick 30 minute marinade and then cook on the stovetop for under 5 minutes.  My kind of busy day dinner!

shrimp lettuce cups

Sambal Oelek is a delicious, traditional Indonesian hot chili paste that stars the show in this marinade.  Oh, I love it so.  It only takes a small amount to add a ton of flavor and a great kick.  I have included an easy substitution for you below if you can’t find this particular paste.

I love to serve these with a side of herb flecked white rice, and/or a plate of steamed edamame with flaky salt.  It’s a simple and nourishing dinner that is far from short on flavor.

shrimp lettuce cups

“what else can i use?”

  • If you can’t find sambal oelek, use any hot chili paste you like.  Sriracha is a great substitute and available at almost all supermarkets.
  • Boston bibb lettuce, or butter lettuce, is a nice, soft texture and perfect size for these cups.  You can use iceberg or another large lettuce leaf as well, it’ll just be harder to fold up without cracking but still delicious.
  • If you don’t have rice vinegar, use apple cider or white wine vinegar.
  • Crushed peanuts are a great substitute for the cashews to serve.

If you make these sambal shrimp lettuce cups, I’d love to hear from you!  Send me a message on Instagram, or tag me in a post so I can see and share your creations.  Enjoy!

Spicy Sambal Shrimp Lettuce Cups

Spicy Sambal Shrimp Lettuce Cups (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)

Spicy seared shrimp is wrapped in lettuce cups with refreshing additions like cucumbers and lime for a light and flavorful warm weather meal.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Asian
Servings 2 people


  • Large nonstick pan


  • 1/3 cup hot chili paste such as Sambal Oelek
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tsp sesame oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 lb large shrimp
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil

For serving:

  • 2 Persian cucumbers
  • 1 head of Boston Bibb lettuce, separated
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • Flaky sea salt


  • Whisk hot chili paste, honey, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, and 2 tsp of sesame oil in a medium sized bowl.
  • Add shrimp, toss to coat, and transfer to fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Heat 1 tbsp. avocado oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Working in two batches if needed, arrange shrimp in skillet in a single layer and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes.
  • Turn shrimp over and cook for another 30-60 seconds. The marinade will have darkened as the sugars caramelized, don't worry about that.
  • Transfer shrimp to a platter and reserve any leftover sauce.

To serve:

  • Arrange cucumbers on platter next to shrimp and season with salt and 1 tsp sesame oil.
  • Arrange lettuce leaves and cilantro on platter so that each component is visible and easily accessible.
  • Place diced cashews in a small bowl.
  • Drizzle remaining sauce in the pan over the shrimp and finish with a squeeze of lime.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Keyword paleo, Shrimp, summer, tacos
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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