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Why Do We Need To Use Iceburg Lettuce In Salads?


I just finished a disappointing flank steak salad. The meat and cheese (feta) were very good. But the lettuce was iceburg. Why do we need to use Iceburg lettuce EVER in a salad?! I mean what exactly does it bring to a salad except for water? I get using Iceburg for maybe some textural contrast in a BLT or a tuna salad sandwich. But in a salad, NEVER.


  1. I tend to agree. I loathe iceberg lettuce, especially when I order a meal-sized salad and half of it is iceberg. There are plenty of other leaves with more flavor and nutritional value to put in a salad other than iceberg. At least it adds some crunch to a sandwich, but even then I'd rather put cucumbers and spinach instead of iceberg.

    1. Every once in a while I enjoy a retro treat of iceberg wedge with chunky blue cheese dripping down its sides.

      1. I agree. I would much rather have a spinach salad than "mixed" greens, which all too often features a lot of iceburg.

        1 Reply
        1. re: joshlane4

          i have never once had a salad boasting mixed greens that contained iceburg.... ew.

        2. Well, in my opinion, the texture/crunch it provides, is a nice contrast to leafy greens in a salad. I like combining leafy greens/mesclun, etc or spinach, with nice fresh crispy iceburg for the contrast.
          Also, and again because of the texture and crispness, a wedge of fresh iceburg lettuce is often the perfect foil for a creamy dressing (ie ranch or blue cheese or thousand island).

          9 Replies
            1. re: Chinon00

              I'm sorry, what is the question about frisee?

            2. re: pescatarian

              Can you make a chopped salad without iceberg? I like chopped salads with tons of blue cheese, and they always use iceberg.

              1. re: pescatarian

                you beat me to it pesky pesca

                poor iceberg lettuce, demonized way beyond belief.

                it has a nice crunch and a good fresh green flavor and works as a fine foil for the softer darker "better" greens

                leace poor iceberg alone
                it never hurt anyone (except the titanic)

                1. re: thew

                  Me three. After years of dutifully passing up iceberg like a good little foodie, I recently decided to be a true chowhound and eat what I want, instead of what people tell me to, and started adding iceberg to my "spring mix" type greens. As pescatarian said, it adds body and crunch sadly lacking in softer greens and keeps the salad from going flat, especially if you are adding any significant amount of other veggies. The cool sweetness is a nice balance to the bitterness of some greens as well. I don't remember ever getting as enthusiastic a response to one of my salads until the first one I served that included iceberg with the other greens.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Me four for iceberg -- if it's really fresh and hasn't sat in some supermarket chilled distribution center for a couple weeks, it's sweet!

                    Iceberg's long shelf life allowed it to be shipped worldwide from the Salinas Valley and earn a bad rep.

                    1. re: Stephanie Wong

                      Count me in, too. Crunchy, refreshing and a great counterpoint to a lot of flavors and textures that work wonderfully in a salad. As mentioned above, the classic wedge wouldn't work quite the same way with romaine. It plays well with a real blue cheese dressing like few other lettuces can.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I love a nice ice cold quarter wedge of crispy iceberg lettuce with homemade chunky blue cheese dressing. Served with a rare ribeye and a baked potato filled with butter and all the usual sides.
                      I also enjoy and old fashioned crab louie, sf style with thousand Island.
                      In addition to all the other salad greens, arugula, spinach, frisee red oakleaf, and mesclun I really appreiate the crunchy stuff, maybe its the texture and temperature that I enjoy so much, but I would surely miss it.

                  2. re: pescatarian

                    I agree. Sometimes it provides the perfect crunch, and if it is good, it has a subtle sweet flavor I enjoy.

                  3. I love iceburg lettuce - it's cool, crunchy and sweet. I don't think iceburg should be used in *every* salad, but it has its place - and I, personally, love iceburg with steak salads and blue cheese as mentioned by another poster. Lots of "mixed" green salads are less pleasing to me because the greens aren't crisp and/or are bitter.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: akq

                      Completely agree. I love when iceburg is really firm and cut into chunks and the pieces stay together. Very satisfying.

                    2. I can't imagine a crab or shrimp louie without it!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sarah

                        Or a lovely Chinese chicken salad!

                      2. Sometimes there is nothing better than some iceberg, tomato cuc, pepper and gorg with Olde Cape Cod Lite Honey French.

                        BTW - Flank steak on this combo is also fantastic.

                        1. Iceberg is pretty essential in salads with a creamy dressing, such as blue cheese, thousand island/louie dressing on a seafood salad, or green goddess dressing. Softer greens get overwhelmed by creamy dressings (I think the exception being romaine/casear dressing, but romaine is a pretty staunch lettuce itself).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DanaB

                            I also love iceburg lettuce in a good stir fry wrap that just can't be replicated with other lettuces.

                          2. I'm with you, Chinon. I'd rather drink my water than eat it. For crunch, I prefer romaine.

                            1. Jamie Oliver just did his show on Salads. He is so great, got to love that guy. He made an iceberg, cucumber and tomato salad, even cutting the tomato up like a flower! ;~) And he said something like "know what to do with this salad? Give it to the pigs and chickens, or throw it out!"

                              Iceberg has not made it in a salad of mine in years. There is no nutritional value to iceberg lettuce, and no flavor. Give me micro greens, red leaf or even Boston bib, but don't give me iceberg! Blech.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mcel215

                                LOL. That was the first episode I saw of his new show (about a year ago) and I was thinking while he made it, "what is he doing?" and then burst out laughing when he threw it aside

                                I can't remember the last time I bought iceberg. Hmm, I don't know if I've EVER bought it. If I want crunchy, which I do a lot of times, I use romaine or romaine hearts and mix it with spinach, mixed greens, or arugula.

