lettuce ‘tacos’ with chipotle chicken

lettuce 'tacos' with chipotle chicken

lettuce 'tacos' with chipotle chicken

lettuce 'tacos' with chipotle chicken

Lettuce tacos with chipotle chicken

The world seems to have gone mad for carb-free food, so this recipe is inspired by you lot out there who like your tacos but don’t like your tortilla.

I constantly crave the flavours of Mexican cuisine, and this recipe ticks this box in a big way for me. Packed with flavour, it leaves you feeling rather angelic as it’s virtually devoid of any fat or carbohydrates.

Oh and lets not forget about the crunch factor. When you shroud your spicy chicken strips and salsa in a crispy lettuce leaf the whole thing becomes a texture adventure with a mingling of hot and cold, raw and cooked and is pretty much a perfect meal for me.

I have kept things fairly healthy here and excluded grated cheese and sour cream from the toppings. You can of course add this in to make it even more indulgent.

lettuce ‘tacos’ with chipotle chicken

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4

lettuce ‘tacos’ with chipotle chicken


  • 400g of skinless chicken breast cut into fairly thin strips
  • splash of olive oil to fry these in
  • 1 x red onion finely sliced
  • 1 x 400g tin of tomatoes (whole or chopped)
  • 1 T of finely chopped chipotle in adobo sauce (or substitute with finely chopped pickled jalapeno chillis and a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • pinch of brown sugar and salt and pepper to season
  • lettuce leaves to make your tacos (I like to use butter lettuce or baby gem lettuce)
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • sliced pickled jalapeno chillies
  • slices of avocado or make a guacamole
  • fresh tomatoes and slices of spring onion to make a rustic salsa - as much as you need. I used about 2 cups of quartered rosa / cherry tomatoes and sliced red spring onions / scallions. I tossed these together with lots of salt and pepper.
  • lime wedges to spritz


  1. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and quickly fry your chicken pieces until they turn golden. Set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add another small splash of olive oil and fry your onion until it softens.
  3. Add your tomatoes, cumin, sugar and chipotle and simmer for around 15 - 25 minutes until the tomato sauce starts to thicken around the edges of the pan.
  4. Add the chicken back into the sauce and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Assemble all the elements to make your tacos in separate bowls and serve so that every one can make up their own.
  6. I like to give the chicken a good spritz of lime juice. This freshens things up and amplifies the flavours.

I have to say that I will be turning to lettuce to make my tacos in the future more often. I love how all the taste is there without the filling flour tortilla.

lettuce 'tacos' with chipotle chicken

I enjoyed these spicy treats on a very hot day with some home made limeade. I simply squeezed fresh lime juice and measured this out. I then dissolved the same quantity of water and sugar as the lime juice together and then added this to the lime. I served this in glasses with loads of ice and topped up with soda water to the desired taste.

*if you are making very small quantities, you may find it easier to dissolve the sugar in the water by heating it first, then allowing it to cool before adding in the lime juice.

For a few more of my popular low- carb meal ideas check out:

aubergine ‘pizza

cauliflower ‘cous cous’

limeade with soda

I look forward to connecting with you again

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I can also be found enthusiastically pinning beautiful food images on Pinterest. 



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28 Responses to lettuce ‘tacos’ with chipotle chicken

  1. Monica February 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    This looks totally delightful. I am one of the gluten free crowd and this low calorie version is perfection on a plate for me. Love all the beautiful photography….

  2. Alex February 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    This is so great for a warm afternoon.

  3. Suzanne Perazzini February 11, 2013 at 2:13 am #

    This looks totally delicious and I love Mexican flavours. Even though I am grain-free, I am definitely not carb free. In fact, I love me some carbs as you can see by all the baking on my blog. Carbs are one of the food groups and it would be a little dicey to cut them out completely – not too healthy. But this dish looks very healthy and would be satisfying because of the strong flavours and the crunch of the fresh lettuce.

