How to Cut a Head of Lettuce for Salad


It’s a great day and you want to make a healthy choice for lunch today. You’re craving a salad and you’re in luck because you have a head of lettuce in your refrigerator just waiting to be used,but you’re not quite sure how to cut a head of lettuce for salad. Sound all too familiar? Let us help you learn the most efficient way of how to cut a head of lettuce for salad.

How to Cut a Head of Lettuce for Salad
How to Cut a Head of Lettuce for Salad. Cut Iceberg Lettuce.


Cutting Board
Sharp Knife
Salad Spinner or Colander (optional)

Shopping List

Head of Iceberg or Romaine Lettuce

How To Cut Iceberg Lettuce

Cutting a head of lettuce can be quite straightforward. All you need is a sharp knife, cutting board a head of Iceberg lettuce, and a few minutes’ time. Whether you wash the lettuce before you cut it or after is up to you, but we do recommend that it’s washed. Let’s get started.

Chopping or Shredding Iceberg Lettuce

First you need to decide whether you want to chop the lettuce or shred it.


It usually includes cutting wider strips or placing more space between the cuts themselves and then turning those slices 90 degrees and slicing in the other direction, resulting in square chops.


To achieve shredded Iceberg Lettuce you need to make really narrow thin pieces of lettuce, well like you’d expect when you buy a bag of shredded lettuce. This is achieved by slicing one row really closely to the next row. We’ll explain more as we go on.

Wash the outside of the lettuce and remove the outer leaves.

The next step is to wash the outside of the lettuce and remove the outer leaves. It is debatable whether this should be done at the beginning of cutting your head of lettuce or after it’s already been cut. I typically do it at the beginning, but it can be done after it’s cut too. The important thing is just that it is washed.

Remove a few of the outer leaves on the head of lettuce.

Typically the outer leaves are ones that have been damaged because of picking, handling and transport. They usually turn yellow or have brown spots and should be discarded. This will help to maintain the best visually appealing presentation.

Remove the core from the lettuce.

After the lettuce has been washed, you can place it on the cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut off the knob or the core. When cutting, keep the knife as close to the core as possible so as to not waste too much lettuce. The core can be discarded.

Slice the lettuce head in half.

Now we are ready to begin cutting the head of lettuce for our salad. I like to use a long butcher type knife when I’m working with a head of Iceberg lettuce. That way I am able to cut all the way through the head of lettuce with one chop. It makes the work that much more efficient than trying to fiddle around with a small paring knife.

Our goal in this step is to slice the head of lettuce in half. It’s a pretty easy one to accomplish. I typically roll the head of lettuce on to flat part that I created when I cut off the core or knob. Then, using your sharp knife, cut all the way through the head of lettuce. Great!

Cut rows and turn the lettuce to chop it.

Set one half of your head of lettuce aside for a moment. We will just work with the other half for now. Remove any light-yellow pieces of lettuce in the center of the head if desired. Those typically taste more bitter. Place the chunk of the lettuce with the flat side down on your cutting board. This helps to stabilize the lettuce while you work with it.

By this point you will need to know whether you want shredded lettuce or chopped lettuce. For chopped lettuce, make slices across the lettuce going from the left side of the piece to the right side, your slices should be about a half inch to an inch apart. Continue until you make it all the way across the piece. Turn the lettuce chunk around 90 degrees and do the same, making slices all the way across. This will give you lettuce squares or chopped lettuce. Repeat for the remaining half.

Cut the lettuce into quarters if you want to shred it.

If your goal is to have shredded lettuce, you’ll want to cut you half in half again, making it a quarter of the head of lettuce. It makes it easier to work with. Set the lettuce quarter on your cutting board with one of the flat sides down. Make really thin cuts all the way across the piece starting from left to right. The slices should be really close together, as thin as possible, so the thin cuts result in shreds rather than chunky chopped lettuce. Repeat for the other remaining quarters.

Store your lettuce in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Your cut head of lettuce for salad can be stored in an airtight container or zipped bag in the refrigerator for up to three days. However, it is best when eaten fresh. As time goes on it tends to turn brown around the edges. To help keep it from turning brown quickly, washed lettuce can be drained in a colander or salad spinner, if available.

What Can I Do With Iceberg Lettuce?

There are so many things that can be done with Iceberg Lettuce. It is a nice versatile lettuce that has been around for a long time. Of course, Iceberg Lettuce can be used to make salads. It is also delicious on burgers and sandwiches, tacos, as the shell for a lettuce wrap, a lettuce cup or bed for chicken salad, it can be put in smoothies, soup or even grilled. What other ways do you like to enjoy lettuce?

How to Cut a Head of Lettuce for Salad. Fresh Romaine Lettuce.
How to Cut a Head of Lettuce for Salad. Fresh Romaine Lettuce.

Cutting Other Lettuces

There are so many kinds of lettuce available today at the store, to enjoy. Romaine is another popular kind of lettuce. It has more nutrients in it than Iceberg does. Bibb lettuce, leaf lettuce, radicchio, frisee, butter, arugula, spinach, kale, endive and watercress are some of the different kinds that you might find at your local grocery store. Depending on the size of the leaf of the lettuce you choose it may or may not be necessary to cut it before serving it. Preparing other kinds of lettuce would include a similar process to Iceberg as follows.

