Of all the ingredients that make up a burger, lettuce is easily the least considered. Most of us just slap anything remotely green between our buns and call it a day — it helps us pretend that we’re not just eating a greasy lump of cheesy beef, and we can sheepishly say we ate a veggie.
But lettuce on a burger can be more than just a limp leaf, if you choose the right kind. To understand how, I asked a band of burger lovers about the best lettuce for burgers. Here’s what they suggested…
Gregory Mrvich of Ballistic BBQ, a YouTube channel specializing in burger cooking: My personal favorite is green leaf lettuce, because it has a little more body to it than iceberg. I also like the way it looks with its spiky edges and very consistent green color.
Butter lettuce is another go-to for an elevated burger, again because of its color and interesting leaf shape. They look almost like green flower petals.
Now, iceberg lettuce gets a bad wrap and is often called “crispy water,” but it does have a place on a good burger. I love very thinly shaved iceberg lettuce on a simple “diner-style” burger. The coolness and texture work great with a warm, buttery, toasted bun.
Kasey Mills, executive chef and CEO of Bless Your Heart Burgers in Portland, Oregon: Iceberg is the best lettuce. First off, I like the crunch it gives. I also like how it adds a freshness to the burger. This is in part because of the cooling sensation it gives due to its water content, but also because it holds up to heat better than other lettuces, hence the crunch. As a side note, a classic burger of mayo, pickles and iceberg lettuce takes me back to my childhood. Sometimes, it’s best not to mess with the classics.
Kimberly Cornelison, known as a “Burger Queen” by Boise, Idaho locals: Butter lettuce has a nice crispness, but you also get that buttery bite from the leaf. Especially when mixed with a good mayo or burger sauce, it never gets soggy and lies perfectly flat, slightly cupping the burger (or bun, depending on the placement). So, it never gets too heavy on one side, and you never get too much in one bite.
I’ll tell you that spring mix is an atrocity on any burger. It tastes terrible — too bitter! It constantly falls off and creates a mess, and it’s primarily used to just make something that doesn’t need to be fancy a little fancier. Plus, the texture of everything in the spring mix is all wrong — rubbery, harsh and cutting. Who wants that?
Cam Kraus, who makes burgers at the Chop Shop Butchery in Asheville, North Carolina: Personally, I think none is the best lettuce for a burger.
Yeah, none sounds good to me, too. But if you want to be able to say you had a vegetable today, butter lettuce and iceberg tied as favorites among the burger lovers above. Everybody cheers your burgers to our winners.