What Kind Of Lettuce Is Used In Tacos?

What Kind Of Lettuce Is Used In Tacos

You know how sometimes you’re craving tacos but want to lighten it up a bit? Been there, my friend. As much as I love a good crunchy taco, all that tortilla can start to weigh me down after a while. That’s where lettuce comes in—it adds crispness, flavor, and nutrients without the heavy carbs. But with so many varieties out there, what kind of lettuce is used in tacos?

I used to just throw whatever lettuce I had on hand into my tacos—iceberg, romaine, maybe a bit of spinach if I was feeling wild. But it wasn’t until I started experimenting with different types that I realized there was a whole world of lettuce possibilities open to us taco lovers. Some hold fillings like a dream while others just get soggy. And don’t even get me started on using lettuce as a wrap instead of a tortilla—game changer!

In this article, I’m spilling all the lettuce tea so you can up your taco toppings. We’ll take a look at which varieties are best for shredding into fillings versus using as a wrap. Plus, there are some bonus options if you like to mix it up. By the time you’re done, you’ll be a full-on lettuce pro – ready to take your tacos to the next refreshing, crunchy level. So grab a snack, because this is one story you won’t want to put down!

Shredded Lettuce for Fillings

The iceberg is now an obvious choice here. It’s crunchy, it’s mild-tasting so it doesn’t clash with your other toppings, and it’s super cheap and available everywhere. The big puffy leaves shred up nice and fine too. Personally though, I always found iceberg a little boring on its own.

That’s where romaine comes in for me. It’s like iceberg’s more interesting cousin—still crisp but with a bit more substance to the flavor. The long, narrow leaves shred into long, thin strips that add visual appeal and texture contrast to the basic iceberg. Some people say romaine is almost too hearty to be a topping, but I disagree. The strips hold their crunch wonderfully and pair especially well with hearty fillings like chicken or beef.

Ever since my partner introduced me to using shredded cabbage in tacos, I’ve been hooked. It has a similar texture to lettuce but with a mild peppery note that I find really complements spicy toppings. Shred some fine with your romaine or iceberg and it seriously takes the taco to the next level. The best part is that cabbage is even cheaper than lettuce, so you’re upgrading your taco toppings on a budget.

Now I know what you’re thinking—spice sounds weird in a taco, right? I thought so too, until I gave it a shot. As long as you squeeze out the excess moisture, it shrivels up into these tiny, bright green crunchy bits that pack a nutrition punch. Spinach is also super mild so it blends right into your other fillings without being overwhelming. Just a small handful adds color and nutrients to take your taco from good to glowing green.

When it comes to shredded lettuce mixes, the possibilities are endless! Get creative with what you have on hand. I like to do a blend of romaine, cabbage and spinach for maximum flavor and nutrition. Or sometimes I’ll throw in some shredded carrots for sweetness. The combinations are up to you and what you have around. Just be sure to shred your lettuce, cabbage, spinach etc. right before assembling your tacos for max crunch factor.

Lettuce Wraps Instead of Tortillas

What Kind Of Lettuce Is Used In Tacos

For me, romaine is hands-down the best wrap option. Those long, sturdy leaves hold up so well to any fillings without getting soggy. They have a nice amount of flexibility, so you can fold them up neatly into tidy packages. I like to remove any of the smaller inner leaves so you’re left with just the big outer ones. Romaine also has decent flavor without being too overpowering for more delicate fillings.

Butterhead lettuces like Bibb are also a great choice. Their leaves are larger and softer than romaine so they make almost little lettuce cups that are perfect for scooping up taco toppings. They don’t have quite the structure of romaine but they hold their shape well enough, especially if you’re just doing a few spoonfuls of filling per leaf. The texture is almost velvety, which feels so luxurious compared to crunchy lettuce.

Iceberg can work too in a pinch since the leaves are nice and big. But personally, I find them a bit too delicate; they tend to crack or rip more easily than romaine or butterhead. Still, if handled ggently,they do the job as a low-carb wrap. Just load lighter on the fillings.

