Its name may sound a bit like a joke—or maybe an insult!—but make no mistake, Butterhead Lettuce brings nothing but bounty to the table.
This delicious, buttery-smooth lettuce can be appreciated in a variety of ways and has a powerhouse kick of health benefits not found in other lettuces to boot. Read on to learn all about growing and enjoying Butterhead Lettuce.
Characteristics of Butterhead Lettuce
Butterhead Lettuce is occasionally referred to as “cabbage lettuce” due to the similarity in its size and shape to a cabbage head. This is a notably soft, delicious lettuce variety akin to spinach in texture, but with a much milder leafy flavor. It receives its “buttery” taste comparison due to a rich and less grassy profile when compared to other lettuce varieties.
In terms of its appearance, Butterhead Lettuce can be distinguished by its broad, soft leafy folds and that unique cabbage-like roundness. It is often green but can also be found in shades of red or with “purple tipped” leaves. All of these characteristics are just unique ways the Butterhead variety stands out from the crowd.
Butterhead Lettuce Specific
Due to its size and texture, there are endless ways Butterhead Lettuce can be enjoyed!
First and foremost, of course, is how you might expect it: as a salad base! That rich, buttery flavor and soft, leafy texture with a mild crunch makes for an absolutely fantastic torn-lettuce salad.
Not to mention, the taste of Butterhead pairs well with both powerful components like a rich, ripe tomato, fresh, raw onion, or a strong cheese, as well as with milder toppings such as avocado and even fresh citrus.
But the ways to enjoy Butterhead Lettuce just build far beyond a classic salad! The size of the lettuce leaves themselves, which often come away from the stem in roughly palm-sized offerings, makes a perfect topping in both dimension and texture for a burger or sandwich.
They are easy to bite through but crispy enough to lend a fantastic textural variance to any stackable meal.
The leaves of a Butterhead Lettuce are just durable enough to also create a perfect vessel for tuna salad, chicken salad, or even taco salad without being so tough they’re difficult to crunch through. This makes this an ideal option for gluten-free eaters who want the experience of enjoying a sandwich or wrap, but without using bread.
Like many other kinds of lettuce, there are great health benefits to consuming Butterhead Lettuce! For example, plain and simple, all lettuce is a great source of water! Being 95% water itself, just eating lettuce can aid in maintaining healthy hydration levels—which is good for every system and function of the body!
In addition, lettuce also contains various vitamins and nutrients that all help with various bodily functions. This includes a high dose of Vitamin A, which helps reduce overall inflammation throughout the body as well as aiding in the maintenance and even improvement of vision.
Butterhead Lettuce has some standout health benefits in and of itself. This particular variety of lettuce is higher in iron than most other types, as well as being a great source of Vitamins A and K, potassium, and manganese.
This type of lettuce also provides a hearty dose of folate, a nutrient which is critical to the healthy development of babies in utero, making this a great choice for pregnant women who are looking for a nutritious component to their meals!
Growing at Home
Butterhead Lettuce makes for a great lettuce variety to grow at home! It does best sown directly into properly prepared soil, and in no time at all you will have a bountiful lettuce harvest on your hands.
Your Butterhead lettuce plants will require 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight for optimal growth, but this is a great gardening variety to grow in partial shade as well!
A cool-tolerant lettuce, the Butterhead will do fine in temperatures that dip to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit or rise occasionally as high as 80, but it thrives in temperature ranges between 46 to 65 degrees.
Too much cold will shock the plants, and too much heat will cause them to bolt, making them bitter—so if you are planting in the summer, be sure to make use of that shade tolerance when choosing where to plant!
Because its optimal temperature range is on the cooler side, you will want to plant your Butterhead Lettuce for either spring or fall harvests. Sow 2 to 3 seeds at a time in trenches dug in soil that’s smooth, rich in nutrients, and well-draining, spacing seed clusters roughly 4 to 8 inches apart.
Make sure they’ve covered in no more than an eighth of an inch of soil, as they need light to germinate! Water your seeds every 2 days until they germinate, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. Once germination begins, you can generally water 1 or 2 times a week, adjusting for drier periods.
When your lettuce sprouts reach about 2 inches in height, you can begin a fertilization and feeding schedule of every couple of weeks, and pull off any brown leaves to prune the plant and keep it healthy.
Once your lettuce leaves reach a minimum of 2 inches in diameter, you may begin pulling them off for immediate use if you like! You can also wait for the lettuce head to reach full maturity—about 50 to 80 days—and then remove it with shears or a knife to have the full head at your disposal.
At this point, you may also want to stagger your lettuce growth and plant new seeds during this time. With proper care, your lettuce plants will continue to produce for you throughout the growing season!
Where to Buy Butterhead Lettuce Seeds
Due to its vast popularity, Butterhead Lettuce can be purchased in seed form in a wide variety of locations, including nurseries, lawn and garden centers, and even grocery stores. When sourcing seeds online, we recommend the Harmony Butterhead Lettuce and Skyphos Butterhead Lettuce varieties provided by Hoss Tools.
Both of these varieties are pelleted, meaning the miniscule lettuce seeds have been encased in an organic clay coating to make them more visible and easier to work with.
Wrapping Up Butterhead Lettuce
Excited to try out the numerous tasty uses for Butterhead Lettuce? Make sure you’re fully prepared to strike of on your lettuce-growing adventure! Take time to check out our Lettuce page and equip yourself with all sorts of lettuce care knowledge to make the most of growing it in your garden.
- About the Author
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Renee Dugan is a lifelong writer, professional editor, and lover of all things nature, gardening and the big outdoors.
A Midwest girl who’s been in the garden since she could first hold a hand trowel, Renee’s love of growing things has bloomed into a passion for healthy living, holistic lifestyle, and knowing where our food comes from.
Now a mother and maturing gardener herself, Renee is passionate about channeling everything she knows and continues to learn about gardening into lessons for her son and others. Her excitement for sharing this knowledge is only superseded by her excitement about being able to finally grow her own citrus plants in pots.
Renee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org