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Jan 13, 2013 09:04 PM

Why do burger chains use green leaf lettuce?

Why use green leaf lettuce in a burger?

It's essentially tasteless and has the mouthfeel of wet nori. I think the worst offender might be Shake Shack, which is a travesty because they make an otherwise fine burger.

I could easily do without any greens in my burger but if you are going to adorn some greenery at least use something that serves some purpose.

Something like iceberg at least provides crunch, but green leaf just makes a burger look portrait-perfect and actually detracts from the burger's taste

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  1. but green leaf just makes a burger look portrait-perfect

    You have your answer

    1. Hmmm, I wonder if it's a somewhat regional thing? While I can think of a very few places around here that serve a burger with green leaf lettuce, the majority serve iceberg - even the chains. (But it's my favorite place which is not a chain that not only serves it, but shreds it as well. Yum.)

      12 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        That's another thing I don't like on my burgers ... shredded lettuce.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          "Each to his own," said the old lady as she kissed her cow. :)

          1. re: mamachef

            For some reason shredded lettuce always reminds me of grade school cafeteria hard tacos ... not that that's a bad thing.

            1. re: mamachef

              The first person that knows the entire quote in over a couple of decades that I have run into.

              Well said.

              This was to Mamachef upstream. Still haven't learned the new system.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              I tend to agree, ipsedixit. If I want a salad I will order it alongside my burger. I do not want it ON my burger. That applies to lettuce, tomato, and any other cold salad-like ingredients.

              1. re: rockycat

                "If I want a salad I will order it alongside my burger. I do not want it ON my burger. That applies to lettuce, tomato, and any other cold salad-like ingredients."

                and yet, that's about the only way I'll have a burger (if I can't get a grilled / roasted pepper and/or mushrooms) - lettuce, tomato & mayo (preferably Cains, if I do the preparation).

                I realize ketchup is probably the most common topping, but I find simply adding all that sugar rather repulsive.

                1. re: Clams047

                  I think I'd like that "salad" a lot more if it weren't flavorless iceberg and less-than-flavorless pink mealy hothouse "tomato." Give me a nice peppery green salad and a good garden beefsteak tomato. Or forget them all and just give me sweet grilled onions.

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    I agree - burgers made at home are topped with tomatoes only when they're in season & from our garden or the farmers market. And in place of lettuce - even our own garden lettuce - I much prefer some fresh Arugula.

            3. re: mamachef

              If it is indeed a regional thing....I see mostly Red Leaf Lettuce here in New Jersey in restaurants.....shredded Iceberg at Fast Food places.

              1. re: fourunder

                Shake Shack, which is East Coast (NY, DC, Philly, FL, CT) uses green leaf exclusively.

                Does red leaf taste any better than green?

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I think they are both tasteless....but the red leaf lettuce adds color to the platform, i.e., tomato and onion/red onion.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Sometimes green leaf lettuce is awesome- sweet, green, crunchy, and wonderful. When it's not, it's pretty bad. Places that put leaf lettuce on their burgers do so whether it's good or bad.
                    Red leaf lettuce, to me, is terrible. It doesn't have the same taste as a good green lettuce, it wilts faster than anything on the planet, and you can't tell because it's already sort of brown to begin with. Yuck.

              2. Next time say "Hold the lettuce". When you get your burger go to your table open up the burger and take the little Zip lock bag you brought containing your favorite lettuce and put it on the burger.

                1. Ice berg lettuce has a purpose? Is there anything more useless than iceberg lettuce? - hence its name.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Clams047

                    I agree that nutritionally speaking iceberg lettuce is sort of like ricecakes.

                    But in a sandwich, they do provide a nice crunch, sort of a break from the richness and unctuousness of the meat, cheese, etc.

                    I am a "no greenery" person when it comes to burgers, but I don't mind some iceberg on my BLT, however.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I agree, no greenery on my burger (except avocado occasionally). I dislike raw tomatoes on burgers and sandwiches as well (roasted tomatoes are good). For my BLT I actually prefer romaine - it can be a little unwieldy due to its shape but it has both crunch and flavor.

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        Yeah, if it's a really good burger all I need is bun.

                        I might go for caramelized onions and sauteed 'shrooms. Maybe.

                    2. re: Clams047

                      I absolutely love iceberg lettuce. Cool, crunchy, yum!

                    3. McDonalds in Russia puts spinach on their Bolshoi Burger.

                      1 Reply