Beef Larb with Pickled Vegetable Slaw

Spicy, flavorful beef larb served with a cucumber, carrot, and shallot quick pickled slaw. Serve over rice or in lettuce cups for a quick, healthy weeknight dinner.

Beef Larb with Pickled Vegetable Slaw | Serendipity by Sara Lynn
Thai lettuce wraps

We all know that I love cooking, hence the reason you are here right now. But there are days when I genuinely don’t want to cook. Sometimes, work is frustrating and someone cuts me off in traffic and I drop my bagel on the floor and I stub my toe. Every once in a while, an Instagram “nutritionist” tells me eating bananas is bad for me and it actually makes my eyeballs go into the back of my head. And don’t even get me started on the news, that will ruin my whole damn day. Sometimes, I’m not even having a bad day but I still don’t want to cook. Usually, this happens on the weekends when I’ve spent all of my days off recipe testing + photographing. I would really love to pretend like I’m a cooking superstar, but it’s just not always the case.

The logical thing to do in these instances is order takeout, but I really like to reserve my “going out” budget for the weekends. (Yes, I budget for eating out; it keeps both my wallet and health in check, plus it is probably the most responsible thing I do! #adulting). And, as much as I would love to eat fried pot stickers or pizza every day, I do have to fit in a bridesmaid dress in September. On days like these, where I simply *cannot*, and the idea of cooking is very hard, and I want to keep things healthy-ish, I generally turn to eggs + toast or chickpea salad for dinner.

BUT, I have recently started cooking larb at home, and my “don’t-feel-like-cooking” days have been forever changed.

Healthy lettuce wraps with beef and pickled veggie slaw.
Larb is the ultimate easy, healthy, weeknight dinner.

Quick beef larb a.k.a. the best weeknight dinner ever

I have had larb at a few Thai restaurants in the past but only recently realized how easy it would be to make at home. Larb is a Lao/Northern Thai recipe made up of ground meat, chiles, fish sauce, lime juice, and spices. (Traditionally, it also includes ground toasted rice, although I left that out in the name of ease). You can eat larb over rice with veggies, peanuts, and herbs. Or, you can stuff it into butter lettuce with rice, veggies, herbs, and hot sauce. It’s essentially takeout-at-home, but it only takes like, 30 minutes and is probably much healthier for you! Also, this beef larb recipe only requires one pan and one cutting board 🙌🙌🙌

I usually make my larb with beef or chicken, although any ground meat would work. I specifically like beef because it gets all crispy and perfect. Ughhh it’s so good. I also decided to make a quick pickled vegetable slaw which really put this meal over the top. Technically, it’s not essential to the dish, but I promise, you don’t want to pass up on the slaw. It only takes like, 10 extra minutes to make. And it perfectly compliments the spicy, salty, slightly sweet beef larb. Omg, so delicious.

I typically serve beef larb with butter lettuce, some brown rice, cilantro, and lots of sambal oelek (or Sriracha). But occasionally, I like to make brown rice bowls with extra sauteed veggies. Either way, you’ll want to get a pot of rice on the stove right as you walk in the door. Or, you can cheat and use the microwave rice, which trust me I am not above.

30 minute lettuce wrap recipe.

Beef Larb with Pickled Vegetable Slaw

Notes: To get the delicious crispiness in the meat, you will need to press the ground beef flat with a spatula and let it cook for a while. Resist the urge to stir it too early. It’s essential in getting the perfect texture/flavor combo in this beef larb!

I shred the carrots for the slaw in my food processor, but you can use a regular cheese grater or buy pre-shredded carrots.

Beef larb uses both jalapeños and sambal oelek (or Sriracha). If you’re sensitive to spice, you can use one or the other, or nix it all together. Start small and add more spice as necessary!

Beef Larb with Pickled Vegetable Slaw

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 4


Pickled Vegetable Slaw

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 1 small English cucumber (or 1/2 large), julienned
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño, thinly sliced

Beef Larb

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated (about 1-inch fresh ginger)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Butter lettuce, rice (we use brown), cilantro, basil, mint, Sambal oelek, and/or Sriracha for serving


Pickled Vegetable Slaw

  • Whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, mix to coat, and let sit for at least 10 minutes. This can be made up to three days in advance.

Beef Larb

  • In a medium pan (preferably cast-iron), heat the oil over high heat. Add the beef, and press it into a single layer with a spatula. Cook until the bottom is crispy and browned (not burnt!), about 5 minutes. Break it up with your spatula and cook through. Drain any fat.
  • Add the scallions and jalapeno to the pan, and cook until the jalapeno is softened. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Lastly, add the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, hot sauce, and brown sugar to the pan. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, and add more seasonings as necessary.
  • Serve the beef in lettuce cups with pickled vegetables and rice. (Alternatively, you can serve it over bowls of rice). Add additional herbs, lime wedges, and hot sauce to taste.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @serendipitybysaralynn on Instagram!

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Selling Flowers by Slow Hollows

Beef Larb with Pickled Vegetable Slaw | Serendipity by Sara Lynn
Beef Larb with Pickled Vegetable Slaw | A one-pan, 30-minute, healthy weeknight dinner.

3 thoughts on “Beef Larb with Pickled Vegetable Slaw

  1. 5 stars
    Flavorful and fresh! I will definitely be adding this into our rotation going forward. It was a little messy to eat (our butter lettuce was not holding itself together very well) so next time I might try it as a bowl instead and top it with the butter lettuce. The pickled veggie slaw was a must have. It takes it to another level!!!

    1. Ahhh thank you, Kellen! Definitely a messy meal, we’re more a fan of the bowls ourselves. 🙂 So glad you enjoyed!

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