                              2. I got over my 20 years of snobbery against iceberg lettuce about 2 years ago and have never looked back.

                                I even eat all-iceberg lettuce salads in the summer (I did so today). Iceberg does have a delicate flavor (many lettuces have a similarly delicate flavor), and a wonderful texture.

                                Now, if I were forced only to have iceberg lettuce as my only lettuce, I would protest. But I would also protest if someone said we were too good for iceberg lettuce.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Karl S

                                  I think you got it exactly right with SNOBBERY, Karl.
                                  For decades, iceberg was the only type of lettuce that we could buy through most of the year in most of the US. It was shipped in boxcars by rail from California packed in ice, hence the name "iceberg." It wasn't cheap, was used pretty sparingly, mostly as a bed under something else and we were thrilled to get in it the middle of Winter. Ah, the fresh, clean crunch. That wedge with bleu cheese and bacon in a steakhouse was a luxury dish.

                                  When quick shipping became normal after the interstate highways were built in the 50s and 60s, we started to get a few other types of lettuces in larger markets - mostly Romaine because it was durable enough to ship.
                                  Food writers extolled the virtues of it and began to disparage Iceberg as a plebeian choice that no fashionable foodie would touch, influenced by press releases from the growers associations.
                                  Nutritionists were bombarded with similar press releases.and the fate of iceberg was sealed except for food service operations that continued to use it for price and durability.
                                  The food marketers' job was done and the impression took hold. Now it's hard to change people's prejudices.

                                  I agree with Karl about the virtues of iceberg. It's not the the only lettuce but it's a great addition that would improve a lot of terrible salads I've been served that die under the weigh of too many inclusions and heavy dressings.
                                  I wish people would get over it.

                                2. The whole "crunch" aspect that some seem desirous of can be satisfied by using lettuces like chicory, raddichio, frisee and others. And in addition to having the crunch they actually have sharp bitter flavor which contrasts fats so well.
                                  I've eaten iceberg lettuce plain and I've vaguely picked up something close to flavor. You guys mean to tell me that tossed in dressing I'll still be able to pick some of it's flavor up? No way.

                                  25 Replies
                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                    I do not find that any of the lettuces you mention have a crunch to equal iceberg's. I think their flavors are superior, however, and the only times I use iceberg are: on sandwiches, in a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing, for Crab Louis. IMO, no other lettuce works for these applications.

                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      There is a problem with a lot of the interesting "lettuces" that aren't iceburg. Those intersting kinds of lettuce don't transport well, nor do they last well on the grocery shevles, so they get coated in preservatives.
                                      And I will never forget when my digestive system rebelled against those preservatives.
                                      Now I grow my own and have no problems, but in the store when lettuce has a "use by sometime next month" date on it, I run in another direction.
                                      Iceburg? they can't inject the preservatives.

                                      (Have you ever seen how long the little bagged broccoli florets last? Versus home grown? )

                                      1. re: shallots

                                        We mainly eat salads in the cooler months, when wonderful local lettuce is in abundance. One grower, in particular, sells a stunning salad mix containing at least eleven varieties of baby and micro-greens, as well as a few edible flowers. It's so fresh when you buy it, that it will keep a week in the fridge.

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          We have a farm (Happy Boy Farms) that sells this type of mix near us too! It's wonderful to use for a special occasion, romantic dinner at home.

                                          But I have to admit that iceberg has its time and place, specifically in a crab or shrimp louis. I don't think I'd want any other lettuce as a substitute!

                                    2. re: Chinon00

                                      I don't think you have to pick one over the other. I love my bitter greens. I am a lover of all things leafy and green and way before it was fashionable. However as has been mentioned, there is a taste of cool, subtle sweetness that only fresh iceburg can provide. It's not that the dressing helps you pick up the flavour of the lettuce, it's that the flavours and consisency of each compliment each other wonderfully.

                                      Also, with regards to Jamie O feeding a salad to the pigs. I've been somewhat of a fan of his for awhile, but that's just silly. If the lettuce and tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh, that is delicious salad goodness. They don't even need dressing if the tomatoes and cukes are from a home garden.

                                      1. re: pescatarian

                                        "However as has been mentioned, there is a taste of cool, subtle sweetness that only fresh iceburg can provide. It's not that the dressing helps you pick up the flavour of the lettuce, it's that the flavours and consisency of each compliment each other wonderfully."

                                        Could you provide an example?

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          How do I provide an example of what my taste buds experience?

                                          If you mean "as has been mentioned", several people have mentioned that iceberg, when fresh, has a nice subtle sweetness.

                                          I'm not sure why this is a great debate. You don't like it. Cool. Lots of people still enjoy it and eat it and that's why it can still play an important role in a salad.

                                          1. re: pescatarian

                                            I was asking for an example of a salad that you enjoy using exclusively iceburg lettuce that accomplishes what you've written above (i.e. "the flavours and consisency of each compliment each other wonderfully"). I'd like to try it. Maybe I can be converted.

                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                              iceberg, cucs, tomato, gorg, olde cape cod lite honey french dressing.

                                              all the flavors are great and a little hard boiled egg if its a lunch salad

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                If you can taste the supposed "delicate and cool" flavor of iceburg lettuce through strong flavors like blue cheese and honey french dressing then you are a better man or woman than me.

                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  jfood did not use "delicate and cool" but yes he can taste the flavor of the lettuce, the refreshing moisture, the fun crunch of iceberg with gorg and hone french. not that big a deal.

                                                  and he finds some of the bitterness of some of the fancy lettuces fight the gorg and the dressing to the point of blech.

