Culinary Arts

What's the Difference Between Romaine Lettuce and Iceberg Lettuce?

Written by MasterClass

May 29, 2019 • 3 min read

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Both romaine and iceberg lettuce give refreshing crunch to salads, tuck perfectly into juicy burgers, and make deliciously crisp lettuce wraps. When choosing between romaine and iceberg, you may wonder really makes the two different types of lettuce different.

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What's the Difference Between Romaine and Iceberg Lettuce?

Iceberg lettuce, also called crisphead lettuce is pale green and ball-shaped in appearance, while romaine is a darker green with elongated leaves.

Iceberg is widely used in restaurants and grocery stores because of its long shelf life and low cost compared with romaine lettuce. The biggest difference between the two is their nutritional content. Romaine is the winner in almost every nutrient category and has higher levels of vitamin A, K, and folate.

Which Lettuce Is Healthiest?

Nutritionally speaking, romaine is deemed superior to iceberg. Romaine is packed with nutrients, including vitamins A and C, and good amounts of folic acid and magnesium. The darker green leafy parts provide more nutritional value than the white crunchy centers, but all of it provides fiber in a healthy diet.

What Is the Nutritional Information for Iceberg Lettuce?

Although iceberg gets a bad rap when compared to other leafy greens, this low calorie vegetable actually contains several nutritional and health benefits. Each serving is only 12.5 calories and provides small amounts of dietary fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals, including B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K, as well as minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. The nutrients found in iceberg lettuce make it useful in a low-carb or low-calorie diet.

What Is the Nutritional Information for Romaine Lettuce?

Romaine isn’t only great for salad greens, it is a powerhouse of nutrients. Healthcare professionals recommend adding leafy greens to a daily diet to add healthful minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

In addition to beneficial minerals, romaine lettuce is also a good source of vitamins. The leafy green is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B (folic acid), vitamin A, and beta-carotene. According to the USDA, each serving size—one cup of shredded romaine lettuce has only 8 calories, making it an ideal low calorie, healthy food.

Can You Use the Romaine and Iceberg Interchangeably?

Since both romaine and iceberg lettuces have a satisfying crunch and mild flavor, they can easily be swapped for each other in recipes. Both are hearty greens ideal for salads, garnish, lettuce cups, and they can hold up to heat for sautéeing.

6 Romaine Lettuce Recipe Ideas

  1. Nicoise salad. A classic French salad packed with romaine, potatoes, green beans, olives, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and cucumbers coated with a vinaigrette.
  2. Chopped Greek Salad. Chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, Kalamata olives, red onions, fresh parsley, and feta cheese with a red wine vinaigrette.
  3. Classic Caesar Salad. Romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, egg, anchovies, garlic, Dijon mustard, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.
  4. Vietnamese Seared Steak Lettuce Wraps. Grilled flank steak served with cucumber-ginger sauce. Wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves and finished with roasted peanuts and mint leaves.
  5. Grilled Romaine. Hearts of romaine lettuce, brushed with an herb vinaigrette and grilled. Serve the hearts whole or chopped and tossed into a salad.
  6. Beef and Romaine Stir-Fry. Short ribs marinated in a soy and vinegar mixture, then stir-fried with ginger, scallions, and romaine.

6 Iceberg Lettuce Recipe Ideas

  1. Wedge Salad. A classic American salad with quartered iceberg lettuce wedges, creamy blue cheese dressing, and crispy bacon bits.
  2. Cobb Salad. A hearty salad with chopped iceberg lettuce, crisp bacon, chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, chives, and Roquefort cheese in a red-wine vinaigrette.
  3. Fried Branzino Lettuce Cups. Crispy whole fried branzino, Thai chili dipping sauce, iceberg lettuce cups, and assorted pickles.
  4. Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups. Lemongrass grilled shrimp with sweet chile sauce, served in lettuce cups.
  5. Fattoush Salad. Crushed pita chips with chopped iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and a minty dressing.
  6. Chinese Stir-fried lettuce. Iceberg leaf lettuce sautéed with garlic and drizzled with a soy-sesame sauce.

Find more culinary techniques and recipe ideas in Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass.