Head Lettuce

Get The Most Out of Your Head Lettuce from Backyard Eats

Harvesting Head Lettuce

When It’s Ready
  • In the early stages, you may cut off individual leaves (e.g. for a sandwich)
  • Harvest the full head of lettuce whenever it is filled out, or when the leaves from nearby lettuces push up against each other
  • May – June
When It’s Too Late
  •  When plants have gone to flower (aka bolted), which makes them bitter and unpalatable
  • You can tell a lettuce is bolting when it starts to grow upward, taking the shape of a cone
  • Harvest ASAP if you see this happening
How To
  • Cut the entire head free by slicing along the soil line with a sharp knife
Pro Tip
  • Harvest in the early morning when the lettuce is most crisp, before it starts to wilt from the heat of the day

Growing Head Lettuce

Head lettuce has a mild and slightly sweet flavor, with a crisp and crunchy texture. Head lettuce is typically used as a salad ingredient, and can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces and used as the base for a salad, or used as a wrap for sandwiches or burgers. It can also be grilled, roasted, or sautéed to add a unique and flavorful touch to a range of dishes. Head lettuce pairs well with a variety of other ingredients, including fruits, nuts, and cheeses.

Varieties of Head Lettuce:

Green Butterhead Lettuce | Green Summer Crisp Lettuce | Red Butterhead Lettuce | Red Summer Crisp Lettuce | Romaine Lettuce


Storing Head Lettuce

Post-Harvest Care: Cool and rinse immediately after harvest by dunking into cold water. Leave on a towel to dry.

Fresh Storage: Place in airtight bags or containers and refrigerate. Lasts up to 2 weeks when stored fresh from the garden.

Long-Term Storage: Do not freeze lettuce.

Cooking With Head Lettuce

  1. Classic Garden Salad: Tear or chop head lettuce into bite-sized pieces and combine with other salad vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. Toss with your favorite dressing and enjoy a refreshing and crisp salad.
  2. Lettuce Wraps: Use large lettuce leaves, such as iceberg or butter lettuce, as a wrapper for fillings like grilled chicken, tofu, or seasoned ground meat. Add your choice of vegetables, sauces, and toppings for a light and flavorful wrap.
  3. Caesar Salad: Toss torn romaine lettuce leaves with Caesar dressing, grated Parmesan cheese, and croutons. Add grilled chicken or shrimp for a more substantial meal. This classic salad is a crowd-pleaser.
  4. Lettuce Cups: Use lettuce leaves, such as Boston lettuce or green leaf lettuce, as cups to hold fillings like chicken or tuna salad, stir-fried vegetables, or even taco fillings. The lettuce cups provide a refreshing and low-carb alternative to traditional wraps or tortillas.
  5. Grilled Lettuce: Brush lettuce halves or wedges with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill until lightly charred and wilted. Drizzle with a vinaigrette or a squeeze of lemon juice for a smoky and unique twist on salad.

Try These Head Lettuce Recipes:

Want To Learn More?

At Backyard Eats, we’re passionate about helping our clients discover and share the magic of homegrown good. Our Harvest Guides will teach you everything you need to know to harvest, store, and cook with fresh produce right from your own backyard! Our Harvest Toolkit Directory includes a list of all our step-by-step guides. Click below to give them a try!