                                                  but as they say Ms C, to each her own.

                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    i believe that "Ms C," despite avatar, is actually "Mr. C"!

                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                      Or a woman named David who looks like Jackie O.

                                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                                    C00 you actually taste nothing with iceberg? Our palates are different from person to person true. You know for me, iceberg does have a flavor that is delicate. Here is one example how I use that flavor.When I make sui mei I always put iceberg lettuce on the tray first then place the dumplings on it. In steaming, the lettuce lends a flavor to the dumpling. And I get the same flavor not as pronounced maybe, when its cold. It hits the sides of my tongue and mouth. Gosh I'm trying here.

                                                2. re: Chinon00

                                                  For two:

                                                  An iceberg wedge with true blue cheese dressing, home grown cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with crispy bacon bits.

                                                  A classic salad louie, i.e. crab and shrimp on a bed of iceberg lettuce, slices of avocado, scallion, maybe a hard-cooked egg, dressed with louie dressing and a wedge of lemon as a garnish.

                                                  Neither of these salads would be benefitted by more assertive, less crisp and more bitter greens. The crisp, light, fresh taste of iceberg is the perfect accompaniment :-)

                                                3. re: pescatarian

                                                  I can see why this is hard to describe, cause I know what you mean. But for me there is the a water factor, I do feel like the ice berg lettuce has quite a bit of water in it, so I seem to get juicey...do you experience that?

                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                    I tend to have this problem- it's one of my main complaints. I tend to buy the premade salads since I live alone and individual components just don't make sense for me. The iceberg mixes always go bad a lot faster than the other mixes.

                                                    1. re: queencru

                                                      You are serving one? I wouldn't buy the bagged, you'd be surprised weigh the greens out that you find in the bin, you'll get the exact amount that way. For me its cheaper, I can't remember price per lb, but that stuff is so light it would seem cheaper and not be as risky.

                                                      I find it the other way around, the mixed lettuces go faster. I also find that sometimes they smell rotten. I must be the only person at the market that sticks her head in the bin of mixed greens, tosses them around and sticks her head again. It could be that my smeller is off. If they don't have that smell, then I buy the mix. Usually I make my own salad mix, at least that way I know that all the greens are fresh, and clean (without dark marks where they've been cut).

                                                      I get about a week from the iceberg. I clean it by taking the core out, cleaning it under running water, then dunking several times in a bowl of cold water. Shake it well, and let it air dry on a rack,Then a paper towel goes into the bottom of a glass bowl, the lettuce and then two paper towels on top, tucking the lettuce in, lastly plastic wrap tightly covering.
                                                      Ice cold crunchy crispy letttuce every single time. But you've got to use it in the weeks time, taking the core out subtracts from the shelf life and then you'll see that light whitish ugly stuff emerge. Besides any longer than a week, probably wouldn't happen anyway if you use if for lunches, and at dinner.

                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                        I worked in a commercial kitchen for several months, at a place where we prepared a salad bar for lunch and for dinner. The chef used to get mad at me when I washed the bagged "baby greens" mix -- he said it was "prewashed" and we could just put it out in the salad bowl. Personally, I hate it when you get those little slimy leaves in the mix, and I am very picky in that regard. Needless to say, the chef might have gotten mad, but every time I was on salad, all the people eating it were very happy, because my salad was clean of all the little slimy leaves that can easily make a mix of baby greens go bad, very quickly.

                                                        1. re: DanaB

                                                          Oh Lordy. I hate to send food back, but I do smell my salad...and I'd be pretty turned off finding any slimey leaves. At least with icebery you can spot it easier!

                                                          Laziness can getcha in trouble.Thank goodness for people like you DanaB!

                                              2. re: pescatarian

                                                Jamie O was throwing out the salad because he thinks it's a waste.

                                                The iceberg, the regular cucumber and a half ripened tomato being served in restaurants, school cafetarias and homes alike. Instead he made three different salads which look great and had tons of nutrition in them.

                                                When I was growing up, the salad Jamie threw out was the salad on my dinner table each night. And I agree with him, it was terrible.

                                                But, I am not a snob about iceberg. I just don't like it, it has no flavor to me at all. And if I want lettuce on my sandwich, I use Boston bibb. It's crunchy enough for me.

                                                BTW, I was wondering if it's a gender thing? Men seem to like iceberg way more than women do. At least thats the way it seems with my group of friends.

                                                1. re: mcel215

                                                  I'm a woman, so I don't know about the gender thing. And as a I've said, I like all kinds of lettuce, bitter greens, etc. I really enjoy a nice iceberg mixed in wiht my greens also. And that previously mentioned wedge.

                                                  I'm sure the other salads that Jamie made (which are probably from an episode that's about 2 years old, btw), are great additions to the kids diet.
                                                  The salad that you describe - iceberg, regular cucumber, half ripened tomato, is what I was talking about, about how it can be done a disservice. If the lettuce is fresh and crisp, and the tomato is garden fresh and ripe (and not refrigerated), and the cucumber is summer garden fresh, that can be a tasty salad.
                                                  A salad with mixed greens can be done just as poorly if the greens are wilted and overly dressed.

                                                  1. re: pescatarian

                                                    The Jamie episode was from his new series "Jamie at Home", which aired for the first time last Saturday. But, even if it was from a episode from 2 years ago, what difference would that make?

                                                    1. re: mcel215

                                                      You guys just got Jamie at Home. Oh man, it's such a great show. I love his "straight from the garden" ingredients or when he cooks right there out in the open.

