How to Store Lettuce So It Doesn’t Wilt

Storage tips that’ll help you get your greens in!

Eating lettuce may feel like a duty sometimes, but it doesn’t have to! At its best, lettuce tastes fresh, bright, and nourishing—the perfect vehicle for punchy dressings, and the ideal accompaniment for a rich meal. You can always buy boxed, pre-washed lettuce at the grocery store, but we prefer to purchase heads of lettuce when possible. Heads of lettuce last longer than the boxed stuff, and they tend to yield a fresher, crunchier result. Look for tight bunches of lettuce with crisp, vibrant leaves, and avoid anything that looks slimy or brown. Lettuce has a high water content, and can be very delicate, so it deteriorates somewhat quickly once picked. Keep reading for our best advice on storing lettuce so it doesn’t wilt before you have the chance to enjoy it.


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How to Store Romaine Lettuce

Romaine is a popular lettuce variety with long, crunchy leaves and a mild, almost sweet flavor. It’s great in a Caesar salad, tucked into a sandwich, or served with creamy dips as part of a crudité spread. You’ll often find romaine hearts pre-sealed in plastic bags at the grocery store, but sometimes they’re sold in bunches, unbagged. 

When you get home from the store, start by removing the romaine from its packaging and discard any damaged outer leaves. Next, wrap the heads in paper towels, and place them in fresh plastic bags in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Don’t separate the leaves or wash them until the day you’re planning to eat them; whole heads stay fresher much longer than individual leaves, and water causes greens to wilt. Stored this way, romaine lettuce should stay fresh and crunchy for about one week.

How to Store Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg lettuce is pale green and cabbage-like in appearance, known for its high water content and refreshing crunch. We love it in classic wedge salads, shredded and added to tacos, and layered into BLTs. You’ll typically find heads of iceberg lettuce wrapped tightly in plastic at the grocery store. 

Unlike romaine and many other types of lettuce, we suggest keeping any iceberg lettuce in its original packaging in your fridge’s crisper drawer until the day you’re ready to use it. Don’t break up or wash iceberg lettuce until you’re ready to eat it, as the excess water will cause it to deteriorate. Stored this way, iceberg lettuce should stay fresh for up to 10 days.

How to Store Fresh Lettuce

Lucky enough to have your own vegetable garden and grow your own lettuce? Our advice for storing heads of freshly picked lettuce depends on the cleanliness of the greens. If you harvest a head of lettuce that’s extra gritty and might have some bugs tucked inside, go ahead and wash your veggies to avoid getting your fridge all dirty. After washing the greens, store them in plastic bags with paper towels to absorb moisture, and tuck everything into your fridge’s crisper drawer. Just know that washing greens makes them go bad faster, so try to eat them within a couple days.

If your lettuce is relatively clean, store it like store-bought greens; just wrap the whole head in paper towels, and keep it in a plastic bag in your fridge’s crisper drawer.

How to Store a Head of Lettuce

Our general rule of thumb for storing heads of lettuce is to discard any damaged outer leaves, then gently wrap the heads in paper towels, storing them in plastic bags in the crisper drawer. This method protects the lettuce from water damage, and preserves it for a week to 10 days, depending on the variety of lettuce and its original condition. 

How to Store Shredded Lettuce

Store shredded lettuce in a plastic bag with paper towels to soak up extra moisture. Keep the bag in your fridge’s crisper drawer for best results. Shredded lettuce, which is great to add to tacos or wraps for an extra crunch, should keep for about five days when stored this way.

Can You Freeze Lettuce?

Yes, you can freeze lettuce, but it only works if you purée the leaves before freezing them. If you don’t, the frozen-then-thawed lettuce will be damp and flavorless—not fit for a fresh salad. We suggest pouring the puréed greens into ice cube trays, freezing until the cubes are solid, then transferring them to a plastic bag. 

Wondering how to cook with frozen lettuce? We like adding it to soups or smoothies for a nutritional boost. The frozen lettuce will only add subtle flavor, but it’s an easy way to incorporate greens into your food, and is a great way to get little ones to eat more veggies!

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