Butter lettuce is unlike the common romaine or iceberg variety. It’s a unique type of lettuce that’s known for its silky smooth mouthfeel and delicately sweet flavor. Besides that, this vegetable is also really healthy and nutritious. No wonder it’s a welcome ingredient in diet-friendly chicken salad recipes, and so much more! Discover how to make the most out of this tasty leafy green in the following sections.
What Is Butter Lettuce?
Butter lettuce or butterhead lettuce is a type of lettuce that has silky bright green leaves, which are cupped and tender. It’s also the most peony-looking among all lettuce varieties.
The two most common types of butter lettuce are Boston lettuce and Bibb lettuce. Boston lettuce’s head closely resembles the petals of a flower. Meanwhile, Bibb or limestone lettuce has a smaller, cup-shaped head.
What Does It Taste Like?
Butterhead tastes mildly sweet with a lingering floral quality. Coupled with its silky smooth texture, it’s the best type of lettuce for throwing together some fresh lettuce salads. Everything from tart vinaigrettes to rich cheeses will taste heavenly with it. It works great with herbs and fruits, too.
Besides Bibb and Boston, there are also other varieties of butter lettuce that you can use for your lettuce recipes. Find them below:
- Bibb – Loose, light green leaves that taste delicately sweet.
- Boston – Leaves could either be green, purple, or red. Has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor.
- Baby Butter – Bright green leaves with a subtle sweet flavor.
- Buttercrunch – Thin, rich green leaves that are mildly sweet and buttery.
- Victoria – Yellow-green leaves that taste sweet and fresh.
- Divina – Loose and wavy bright green leaves that taste delicately sweet.
- Tom Thumb – Loose, green leaves with a mellow sweet flavor.
- Kweik – Lime green leaves that taste sweet and slightly bitter.
- Santoro – Light green leaves that have that classic butter lettuce flavor.
Butter lettuce has lots of health benefits. Two cups of this leafy green only has 2 grams of carbohydrates, so it’s the perfect ingredient for a low-carb meal. It’s also ideal for a low-fat, low-calorie, low-sodium, and low-cholesterol diet.
Raw lettuce also has high water content, so it can help you stay hydrated. The nutritional content of lettuces may vary on its own type, but all of them share a great amount of vitamin A, C, K, calcium, and iron that help build stronger bones.
Butter lettuce also promotes healthy skin, teeth, and muscles. It’s also a good source of carotenoid antioxidants that protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration, a condition that can result in poor eyesight. Considering its nutritional value, butterhead is definitely a great healthy food item to consider.
How to Use Butter Lettuce
Before serving butter lettuce and mixing it with other ingredients, wash it properly first. Remove the grit, separate its leaves, and soak them in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes. Then, dry them using a salad spinner or a paper towel.
But remember, don’t wash the lettuce yet until you’re ready to serve them. This is to avoid damaging the leaves. Doing so may cause them to wilt faster.
Must-Try Butter Lettuce Recipes
Here are some of the best dishes to make with butter lettuce. Besides classic Bibb lettuce salad recipes, you can also use this leafy green for wraps, burgers, sandwiches, and so much more. Check out the lettuce recipes below.
- Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps – Use smooth butter lettuce to cradle the delicious combo of ground beef, sauteed vegetables, and seasonings.
- Red Robin’s Classic Hamburger – Trade in your regular lettuce for the butter variety to elevate your restaurant-style hamburger dish.
- Domino’s Italian Sandwich – Take your pizza chain sub sandwich to another level by stacking the cured meats, veggies, and provolone cheese with silky butterhead leaves and tomatoes.
- California Pinwheel Sandwiches – Customize these party sandwiches by adding lettuce and other veggies of your choice to the filling.
Butter Lettuce vs. Other Types of Lettuce
To the untrained foodie’s eye, different types of lettuce may look similar. Here’s how to tell the difference between butter lettuce and every other common variety:
- Romaine Lettuce – This elongated leafy green is present in everyone’s favorite Caesar salad. It has crispy leaves and a crunchy stem, which is the opposite of the smooth and silky butter variety. It also has a semi-bitter flavor that is much more intense than the delicately sweet butter lettuce.
- Crisphead Lettuce – Iceberg lettuce is a good example of a crisphead. Varieties under this group have a pale green color and round shape. While butterhead lettuces are also round, their leaves aren’t as packed as classic crispheads. These two types share a similar sweetness, although crispheads are much crunchier.
- Loose Leaf Lettuce – This variety has loose leaves joined at the stem. Like certain butterhead types, this can also have anywhere from a green to deep red color. Its edges have ruffled ends. It’s not too crispy and not too tender, either. Depending on the lettuce color, loose leaf lettuces may taste mild to sweet.
- Stem Lettuce – Also known as “celtuce,” this variety has a long and thick edible stem with a mild flavor. This lettuce is the best option for your stir-fried and pickled dishes.
Where to Buy Butter Lettuce
Buy butter lettuce from a nearby farmers’ market that carries the freshest harvest of in-season vegetables. Whole lettuce heads and leafy green mixes are also usually available in grocery stores.
To choose your lettuce, pick the leafy and heavy bundles. You want to avoid those that are wilted or those that already have brown edges.
Best Way to Store Butter Lettuce
The best way to store butter lettuce is to wash it, dry it, wrap it with a paper towel, and store it in an airtight container. For longer shelf life, keep it in the crisper drawer of your fridge. It can last up to a week if stored in the right conditions. Make sure to check the paper towel regularly, and replace it every time it feels wet.
Make Healthy Dishes With Butter Lettuce
Not only is butter lettuce really healthy, but it’s also quite delicious! For one, it can lend a silky smooth texture to your favorite salads and wraps. You can even use it to elevate burgers, sandwiches, and so much more. There are plenty of dishes to explore with this sweet leafy green.