                                              3. re: Chinon00

                                                also butter or boston lettuce which is not bitter, but the interior of which is crunchy

                                              4. I'm sure this turning up the nose at iceberg lettuce comes from the days when it was the only game in town and food writers rebelled against that sad state of affairs. What does it bring to a salad? A mild sweetness and a crisp texture that no other lettuce has. It's just another salad green, hating it doesn't give any gourmet cred. And I don't understand why the pookah naked one had to feed a cucumber, lettuce, and tomato salad to the pigs ... did he screw up the dressing or use inferior ingredients?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: steamer

                                                  I agree with this fist point especially. I liken it to the state of affairs with curly parsley. We have bad memories of it from when it was the only fresh herb around and so many people have moved on to flat leaf and view curly with disdain. People can be quite rigid about this, in my experience. I don't get it. Flat leaf may have a slightly more interesting flavor, but it's not as if curly is gross or anything. Plus it has interesting textural qualities and is fun to chop.

                                                2. Well, gosh, why do we "need" to use any ingredient?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jlafler

                                                    It all comes down to personal prefernce. I don't fathom why some people can't understand why other people would prefer or like, in this case, iceberg lettuce in a salad and are so adamant that it shouldn't be in one. Hey, if you don't like it, don't use it. But you don't have to be a snob about it and literally demand that it shouldn't be used in salads.

                                                  2. I really like iceberg lettuce salads. I know it has no nutritional value, and not much flavour -- but flavor comes from the dressings, and I don't really eat salads for the nutritional value (in fact, I mainly eat them for the lack of nutritional value -- I don't want the calories.). I love the fresh, crispy, crunchiness of iceberg lettuce.

                                                    It's not that I don't like other types of salads, but all too often mesclun salads are really just limp, lifeless greens that taste vaguely of bitterness and not much else. In those cases, I'd really rather have the iceberg.

                                                    1. Imagine iceburg used to make this (see photo attached). God I love Paris.

                                                      10 Replies
                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                        I'd eat that.

                                                        but then I like an occasional iceburg lettuce (and bleu cheese) salad as well.

                                                        ok, I'm slutty food-wise.

                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                          "I'm slutty food-wise"

                                                          I love that comment!

                                                          I think the people who like iceberg are probably more likely to enjoy a piece of dragonfruit. There were a couple of discusisons about this recently on the Manhattan board. Seems like 1/2 the people like it because it's refreshing and the other 1/2 don't like it because there's no flavor.

                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                            ah, thank you miss needle. I tried dragon fruit last year and thought something was wrong with it as it had no taste.

                                                            1. re: livetocook

                                                              I have to say that I'm not a fan of the fruit either.

                                                        2. re: Chinon00

                                                          that's a great salad. Just because you wouldn't use iceberg in one application, doesn't mean you can't use it in another

                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                            Jfood could eat that delicious looking salad with iceberg. no problem-o

                                                            and here is a picture of one


                                                            BTW - the phot is not jfood's just a google search

                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                Ohmygod that looks heavenly! Chalk me up as another fan of iceberg lettuce. Yes, I do love other greens in salad, but will never stop using iceberg! that cool crispness is what I enjoy so much.

                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                  well, i think iceburg would be a bad choice for that salad! but i also can't imagine micro-spinach used in a wedge salad, and i do believe that this (wedge) type of salad can be & is done well. it's about using the correct ingredient in the appropriate application-- kinda like the mind balks at a bacon curry, or an octopus-cheddar sandwich. we can do better by these ingredients by playing them up in dishes that more appropriately flex their strengths. i believe there is a place (wedge salad, watery, juicy, sweet shredded crunch-function), and a time (old-school steakhouse, january), for iceberg. romaine is terrible in january btw. makes me appreciate iceberg in a way i certainly don't in july. variety is the spice of life, as they say, and ime there is no "year round lettuce"-- or any vegetable.

                                                                2. Lol - I just picked up a head of iceburg at the request of my daughter. I figure what the hell? I don't think she's ever had a salad that didn't contain spinach, looseleaf, romaine, or spring greens, because I find iceburg pretty tasteless, and sometimes off putting, depending on how it's stored. I think a lot can be said about how lettuces are grown/stored, because they can take on some funky flavors. My best chance of avoiding these surprises is by buying organic lettuce (or growing it myself, of course). Now, I'm not saying that I don't sometimes find funky tasting leaf letuce. Of course I do. But I remember having that problem more with iceburg. That coupled with its lower nutritional value was enough for me to stop buying it. But hey, I'll start buying it again if it means that I can get my child to eat more than two bites of salad. Not that I blame her, especially when we're dealing with bitter greens. What child really likes a bitter taste? Not many in this country (America), I'm sure.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: madgreek

                                                                    Iceberg has more vitamin C than other lettuces. Fresh, homegrown iceberg, outer dark green leaves included is to die for. Pick it when it's still young, before it forms a big head. Yum!

                                                                    1. re: neverlate

                                                                      I was going to post that all this talk about iceberg having no nutritional value is, well, bunk. It may not be as nutritionally rich as spinach, but it's not nothing ;-)

                                                                      Here's the info on 1 cup of shredded iceberg lettuce (from www.nutritiondata.com):

                                                                      10 calories
                                                                      0 g fat
                                                                      1 g protein
                                                                      2 g carbohydrates (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar
                                                                      )Vitamin A - 7%
                                                                      Vitamin C - 3%
                                                                      Iron - 2%
                                                                      Calcium - 1%
                                                                      Vitamin K - 22%
                                                                      Thamin - 2%
                                                                      Vitamin B6 - 2%
                                                                      Folate - 5%
                                                                      Potassium - 3%
                                                                      Manganese - 4%

                                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                                        wow, that is quite a bit of vitamin k for one serving, almost a qtr.

