Fans of a stuffed, savory sandwich will know that piling on as many toppings as possible is the best approach to make a deluxe version of this family favorite. And no sandwich, in our opinion, is complete without a layer of crunchy, juicy lettuce!
But how do you go about picking the greatest lettuce for a sandwich? Iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves have a moderate flavor and a crisp texture. Butterhead or lollo rosso lettuces provide a milder texture, whilst arugula or watercress both lend a zingy, peppery flavor to your sandwich.
Have we whet your appetite for a lettuce-filled sandwich? Let’s look at the best lettuces for sandwiches so you can achieve the right flavor and texture combo!
Why Put Lettuce In A Sandwich?
A sandwich is undoubtedly the ultimate fast food. Whatever your preferred fillings, a sandwich is a mainstay in many homes. Consider those thick, soft slices of bread that are stuffed with cheese, turkey, or tuna and are then covered in a layer of zingy sauces and sometimes a tomato slice or two. But if you enjoy sandwiches, you might be asking why adding lettuce to this popular snack is a good idea.
Since there are so many various kinds of lettuce available, there are countless flavor combinations that can be made by adding lettuce to any sort of sandwich. The correct lettuce can not only provide a sandwich a new flavor dimension, but it can also enhance the flavors of the other sandwich contents.
Additionally, lettuce is a wonderfully nutritious option because it is low in calories and rich in important vitamins and minerals. Don’t avoid the green leaves if you enjoy a gooey, cheesy stack of toasted delight if you’re a fan of lettuce because some varieties can work great in a hot grilled sandwich! You’ll need a lettuce kind that retains flavor even after wilting.
There are numerous possibilities when it comes to adding lettuce to a sandwich. However, some lettuces complement particular fillings far better than others, therefore it is useful to have a general understanding of which lettuce goes well with different sandwich ingredients.
Let’s discuss how to choose the best lettuce for your flavor-packed sandwich so you can make the greatest choice based on your particular preferences and the flavor combination you are going for.
How To Choose The Best Lettuce For A Sandwich
There are many varieties of lettuce, making it one of the most adaptable sandwich fillings. The success of your sandwich depends on your choice of this popular salad element, which comes in a dizzying array of flavors and textures. The intensity of the lettuce’s flavor is an important first consideration. Do you want the lettuce to stand out as a prominent flavor in the sandwich, or would you rather it play a supporting role to the other ingredients?
The flavor of some lettuce leaves is particularly robust and powerful, bordering on being peppery or bitter. In contrast, the flavors of other types of lettuce are milder and subtler, coming off as sweeter and butterier. The next step is to consider the texture. Would you want a soft lettuce leaf that can be shaped to fit the other ingredients in your sandwich, or a firmer lettuce leaf with more bite? Is your lettuce sturdy enough to withstand being grilled alongside your sandwich?
The leaves of lettuces range from smooth and juicy to ruffled and colorful, and they come in a wide range of colors and shapes. Last but not least, consider the lettuce’s taste. Lighter green lettuces have a milder, butterier flavor, while darker green lettuces have a bolder, pepperier one.
In short, there is an almost infinite variety of lettuce from which to select the best for your sandwich. However, there are a few of tried-and-true flavor combinations that remain popular due to their ideal balance of lettuce and other fillings. Here are our finest picks for lettuce to use in your sandwich, eliminating any guesswork involved.
Best Lettuces For Sandwiches
Here are our top selections for the best lettuces for sandwiches, including some classic combos as well as some unexpected but pleasantly tasty options!
1. Iceberg Lettuce
Described as having a light, sweet flavor and a crisp, crunchy texture. Iceberg lettuce, the traditional sandwich lettuce, pairs well with the majority of cold fillings, including a wide range of meats and cheeses. Most people use iceberg lettuce when preparing a sandwich with salad inside, and for good reason too! It will be used in a ton of your favorite sandwich recipes because iceberg lettuce has numerous qualities that make it the ideal sandwich lettuce.
Crisphead lettuce called “iceberg” has light green leaves crammed close together on a spherical head. It is renowned for its large, crisp leaves that, when chewed into, release a sweet, juicy flavor. Your sandwiches will have more freshness, crunch, and nutrition with iceberg lettuce. Although the leaves of this particular lettuce are typically eaten whole, they can also be shred.
Iceberg lettuce’s mild flavor makes it suitable for almost any sandwich filling, while it isn’t always a good option for hot sandwiches. Shredded iceberg lettuce is a tasty addition to a sizzling burger for some people, but it can be too soggy and mushy for others.
2. Butterhead Lettuce
Thick, delicate leaves with a smooth, buttery feel. Combination: Subtle, mild-flavored sandwich ingredients like shrimp or egg. Butterhead lettuce is the second most frequent kind found in stores, usually nestled close to the iceberg! However, when it comes to texture and flavor, these two lettuce kinds couldn’t be more dissimilar. Large, loosely formed heads of soft, delicate leaves characterize butterhead lettuce. The leaves have a delicate feel and will not add much crunch to your sandwich.
They do, however, have a beautifully delicate and sweet flavor that complements modest sandwich ingredients like egg salad and tuna salad. Butterhead lettuce does not store as well as iceberg lettuce and should be consumed as soon as possible.
There are various varieties of butterhead lettuce, but the two most usually found in supermarkets are Boston, which has wide, floppy leaves, and Bibb, which has a smaller, more compact head. Butterhead lettuces with red or variegated leaves can also be found, adding a delightful dash of color to your sandwich.
3. Romaine Lettuce
Long leaves with crisp outer leaves and a robust, meaty stem. Pair With: Ideal for a lengthy submarine sandwich loaded with tasty fixings including meats, cheeses, and hot sauces. Although romaine lettuce is frequently disregarded as a sandwich lettuce, it actually has several fantastic qualities that make it perfect for this use! Large, crisp leaves in elongated, densely packed heads characterize romaine lettuces.
