The Most Delicious Lettuce Varieties Worth Planting

Meet some of today's best greens: an appealing palette of fancy foliage for any garden.

April 23, 2015
Aunt Maes Bibb
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Aunt Mae's Bibb

Dark green and crispy, this heirloom butterhead has been preserved for gardeners by Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa.

Australian Yellow
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Australian Yellow

Uniquely chartreuse, crumpled leaves from this Australian heirloom add electric pop to the vegetable patch and salad bowl.

Balady Aswan
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Balady Aswan

This Egyptian selection of an ancient but rarely grown lettuce relative, celtuce, features tall, edible stalks and mildly flavored leaves.

Baquieu
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Baquieu

A French heirloom, this tasty butterhead is the model of elegance: Pale green hearts emerge from curvy heads with rouged leaf tips.

Blushed Butter Cos
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Blushed Butter Cos

This fluffy, savoyed Romaine combines crisp texture and sweetness into heads that rouge like a sunset when full size.

Blushed Butter Oak
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Blushed Butter Oak

Lobed like those of an oak, these leaves are marbled bronze and green when young; they fold into a loose heart as the head matures.

Brown Goldring
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Brown Goldring

A flavorful, self-blanching Romaine, ‘Brown Goldring’ holds its sweetness into summer’s heat, making it the perfect lettuce for grilling season.

Brune Percherone
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Brune Percherone

Lime green with a hint of rosy pink at the leaf tips, this slow-growing French beauty is worth the wait for its large, super-buttery hearts.

Cardinale
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Cardinale

This Batavian-type lettuce resembles a ruffled rose—wide open for easy plucking of the outer leaves until, at last, it develops a partially blanched heart.

Carmona
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Carmona

Large, crinkled leaves cradle sizable buttery hearts. Give these reliable beauties additional space in the garden, and you’ll be rewarded with extra-large heads.

Chartreuse Butter Tongue
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Chartreuse Butter Tongue

A study in green, this lustrous butterhead combines dark, pointed outer leaves with pale hearts. Sow it in early spring for the largest heads.

Cocarde
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Cocarde

At any stage of its growth, from baby greens to mature heads, ‘Cocarde’ adds refinement to the salad bowl. The ruffled leaves glow with plum-red highlights.

Cougar Batavian
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Cougar Batavian

Heat-resistant and flavorful, this sprawling Batavian with lightly bronzed leaf margins is a great candidate for wrapping around your favorite savory filling.

Cracoviensis
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Cracoviensis

The scarlet-cloaked, honeyed leaves of this celtuce make a great cutting green when young. As soon as the plants bolt, harvest the stems to eat raw or lightly cooked.

Dubya Green Density
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Dubya Green Density

Displaying tiny heads packed with uniform, shamrock-green leaves, this accommodating little lettuce is ideal for growing in containers or small gardens.

Ear of the Devil
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Ear of the Devil

An old French heirloom, this looseleaf type forms colossal heads of glossy leaves glowing in shades of garnet and plum. One head will feed you for a week.

Emerald Oak
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Emerald Oak

Green as spring grass, this verdant variety combines rich leaf-lettuce flavor with creamy butterhead texture. The uniform plants are great to harvest at baby stage.

Flashy Butter Gem
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Flashy Butter Gem

Green, oval leaves splashed with red freckles unfurl like flower petals in this cross between a compact Romaine and a butterhead. It’s good for an edible border.

Flashy Trout Back
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Flashy Trout Back

An absolute workhorse of a lettuce, ‘Flashy Trout Back’ produces upright heads of red-speckled leaves with no fuss.

Florence
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Florence

A crispy oakleaf, bright green and charmingly dense, this variety’s frilly, puckered leaves look soft but have the substantial heft of a Romaine.

Garnet Looseleaf
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Garnet Looseleaf

The contrast between lime-green lowlights and fiery highlights sets this variety aglow in the garden. It’s a slow grower with a delicate crunch.

Grandpa Admires
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Grandpa Admire's

This heirloom butterhead lettuce receives rave reviews for flavor, heat tolerance, and appearance, with its signature red-washed leaves.

Green Lotus
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Green Lotus

Compact and crisp as a spring breeze, the open form of ‘Green Lotus’ reveals a pale, fist-sized heart. Outer leaves ripple into charming frills along their edges.

Green Oakheart
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Green Oakheart

An oakleaf type with tightly packed leaves, this compact variety tolerates crowding in the garden. One cut, an inch above the base, yields a bowlful of greens.