                                                                        What I find interesting is that other cultures have found ways to cook with it with warm foods. Asian wraps are great with iceberg.

                                                                        1. re: DanaB

                                                                          Yes, iceberg gets a very poorly deserved rap for lack of nutritional value. It's a sign of ignorance when that one's offered up.

                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                            Everything has SOME nutritional value and certainly people are free to buy what they like to eat..but wouldn't you want the best 'bang for your buck' nutritionally, especially these days? Romaine is much more nutritious than iceberg...and is also a great source of fiber. I haven't bought iceberg in ages...to me, it's a waste of money. Anymore, if I have to buy lunch out, I always ask if the salad has iceberg...if it does, I pretty much decline and order some other veggie side....here are numbers that greatly outdo the iceberg stats--romaine is the only lettuce to make their "healthiest" list:

                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                              Because I don't only eat foods for the biggest nutritional bang for the buck. Life's way too short. I eat plenty of romaine and many other greens (though I do not care for pungent greens - my supertaster palate's highly sensitive that way, to pungent and hot stuff - perhaps that's why some of us can taste iceberg where others ostensibly cannot). But I don't only eat them. Greens are great, iceberg included.

                                                                          2. re: DanaB

                                                                            How did I know I was going to get flamed for my post!? I never said that it didn't have any nutritional value. I said "lower nutritional value". No one can argue that point.

                                                                      2. I can't imagine ever enjoying a pure iceburg salad like I did when I was a kid (and it was the only salad I ate voluntarily). But I think that some iceburg blended into a mixed green salad can add a nice textural element. I also like a nice crispy sheet of iceburg on a burger from time to time.
                                                                        That said, I probably haven't bought a head of iceburg lettuce since college.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                          oh, and I'd like to add that, when it comes to certain dishes (beef tacos, for example), there is no substitute for shredded iceburg.

                                                                        2. It seems to me that one thing going on here may be a taste vs. texture issue. People who like iceberg lettuce may like it as much for texture as for taste.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jlafler

                                                                            Similarly to how a lot of prized Chinese foods are valued more for texture than taste (or lack thereof), yet they are less derided.

                                                                            1. re: jlafler

                                                                              That's all I think this iceberg issue is -- just a taste and texture issue. I have no idea why people start attaching the whole snobbery issue to iceberg lettuce. I've hated iceberg lettuce as a kid, way before I even knew that liking iceberg lettuce was considered "low-brow" by some folks.

                                                                            2. wow, this thread has turned rather vicious...I was one of the earlier posters talking about my general dislike for iceburg...

                                                                              ...but subsequent posts have reminded of some great wedge salads from the past

                                                                              so I'm going to make them tonight, when we have a casual dinner with friends

                                                                              wedge of iceburg covered with Marie's blue cheese and some fresh cooked applewood smoked bacon...mmmm...I can already taste it

                                                                              thanks peoples, for conjuring up old memories (especially that picture jfood)

                                                                              1. The best lettuce is anything but iceberg.
                                                                                The exception being a good locally grown (preferably organic) iceberg lettuce. Local iceberg comes with lots of green leaves that you should cut up first before they spoil and use first in a salad. (You use the heart the next day)

                                                                                California iceberg lettuce gets those very green and nutritious leaves scalped off since they will not ship well. So all you get is the crunchy core that lasts a long time in the refrigerator. Longer than other lettuce

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: gafferx

                                                                                  So, then, some iceberg is good.
                                                                                  Thus, we can conclude that iceberg is a fine lettuce in some applications if you're eating good iceberg and that bad iceberg is bad.

                                                                                  This is the part I always fail to understand. The blanket rejection of a food because bad versions of it are served or exist. There are awful tomatoes out there, too, but people rarely decry the entire food product.

                                                                                  Bottom line: eat good iceberg if you're going to eat iceberg.

                                                                                2. I just finished a disappointing flank steak salad. The meat and cheese (feta) were very good. But the lettuce was iceberg. Why do we need to use Iceberg lettuce EVER in a salad?!

                                                                                  I would have used the iceberg to wrap the flank steak and accompaniments. You would have gotten full flavor rather than overwhelming the steak in a salad with oil vinegar etc

                                                                                  Little hand held lettuce wraps for that steak. Few bean sprouts would be nice in that!

                                                                                  1. I grew up with iceberg as the "exotic restaurant lettuce with the creamy dressings" because at home it was always red leaf lettuce in a light oil and vinegar dressing. I rarely bought iceberg except to placate an ex who was afraid of vegetables that had any taste. I had an enlightening experience about a year ago at a small traditional Southern California Mexican restaurant. The iceberg on the chicken and bean tostada texturally made the meal. Since then I have experimented and occasionally it is the right lettuce. I have also been offered very crisp green smaller leaves of iceberg as the wrap element in Chinese minced squab or chicken dishes. It has a sweet note, holds up to the protein and the crunch is nice. I try to keep an open mind and an open taste.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: torty

                                                                                      Iceberg is best in a wedge. Say a quarter or third of the head including the green outer leaves. Throw a bit of tomato and onion and cuke in the bowl and pour dressing or oil/vinegar over it. I really think it tastes better this way. The crunchy juicy textures of the 'berg are better appreciated this way

                                                                                      I'm in a hurry I do it like this and splash oil vinegar and soy sauce on it all and I don't drown it

                                                                                      1. re: torty

                                                                                        torty, you reminded me of the delicious Mexican food I get at my favorite restaurant here in town... Over the years, I have delighted in many fine dishes. Spicy sauces and to my taste the best frijoles with fresh sea food. On cetain plated dishes, for example, Camarones ala Diabla, they have always put a small pile of shredded iceberg lettuce with a few tomato slices and avocado slices.

