The Best Lettuce For Wrapping Sandwiches And Burgers

There is nothing like a burger to satisfy hunger any time of the day. The simple combination of a meat patty (and often, cheese and veggies) between two halves of a bun is one of the staples of American cuisine.

Given the popularity of burgers, there are plenty of variations designed to suit everyone's tastes and dietary requirements. For vegetarians, there are plant-based alternatives such as veggie burgers, stuffed mushroom burgers, and Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers. For those who wish to avoid red meat but like poultry, there are also chicken and turkey burgers to enjoy.

But, what if you wish to avoid bread, perhaps if you are gluten-free or watching your carbohydrate intake? This is where lettuce comes into play. Crunchy, leafy greens can make a great substitute for a burger bun, not only tying everything together, but also insulating your hands from the hot patty and avoiding greasy fingers when you are eating. Moreover, lettuce can also work as a substitute for traditional sandwiches and wraps, turning your buffalo chicken wrap or turkey club into healthier alternatives. 

Yet, with so many varieties of lettuce available, it's important to choose the right one to swap for a bun or bread — and the real standout happens to be red and green leaf lettuce.

Why red and green leaf lettuce makes a great substitute

Choosing the right lettuce for an alternative to bread can be rather intuitive. You'll want to opt for lettuce with large, wide leaves that can cover the entire burger or deli meat slices, and one that is also sturdy enough for you to grip without the whole thing falling apart — plus, great taste and texture are nice to have, too. 

When considering all the requirements, there are several options that would be ideal. But among all types of lettuces, the best one that can work as a burger "bun" or sandwich "wrap" is red or green leaf lettuce. For one, their leaves are wide to hold everything and they are relatively sturdy and stay dependable while handling.

Romaine lettuce is a good second choice, just be sure to pick a bunch with intact outer leaves, as only the wider outer leaves are big enough to accommodate burgers or a sandwich spread. The third option is iceberg lettuce, which has wide, crispy, bowl-shaped leaves that are suitable to hold a burger, chicken, Italian beef, and other options. However, iceberg lettuce leaves may break apart easily, which could leave you with messy fingers, so choose your head wisely.

Lettuce can be subbed in for many other dishes

Aside from using lettuce as a substitute for a burger bun or sandwich wrap, large leaves can also be used as a carb-free, gluten-free swap for a number of other dishes. In the case of our top pick, green lettuce leaves are a well-known accompaniment for Korean pork belly wraps, where meat, kimchi, and other fillings pair well with the crunchy exterior. 

As well, the boat-like shape of romaine leaves makes them an ideal substitute for crackers or toast points. Try filling them with chicken salad or seafood salad for a fantastic hand-held bite that makes a great appetizer.

With its bowl shape, iceberg lettuce leaves are great for taco fillings that would otherwise be difficult to group together without a tortilla. You could add a stir-fried mix of ground meat, scallions, garlic, oyster sauce, and chili peppers for an alternative option on Taco Tuesdays.

Finally, bibb lettuce leaves, which are small and round, are also an ideal vessel for small bites, such as an easy chicken lettuce wrap or a lamb lettuce wrap with yogurt