Red and green leaf lettuces are beautiful options if you want some color. Their leaves are tender, though so I’d only use them for very light fillings. Or consider layering: use red or green leaf leaves as the “bun” on the bottom and top, with a sturdier romaine or Bibb leaf in the middle to actually hold the fillings.

Honestly, the best way to decide is just to experiment. Grab a variety of lettuces next time you’re at the store and see which ones you like best for scooping, folding, and keeping fillings intact without getting soggy or breaking. Part of the fun is finding your perfect lettuce-wrap match!

Additional Variety Options

First up is green leaf lettuce. These leaves have a nice medium texture—sturdier than butterhead but more tender than romaine. The flavor is super mild so it won’t distract from your fillings. Green leaf is perfect if you want the look of romaine but a softer texture for wrapping. It’s also very colorful, with its dark green leaves dotted with red.

Red leaf lettuce is similar to green leaf lettuce but even prettier, in my opinion. The deep burgundy leaves look so festive on your plate or in your wrap. And did you know red leaf lettuce is one of the most nutritious lettuces around? It’s high in vitamins A, C, and K. The flavor is super mild, so it won’t overpower your other toppings. Just be aware that the leaves can be a bit delicate for stuffing with fillings.

Oak leaf lettuce is another fun option if you want frilly lettuce cups or wraps. The leaves are deeply lobed like little trees, which looks so unique. They have a tender texture but decent structure for light fillings. Oak leaf also holds sauces really well in all its nooks and crannies. It’s a showstopper if you want your taco toppings to look extra fancy.

Ever tried arugula in your tacos? I know it’s not technically a lettuce but it works so well. The peppery kick balances rich fillings like cheese, avocado or creamy sauces. Baby arugula is best since the leaves are smaller and more tender. Just massage it gently after rinsing to help tame its spiciness. A few leaves add big flavor without overwhelming your other toppings.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to mixing and matching your lettuce varieties, too. Layer different textures like crunchy romaine with buttery Bibb. Or make a colorful medley wrap with red leaf, green leaf and spinach. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to lettuce – it’s such a refreshing, nutrient-dense base for any taco.

Choosing The Right Lettuce

What Kind Of Lettuce Is Used In Tacos

Alright friends, we’ve come to the end of our lettuce journey but before we go, I want to share some tips on choosing the perfect variety for you.

First, consider how you plan to use it – shredded or as a wrap? This will narrow down your options based on texture. Romaine, cabbage and spinach are my go-tos for fillings since they hold up well. Meanwhile romaine, Bibb and green/red leaf work best as wraps.

Next, think about flavors you want to highlight in your tacos. Romaine, cabbage or spinach are great if you want a neutral backdrop. But spicy arugula or sweet carrots pair perfectly with rich fillings.

Don’t forget personal preference too! Some folks love the crunch of iceberg while others prefer a softer texture. Try a variety and see what you gravitate towards.

It’s also totally fine to use different lettuces together – a mix adds visual appeal and more nutrients. I love layering sturdy romaine with tender Bibb leaves for contrast.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to get creative! If a lettuce sounds good, give it a try. I never thought I’d use spinach or cabbage in tacos but now they’re staples. You never know what crazy combos you’ll love.


What’s the best way to store lettuce for tacos?

Loose in the fridge crisper drawer is best. Rinse first and dry or store in a paper towel lined bag for max freshness.

How long will shredded lettuce last? 

Shred just before using for maximum crunch factor. But stored properly, shredded lettuce can last 3-5 days.

Can you freeze lettuce for later use?

You bet! Rinse, pat dry, then freeze shredded or whole leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet first. Transfer to a bag once frozen. It’ll last months and you can toss straight into tacos from frozen.

Are there any lettuce varieties to avoid?

Stay away of loose leaf types like buttercrunch if using as a wrap – too delicate. Also baby lettuces are better for salads than tacos.

What about toppings that don’t play nice with lettuce? 

Very wet fillings like refried beans or guac could make lettuce soggy quicker. Moderate or use sturdier lettuce varieties.

Any lettuce hacks you want to share?

Sure! Try roasting shredded lettuce with a drizzle of oil & seasonings for toasty tacos. Or make “lettuce water” by soaking tough stems/ribs for a veggie boost.

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