Southern Wilted Lettuce
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Classic Wilted Lettuce Salad Recipe (Killed Lettuce) – Simple greens are coated in a warm bacon dressing for a delicious southern side dish that’s ready in just 15 minutes.
Southern Wilted Lettuce
If you haven’t heard of it before, let-tuce introduce you to Southern Wilted Lettuce Salad!
This old-school salad is a popular way to use up excess end-of-season garden greens. Now, the lettuce should not be slimy or deteriorating. But once the leaves are no longer super vibrant with that fresh crunch, instead of immediately throwing them in the garbage you can quickly whip up a yummy salad. This is a way to create less waste and a super-easy side dish recipe – now you know that’s a winner!
Here in the south it is often called “killed lettuce” because the greens are tossed with warm bacon grease, so they are wilted down a bit. (If you’re really southern you will pronounce it kilt lettuce.) The entire recipe only takes about 15 minutes to make and is great to pair with nearly any southern or classic comfort food.
Wait… Bacon grease on a salad? Yup! If you have trouble getting your family to eat salad, killed lettuce is a great way to entice them.
Classic Recipe Ingredients You Need
- Chopped lettuce – iceberg, romaine, or a combination of classic garden greens (
- Thick-cut bacon – chopped, bacon drippings reserved
- Scallions – chopped
- Apple cider vinegar – the pop of acid intensifies the smoky, savory bacon flavor
- Granulated sugar – brings together the tangy and salty ingredients
- Spices – salt, ground black pepper, cayenne
How to Make Wilted Lettuce Salad
First, set out a large salad bowl and a large skillet. Place the chopped lettuce in the salad bowl.
Set the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the chopped bacon pieces and cook until brown and crispy.
Once the bacon is crisp and in bite-sized pieces, stir in the scallions, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Turn off the heat; you want to scallions to get warm but not really cook. This becomes your hot bacon dressing.
Get the Complete (Printable) Southern Wilted Lettuce Salad Recipe Below. Enjoy!
Pour the hot bacon mixture/”homemade dressing” over the lettuce.
Pro Tip: This recipe makes slightly wilted greens. If you would like them to be more wilted, toss the lettuce with the bacon in the hot skillet. The heat from the skillet will cook the lettuce down a bit more, so that it is more like sautéed spinach or swiss chard.
Toss to coat so the smoky, savory dressing is evenly distributed. The lettuce leaves will wilt and become terrifically soft and flavorful once the warm dressing is mixed in.
Serve immediately while warm.
Serve killed lettuce salad as a side with your favorite southern main dishes!
It’s a delicious healthy-ish side to enjoy with Southern Shrimp and Grits, Grilled Ham Steaks, or Nashville Hot Chicken.
Or have a meal of entirely side dishes, and make this wilted lettuce salad the star. Pair with other sides like Fried Green Tomatoes, Tomato Pie, Potato Salad, and/or Jalapeno Cornbread for a light(er) dinner spread.
Frequently Asked Questions
What other greens can I use to make this wilted lettuce recipe?
Wilted lettuce salad is great with many different lettuces! Try this recipe with kale, spinach, bib lettuce, red lettuce, or other fairly soft varieties. Could also be any fresh garden lettuce. However, really tough and hearty types of greens like chard and collards don’t wilt quite so easily. They will need to be placed in the skillet.
How can I make wilted lettuce salad without pork bacon?
Feel free to swap traditional bacon with turkey bacon or your favorite vegan plant-based bacon alternative. But since these don’t yield much fat to make the dressing, you need to add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet just before stirring in the chopped green onions and seasonings.
Can killed lettuce be made ahead?
Yes and no. You can prep the components so that you have the chopped lettuce and bacon grease dressing in separate containers for a day or so… But don’t add the warm bacon dressing until you’re ready to serve. When ready to enjoy, heat the dressing up in the microwave or on the stovetop for just a few seconds until warm. Then immediately pour over the greens, toss and serve!
Looking For More Classic Easy Side Dishes?
- Southern Tomato Pie
- Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Beer
- Southern Butter Bean Recipe (Best Lima Beans)
- The Best Potato Salad Recipe
- Retro Cornbread Salad
Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information percentages and the prep time or total time averages.
Southern Wilted Lettuce Recipe
- 7-8 cups chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon chopped
- 1 cup chopped scallions
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne
- Set out a large salad bowl and a large skillet. Place the chopped lettuce in the salad bowl.
- Set the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until brown and crispy. Once the bacon is crisp, stir in the scallions, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
- Pour the hot bacon mixture over the lettuce and toss to coat. Serve warm.
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Very good! Just like my mother used to make, except she added a chopped hard boiled egg.
I had never had this before but tried it out. We loved it! So healthy and tasty. Thank you!
Fantastic recipe! Have and will continue to make often. A huge hit in my house!
This is the perfect recipe! I can use up ‘old’ lettuce and with all that bacon-y goodness, I can actually get my husband to eat a salad! Delish!
This Southern wilted lettuce recipe is awesome! Can’t go wrong with lettuce and bacon! haha. I am tempted to add tomato and then put it inside to slices of bread, for a BLT!
Such an amazing recipe!! Everyone at my house loved this!
Many years ago, I spent the summer with my elderly cousin who lived in Florida. I can’t begin to tell you how many times she made this wilted lettuce for lunch. Back then, it amazed me as to how simple this was to make and how incredibly tasty. I had all but forgotten about it and now, I can’t wait to make it in her memory.
This is something I never thought would be good, but this salad is one of my best and most favorite salads!