                                                                                        At first I would just eat the avocado. I must of been really hungry the day I started smooshing the lettuce around in the sauce, OMG wondeful! Now I ask for extra lettuce, And I when I make my own enchiladas I top them with the cold lettuce. For me it is not only the texture, but the cold and hot experience I get mixing the two.
                                                                                        ditto with Chinese, or any Asian dish using the leaves for wraps.

                                                                                      2. I hate what I call yuppie lettuce in a salad, and I love Iceburg's crunch along with a good dressing and tomatoes I know I am not alone on this. I think the limp lettuces are a girly thing.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: malibumike

                                                                                          Hahahahaha! A girly thing. That's funny. I've never thought of lettuces as being yuppie before. LOL! I'm female, and love iceberg. So does that make me a cross-lettucer?

                                                                                          1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                                            Sorry Catskillgirl, there are obviously some exceptions. Just an expression Some of us California guys picked up from our Governator - Arnold!

                                                                                            1. re: malibumike

                                                                                              Ahhhhh, I didn't notice your screen name until now. All is explained. LOL! We in NY State have (or had) an interesting governor until recently, LOL again. Politics can be fun sometimes.

                                                                                        2. i don't get the either or mentality here

                                                                                          no one is telling anyone to eat only iceberg (though some are telling people to never eat it)

                                                                                          iceberg together with softer lettuces is a very nice combo

                                                                                          1. James Beard spoke for many of us when he declared that if iceberg lettuce were hard to grow, hard to ship, very rare and expensive, then it would be regarded as a great delicacy by gourmets everywhere. I'm really glad it's none of those things, because that means I can have it whenever I want, which is frequently.

                                                                                            One of the few things I dislike about most of the so-called "gourmet" burgers is that they come with some kind of tough, expensive lettuce-y stuff on them instead of the proper iceberg. Makes me want to slap someone...

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                              Hilarious: "Makes me want to slap someone..."

                                                                                              Jimmy Cagney threatened someone with, "Wassa matta wi' you? You wan' me to slap you down?" Maybe in "Scarface".

                                                                                              With today's interpersonal violence ranging from "passive agressive" to drive-by shootings, the quaint old notion of slapping is being lost

                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                I still enjoy a good slap from time to time. *G*

                                                                                                I find it really interesting how passionate we are about our lettuce likes and dislikes! I'd never really thought too much about lettuce. I'm now re-examining my lettuce beliefs, and am still a fan of iceberg. And many others as well.

                                                                                                Long live the slap.

                                                                                            2. ahhhh...

                                                                                              just got home from dinner...the wedge salads were great...followed by pork tenderloin with grilled ciabatta bread...then creme brulee...

                                                                                              the salads were a big hit though...thanks all!!!

                                                                                              1. I'm generally not a fan, but I don't hate it. In the restaurant business it has popularity partly because it's so amazingly quick and easy to prepare. Whack down on the bottom to core, rinse and cut.

                                                                                                I do remember fondly wedges of iceberg with russian dressing while growing up.

                                                                                                1. The wedge salad has been mentioned more than once here as the ideal application for iceburg lettuce. And I agree that it can be delicious (e.g. Blue cheese dressing and bacon). But these salads are mostly about the dressing, the lettuce providing only a textural base right?
                                                                                                  So I guess for me “salads” are more interesting when the platform of the dish (i.e. the lettuce) provides more than just a water bursting crunch.

                                                                                                  24 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                    You say that these salads can be delicious. So, do you believe
                                                                                                    a) that they would be better with some other type of lettuce,
                                                                                                    b) that they would be better without any lettuce,
                                                                                                    or c) that there is at least one good application of iceberg lettuce?

                                                                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                      a) yes (e.g. belgian endive, radicchio, romaine, etc.)
                                                                                                      b) no
                                                                                                      c) yes because it does contribute something (i.e. bite) to the dish. But other lettuces (see a above) can accomplish this, along with providing flavor contrast and less water.

                                                                                                    2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                      There are certain dressings/sauces that can elevate a humble ingredient into something sublime. Think hollandaise on a poached egg. Or aoili on potatoes. You wouldn't eat bearnaise sauce alone, would you? Iceberg lettuce is the best lettuce, IMO, for creamy dressings, because creamy dressings overwhelm more delicate lettuce varieties. And some creamy dressings can be divine (blue cheese, green goddess, etc.)

                                                                                                      And, as noted, iceberg has its role as an accompaniment to some asian dishes (as a wrap), or to provide a crisp and crunchy adornment to tacos, or for texture on a burger or a BLT sandwich, among other things.

                                                                                                      I think we'd all agree there are certain salads (such as the salade lyonnaise that you posted the picture of), where iceberg would not be welcome. But there are other applications where only iceberg will do :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                                                                        I agree that a creamy dressing would overwhelm the delicate lettuces. But wouldn't crunchy romaine hearts stand up nicely to a creamy dressing? And because there's more flavor to a romaine, I think it would complement it a lot better than watery iceberg. I can see the iceberg diluting the flavor of the dressing instead of enhancing it -- which I think is precisely why I don't like iceberg. I find it dilutes the flavor of things I eat it with.

                                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                          The only time I can see iceberg working is if the food was overly seasoned to begin with -- so the dilution would make the taste just right. For example, I ordered a house-made soda at Perry Street in NYC. They made the soda extra sweet so that by the time the ice diluted it, it would be perfect.

                                                                                                          For me, adding iceberg lettuce to perfectly seasoned items is akin to adding water ice cubes to a perfectly sweetened lemonade.

                                                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                            Yum, I love romaine, but for some of the classic uses of iceberg lettuce, I don't think it would be up to the task. You could probably use endive for a wedge salad. Actually that sounds good (I'm not normally a fan of them).

