Butter lettuce is a variety of green lettuce that also goes by Bibb lettuce, and is closely related to Boston lettuce. Learn all about it, and use these large, delicious leaves to make lettuce wraps, salad, or add a layer to sandwiches.
What Is Butter Lettuce?
Butter lettuce has a tender texture and bright green or deep reddish-purple hue (or sometimes a combination of both). Butter lettuce is sometimes sold as a whole head with the roots still attached, which keeps the soft leaves from wilting since they're more fragile than romaine or iceberg.
While the names Boston and Bibb suggest a tie to the United States, this leafy green has origins in the Mediterranean, where it's still enjoyed in a variety of light, healthy dishes.
How to Use Butter Lettuce
Aside from the salad approach, there's so much to do with this large-leafed green. It's a great material to wrap ingredients, like seasoned beef, chicken salad, pulled pork, taco fixings, or even a hamburger. It's also great in sandwiches — stacking them will give a sandwich food a satisfying green crunch without overpowering other ingredients.
What Does Butter Lettuce Taste Like?
Though it doesn't have a buttery flavor, butter lettuce does have a silky-soft texture that feels like it's melting in your mouth. A hint of sweetness prevails too, giving the leaves a mellow floral note that pairs well with ripened cheeses and citrus-tinged meat.
Butter Lettuce Recipes
Add butter lettuce to a recipe that calls for a soft leafy green, not romaine or iceberg. The leaves give any salad a tender mouthfeel, and they pair well with crunchy ingredients and pops of bold flavor. Avoid heavy dressings like thousand island and blue cheese that will weigh the greens down, and opt for a lighter vinaigrette.
Where to Buy Butter Lettuce
Most grocery stores stock butter lettuce. Often you'll see whole heads encased in a plastic dome to help protect the delicate leaves and roots (if still attached, which keeps the head fresher for longer). Butter lettuce is also included in some bagged lettuce blends, and sold at farmers markets.
Keep the roots attached to the lettuce until you're ready to use it. If using half a head, cut off what you need and keep the rest intact. When storing in the fridge, wrap a damp paper towel around the leaves and place in an aerated plastic bag in the crisper drawer. It's best not to wash the lettuce until you want to use it, as over-handling can bruise the leaves.
Nutrition and Benefits
Butter lettuce contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as a high water content. This type of lettuce may contain lactucarium, a natural, milld sedative. Butter lettuce was once used in European herbal medicine to treat insomnia and encourage digestion, contributing to the the French tradition of finishing a meal with salad.
Find butter lettuce either as butter lettuce or under the names Bibb or Boston. It's all the same variety. The same goes for the colors too. There are bright green leaves, deep purple-red and a calico mixture of the two. The green tend to be a little more tender, but both prove just as buttery and satisfying on the palate.