Lettuce Buying Guide

The right lettuce can add flavour, texture and colour to your salads and meals. This lettuce buying guide outlines the various types and how best to use them in your kitchen.

Lettuce 101

Versatile and healthy, lettuce is a good source of vitamins A and C, fibre, folate and potassium. Lettuce leaves range from crunchy and neutral-tasting to soft with strong flavours. Some of the types covered below aren’t strictly lettuces, but they’re included because they are used in many similar ways. 

Types of Lettuce


Leaf Lettuce

Available in both red and green, loose leaf lettuce has a mild, sweet flavour and usually has a nice crunchy texture. It’s a great source of vitamin A and contains minimal calories. Leaf lettuce is very versatile, and works great as a core component of tasty sandwiches, tacos and salads. Larger leafs can even be used as a wrap for delicious vegetarian snacks.
It’s advised that you store your leaf lettuce in the fridge and rinse it before use. 

Romaine Lettuce

Crispy and slightly bitter, Romaine is the lettuce of choice for cooks and chefs looking to create the perfect Caesar salad. Its narrow, elongated leaves hold the Caesar dressing well, and the middle rib provides a good crunchy texture. Romaine has the highest concentration of vitamin C of any type of lettuce, which makes it a good boost for your immune system too. Romaine lettuce is also a great source of potassium, folate and fibre. 

Iceberg Lettuce

By far the most popular lettuce worldwide, the Iceberg variety is cool, crunchy and extremely refreshing. Iceberg lettuce has a mild, neutral flavour, which makes it a great addition to loaded burgers and sandwiches. Usually pale green and white, Iceberg leaves are tightly packed and can be peeled away by hand or chopped with a sharp knife. Iceberg lettuce will stay fresh in the fridge longer than most lettuces.

Butterhead Lettuce

The Butterhead family includes Boston and Bibb lettuces; both are delicate with loose heads and require soft handling. Boston lettuce has a pale yellowy green head, whereas Bibb lettuce tends to be a bit darker and have a sweeter taste. The big leaves work well as a bed or wrap for fish or crispy Asian-style duck. Butterhead lettuces have a short fridge life and should be used within two days.

Summercrisp Lettuce

Summercrisp lettuce is so-named because it can withstand heat much better than other lettuce types. It also has an extremely long shelf life: a head can maintain its crispiness for weeks — from the day of harvest to the day it arrives on your plate. Summercrisps usually grow upright to form a loose leaf head. Their nutty flavoured leaves are a great choice for a refreshing summer salad.

Oak Leaf Lettuce

Oak leaf lettuce comes in a variety of red, green and blonde leaves, which can add a nice decorative effect to sides and salads. The leaves are tender with crunchy stems, and also have a strong peppery flavour. This means they can stand up on their own without a dressing, or add zest to blander fare. 


Striking with its burgundy tipped leaves and bright white ribs, Radiccio grows into a tight and sometimes elongated head. Radiccio is a good source of iron and vitamin C and its large leaves are great to use as a food cup or wrap. Its slightly bitter taste combines well with other greens in a super healthy salad.


Arugula has a strong, bitter flavour which works well as a counterpoint to milder greens in a spring salad mix. Arugula has a high protein content and can be enjoyed cooked as well as raw. Wild Arugula is much more peppery than the cultivated variety. The strong flavour kick makes it effective as a garnish in small quantities.  


Sometimes referred to as broad-leafed endive, Escarole has curly green leaves and is a great source of vitamin A, C and K, and has a distinctive, bitter taste. It produces sturdy leaves that work well in a tasty salad when they’re young and tender. Once Escarole matures the leaves tend to become tougher and are more suitable to a stew or soup. 

Chicory and Frisée

The names Chicory and Frisée are often used interchangeably, but there are some differences between the two. Chicory has slender, spiky leaves that have a peppery, bitter taste. Frisée is more of a cross between chicory and a green leaf lettuce and is slightly less bitter. Both make for a great garnish, and both are good sources of vitamin A and C.

Lettuce Buying Tips:

• A recently picked lettuce will taste best and be most nutritious; look for clean, fresh looking ends
• Avoid any lettuce that looks wilted or dried out
• For added convenience, consider ready mixed lettuce leaves that come in a bag or box

Lettuce Features

Colour +

Green is by far the most common colour of lettuce, although you can find red and blonde leaf lettuce, too. Red leaf lettuce is very similar to a Romaine lettuce, only its leaves are tinged red rather than green. Choosing a particular colour of lettuce can be a great way of sprucing up your food if you have an aesthetic culinary eye. The different shades of green in lettuces do have significance: the darker, softer leaves tend to contain more vitamins and minerals.

Texture +

Lettuces range from the super crispy to the soft and chewy. A crispy lettuce works well in a sandwich or burger, making a nice variation to the texture of the patty, while a softer, chewier lettuce works well with a soup, broth or even chilli con carne.

Leaf Size +

Smaller leaves make a great accompaniment to a bagel or taco, adding contrast, flavour and essential greenery to a tasty meal. Bigger leaves can act as the wrap themselves. Try it: take a Butterhead lettuce, carefully remove one of its leaves and then stuff it with some fresh tuna or olives. Or both! It’s healthy, tastes great, and could become a family favourite.

Flavour +

Lettuces range in flavour from the neutral to strong and distinct. The subtle flavours of Iceberg lettuce can add texture and refreshment without overpowering the rest of a meal. The peppery punch of Arugula can be used to spice up blander salads and other dishes.

Lettuce Storage Tips:

• Store lettuce in a plastic bag in the fridge
• Keep lettuce in the fridge until use and replace immediately when done
• Crispy leaves, like Iceberg and Romaine, will be okay in the fridge for a week or so
• Soft-leaved lettuces should be used as soon as possible
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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