Wash the lettuce head under running water

Wash the lettuce leaves or head of lettuce under cool running water to clean off any dirt or debris. Shake off any excess water or place in a colander or salad spinner to remove any excess moisture.

Slice the head with the stem intact

If you’re working with a lettuce that is in a large stalk type head, such as romaine, you can slice it by leaving the stem intact. After you finish cutting the head of lettuce for salad, you can pick out the stem and discard it instead of adding it to the salad bowl.

Chop the lettuce to get bite-sized pieces

Next, the lettuce can be chopped to obtain bite-sized pieces. If you’re chopping a lettuce such as Romaine, start at the end opposite the stem and cut off bite-sized pieces by placing your knife at an angle, and repeat slowly working your way down the stalk until you get to the stem. Discard the stem portion.

Shred your lettuce by slicing the head in half first

If you’re working with a large head of lettuce like romaine and you want to shred it, it is helpful to cut the head in half lengthwise first. Then you can continue by making cuts as thin as possible, starting at the end opposite the stem, and going the entire length of the leaf.

Toss the slices

Before adding your ingredients to your salad, take a few moments and use your fingers to toss the slices so that the globs of lettuce separate into individual pieces. It will make for a fluffier salad and better eating experience.

Keep the cut lettuce in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Salad is best when eaten fresh. But it can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Consider using a colander or salad spinner to allow any excess moisture to be removed before storing it. It will help it to maintain its freshness for a longer length of time.

How to Cut a Head of Lettuce for Salad. Fresh Lettuce.
How to Cut a Head of Lettuce for Salad. Fresh Lettuce.

How To Cut Romaine Lettuce For Salads


Do you wash the lettuce before or after?

Either way is fine. You can wash the lettuce before you cut it or after you cut it. The important thing is that it does get washed. It’s up to your personal preference.

Is Romaine lettuce healthy?

Yes. Romaine lettuce is a heart healthy food. It is a good source of fiber, helps lower high blood pressure, is extremely low in calories and provides potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K, Folate and vitamin C.  

How do I store Romaine lettuce?

The way that you store romaine lettuce varies depending on whether it has already been cut or is not yet cut.

Before cutting: The whole intact, unwashed lettuce should last up to 10 days in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Because lettuce leaves can bruise easily, be sure to cover loosely and handle carefully.

After cutting: Be sure to remove any excess moisture if the lettuce has been washed. Cover in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cut lettuce is best eaten fresh, or right after it’s been cut.

How do I pick the best Romaine lettuce?

Choose the best Romaine lettuce by choosing a bundle that appears to be green, crisp and has no leaves that are wilted, yellow or brown in color.

Recipes To Use The Chopped Lettuce For

Chicken and Watermelon Balsamic Salad
Steakhouse Wedge Salad
Traditional Greek Salad
Cabbage Slaw With Dill

Alternative Ways To Cut A Head of Lettuce for Salad That Don’t Really Compare

In our research and testing there were two additional ways to cut lettuce with results that didn’t really compare to cutting it with a plain old knife. The methods created bruised lettuce which made it turn brown very quickly.

Use a Box Grater

Some people choose to use a box grater to shred lettuce. In our testing we found that this methods was not as efficient, in that it took longer to complete the task. And it resulted in bruised lettuce that turned brown in just a matter of a few hours, rather than days. If this method works well for you, that’s great. We just find it not to be the best option.

Use a Food Processor

Another way we tested cutting a head of lettuce for salad was to place it in a food processor. We didn’t care for the results. It again produced lettuce that turned brown very quickly. This was likely because of the force of the machine that bruise the lettuce easily. We again find this to not be the best option.

Myth or Truth: Cutting It Makes It Turn Brown

You might have heard at one time or another that cutting lettuce makes it turn brown. Is there truth to that? Or is it a myth? We think it all depends. There is one fact that is sure. Lettuce will eventually turn brown. If you cut it with a sharp knife, handle it carefully and drain any excess water, it will take longer for it to turn brown. In other words, if cared for appropriately the turning brown might not be direct result of cutting it.

On the other hand, if it is handled poorly or roughly and not dried of excess water, it will bruise easily and turn brown more quickly. An example of this would be placing it in the food processor or using a box grater to shred it. The lettuce turning brown in this case could be a direct result of it being cut.

How Do You Cut Lettuce For Burgers?

Iceberg: Remove a leaf of lettuce and wash gently under cool water. Cut in half or quarters, depending on its size so that it fits perfectly on the bun.

Romaine: Remove a leaf of lettuce from the stalk or head of lettuce. Wash gently under cool water. Trim stalk end and cut the leaf in half, making it the perfect size to fit on the burger bun.

How To Cut Lettuce So It Keeps Growing

If you’re growing leaf lettuce in your backyard garden or a hydroponic source, cut the lettuce parallel to the ground about an inch above the ground. Remove it completely. This will allow the lettuce to regrow. It will begin growing from the center and work its way out for fresh new leaves to be enjoyed.

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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