                                                                                                            If I'm looking for crunch and texture, I'll generally go for fennel, myself.

                                                                                                        2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                          C (sorry jfood does not know gender and apologizes if he got it wrong above)

                                                                                                          You seem to refuse to accept that others like iceberg for salad and other eating pleasures. If you want to believe that those of us are eating it in a salad "only a textural base" that's fine but lots of posts above give ample opinions that it is more than that. It's not mostly about the dressing as you conclude, but the dressing the bacon, the lettuce the cucumber the tomato the pepper the cheese the pepper, the whole nine yards. Many posters like the taste of iceberg in addition to the texture.

                                                                                                          And it seems that you are placing those words in our mouths so you can then give a very condenscending conclusion that your tastes are better than those who like iceberg since your taste in salads provide "more than just a water bursting crunch." What does that say of he rest of our tastes?

                                                                                                          Not fair C.

                                                                                                          Gotta appreciate all opinions.

                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                            The standard salad in our house when I was growing up was chopped iceberg, cukes, green onions, and tomatoes, dressed with Hellman's, salt, and lots of pepper. Ours was a military family, and we lived in some pretty odd places. The above ingredients were usually available. Even in the US, it was difficult to find lettuces other than iceberg. This salad remains one of my go-to comfort foods. Don't really care what the food snobs think.

                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                              I've read iceburg letuce being described by some as: cool, sweet, subtly sweet, but I think that we can agree the main description has focused on crunch and how crunch serves as a foil versus rich heavy dressings. You by the way have provided no description of the flavor of iceburg only mentioning "[jfood] can taste the flavor of the lettuce, the refreshing moisture, the fun crunch . . ."
                                                                                                              Whatever flavor iceburg has I think we can agree it is subtle which makes it's generally accepted choice of a perfect match (i.e. heavy rich dressings) all the more confusing.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00


                                                                                                                If you would like to continue to make conclusion and then agree with yourself, no biggie.

                                                                                                                And no, you and jfood cannot agree with your conclusion that the main description as crunch and the second as a subtle flavor and it's confusing nature with heavy rich dressing.

                                                                                                                Agree to disagree here, my friend.

                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                  I'm only making conclusions based on facts presented.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                    Why, in the name of Chef Boy r Dee is it so important to be "right" about any of this? On this thread, especially, people are stating preferences. Why parse their statements?

                                                                                                                    Some people like ice berg lettuce. They needn't be convinced that they're wrong.

                                                                                                                    Some people don't like ice berg lettuce. They needn't be convinced that they're wrong.

                                                                                                                    I am baffled at the ongoing "debate" about this. Chime in with what you like and what you don't like and leave it at that.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                      I would never tell someone what they should like (how could I?). And if it were left at that by iceburg lovers (“because I like it”) I’d have nothing else to say. But when facts are presented as to why they like it that don’t make much sense I’ll call folks on it. People feel the need to go to absurd lengths to justify a preference instead of just leaving it at that; a preference.

                                                                                                                      To conclude:

                                                                                                                      1. I’ll agree that iceburg is adequate for texture (which is a good thing) but that’s about all. To suggest that it provides anything more (particularly when used with dense rich dressings) is completely illogical.

                                                                                                                      2. Folks are always free to like and enjoy whatever they want.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                        so because you can't detect a subtle flavor that is a fine background note for a richer taste, it is illogical for someone else to say they can?

                                                                                                                        wow. can you also please tell me what colors, sounds and smells it is illogical for me to enjoy , because you don't enjoy them. it will make my life much easier if i have such a guide.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                          You lost all credibility for me with this post, ChinonOO. You are basically saying that (1) people who like iceberg lettuce are "going to absurd lengths" to justify that like, in the face of smart people like you who know better, and (2) that there is no possible reason why anyone could like iceberg, other than that it is "adequate for texture."

                                                                                                                          Open your mind, dear.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                            Well now that you've deduced that it's illogical that people can taste a distinct taste in iceberg that they enjoy, I'll remind myself next time I'm eating it that I'm not really enjoying it because of the taste. Now that's logical.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                      i thkn we can agree that even water doesn't taste like nothing, so iceberg must taste like something. I think we can agree that texture is as much a part of the eating experience as taste ( we don't all eat baby food all the time, do we?) I think we can agree that people can like different things without it meaning they have inferior tasting capabilities.

                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                        I think we can agree on those things, too, but apparently others disagree.

                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                            This thing of you must be a snob if you don't like iceberg is very reminiscent of that chopstick thread -- if you're not Asian and you use chopsticks, you must use it because you want to show off. While there are people who do use chopsticks to show off, there are people who use it just because they prefer to use it. And just like there are people who hate iceberg because it's the snobby thing to do, there are people who hate it because they hate it. I fall into the latter camp, and am kind of offended that some people claim it's a snobbery issue. Why can't somebody just dislike something because they dislike it? Why do people have to read more into something than it really is?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                              Dislike of iceberg is not snobbery. I think most people are reacting to the OP, who seems to be so insistent that because he doesn't like iceberg, it is bad, and anybody who claims to like it is wrong. And then he says "but that's not what I'm saying" -- and then says it again. Sheesh.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                                I never claimed that anyone was "wrong" for liking iceburg lettuce or any other flavorless food component. I just disagree with those who would suggest that it's subtle delicate flavor can be picked up through dense rich creamy dressings. And I've concluded that the reason these kinds of dressings are prefered with iceburg is precisely because of its general lack of flavor (people want to taste something).

