How to use up lettuce - bowl of pad thai

Looking for delicious ways to use up lettuce? From fresh salads and punchy noodle dishes to picnic fare, party-ready canapés and beyond, we’ve got a flavour-packed recipe for every occasion.

Soft varieties of lettuce like butterhead and round work so well in seasonal salads or as lettuce wraps – just make sure you dress or fill the leaves right before serving to stop them from getting too soggy and wilted. And crisper varieties like little gem, romaine, cos or iceberg are incredibly refreshing and make ideal lettuce cups – simply trim, click apart and wash the leaves before loading them up with lots of tasty toppings. There are also some dishes that feature cooked lettuce – it has a lovely mild, delicate flavour when braised. 

Whether you’re after a quick lunch, easy dinner or recipes to feed a crowd, we’ve got plenty of exciting ways to use up lettuce. Enjoy! 

Crunchy iceberg paired with charred corn, fun popcorn croutons and a creamy cheese dressing, this mega salad from Jamie’s Veg book is a thing of joy. Load it up into wraps for a ridiculously good lunch or serve as part of a bigger spread. 

Shredded romaine lettuce and finely sliced cauli combine to make the most elegant salad in this healthy chicken Caesar. It’s packed full of good stuff but there’s absolutely no compromise on the flavour front – result. 

Make lettuce the star of the show with this flavour-packed side dish. We’re talking soft, round lettuce tossed in a yoghurty mustard dressing and topped with grated Parmesan – yes please! Enjoy as part of a steak night dinner, picnic or barbecue spread.

Get back to basics with this lettuce salad – it’s the perfect go-to accompaniment for any meals that need a bit of extra zing. It might be one of the easiest side dishes out there, but making the effort to toss the leaves with a delicious dressing can make all the difference. If you’re taking this on a picnic or in your lunch box, keep the dressing in a jam jar, shaking it together and mixing through the leaves once you’re ready to tuck in. 

Go all out with this build-your-own spread that’s all about celebrating the best of spring’s seasonal produce. We’re using two types of lettuce here to create a salad that contrasts beautifully with tender roast chicken and crispy bacon croutons – come on!

Mix up your side salad offering with this vibrant little number. With finely chopped little gem, crunchy Bombay mix and pops of fresh mint, this is something special. Delicious as part of a curry feast, or with wedges of cooked squash, chunks of feta or leftover shredded roast chicken for a next-level lunch. 

Impress your guests with these super-cute canapés. Dainty round lettuce leaves make a fantastic vehicle for sweet prawns and dollops of Marie Rose sauce – so retro, so good! 

If you’re looking for easy ways to use up lettuce, this colourful stir-fry ticks a lot of boxes. Really versatile, packed with lots of beautiful veg and on the table in 35 minutes, it’s a no-brainer. 

Swap your weekend takeaway with this epic pork dish – chances are it’ll be healthier, cheaper and more satisfying! Crisp lettuce cups loaded up with sticky hoisin pork, crunchy veg and crushed wasabi peas – this is a proper treat. 

Cooked lettuce makes a cracking side dish here – it has a lovely mild, delicate flavour when braised. Paired with spring onions, peas and a good squeeze of lemon juice, it’s a thing of beauty. If you’ve not tried it before, trust us and give it a go! 

Crisp cos lettuce contrasts so well with tender stir-fried veg in this vegetarian take on a pad Thai. If you’re after a vegan version, simply ditch the egg and serve with cubes of tofu, marinated in soy and lime juice, instead. 

Upgrade your next picnic with these perfectly portable prawn cocktails – they’re also a great starter to bring to a mate’s house if you’re joining a pot-luck dinner. Load each jar up with a bed of finely shredded lettuce, then top with crispy pancetta crumbs, prawns and avo sauce – iconic.

After more seasonal inspiration? Check out our best chard recipes


What is lettuce?

Lettuce is a leafy vegetable from the asteraceae plant family. It’s usually eaten as part of a salad. There are dozens of varieties of lettuce, which all differ in taste, appearance and texture. Crisp types of lettuce include iceberg, romaine and cos; and softer varieties include round lettuce and little gem. The ancient Romans used lettuce for medicinal purposes – they ate it at the end of dinner to help calm their stomachs and make them drowsy. Emperor Augustus is said to have been cured of a serious illness by eating lettuce!

When is lettuce in season?

Lettuce is available all year round, but you can get seasonal British lettuce varieties from May to December.

How to store lettuce

For maximum deliciousness, lettuce should be served as fresh as possible, so always buy lettuces that don’t show any signs of wilting. Keep in the salad drawer of the fridge and use within a couple of days – crisp varieties can last a day longer if you click off any wilted outer leaves.

What are the health benefits of lettuce?

Lettuce is a source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting, which means it helps wounds heal properly.