Lettuce wraps are a savior if you still want to eat burgers and wraps while watching your calories.
They don’t work as well as bread does, but some types of lettuce are better than others.
After eating dozens of wraps over the years, and trying many types of lettuce, here are my top 4 from best to worst.
Table of Contents
1. Butter Lettuce
It’s not always easy to find, but if you have access to butter lettuce, it’s the best option for wraps and burgers.
The leaves are both long and broad, most closely resembling a circle of any lettuce type.
Also, the leaves are relatively strong, they won’t fall apart when you start eating unless you’re rough with them.
2. Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
You can find red or green leaf lettuce in almost every grocery store.
It’s comparable to romaine, but I feel like it’s a bit better for wraps for 2 main reasons:
- It’s fairly broad, so you can fit a decent amount of food inside.
- It’s more flexible, you can wrap red or green leaf lettuce and it will rarely crack or tear.
Still, there’s a bit of crunch, and this is my go-to option when butter lettuce isn’t available.
Just cut off the base of the stem, and you’ll be left with a nice circular piece of lettuce.
3. Romaine Lettuce
Romaine is best used for “boats”, but not for wraps.
It’s an okay option, but only the outer leaves are good for wraps, and even then they are pretty narrow, limiting the amount of food you can actually wrap.
While the crunch of romaine is nice texture-wise, it often snaps when you try to fold it around food.
4. Iceberg Lettuce
If you’re really in a pinch, iceberg can be used for wraps, but it should really be a last resort.
The pieces of iceberg lettuce are big and round, which is the perfect shape for a wrap, but they’re very fragile. It typically tears when you try to roll it up. If you do go with iceberg, wrap very slowly and carefully.
You can try heating cabbage leaves up a bit to give them more flexibility, but it’s a dangerous game as too much heat can make them lose almost all structure.
How To Avoid Weak Lettuce
If your lettuce is basically falling apart, it’s not going to work well. This typically happens if it’s dried out or too wet after washing it.
To start with, if your lettuce is wilting at all from sitting in the fridge for a few days, you can “revive” it by soaking it in ice cold water for 15-30 minutes and then drying it off.
It will be just about as crisp as when you brought it home in the first place. Here’s a video demonstrating how this looks in practice.
Secondly, make sure you dry your lettuce.
If you don’t have a salad dryer, use tea towels or paper towels. Any excess liquid only weakens the lettuce and increases potential leakage, so it’s important that you get your leaf buns dry.
Better Alternatives to Lettuce For Wraps and Burgers
What I’ve found through trial and error is that the best plant wrap isn’t actually lettuce.
Instead, try one of the following 3 alternatives:
- Swiss chard
- Savoy cabbage
All of these are stronger than lettuce, but still relatively flexible without as big of a risk of tearing.
It will change the taste of your wraps a bit, but not necessarily in a bad way.