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Crisphead Lettuce: How to Plant, Grow, and Nurture This Crunchy Green

Known more commonly as “Iceberg lettuce,” Crisphead lettuce is one of the most widely used lettuces in the world!

Crisphead lettuce is a very round, compact head of lettuce that grows year-round in some regions. Its mild flavor blends beautifully with any dressing, and its snappy texture means it’s a sandwich’s best friend.

Crisphead lettuce is easy to find, easy to use, and best of all, easy to grow your own! Read on to learn more.

Crisphead Lettuce

Characteristics of Crisphead Lettuce

This lettuce is compact and made up of dense leaves.

The outer leaves are darker and thinner than the inner leaves, making them perfect for lettuce wraps. The lighter inner leaves are thicker and perfect for a crunchy chopped salad.

Like many other greens, it thrives in cooler temperatures.

Eating Crisphead Lettuce

What Does It Taste Like?

Iceberg lettuce has a very mild flavor. Almost 95% of it is made up of water, so there is little content to bring the flavor. It’s regularly referred to as “crisp” and sometimes “sweet.”

With What Does It Pair Well?

Its simple flavor means it pairs well with just about any other leafy green!

Chopped-up Crisphead lettuce can be mixed with more flavorful greens like Romaine, Arugula, or even Kale, for a hearty, nutrient-dense salad.

Because of its mild flavor and crunchy, crispy texture, it’s a great addition to sandwiches and burgers as well. It holds up better to sauces and other ingredients that may wilt a more delicate green.

How Do I Cook With It?

While Crisphead, or Iceberg, lettuce is normally enjoyed raw, like in a salad or as a wrap, there’s also an Asian dish that highlights this ingredient.

Stir-fried Lettuce

Stir-fried lettuce is a simple side dish that turns a head of Iceberg lettuce into the star of the show by simply adding a little soy sauce, garlic, and toasted sesame seed oil. It is best enjoyed immediately and pairs nicely with a dish such as Orange Chicken or Mongolian Beef.

Is It Good For Snacking?

It is a great option for a healthy snack. While you may not want to bite off a chunk of Crisphead lettuce by itself, top it with some cream cheese and a piece of turkey, and you’ve got a protein-packed snack.

Another good snack idea is to put a slice of Iceberg on top of a rice cake and add a scoop of chicken salad or tuna salad. Double it, add some fruit, and you’ve got yourself a snack turned into lunch!

Will Kids Like It?

Crisphead lettuce is a fantastic introduction to lettuce for kids. The mild flavor and fun texture make it much more palatable for young children.

Toss it together with some carrots, grape tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers, and top it with ranch. That way, little hands can pick out what they may not like or be ready to try, but they’ll still be exposed to delicious and nutritious vegetables.

Health Benefits

Nutritional Value

According to the USDA, one cup of chopped Crisphead lettuce contains the following nutrition:

Calories 8
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 6 mg
Potassium 80 mg
Total Carbohydrate 1.7 g
Dietary fiber 0.7 g
Sugar 1.1 g
Protein 0.5 g

Vitamins and Minerals

While this type of lettuce is not packed full of nutritional value, it does offer some important vitamins and minerals.

  • Calcium— critical for bone and teeth health.
  • Folate— helps create DNA material. Great for pregnant women or those preparing for pregnancy.
  • Potassium— works with sodium to regulate fluids in our bodies.
  • Vitamin A— supports eye health and cell growth.
  • Vitamin C— important for a strong immune system.
  • Vitamin K— keeps bones strong and helps blood clot.

Growing at Home

Can I Grow Crisphead Lettuce at Home?

Yes, you can grow your own Iceberg lettuce at home.

Crisphead Lettuce Seedlings

This vegetable can be grown in any growing zone, all the way from 1 to 11! Different zones will need to plant at different times of the year, but with a little extra research into your zone, you’ll be able to eat farm fresh Crisphead lettuce at home.

Basic Planting and Care Instruction

This type of lettuce does best in temperatures between 45°-65°F, which means they need to be planted in early spring and late summer in order to thrive.

The seeds are minuscule and can be sowed directly in the ground. Dig a shallow trench and then cover them back up lightly so as not to disturb them.

Use a row cover to protect baby lettuces from pests and frost in the beginning.

Once the seedlings sprout, thin them out to one plant every 15″.

Iceberg lettuce has shallow roots, which means the soil needs to be kept consistently moist to make sure they’re getting adequate amounts of water.

How to Handle Pests and Diseases

This type of lettuce is notorious for being riddled with pests. The deer and slugs just can’t help it—it’s that delicious!

To deter herbivore pests like rabbits and deer, make the lettuce inaccessible. Use a fabric row cover or garden cloche to cover each plant.

Insect pests enjoy hiding in the leaves of lettuce heads. It’s important to regularly check in between leaves for any unwanted visitors.

If you notice brown spots growing on your lettuce, there are a few regular culprits to consider. Bottom rot, bacterial leaf spot, and downy mildew are all common diseases.

Many of the diseases can be avoided by rotating crops yearly and keeping the actual heads of lettuce as dry as possible.

When to Harvest Crisphead Lettuce

Crisphead lettuce is ready to harvest somewhere between 50 and 90 days after it is planted. It’s ready to cut off and enjoy when the head looks big and feels tightly packed.

Growing Crisphead Lettuce

If you want to enjoy your lettuce for a longer period of time, stagger the times you plant seeds by two weeks, so their harvest periods are spread out.

Where to Buy Crisphead Lettuce Seeds

This lettuce is available for purchase at any grocery store you walk into around the country!

If you’d like to grow your own at home, your local nursery should have seeds. Or you can order them online at True Leaf Market.

Wrapping Up Crisphead Lettuce

Thanks to its wide availability and ability to be enjoyed by almost anyone, Crisphead lettuce has earned its spot as the most used lettuce in the world.

Let us know in the comments your favorite way to enjoy it!

Check out our Lettuce Page to learn about other varieties of this vegetable.