Summer is upon us and so are light, refreshing, seasonal salads. Brimming with homemade croutons, creamy goat cheese, crunchy pepita seeds, and crisp radish, our Butter Lettuce Salad is an easy side dish we come back to time and time again. Prep the dressing and croutons at the beginning of the week and enjoy a little bit every day.
Butter Lettuce Salad
Say goodbye to Iceberg and bottle ranch dressing salads of the past and make way for the fresh new Butter Lettuce Salad of the future.
While this Kale and Brussels Salad is found in our household in the fall and winter, Butter Lettuce Salad is our go-to spring to summertime salad we reach for time and time again this time of year. It’s full of, for lack of a better word, buttery Bibb (aka butter) lettuce, creamy goat cheese, pepita seeds, impossibly thin sliced radish, homemade croutons, and our go-to lemon dijon dressing we slather on practically everything.
The combination of the creamy goat cheese (deets on our favorite kind below), crunchy seeds, slightly bitter radish, and irresistibly garlicky, salty homemade croutons is super light and truly a match made in heaven.
Of course, as all salads go, this is totally customizable and we’ll offer up some option at the bottom of the post, but really the variations are endless and pretty much anything goes. This is just what we’re gravitating towards lately.
Ingredients in Butter Lettuce Salad
As we mentioned before, we use our super simple Lemon Dijon dressing. All you’ll need is lemon juice, garlic, dijon, honey, salt, pepper, and olive oil. We make a big batch at the beginning of the week and keep in the fridge to pull our whenever we need it.
Also known as Bibb lettuce, butter lettuce gets its nickname for being very soft and buttery on the palate. You often find it living as a whole head of lettuce, but sometimes you can also find it pre-washed and cut in the packaged salad area.
It’s very delicate so only use it with light dressings and never ever dress it in advance. (If you want a salad you can dress in advance, try our Chickpea Salad that gets better the longer it sits.)
I prefer to buy it on the head so I can make varying sizes of lettuce leaves for the butter lettuce salad.
I have become absolutely obsessed with this brand of goat cheese. You can find it at pretty much any grocery store in the gourmet cheese section, and I highly recommend seeking it out. It doesn’t crumble like most goat cheeses do, it’s just super creamy and when you toss it with the leaves and dressing, it almost melts into the salad.
If you haven’t used these in salads, pick up a container immediately. They’re what you find on the inside of a pumpkin seeds and have a really nice nutty flavor and crunchy texture to them. I love adding them to simple salads or sprinkling them over my yogurt and granola in the morning.
I feel like radishes get a bad reputation when it comes to salads. They can oftentimes be associated with boring or old-fashioned salads, but I love the crunch and bitterness they bring. Plus they’re really pretty.
Even though our Butter Lettuce Salad is admittedly simple, I can’t help but throw in a batch of homemade croutons. We almost always have leftover bread on hand, which means we almost always have homemade croutons.
They’re extremely simple to make, and I’m guessing you already have all the ingredients at home, so why not? The version we’re using today is a scaled back version of our garlic bread croutons. All you’ll need is old (or new) bread, olive oil (which you need for the dressing anyways), butter, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
If you want to us all olive oil to cut back on one ingredient you can do that as well.
Let’s make Butter Lettuce Salad.
Make the croutons. You’ll want to throw the croutons together first so they have time to bake and cool before adding them to salad. If you add them hot, they’re wilt the leaves.
Toss the bread with olive oil and butter. I like to use my hands to make sure every single piece is coated in fat. Next, sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Spread on a baking sheet and cook until golden brown. Make sure to toss them halfway through so they cook evenly.
Make the dressing. Hopefully, you’ve already made the dressing earlier in the week, but if you haven’t, no problem. Simply whip it up while the croutons do their thing in the oven.
Add all the ingredients except the olive oil to a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Done!
You can also add all the ingredients to a jar, put the lid on (tightly!) and shake until the dressing is combined.
Assemble! Tear the butter lettuce leaves. I like tear them in varying pieces, but whatever your preference is works great. Add the lettuce to a large bowl. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the dressing on to the leaves. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Add half the goat cheese, pepitas, croutons, and radish. Toss again.
The reason I like to do this is to gently dress and season the leaves before you assemble. Because butter lettuce is so delicate it wilts easily so I like to lightly dress the leaves and add about half of the ingredients, then layer everything by hand later. This. also helps the toppings from falling down to the bottom of the salad.
Place about half of the lettuce on a large serving platter. Drizzle with a little bit more dressing. Evenly disperse the croutons, seeds, radish, and goat cheese on top and around. Top with the rest of the salad and then lay the rest of the toppings on and around the salad.
Can I make this in advance?
Sort of! I highly recommend making the dressing and the croutons in advance. Everything else will have to be assembled right before eating. Luckily, assembly takes about two seconds.
What if I can’t find Butter Lettuce?
No problem. You can also use romaine or any leave green.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Season the leaves! You can’t rely solely on dressing to season the butter lettuce salad. You also need to season to taste with salt and pepper. This will take your salad to the next level.
- Swap out the pepita seeds for pistachios or slivered almonds.
- Use a fresh cheese or Boursin in place of the goat cheese.
- For extra vitamins throw in a few handful of baby spinach (We often do this!).
- If you don’t have lemon juice on hand for the dressing, try using sherry or white wine vinegar.
What do I serve with Butter Lettuce Salad
- I find the buttery texture and flavor of the lettuce pairs really nicely with salmon, so take your pick from our Salmon Cakes, our Blackened Air Fryer Salmon, or our Crispy Salmon with Pesto.
- Whenever I have pasta, I always want something light and fresh with it and this salad is the perfect option. Try pairing it with our Bucatini Carbonara or Shrimp Alfredo.
- Keep it simple and serve with grilled chicken, shrimp, or steak on top.
- 2 cups 1-inch cubed italian bread (or any sturdy white bread)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 5 oz Chavrie Goat Cheese (or any goat cheese), boursin or fresh cheese also work
- 1/3 cup pepita seeds
- 7 radish sliced very thin
- 2 heads butter lettuce torn into pieces
- 1 batch Lemon Dijon Dressing
- sheet pan
- Mixing bowl
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- If you haven't already, slice the bread into 1-inch cubes. Add the olive oil and melted butter to a large bowl. Add the cubed bread. Use your hands to evenly coat the bread with the butter and olive oil. I sometimes need to massage the bread to get the fat into the crevices.
- Sprinkle the soaked bread cubes with the salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Again, use your hands to evenly coat the bread. Spread the croutons on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Toss halfway through cooking. Let cool completely.
- If you haven't already, make the dressing at this time.
- Tear the butter lettuce leaves into the same bowl you tossed the croutons in. Add 1/4 cup of the dressing. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add half of the croutons, seeds, and radish. Dollop small goat cheese pieces on the leaves as well. Gently toss one more time. Transfer half of the salad to a large platter. Drizzle with more dressing if desired. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with a little bit more croutons, radish, pepita seeds, and goat cheese. Cover with remaining salad. Drizzle with more dressing if desired and sprinkle with remaining croutons, pepiita seeds, radish, and goat cheese.
- Serve with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper.