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Simple Butter Lettuce Salad

Composed of tender butter lettuce leaves, briny green olives and salty slivers of aged manchego, our butter lettuce salad is a feast for the eyes and the palate.


Butter lettuce Salad with manchego cheese, green olives and panko bread crumbs on a plater

Simple Butter Lettuce Salad

Crisp, refreshing, a little rich, a little savory, sweet and zippy, this gorgeous butter lettuce salad is all of the things and hits all of the spots. Butter lettuce is one of those underrated, often-overlooked ingredients that feels completely luxurious—it’s called butter lettuce, it even sounds luxurious—and that we highly recommend incorporating into your everyday, or at least your every week.

butter lettuce salad with manchego cheese and panko, chives and green olives

The Perfect Side Salad Recipe for Every Occasion.

This particular salad recipe is actually inspired by a dish served at Pollo Bravo, a restaurant we love here in Portland. In their version, radicchio is star, which we love, too, but is a little too bitter to please all of the palates that we’re usually looking to please (ahem, picky eaters, we’re looking a you). Plus, radicchio is often super expensive and, unless its in season, doesn’t look worth the extra money. Versatile, kid-friendly and widely-available year round—thanks, hydroponics!—butter leaf lettuce is one of our very favorite salad lettuces, so making the swap was a no-brainer. If you happen to have a household full of radicchio hounds, though, feel free to try it that way, too. But anyway, back to that delicious butter lettuce...

head of butter lettuce or bib lettuce or Boston lettuce
leaves of butter lettuce also known as bib lettuce or Boston lettuce in a colander

What is Butter Lettuce?

“Butter lettuce”—or sometimes you’ll see it mentioned by the full name “butterhead lettuce”—is a term that actually encompasses a few varieties of butter lettuce, including Boston lettuce and Bibb lettuce. There isn’t too much variation in terms of flavor, though, so any of these lettuces that you see at the store or in the market will yield just about the same salad. Any of the lettuces in this type of lettuce family will be delicate and (you guessed it) a little sweetly buttery in flavor. That delicate, rich sweetness is why we love it so much for this salad—it makes for a perfect complement to all of the sharp, savory things we toss it with to make a super duper crave-able salad.

Ingredients laid out panko bread crumbs, salad dressing, manchego cheese, salt and green olives

How Do You Make Butter Lettuce Salad?

Here’s the CliffsNotes: take Boston lettuce, wash and dry it and add your favorite dressing. While that will yield a completely fine butter lettuce salad, this one has become our go-to Bibb lettuce salad because it utilizes bold flavors and contrasting textures to elevate a totally-fine salad to an even-our-kids-can’t-stop-eating-it salad. Here’s what give this salad it’s superstar status:

  • Castelvetrano Olives: these tiny green Sicilian olives are so brightly flavored, just salty enough, and (are you tired of this word yet?) buttery, they’re the perfect fit for this salad. They add texture and their vibrant color seems to just enhance the bright green of the lettuce.
  • Panko: these crisp, airy Japanese breadcrumbs (well, technically they’re flakes, but that’s a story for another day) are always, always, always in our pantry. They lend exactly the crunch we’re looking for to just about anything we find ourselves wanting to add crunch to, including this salad. We love that they’re usually unseasoned, too, so they don’t add anything other than a gorgeous crunch.
  • Manchego: this Spanish aged sheep’s milk cheese is creamy and salty, but hard enough to shave on top of this salad for an elegant presentation as well as a super yummy hit of umami.
  • Apple cider vinegar-honey vinaigrette: tangy and sharp, apple cider vinegar and sweet honey are a vinaigrette dream team, complementing and contrasting in ways that will make you dream of all of the other things you might drizzle this dressing on.
  • Chives: fresh herbs in salads are one of those restaurant-y tricks that just makes a salad taste so, so good. They may seem like an afterthought, but the light-as-air oniony flavor of fresh chives really brings a lot to this salad.
Simple Boston Lettuce Salad with Manchebo Cheese, olives and buttery panko bread crumbs on a black plate

What to Serve With This Perfect Salad?

Clean, sharp, crunchy and satisfying, our butter lettuce salad is the perfect foil for a big, rich holiday meal, giving even a Prime Rib an element of virtuousness. It’s also just as lovely as part of a lighter spread—maybe a low-key brunch with friends, starring this salad and a Spring-y Five Onion Tart?

Tools You Will Need.

Simple Boston Lettuce Salad with Manchebo Cheese, olives and buttery panko bread crumbs on a black plate

How'd You Like it?

Whenever you decide to make this salad, and whomever you decide to share it with, we want to hear about it! Snap a photo, and share it on instagram, making sure to tag us @themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can see your successes!

Simple Butter Lettuce Salad

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  10 min
  • Calories: 211


  • 2 heads butter lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup castelvetrano olives, pitted, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 tbsp butter (or olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup chives, minced
  • 2 oz manchego cheese, grated
  • freshly ground pepper

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (unfiltered)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  1. In small bowl whisk together ingredients for the dressing, set aside.
  2. In a small skillet set over medium heat, melt butter and add panko. Stir often until panko is golden brown in color.
  3. Arrange butter lettuce on a large platter, shave manchego over lettuce and add olives, pepper, panko and chives. Drizzle with dressing right before serving and enjoy!

** If you dress this salad too soon, the panko will get soggy. We recommend saving the panko until after it is dressed and sprinkle it on right before serving.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories211
  • Protein3 g
  • Carbohydrates12 g
  • Total Fat19 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol39 mg
  • sodium268 mg
  • Total Sugars6 g

Simple Butter Lettuce Salad

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Melba

    Your recipe says 2oz grated cheese. How the instructions say to micro plane it on top. Which is it? Can’t measure it if it’s directed shaved on top. Thanks! Trying it for Christmas Eve dinner!!

    You will weigh the 2 oz block of cheese then grate it on top. Hope you enjoy Melba.

  • Ardith

    Wondering what you can substitute for honey. Maple syrup? Fig jam? Sugar.

    We haven't tried substitutions but sugar or agave would probably work well.

  • Sandy Hamil Diamond

    Can I use unfiltered vinegar

    Yes! That's actually what we call for in this recipe—perfect!

  • Haley

    The flavors in this salad are delicious. definitely recommend adding dressing second to last and sprinkling panko on right before serving.

    Thanks Haley, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Kristen

    Loved the crispy Panko! It really made the salad.

    Thanks Kristen, so glad you loved it!

  • Karin Little

    This salad was the bomb. So glad I came across it. Simple and olive-forward. The manchego and panko are the perfect foils. Simple dressing easy to make and complements everything perfectly. We made this one 2 nights in a row!

    Thanks Karin, so glad you love this!

  • Tresa

    This salad is so good! The dressing is like the perfect tangy sweet duo and the breadcrumbs add such a nice crunch to the tender lettuce, will definitely make this again and again.

    Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

  • darlene

    Well I enertain with a lot of gourmet friends, they are all fabulous cooks. I let be know that I am over cooking because they all love it.. So when we get together which is often I am always responsible to bring a salad.. So I am always looking to up my game.

    Then I came across your salad..
    All that I can say it Thank You , this salad it fabulous, from the presentation, Such a nice combination of ingredients
    And my friends were so impressed with this one.
    thank you for sharing

    Thank you Darlene! So happy we could help your salad game. Glad to hear everyone enjoyed it!