How To Store Lettuce So It Stays Crisp

Don't let any leaf go limp.

A staple for salads and garnishes, lettuce is delicate: You might pull a head from the fridge only to find it limp, slimy, brown, or just plain past its prime. Here’s our guide to how to store lettuce so it stays crisp in the fridge for as long as possible. 

Turkey-and-Persimmon Salad

James Ransom; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Is It Better to Store Lettuce Washed or Unwashed?

Head lettuce, such as iceberg and romaine, keeps fresh longer when it remains attached to the head and unwashed. Rinse the leaves only when you are ready to use them.

How Do You Keep Lettuce Fresh for Two Weeks?

For head lettuces, keep the head intact, but cut off the stem. Wrap it in a dish towel (or paper towel) to absorb any excess moisture during storage, and place in the crisper drawer of the fridge. This way, it should last from one to three weeks. 

Loose leaf lettuce might be expected to keep for as long as a week or 10 days if stored with a towel to absorb excess moisture.

How Do You Keep a Bag of Lettuce Fresh in the Fridge?

Leafy greens in bagged salads from the grocery store do not last as long as head lettuces, but you can extend their life as long as possible using mindful strategies and a little extra legwork.

One way is to transfer the greens from the store-bought bag to an air-tight storage container and line the container with a towel to absorb any extra moisture.

Alternatively, you can add a paper towel into an open bag of greens, and seal the bag with a clip. Replacing the paper towel with a dry one daily will help extend the freshness of the leaves.

Of course, you’ll have the best chances of keeping your store-bought bag of lettuce fresh for longer if it has more days remaining before the best-by date marked on the package. Take careful note of this date as you grocery shop, and take extra time to dig around the shelf for a bag marked with the latest date (it may be in the back).

Is It Better to Store Lettuce in a Bag or Container?

Ample circulation of air is key to keeping lettuce crisp and fresh for longer. For this reason, an air-tight plastic or glass storage container may be preferable over a bag. A container allows the leaves more room so they don’t get squished or bruised during storage, allows air circulation within the container. It also seals out the outside air for freshness.

Minimizing moisture is also critical for extending the life of lettuce. That’s why, whether you use a container or a bag for storage, a towel placed inside helps to absorb moisture and keep lettuce fresh and crisp for longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you wash lettuce to prevent E. coli?

    The CDC says that running water over leafy greens is the best way to prevent E. coli or other bacteria from developing. While vinegar or lemon juice will not harm lettuce, it does not provide any benefits. Also, don't use soap or vegetable detergent as they add unnecessary chemicals to the food.

  • How do you keep lettuce fresh for long-term storage?

    Lettuce must be dry before storing it, as moisture contributes to spoilage. Use a paper towel or salad spinner to remove all excess water after washing the lettuce. Lettuce with less oxygen exposure will stay fresh longer, so plastic bags or containers are better for long-term storage than the initial packaging.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles