We refer to this Butter Lettuce Salad as the Zestful Kitchen House Salad—it’s our go-to side dish for just about any meal whether it’s a weeknight or a special occasion. It’s bright, tangy and deliciously herby.
The Perfect Side Salad
Nearly 100 percent of the time when we’re making a quick vinaigrette at home we reach for white balsamic vinegar. It’s the perfect acidic base for a vinaigrette thanks to its depth of flavor and mild sweetness. If you don’t have white balsamic, you can use white wine vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar (or try a combo of the two).
Aside from the absolutely delicious vinaigrette, we love that the recipe highlights the beauty of butter lettuce. This lettuce—not surprisingly—is soft and buttery. The delicate tender butter lettuce leaves are paired with crunchy cucumber and juicy cherry tomatoes.
And finally, herbs are key. We like to treat leafy herbs like parsley, basil and cilantro as part of our greens. Here we use a combo of parsley and dill, but feel free to use cilantro and/or basil as well.
What is Butter Lettuce?
Butter lettuce is a type of leafy green vegetable that belongs to the lettuce family. It is also known as Boston lettuce or Bibb lettuce, and its leaves are soft and buttery in texture, hence the name. Butter lettuce is a small head lettuce that is typically light green in color, with loose, tender leaves that form a rosette shape. It has a delicate, slightly sweet flavor making it ideal for salads, sandwiches and lettuce wraps.
Butter Lettuce: Also labeled as butterhead lettuce, bibb lettuce or Boston lettuce, you can find this type of lettuce sold in large square plastic clamshells as whole heads of lettuce with the root bulb still in tact. We recommend separating all of the leaves and giving them a good bath in cold water then spinning dry in a salad spinner.
Vegetables: Keep the salad simple with mini cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Both add texture and flavor to this simple salad.
Herbs: We prefer the combo of fresh parsley, dill and scallions in this salad, but feel free to use any fresh herbs you have one hand. Basil, chives, and cilantro would all be great options. Then be sure to store your herbs correctly so you can keep on using them over the next couple of weeks.
Garlic: you’ll just need one small clove of garlic for this recipe.
Dijon Mustard: We use Dijon on our homemade vinaigrettes a lot. It adds flavor and depth while also acting as an emulsifier for the oil and vinegar. If you don’t have Dijon, you can use whole-grain mustard instead.
Vinegar: white balsamic vinegar is a game changer for homemade vinaigrettes. It adds a sweet tang to any dressing. If you don’t have white balsamic, you can use white wine vinegar.
How to Make Butter Lettuce Salad
- Wash and spin try the butter lettuce leaves.
- Arrange the lettuce and herbs in a large serving bowl or platter.
- Sprinkle the cucumbers and tomatoes over the lettuce.
- Whisk together the vinaigrette; season with salt and pepper then drizzle over the salad.
- Serve immediately.
What to Serve with Butter Lettuce Salad
This is the perfect side salad for just about any meal! Fill out the menu with some of our favorite main dish recipes.
- Our Pan-Seared Salmon or Pan-Seared Chilean Sea Bass are both great protein options. Quick, easy and always cooked perfectly.
- Our skillet Pesto Chicken Tenders are always a weeknight hit. Quick-cooking and loaded with flavor.
- Pair this salad with our luscious Gouda Carbonara. Salad and pasta, a perfect combo!
Variations on This Side Salad
- Add some kind of cheese such as grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled goat cheese.
- Diced avocado is also a great addition.
- Use fresh lemon juice in place of the white balsamic vinegar in the vinaigrette.
- Sprinkle some toasted Panko breadcrumbs over top for a crunchy texture.
- Any kind of toasted nuts would be delicious in this salad. We like almonds, pistachios and pumpkin seeds (pepitas).
- Additional vegetables are always welcome! Thin radish slices, celery, carrots and green peas are all delicious here.
Absolutely—we even recommend doubling the vinaigrette recipe so you can use it throughout the week. Make the vinaigrette in a glass jar and give it a good shake to mix. Store the vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let the vinaigrette come to room temperature before shaking and using.
If you can’t find butter lettuce we recommend using a combination of spinach and little gem lettuce. These two types of lettuce will achieve the ideal combination of tenderness and curly leaves.
If you don’t have or can’t find mini cucumbers (also labeled Persian cucumbers) you can use an English cucumber. You’ll only need a quarter of a large English cucumber.
The large cup-like leaves are perfect for making lettuce cups or lettuce wraps. We also love to use the tender leaves on sandwiches.
You don’t need to. As long as the root bulb is slightly moist, the lettuce will stay fresh and leafy.
More Salad Recipes to Try
Our Simple Garden Salad is inspired by the house salad you’d get at a steak house. It’s crisp, loaded with toppings and full of flavor.
Try our Simple Radish Salad that highlights the crisp, slightly spicy vegetable.
This Caesar Salad is the perfect option when you’re looking for something ultra-classic.
Butter Lettuce Salad Recipe
- 1 head bibb lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 mini cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 scallion, dark greens only, sliced
- ½ cup yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced (such as sungolds)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- For the salad, combine lettuce, cucumber, scallion greens, tomatoes, parsley and dill in a large serving bowl.
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together oil, vinegar, Dijon, garlic and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt in a small measuring cup.
- Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.