Types of Lettuce

Types of Lettuce

Publish Date March 25, 2024 4 Minute Read

There’s much more to lettuce than meets the eye. In fact, each variety of lettuce has its own unique shape, color and taste. And while one type of lettuce may be great for a crispy wedge salad, another may be great steamed and mixed with a creamy pasta. Check out some of our favorite types of lettuce, what they’re best used for and more.

Types of Lettuce

This leafy green is best known for its fresh, tart, bitter and peppery flavor. While it’s commonly served raw in salads, it can also be used as a topper for sandwiches, pizzas and pastas. Its zingy taste complements salty cheeses, citrus, almonds, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, pancetta and more. Try something new and up your arugula salad game with this Arugula Papaya Salad Recipe. Wondering what’s the best way to keep arugula fresh longer? Simply wrap arugula in dry paper towels and store in a plastic resealable bag or airtight container. Then store arugula in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

You may have heard butterhead lettuce referred to as butter lettuce, Bibb lettuce or Boston lettuce. And while it doesn’t have a buttery flavor, it does have a slightly sweet and mild taste. Its tender leaves are typically bright green, but they can also come in a deep reddish-purple hue. Naturally, this variety of lettuce is delicious in a salad, but it tastes even better paired with ripened cheeses, peak-of-season citrus and fresh meats. One of our favorite ways to eat butterhead lettuce is in this Chicken Avocado Ranch Wraps Recipe. The cup-like shape of the leaf also makes for a perfect grain-free hamburger bun. You can keep butterhead lettuce at its freshest by wrapping a damp paper towel around its roots and keeping it refrigerated in an airtight container.

Escarole may look like your average head of lettuce, but its wide and wavy-edged leaves prove otherwise. Its color and texture can vary from a tough, dark-green exterior to a tender, pale-yellow interior. Flavor-wise, you can expect a mildly bitter taste and a noticeably crisp bite. This lettuce variety works best in soups, bean stews and salads. Try your hand at cooking escarole in this Italian Lentil and Escarole Soup Recipe. This delicious leafy vegetable stays fresh best when wrapped in damp paper towels and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Chances are you’ve heard of this green leaf lettuce. It’s most popularly known for its pale-green leaves and cabbage-like shape. Iceberg lettuce has a mildly sweet flavor and a crispy bite, making it the perfect lettuce for salads, tacos, burgers and lettuce wraps. This lettuce is also known best for its starring role in the Iceberg Wedge Salad Recipe. Iceberg lettuce tends to keep longer than other varieties of lettuce, but you can keep it extra fresh by wrapping the head of lettuce in damp paper towels and storing in an airtight container in the fridge.

Though kale has a nutty, earthy flavor and slightly bitter taste when eaten raw, it develops a much sweeter and milder flavor when cooked. It can be steamed, sautéed, boiled, baked or stir-fried. This versatile green can also be used in soups, blended into smoothies, turned into veggie noodles and so much more. Want to make a kale salad recipe? Simply soften the kale leaves by massaging with lemon or vinegar and salt. Then pair with a sweet and nutty dressing. Try it for yourself and check out one of our favorite kale recipes, the Kale Harvest Salad Recipe. Keep your kale fresh by loosely wrapping it in dry paper towels and storing it in a plastic resealable bag in the fridge. For a quick and easy snack, watch below how to make Kale Chips.

Mesclun is most popularly referred to as “spring mix”. What is spring mix? It’s a rainbow-colored combo of young, tender leaves that range from bright green to deep red and even speckled. Mesclun is typically a mix of 4 different greens like endive, arugula, Swiss chard, mustard greens, baby spinach and more. Mesclun will have different flavors depending on the greens it’s made with. If it’s made with mustard greens, the blend will have some heat and be a bit zingy. Endive will add some bitterness and crunch. And arugula will add a peppery mix to the blend. This lively variety will typically have a mild taste and a crisp bite, making it a good choice for salads, burgers and sandwiches. One of our favorite mesclun dishes is this Avocado Goat Cheese Salad with Mandarin Dressing Recipe. Mesclun stores best in a plastic resealable bag or airtight container in the refrigerator.

Romaine lettuce is a versatile green that works perfectly as a crisp salad base. It’s known for its mild flavor and refreshing texture. Its sturdy leaves make it more tolerant to heat, which also makes it the perfect lettuce to grill or sauté. Its leaves are great for lettuce wraps, spring rolls, rice bowls and sandwiches. For a simple and delicious romaine salad, checkout our Greek Wedge Salad Recipe. And much like the other greens, you can wrap a dry paper towel around the romaine lettuce and store in an airtight container in the fridge for optimal freshness.

Spinach is a nutritious leafy green that has a mild, slightly sweet taste when eaten raw, and a more acidic and robust flavor when cooked. Spinach can be eaten in salads and smoothies or cooked in soups, pizza, pasta, dips and more. One of our favorite spinach recipes is this Wilted Spinach with Bacon and Goat Cheese Salad Recipe. And the best way to keep your spinach fresh? Store it in a plastic resealable bag lined with dry paper towels, or layer leaves between paper towels and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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