14 Different Types of Lettuce, Plus How to Serve Them All (From Arugula to Watercress)

Lettuce give you the 411

different types of lettuce: person mixing lettuce in a bowl
Anastasiia Krivenok/Getty Images

Oh, lettuce. It beefs up salads and adds a final healthy flourish to your plate. But honestly, it can get a little boring. So I’m making a case for putting a little more thought into your leaves. Because here’s the thing—the right greens will turn an average summer salad or picnic sandwich into something truly exceptional. Here, the ultimate guide to the most delicious different types of lettuce (plus, what to make with them).

13 Types of Salad Dressing All Home Cooks Should Know (Because What’s French Dressing Anyway?)

different types of lettuce: arugula
pilipphoto/Getty Images  

1. Arugula

Also known as rocket in Europe and Australia, these small, scalloped leaves are dark green in color and delightfully peppery. With its distinctive bite, arugula can handle tangy dressings and big flavors, so don’t be shy when pairing it with other ingredients. Arugula also makes a great addition to a sandwich or atop pizza when you want an extra kick, or you can wilt it into pasta for a mellower flavor.

different types of lettuce: butterhead lettuce
kpoppie/Getty Images

2. Butterhead

Butterhead lettuce (aka Boston or Bibb) gets its name from its smooth, soft, buttery texture. This delicate type of head lettuce has a mild flavor that’s best showcased in salads, but its broad leaves can also work as lettuce wraps or cups. You’ll often find it sold in a plastic clamshell in the grocery, root intact.

different types of lettuce: endive
bhofack2/Getty Images

3. Endive

Don’t be fooled by their size. These compact heads—which are a type of leaf chicory (as opposed to root chicory)—pack a lot of flavor and crunch. Serve on their own with a punchy dressing or use them as boats for tasty fillings and elegant appetizers. If you find their taste a little too bitter for your liking, try gently braising them until they’re golden to add some sweetness.

  • Also known as: Belgian endive, French endive, witloof
  • Use it in: salads, crudités platters, braised dishes
  • Try it: all-green crudités basket
different types of lettuce: escarole
bhofack2/Getty Images

4. Escarole

Another member of the chicory clan, this slightly bitter green is popular in Italian cooking. It can be served raw in salads, but also lends itself well to cooked dishes like soups or beans.

different types of lettuce: frisée
YelenaYemchuk/Getty Images

5. Frisée

A favorite in French bistros, this member of the endive family is slightly milder than its Belgian cousin and has frilly, curled leaves tinted with yellow and green. Its peppery flavor makes it an excellent companion to richer ingredients like bacon and egg.

different types of lettuce: green leaf lettuce
Lucy Lambriex/Getty Images

6. Green Leaf

Spot this guy by its delicate leaves coming out of a single stalk, rather than a head (handle with care, the leaves bruise easily). With a buttery taste, this one’s great mixed with other leaves in a simple yet satisfying side salad. Top tip: Don’t dress green leaf until just before serving to keep the leaves crunchy.

different types of lettuce: iceberg lettuce
mikehillpics/Getty Images

7. Iceberg

Crisp, watery and refreshing, this dense head of lettuce is the go-to if you want your greens to stay crunchy in the fridge for a while (hey, no judgment). Unwashed iceberg lettuce that’s stored in a plastic bag will keep two weeks in the refrigerator—twice as long as most other lettuces. It’s a classic component of the wedge salad, but can also be shredded into fine strips (aka shredduce) and added to sandwiches or burgers.

different types of lettuce: Little gem
etiennevoss/Getty Images

8. Little Gem

If you’ve ever seen this type of lettuce on a restaurant menu and wondered what, exactly, Little Gem is (me too), here’s the answer: It’s an heirloom varietal made by cross-breeding romaine and butterhead lettuce. The crisp, sweet leaves come in small heads and are ready to be tossed into salads once separated. This one can be tough to track down in grocery stores, so check for it at the farmers market.

different types of lettuce: mâche
Larissa Veronesi/Getty Images

9. Mâche

Also known as lamb’s lettuce, mâche has dark green leaves in bunches of four or five attached to one root. With a sweet and creamy flavor, this type of lettuce is lovely served on its own and lightly dressed with oil and vinegar. In France, it’s often paired with beets.

different types of lettuce: mesclun
Zakharova_Natalia/Getty Images

10. Mesclun

Technically not a type of lettuce so much as a mix of baby lettuce leaves, mesclun is usually packaged and sold as “spring mix” (even though, yeah, you can buy it year-round). TBH, I think of this one as a last-resort salad base because it’s pretty plain, but it can be a good way to showcase a punchy dressing.

different types of lettuce: radicchio
Elena Noviello/Getty Images

11. Radicchio

Pronounced “ruh-DEE-kee-yo” or “ruh-DIK-ee-yo,” this bitter type of lettuce (which is related to endive) also goes by red chicory and is easy to spot from its vibrant purple color. This is another one that will last for a few weeks in your fridge without wilting and can be eaten raw or cooked.

different types of lettuce: red leaf lettuce
Leonsbox/Getty Images

12. Red Leaf

Red leaf lettuce is actually just like its green sibling, but with pretty red tips that make it an excellent choice for your Insta-worthy dinner party salad. (It tastes the same as green and can be used interchangeably.)

  • Also known as: leaf lettuce, loose-leaf lettuce
  • Use it in: salads, lettuce wraps
  • Try it: ultimate dinner salad
different types of lettuce: romaine
Claudia Totir/Getty Images

13. Romaine

With long and stiff leaves and a mild and slightly bittersweet flavor, you likely know Romaine best in a classic Caesar salad. But that sturdy texture means it can withstand heat, so it’s also delicious when grilled or roasted.

different types of lettuce: watercress
yodaswaj/Getty Images

14. Watercress

Watercress features delicate, dark green leaves with tough stems that can be bitter. Its small leaves, however, are bright and peppery with a mustard-like flavor, so it pairs beautifully with rich flavors (such as salmon or eggs). Look for it at farmers markets in the springtime.

img 0936

Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...