Walking the fine line between neutral flavor and a hint of sweetness, Iceberg Lettuce has earned its place as one of the world’s favorite lettuce varieties. Read on to learn more about the confetti of crisp greens, perfect for use in all sorts of dishes.
Characteristics of Iceberg Lettuce
Iceberg Lettuce is often called Crisphead due to its snappy texture and full-head form. A head of Iceberg Lettuce has a crunchy texture and leaves that are a pale, light green. Due to their high water content, these lettuce heads grow best in mild climates that produce high crop yields.
It’s the texture and the flavor—or even lack thereof!—as well as the larger crops they often produce that makes Iceberg Lettuce one of the predominant lettuce varieties sourced in the United States. The taste of Iceberg Lettuce is so remarkably mild that it can pair well with just about any food.
Couple that with its irresistible crispy crunch, and Iceberg Lettuce brings a great textural component to a vast number of culinary confections without altering the flavor profile in the least. It’s also one of the less expensive lettuce varieties for sourcing in bulk.
One of the downsides of Iceberg Lettuce, however, is that its high moisture content, large surface area, and typical raw consumption make it one of the most susceptible lettuce varieties for contamination. It must be stored and consumed properly to avoid these issues.
More on Iceberg Lettuce
Eating Iceberg Lettuce
This lettuce has become a staple in numerous dishes as it has risen in popularity and its growth has become more widespread over the years. Now you can easily fit Iceberg Lettuce into your diet in a variety of ways.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy Iceberg Lettuce is as a base for a salad—often coupled with other, more nutrient-dense greens such as arugula, kale, or other lettuce varieties. Its mild flavor also makes room for plenty of salad toppings to shine, such as fresh-cut tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, various cheeses, nuts, seeds, and more.
But if you’re not really the salad sort, have no fear…Iceberg Lettuce has other uses!
You can pair this lettuce with stronger flavor profiles, such as you might find in Tex-Mex cuisine. Chop it up on top of tacos, nachos, and bean dips, or add it into burritos for a crisp, fresh component to cut the richness these dishes often contain. You can also add into chicken or tuna salad, onto sandwiches, or in rice or grain bowls for more of that textural variance as well as a bit of additional nutritional value.
In its full-leaf form, Iceberg Lettuce can also be used as a substitute for burger buns, tortilla wraps, or sandwich bread. This is a great option for those who are looking to avoid gluten or cut back on carbs but still want to enjoy the experience of a fully stacked meal.
The good news is, all lettuce varieties contain some nutritional value—and Iceberg Lettuce is no exception! This variety offers several vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamins K and A, which help support blood flow, eye health, and overall reduction of inflammation throughout the body. The lack of carbs and calories in Iceberg Lettuce can also make it a helpful component in weight loss and maintenance, and its 95% water composition makes it a great food for helping balance hydration levels as well.
It should be noted, however, that due to this exceedingly high water content, Iceberg Lettuce ranks among the lowest of all lettuce varieties in terms of its nutritional value. This is why it’s important to pair Iceberg Lettuce with other leafy greens, lettuce varieties, or food sources that offer a denser nutrient package.
Growing At Home
Growing Iceberg Lettuce at home is relatively simple and can be done even in small backyard gardens. You can plant your lettuce seeds directly into the soil in the spring, as soon as the soil becomes workable (that is, no longer frozen solid). You don’t have to worry about some cold getting to your plants, as lettuce is the type of crop that survives better in cooler climates and can withstand a bit of a chilly plunge without dying off.
If you prefer to get a jumpstart on growing in the spring, or if you would prefer to plant a fall crop of Iceberg Lettuce, you can begin the seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before the weather begins to cool in the summer, or the soil becomes workable in the spring. This method is particularly preferable for a fall crop, as planting seeds in the heat of summer might stunt their germination and cause the crop to fail before it even begins.
Lettuce seeds or sprouts should be planted in soil that is rich and well-draining, with access to direct sun. Dig holes about 5 inches deep and 10 inches apart in staggered rows to plant your seeds or young lettuce sprouts in, and add a tablespoon of compost, manure, or fertilizer to each hole. Then it’s time to plant!
Once you have germinated or transplanted lettuce seedlings in the soil, you will want to water them enough to keep the soil moist. If your area receives regular rain, you may not have to supplement at all; otherwise, in dry times, 3 to 4 waterings a week should do the trick. You can gauge the need for water by poking your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If the soil is dry at your fingertip, then it is time for some watering!
Mulching regularly will help the soil retain the necessary moisture to keep your lettuce plants thriving. You should also fertilize every 3 to 4 weeks and feed your lettuce plants every 2 weeks, or as otherwise instructed on the label of your lettuce plant feed.
Iceberg lettuce is ready to harvest when the head is about 6 inches in diameter and the leaves become tightly packed. Be sure to consume it in a reasonable time to avoid wilting and lessen the risk of contamination.
Where To Buy Iceberg Lettuce
As one of the most popular lettuce varieties out there, Iceberg Lettuce seeds can be sourced at most nurseries, lawn and garden centers, and even grocery stores. For sourcing seeds online, we recommend the seeds on True Leaf Market.
Wrapping up Iceberg Lettuce
Before you get started growing your Iceberg Lettuce at home, be sure to check out our Lettuce Plant page. This is a perfect resource to learn about lettuce plant care, different varieties, and so much more.