                                                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                  You persist in saying that it's flavorless. It's flavorless TO YOU. Other people taste something. So what are you saying -- that they're lying or deluded? Taste isn't logical. It's highly subjective. It's as though you're saying "No, that didn't hurt you when I bopped you on the head. It did? Prove it!"

                                                                                                                                  I don't even like iceberg lettuce and you're ticking me off. You really need to look at your tone.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                    iceberg lettuce does have flavor. it just has less flavor than arugula, and not everyone digs the flavor.

                                                                                                                                    likewise, daikon has flavor, but it has less flavor than french radishes. ditto on not everybody liking it.

                                                                                                                                    beef has flavor, it just has less flavor than bison. ditto again.

                                                                                                                                    going on a rant that we need to get rid of daikon, or beef, because there are more flavorful alternatives would be silly imho, although i'm sure someone could make the case that since daikon is frequently pickled and hamburgers are served with ketchup & mustard, that these flavor additions must be *needed* to ramp up the flavor of these otherwise "disappointing" foods. . . come on though. i'm sure that a few chowhounds like daikon and can point to many applications where a substitution just won't do. i'm sure that there are one or two chowhounds who would make a case for beef as well. if someone told me that they absolutely couldn't stand beef, i'd shrug and remember not to invite them for steaks.

                                                                                                                                    what's offending people is your insistence that a food that other people *can* taste is in fact "flavorless" because YOU can't taste it. i've been told that "all eggs taste the same," usually fifteen minutes before the same person says "that was the best omelet i've ever eaten." the same folks who have professed their dislike for celery because of its "flavorlessness" asked me what the "flavorful herbs" in a stew were, and were shocked to find out the green bits were chopped celery leaves. i personally find the flavor profiles of different rices, for example, to be very notable, although i've been told that "all rice tastes the same" by folks who can't taste any difference. rice is not the most stridently flavored food in the world, and it's true, it's often served with a strongly flavored sauce or other flavor addition--but the different varieties do have their own flavors which impact the final dish, hence the insistence by folks in the know, to serve basmati with korma and arborio with parmesan and asparagus. i certainly wouldn't advocate getting rid of rice, or myself quit enjoying it, just because someone else has the position that rice is boring and rye, barley and wheat berries are more flavorful and have a "better nutritional profile." great. i'll happily eat rice when i want to and it's appropriate, and the strong-flavored grains when i think they'd be better.

                                                                                                                                    but i have the feeling i'm wasting my breath here. i think a coyote ran off with the half-eaten skull of this dead horse about sixty posts ago.

                                                                                                                      2. We don't NEED to use any specific type of lettuce in a salad, but for myself, I like iceberg lettuce. I enjoy the subtle flavor and the crunch, neither of which can be matched any any other green. I generally use a mix of iceberg, spinach, red leaf and mesclun in my salads depending on what looks best at the grocery store.

                                                                                                                        Tonight, my rib-eye will be accompanied by a lovely salad consisting of iceberg, romaine, the last of the oakleaf and spinach from my garden and my first tomato. How could that be bad?????

                                                                                                                        IMHO, iceberg is looked down upon because it is easily available and affordable.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                                                                                          I think Iceburg lettuce is looked down upon because it has very little nutritional value compared to other lettuce varieties. The following is the nutritional break down for 1 cup of iceburg vs 1 cup of romaine:

                                                                                                                          8 calories
                                                                                                                          .5 grams protein
                                                                                                                          .7 grams fiber
                                                                                                                          10 mg. calcium
                                                                                                                          78 mg. potassium
                                                                                                                          1.5 mg vitamin C
                                                                                                                          16 mcg. folate
                                                                                                                          13.3 mcg. vitamin K
                                                                                                                          164 mcg. beta carotene
                                                                                                                          152 mcg. of luten = zeaxanthin

                                                                                                                          8 calories
                                                                                                                          .58 grams protein
                                                                                                                          1 gram fiber
                                                                                                                          16 mg. calcium
                                                                                                                          116 mg. potassium
                                                                                                                          11.3 mg. vitamin C
                                                                                                                          64 mcg. folate
                                                                                                                          48.2 mcg. vitamin K
                                                                                                                          1637 mcg. beta carotene
                                                                                                                          1087 mcg. lutein + zeaxanthin

                                                                                                                          As for price, where I live I can buy a head of iceburg lettuce for $.99, while I can buy a 3 pack of rommaine hearts for $1.49, and a 3 pack of organic romaine hearts for $1.89. The romaine is a no-brainer, seeing as I prefer romaine to iceburg anyday.

                                                                                                                          1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                                            Romaine certainly looks like it has far more nutritional value when compared to ice berg, but the actual numbers are still, basically, incredibly low. If anyone is depending upon lettuce for serious nutritional value, they're probably looking in the wrong places by and large. I agree that (clearly) ice berg is looked down upon and perhaps you're right, it is because of the perceived nutritional values...but I also think its looked down upon because it was easy to get for a long time when other lettuce wasn't.

                                                                                                                        2. Late to the party, but if Chinese gourmets can appreciate fairly flavorless "texture foods," why can't we? Sometimes you just need that fresh watery crunch.

                                                                                                                          1. Folks, it seems like everyone who wants to has weighed in and now everyone's just repeating themselves in an increasingly cranky way. We're going to lock this thread and ask that everyone move on to a new topic of discussion.

                                                                                                                            1. "or any other flavorless food component."

                                                                                                                              I live in Califonria, where I can get any lettuce any time. I really appreciate iceberg lettuce. I know there are those who look down on it, but that's their issue not mine.

                                                                                                                              So, I like iceberg lettuce sometimes, but I never ever like Jamie Oliver ~~ it is either change the station or turn off the tube when he is on everytime.