Does Lettuce Go Bad? – From Crunchy Greens to Compost: A Guide to Detecting and Preventing Lettuce Spoilage

Does Lettuce Go bad?: You have recently bought a lettuce head and want to know how long you have until it goes off on taste and smell. Or maybe the lettuce you have looks different, and you need to know whether you can still use it or not.

In any case, you might want to have an answer to this question: Does lettuce go bad? Here is everything you need to know about the shelf life and expiry of lettuce. Get to know how long lettuce lasts, the right way to store it, and how to tell when it’s spoiled.

Does Lettuce Go Bad

What Is Lettuce?

Lettuce is a leafy green plant, often seen raw in salads. Lettuce is also served as an accompaniment to burgers and sandwiches. There exist different types of lettuce which include: romaine lettuce, loose leaf lettuce, Butterhead lettuce, iceberg Lettuce etc.

Types of Lettuces

Based on the lettuce types, the shelf life will change as shown in the table above. Given below are the different types of lettuce:

  • Romaine Lettuce: This type of lettuce can be seen in most caesar salads. They are dark green in colour, with crunchy leaves, large veins, and a bit of bitterness to their taste.
  • Loose-leaf Lettuce: These come from a stem and not from a “head” like other types of lettuce. These are green and red in colour, and these are often used in a spring mix.
  • Butterhead Lettuce: Butterhead lettuce is of two kinds: Boston and bibb. Leaves are round in shape and are the softest out of all lettuces.
  • Iceberg Lettuce: usually used for a wedge salad. They come in ball-shaped, light and faded green, crisp but not so flavorful.

How Long Does Lettuce Last?

Certain lettuce types like head lettuce like iceberg or romaine stay for 1 to 3 weeks. On the other hand, loose-leaf ones such as butterhead or green leaf lettuce have a shelf life of only 7 to 10 days. Make sure your lettuce is well-wrapped in the fridge, however, allow some airflow to get rid of excess moisture. Crisphead lettuce stays longer than leaf lettuce because it has its leaves packed tightly, and the outermost leaves protect the rest.

Type Fridge
Leaf lettuce 7-10 days
Head Lettuce 7-21 days
Lettuce leaves Upto 7 days

How Long Does Lettuce Last

Does Lettuce Go Bad

Tips to Store Lettuce

Given below are certain tips on storing Lettuce:

  • Wrap the lettuce in a damp paper towel and place its head inside a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator.
  • Never wash lettuce before you store it, as the chances of moisture development are very high.
  • Remove any wilted leaf before you wrap it for storage
  • If you’re storing individual lettuce leaves, keep them dry after washing and place them in the fridge

How To Tell If Lettuce Has Gone Bad?

It is always best to discard lettuce when they show any of these signs as given below:

  • Soft leaves or slimy appearance: If the lettuce is soft and slimy, and the leaves are darker than usual, discard it.
  • Off smell: If the lettuce smells off, never give it a second thought. Just throw it away.
  • Change in colour: if you spot any black edges, discoloured spots etc you can either cut those areas or throw the veggie away.

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How To Pick Fresh Lettuce?

For your lettuce to stay fresh longer, it’s important that you choose and buy the right lettuce. Given below are some tips for the same:

  • The stem or head of each lettuce should be fresh
  • The lettuce should contain the required water content
  • Pick healthy firm looking lettuce
  • Avoid the lettuces that are placed next to fruits containing ripening gas called ethylene.

Can You Freeze Lettuce?

It is usually not good to freeze lettuce since it will be soggy. However, if you won’t be using your lettuce within a week or so and want to store it longer and are planning to cook the lettuce instead of using it to make a salad, freezing the lettuce is a good option.

Does Lettuce Need To Be Refrigerated?

It’s not necessary to refrigerate lettuce, but lettuce loses quality much quicker on the counter than it does in the fridge. Lettuce that stays in 2-4 days at room temperature will last for between 7 and 21 days, depending on the type.

You might be interested in our other article on Can Broccoli Go Bad as well and learn about the shelf life, and spoilage summary of the veggie.

FAQs on Does Lettuce Go Bad?

1. What is the shelf life of head lettuce?

The shelf life of head lettuce is 7 to 21 days.

2. Is it possible to freeze lettuce?

Yes, lettuce can be frozen. If you want to store it longer and are planning to cook the lettuce instead of using it to make a salad, freezing is a good option.

3. How to choose fresh lettuce?

Whenever you pick lettuces make sure that the leaves are fresh. Avoid lettuces that are placed near fruits that may contain ethylene.

4. What are some of the signs which indicate that the veggie has gone bad?

The off smell, change in colour, softness or slimy appearance etc indicate that the lettuce has gone bad.


Lettuce is a popular veggie for a variety of dishes. It can be stored in different manners depending on what you do with them. However, if you want to keep the lettuce crisp and fresh always make sure to store them after wrapping up the veggie. Keep the various tips regarding storing lettuce so that you can buy the best lettuce in the market. Bookmark our site for articles on Can Asparagus Go Bad and many others all in one place.

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