Since it’s simple to detach the leaves from the head, sandwiches can use them whole. Each leaf features a thin, crispier lettuce part on the outside and a core stem that is crunchy and juicy. The wonderful thing about romaine lettuce is that it withstands pressure effectively over an extended length of time.
Because of this, it’s a fantastic option for making sandwiches in advance for a picnic or brunch because they won’t be soggy when you get to eat them! The length of the leaves also allows them to fill a large sandwich, like a loaded sub or French baguette. They can also be used to create a sandwich without bread by wrapping them around other items to keep them in place.
Romaine lettuce falls somewhere in the middle of the flavor spectrum. Cut remove the stem if you like; the leaves are sweet but the stem may be harsh (or bland). The flavor is powerful enough to hold its own against heavy dressings without dominating the sandwich’s other components.
4. Arugula Lettuce
Small, dark green leaves with a spicy, strong aroma. Serve alongside full-flavored cold meats or on top of a sizzling steak sandwich. You don’t know what you’re missing if you’ve never eaten arugula in a sandwich! This popular salad green has small, dark green leaves with a serrated edge and is typically supplied in a salad bag. Arugula is rarely used in sandwiches since its peppery flavor may be rather robust and overbearing.
However, there are other instances where this works in its favor, such as when you wish to add some salad leaves to a spicy pepperoni, salami, or mortadella sandwich. Arugula also shines when placed on a heated sandwich. The leaves will wilt gradually while retaining part of their crunchy texture and pungent flavor.
Arugula instead of iceberg atop a sizzling burger topped with melted cheese is our ultimate favorite. Add them right before serving to preserve them as fresh as possible! If you find arugula too strong, combine it with sweet cherry tomatoes to balance out the flavor.
5. Lollo Rosso Lettuce
Red leaves that are tightly curled, with a crisp texture and a fresh flavor. Pair With: Excellent for retaining dressings and condiments inside your sandwich while providing color, volume, and texture. The key to making a sandwich that is seriously stacked is to use tightly curled lettuces, like lollo rosso! These delicate yet firm lettuce slices maintain their shape in a sandwich and aid in keeping your midday snack’s mayonnaise and condiments from dripping out.
The loose leaves of lollo rosso are typically sold as a whole head of lettuce and are simple to remove as needed. This kind of lettuce is sometimes referred to as coral lettuce and sold in stores. Butterhead lettuces and lollo rosso have a flavor that is very similar, but lollo rosso has a firmer, crunchier texture. It can be combined with the majority of sandwich fillings, whether they have a strong or subtle flavor, and will retain their texture nicely.
6. Mixed Salad Leaves
Description: A mixture of small salad leaves from various lettuce varieties. Pair with: Perfect for giving your homemade sandwiches an artisan touch! Although it may appear to be a bit of a cheat, those pre-packaged bags of salad leaves sold at the store are also ideal as a sandwich filling! We appreciate the convenience of these bags of mixed salad leaves because they eliminate the need to purchase multiple types of lettuce.
You know how every time you go to the deli counter for a sandwich, you leave wondering how the lettuce tastes so good? You might be surprised to learn that many artisan sandwiches contain mixed salad leaves to provide a variety of flavors and textures! The benefit of mixed salad leaves is that you can select a bag that meets your needs.
Putting together a spicy pastrami sandwich on a seeded rye roll? Choose the spicy watercress, arugula, and frisee salad leaves. Choose a sweeter baby salad leaf bag with oak leaf lettuce, spinach, and red chard for a more subtle salad leaf mix to pair with toppings like shrimp or egg salad.
Small, rounded peppery leaves with a crunchy texture are described. Pair With: The classic accompaniment to sandwiches with egg salad! Arugula and watercress taste very similar, though watercress has a crunchier, denser texture. As the name suggests, these salad leaves grow in water, and you might be lucky enough to find them growing wild. If not, most stores sell bags of fresh watercress, either alone or as part of a bag of mixed salad leaves.
The peppery flavor of watercress means it can withstand spicy, robust flavors, but it also works surprisingly well with sweet sandwich fillings such as apples. It is traditionally served as part of an egg salad sandwich, along with cucumber and mustard. Watercress is so packed full of flavor that many people enjoy it in a sandwich on its own, with just a twist of salt and pepper!
Thick, crunchy red and white leaves with a slightly bitter taste.
Sear the leaves on a griddle and serve with strong cheeses like gorgonzola.
If you’re tired of the same old lettuce sandwiches, radicchio is a unique salad leaf that adds a whole new dimension to your midday snacks!
Radicchio is a chicory with tight crowns of red and white leaves. The leaves are thick and crisp, with a harsh flavor that prevents them from being eaten alone.
However, quickly searing whole radicchio leaves on a hot griddle caramelizes their sweetness, making it the ideal partner for strong, salty sandwich toppings!
Radicchio can be served this way with pastrami, gorgonzola, or pulled pork. With a touch of sweetness and crunch from chopped apple or nuts, you’ve got yourself a gourmet artisan sandwich!
Salad greens that are delicately curled and fine in texture.
Serve with: Savory grilled sandwiches, particularly those with eggs and cheddar for breakfast!
Another variety of chicory called frisee is excellent for numerous sandwich fillings.
It has a soft, sweet flavor and texture and is less bitter than most chicory family members.
This seemingly fragile lettuce leaf can handle some heat and is frequently used in grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.
Additionally, it takes on other flavors nicely, especially those of oils and sauces. On your next BLT, try using frisee instead of iceberg lettuce; you could be pleasantly surprised!