  4. Eha February 11, 2013 at 4:07 am #

    Lovely tasty alternate take on what is such a favourite here Down Under too: the Chinese san choy bau 🙂 ! Very welcome with more Mexican themed food being eaten!!

  5. Charmaine February 11, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    We are avid Mexican eaters! Our biggest thing is trying to find out where to purchase chipotle chillies, however saw that you can import it at a hefty price. These days we are substituting it with Tabasco’s chipotle sauce and smoked paprika.

  6. Meridy February 11, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    Love your blog as always. This looks absolutely delish! Definitely going to try these soon.

  7. Sam February 11, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Thanks Meridy 🙂

  8. Sam February 11, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    Hi Charmaine, you can get chipotles in CT. Where do you live? Mexicorn has a chipotle in adobo sauce available through Main Ingredient and it is in selected Spars, and El Burro Mexican restaurant in Greenpoint has now started making a local chipotle, and you can buy it directly from the restaurant. Let me know if you need any further details.

  9. Sam February 11, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Hi Suzanne, yip I agree, I don’t do the whole carb free thing, but do try and focus (where possible) on low GI carbs.

  10. Charmaine February 11, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    That is great Sam! We live in Jhb so will try and contact them 🙂
    Thanks for your help and great blog Xx

  11. Sam February 11, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    HI Charmaine, contact them, speak to Anton, perhaps he will start selling in JHB soon too – http://mexicorn.co.za/

  12. Rachel February 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    I’ve just found your blog and your photographs are amazing. Think I’ll follow along and try some of your recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Natasha February 11, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    My boyfriend and I tend to have a build your own taco dinner about once a week when we are tired or feeling especially lazy. Subbing lettuce for tortillas would be an awesome change up and make me feel less guilty about wanting a third/fourth/etc. taco! And the chicken looks amazingly delicious!

  14. Linda February 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    My husband and I love doing low-carb meals. I can’t wait to try these. Your photography is outstanding. It caught my eye before the recipe. I love chipotle anything…LOL. Reference to those who can’t find chipotle peppers, my Walmart carries them. If you have a Walmart anywhere near you, it should be in the Mexican area. Thanks again for the recipe. We will be eating these soon.

  15. Sam February 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Thanks Linda, it is just fabulous for carb free eating with all the flavour. I live in Cape Town South Africa, so for us chiptle is still a rare and exotic ingredient, but we are starting to get it more easily these days.

  16. Kimberly May February 25, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    These look absolutely delightful! I love how light and fresh these look. I’m absolutely going to have to try them though getting them past my hubby who hates veggies may be an ordeal. Oh well, I suppose it will be more for me though I’m not a quacamole fan so I may stick with Tzatziki or Sour Cream to top it off.

  17. Bharti March 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Hi Sam. I have very non-metric thinking when it comes to quantities while cooking, I can only seem to use metric when I work in the lab…lol…ironic i know since cooking and lab work isn’t much different. Anyway do you mind converting the tomato and chicken portions. Also, when you are making the sauce and simmering it for 15-25 minutes is the pan covered or un-covered? Same question for when the chicken is added to the sauce and cooked for 5 minutes, covered or un-covered? Thanks for your time and the pics look amazing! Can’t wait to try them out! 🙂

  18. Sam March 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    Hi Bharti – I have added a conversion table page to my site for all non metric to metric conversions – its just below the header:

    400g of skinless chicken breast = 13 oz. same for the tomato (which is a standard international tin weight give or take a few oz)

    I cooked the sauce uncovered. You can add a splash of water if the sauce gets to thick. Or do half covered half open. It doesn’t really matter.


  19. All that's Jas September 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    I made this for a casual dinner with friends and it was a HIT. For those less gluten-free conscious I included tortillas. YUM-O! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes!

  20. Sam September 5, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Thanks Mrs B, glad you enjoyed. I’m planning on doing a beef version soon 🙂

  21. kristi August 13, 2014 at 2:55 am #

    EL Yummmmooooo!!! We loved it very tasty!!!

  22. Sam August 15, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    Awesome Kristi – thanks!


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