Crunch. That’s why lettuce is added to a burger. It adds a nice crunch to the texture of the hamburger or cheeseburger. And to be honest, I think as long as you have fresh lettuce you’ll be fine with whatever lettuce it is. Lettuce is a rather bland tasting topping. No one says that burger had amazing lettuce like they do with burger patties, sauce, and other toppings. But the crunch of lettuce will add to the overall enjoyment of a burger, so the best lettuce for burgers is definitely fresh and crisp.
Once you have picked your perfect lettuce for your burger you then have two questions to answer. Do you serve it shredded or a whole leaf? And do you place it below or above the burger? Both questions will have an army of fans on either side, I’ll just tell you my preference and the reason why.
Should you shred lettuce? I say yes, always. Whole leaf lettuce slides around too much with sauces and melted cheese. And then you have a chance of not making a clean bite and half the toppings getting pulled out and down your t-shirt as your teeth pull the whole leaf from the burger.
Above or below the burger? I generally go below the burger. I find that as the heat rises up off the burger it wilts the lettuce faster if it’s on top (although you are normally safe if you put lettuce at the top of several other toppings as they will act as a barrier). And as I use shredded lettuce it is much easier to manage if I place it on the bun before the patty is added.
Let’s now run through some of the most popular varieties of lettuce you’ll have no problem finding in your local stores so you can decide what you think will be the best lettuce for burgers.
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Iceberg lettuce is renowned for being low in flavor and having very little nutritional value. But that’s ok, it’s not the reason we are adding lettuce to a burger. Does it have a good crunch? Yes. Iceberg lettuce is one of the best types of lettuce for burgers because it has a good crunch, is cheap and holds up well in the fridge.
Once shredded, I’d pat iceberg lettuce down with tissue paper before adding to your burger bun, as it holds a lot of water. And you don’t want it making you bun soggy. Also, iceberg lettuce handles heat reasonably well, so it won’t wilt fast if your burger is sitting on it for a while.
Romaine lettuces also called cos lettuce in parts of the world, is a dark green leaf with firm crunchy ribs. And it is this crunch that makes it one of the best lettuce for burgers. It is a heat-tolerant lettuce which is obviously good for burgers, and has a rich taste. But as with all lettuce, this taste is mild. And an added bonus it is very nutritious.
If nutrients are important for your burger then the green leaf lettuce has more than the two previously mentioned lettuces. It also has a more vibrant green color than most lettuce. The taste of green leaf lettuce depends on its age, young leaves will have a sweet taste but the older leaves will be semi bitter. But does it have the crunch to be the best burger lettuce? Yes and no, the leaf part doesn’t off much of a crunch but the stalk section offers a great crunch (albeit a bit watery).
Bibb lettuce is one of the more flavorful lettuce, having a sweet nutty taste. But this is a lettuce leaf that definitely needs to be shredded in a burger, as it is one that is harder to get a clean bite through. Bibb has both green and yellow leaves, which makes some people think they are going bad, and only has a slight crunch. So not my choice for best lettuce for burgers, but because of its flavor, I can see why it is some people’s favorite.
Firstly, I know Radicchio isn’t really lettuce, but most people see it as lettuce so I thought I’d add it to this list. Radicchio brings a whole new look to your burger as it has a wine-red color. This is also the only “lettuce” on this list I’d recommend you grill before adding to your burger.
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Best Lettuce for Burgers Winner
It’s a tough choice picking a winner, and think you can’t go wrong with any of the lettuce on this list. However, I’d say iceberg and romaine lettuce are the best burger lettuces. And if pushed to pick a winner, as there should only be one champion, I’d say iceberg lettuce wins for it extra crunch over romaine. Although romaine does have a better green color so looks nicer on a hamburger.