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Wilted Lettuce Salad

I asked a reader what wilted lettuce salad was and she said “Oh…I think I’ve had some of that before. You mean floppy lettuce that was too old to be served and we ate it anyway?” I laughed. Poor girl is from the West Coast, bless her heart. 

A bowl of wilted lettuce salad topped with boiled eggs with a fork on one side and green onions in the background

We won’t hold it against my buddy that she’s not southern. But chances are, you’re just like her–and have no idea what a wilted lettuce salad is. Let me help: it’s a spiritual experience in a bowl. When I fed this to my son after I made it, I stuffed a bite in his mouth and as he chewed, he slowly closed his eyes and put his head down.

A second later his hand raised in the air.

Confused, my husband and I looked at each other. Then we laughed our heads off. Logan was having a moment of praise with his wilted lettuce salad. And he was pretty much right. It’s that good.

What makes it so awesome?

a bowl of wilted lettuce salad on a blue gingham napkin and two forks

It’s the “dressing” which I have to think came about as desperate country cooks tried to find ways to use cheap ingredients to make something taste good. This is proof that it can be done. Don’t panic when you see how much bacon grease is in this recipe! You won’t notice it, I promise.

Your arteries might–but your mouth won’t.

Basically what we are gonna do here is cook some bacon, save some of the drippings, add some vinegar and sugar and onion and heat it up–then pour it over our lettuce so that it softens a bit (okay, wilts).

The dressing will almost remind you of cole slaw’s sweet and tangy mix–add the crumbled bacon to the top and a hard boiled egg and it’s just fantastic. It’s also a nice change up from your regular salads and something fun to try on guests when you need some interesting table discussion.

You can blame the whole thing on me.

Southern to its roots, wilted lettuce salad isn't floppy lettuce with dressing. It's a sweet and sour flavor explosion. No floppy lettuce needed.

Wilted Lettuce Salad

A southern classic, wilted lettuce salad was the way grandmothers used to make do with what they had but the combination of bacon grease (yes that's what I said), vinegar, and sugar makes the most divine dressing served warm over greens. 
5 from 8 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 6 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 8 minutes
Servings: 6 -8
Calories: 204kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard


  • 5 slices of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup bacon drippings you can get rid of the rest of it
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 green onion tops sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6-8 cups torn lettuce pieces (I use mixed greens but anything will work except Romaine)
  • 1 hard boiled egg diced


  • Once you have cooked your bacon and drained all but 1/4 cup bacon drippings from your skillet, return the pan to low heat and add the vinegar, water, sugar, green onions, salt and pepper and stir to dissolve the sugar--about 1 minute.
  • Heat the dressing until very warm but not boiling and turn off the heat.
  • Pour the dressing over your lettuce and toss well.
  • Add the bacon and crumbled egg and serve warm.


Calories: 204kcal

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