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.Jump to Recipe
One member of the class of hot salads, this recipe is common in the Appalachian regions of the US but probably originated with the Romans–versions of it have been found in literature dating back to the 1300’s.
The concept is often backwards of what people assume: Crisp, cold lettuce is doused with a hot vinaigrette dressing and it softens under the heat of it creating a “wilted” but not floppy. And it is truly divine.
A perfect blend of tangy and sweet. Not oily or greasy like you might think, and a great balance to your next meal.
Best lettuces for wilted lettuce salad
You’ll need a lettuce that will actually soften, for this to work best. Romaine and Iceberg are too firm. Instead, try:
- Living lettuces (the kind in the plastic case with the roots still attached)
- Mixed greens
- Baby spinach
What does wilted lettuce dressing taste like?
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.
The dressing will almost remind you of coleslaw’s sweet and tangy mix–add the crumbled bacon to the top and a hard boiled egg and it’s just fantastic.
How to make wilted lettuce salad
Cook the bacon and drain away some grease but leave a 1/4 cup in the skillet. Add the water, vinegar, sugar and green onions and cook just until the sugar dissolves. Add salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing hot from the skillet over the lettuces and stir to combine. They will begin to soften immediately.
Add bacon and hard boiled egg on top and serve warm.
Can wilted lettuce salad be made ahead?
The dressing could be made ahead and reheated later if you needed to but it wouldn’t work to mix the salad and the dressing and let it get cold. Mix this salad right before serving.
What to serve with wilted lettuce salad
I love to balance a recipe like this that’s tangy and tart with something a bit richer. Try these great additions to round out your meal:
Wilted Lettuce Salad
- 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.