Hyper Red Rumple Wave
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Hyper Red Rumple Waved

With its delightfully blistered leaves and burgundy-bordering-on-black pigmentation, ‘Hyper Red Rumple Waved’ combines characteristics of a Romaine and a looseleaf. The appearance of red pigments, or anthocyanins, in lettuce leaves may have been an evolutionary adaptation that allowed plants to better withstand strong sunlight. The anthocyanins act as a sunscreen of sorts, filtering out some of the ultraviolet rays. Since the anthocyanins are antioxidants,  the dark red varieties don’t just lend pizzazz to the salad bowl; they have added benefits for your heart. 

Jack Ice
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Jack Ice

With robust flavor and satisfying crunch, ‘Jack Ice’ adds an emerald- green touch to lettuce mixes. It performs well in wet conditions or under a coldframe.

Jester
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Jester

With its rose-tinted heart, red-splashed outer leaves, and toothy edges, ‘Jester’ is lettuce as contemporary art. Developed by Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed, whose catalog includes over a hundred organic lettuce varieties (47 of which are his own creation), this is an extra-fancy crispleaf type—juicy and mild, with enough architecture to hold its own in sandwich or salad. Morton, who trials scores of new lettuces each year, proclaims ‘Jester’ his favorite discovery yet.

Kalura
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Kalura

This bright and bold Romaine is renowned for its sweet taste and marked tenderness. Reliable ‘Kalura’ delivers massive heads and can handle some heat.

Leopard
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Leopard

Medium-sized and extra-fancy, this glossy Romaine develops a crown of red leaf tips once its heart has sized up. It makes for a dazzling Caesar salad.

Lollo di Vino
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Lollo di Vino

Looking like a deep-sea creature that crawled into the garden, this otherworldly lettuce is pure burgundy frills and crunch. Savor its exotic foliage.

Manoa
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Manoa

A selection from the University of Hawaii, this tousled little lettuce forms apple-green hearts at maturity. Its tropical breeding delivers fine heat tolerance.

Merlox Red Oak
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Merlox Red Oak

This stunning, compact oakleaf makes for easy salad picking in the shoulder seasons. It’s a good season-extending variety for planting in the coldframe.

Mescher
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Mescher

Quick-heading for a butter lettuce, this Austrian heirloom from the 1700s promises dense, velvety hearts contrasted by purple-blushed outer leaves.

Northern Queen
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Northern Queen

A butterhead that combines humble English origins and a royal name, ‘Northern Queen’ is quick to produce sweet, glowing green heads, but slow to bolt.

Outredgeous
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Outredgeous

A ruffled red Romaine, ‘Out­redgeous’ pushes the boundaries of how vibrant lettuce color can be. Last year, NASA grew it on the International Space Station. 

Pandero
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Pandero

In full sun, this compact Romaine turns ebony-red. A winter density type, ‘Pandero’ hails from a lineage of reliably cold- tolerant, small-headed lettuces.

Red Ball Jets
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Red Ball Jets

A curiously dark crispleaf, ‘Red Ball Jets’ yields crunchy red leaves when young; at maturity, it develops perfectly round, light-green-and-pink-tinged hearts.

Red Iceberg
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Red Iceberg

A true iceberg type with rose-tinted outer leaves and enormous blanched hearts, this lettuce has little in common with the old salad-bar standard.

Reine dGlaces
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Reine d’Glaces

‘Ice Queen’, as it is known in English, is a beloved French heirloom with a regal list of traits: iceberg crispness, complex flavor, and ornately spiked leaf margins.

Rouge dHiver
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Rouge d’Hiver

Introduced in 1885 by the French seed company Vilmorin, ‘Rouge d’Hiver’ translates to ‘Red Winter’, hinting at this brick-red Romaine’s excellent frost tolerance.

Tennis Ball
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Tennis Ball

One of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites, this easygoing butterhead was a mainstay of his Monticello garden. Okay with crowding, ‘Tennis Ball’ fits anywhere.

Webbs Wonderful
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Webb’s Wonderful

An extra-large crispleaf, ‘Webb’s Wonderful’ forms a massive round heart of deliciously crunchy leaves. It’s well suited to southern climes.

Yugoslavian Red
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Yugoslavian Red

Marbled rose and pomegranate-red staining make this mammoth butterhead—it can grow as much as a foot wide—a striking presence in the kitchen garden.

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