Wilted Lettuce

June 3rd, 2009

As soon as people discover I have fresh lettuce in my garden, they start talkin’ wilted lettuce.

Oh! You have to try some wilted lettuce they say…

My grandmother always made wilted lettuce…

We ate wilted lettuce when I was a kid…

Have you made any wilted lettuce yet?..

I had never even heard of wilted lettuce, but I managed to wangle the recipe out of my pastor to whom I recently gave a bag of my fresh garden greens.

But I must warn you…

This recipe is not an easy one…

Because first…






You have to plant a garden…






You’ll need some bacon… and some lettuce… and oh for crying out loud!… just look at the photo!






Fry the bacon…

Does anyone else feel like I am overstating the obvious here?






Host a celebrity milk-off…






While hosting a celebrity milk-off, your bacon will mysteriously disappear.








Fry some more bacon.








I certainly hope you had the foresight to soak your lettuce a bit and then gather it into a pillowcase.







Get a young’un to swing the heck out of that pillow case.







‘Tis penance for the stolen bacon.





Take a tablespoon of bacon grease out of the pan.

I’m starting to wonder if I should write a bacon grease cookbook.






Add the bacon grease to a small mixing bowl along with a tablespoon of vinegar…






And a teaspoon of brown sugar.

And yes, that is a tablespoon of brown sugar in the photo, but that is only because I couldn’t be bothered to find a teaspoon. After the celebrity milk-off, I was far too weak and shaky to hunt for a teaspoon in my kitchen, but a tablespoon really is more sugar than you need. If you use a tablespoon, like I did, you will have to add more vinegar and that will result in adding more bacon grease and before you know it you will have filled every jar in your kitchen with this concoction in an attempt to try and find the right mix, and I really don’t want that to happen to you.








I also added a little salt.

Do I seriously need to post a photo of the adding of the salt?

Surely you can picture it in your mind!

When you get the mix adjusted to what you think tastes good, pour it right on top of your lettuce and mix well.







I also added some sweet olive tomatoes…






And whatever few scraps of bacon that I managed to protect from my kids.







Next, because you are a total weirdo, take your salad for a tour of your yard.

Then hurry back inside because the wind is blowing your salad all over the place.







Eat your first bite ever of wilted greens.


I gotta tell you this whole bacon grease thing is a pretty good idea.

I think I might get to work on that cookbook.




Right after I finish the celebrity milk off.


  • M.R.:

    Ah yes! Since I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years now, I don’t fix wilted lettuce salads. But I have wonderful memories from summertime growing up.

    And … I am awaiting the results of the celebrity milk off.

  • Wilted spinach is good also. Do you have that in your garden? Yes, write a cookbook on bacon grease!! hahahaha

  • The celebrity milk-off is cracking me up… thanks!

  • Michelle:

    We all want to know which milk won? And why do they call it wilted lettuce? Is the bacon grease hot? Questions, questions.

  • Kathleen H Bloomington IN:

    My mama made a mean wilted lettuce. I grew up on it. We always put sliced red onion in ours. yum! Seven and a half tickets??? That doesn’t add up???

  • I’m going to call you butter because you’re on a roll with this food blogging business.

    As a child, I ate this almost every day this time of the year. I can eat more wilted lettuce than any person I know. We always worked some green onions into our wilted lettuce though.

    Sadly, I never prepare this. For some reason, my wife who is a Nebraskan didn’t grow up eating this, so she doesn’t have a fondness for it. I don’t much like cooking something just for myself. With my daughter now in the picture, I might put it back on the table.

    keep that skillet good and greasy,

  • My Mom used to make it all the time, too. But never used brown sugar, I bet that is good. She used to mix in the iron skillet and boil the vinegar so it was good and hot when you poured it over the lettuce. We added green onions to ours. She always served it with a slice of ham and mashed potatoes! Makes a great dinner but a little heavy on the salt for some folks.

  • My Mom may have made that. Sounds familiar.

    I have a bacon eater at my house too.

    You turn around and it’s gone …

  • I love wilted lettuce. We eat it often all summer long. I will also use fresh spinach in place of lettuce.
    All this talk of wilted lettuce makes me hungry. I must leave work early so I can finish planting my garden. Yes I realize it June 3rd and I haven’t planted my lettuce yet. Many things have prevented me from doing so yet. But now I must.

  • Sandy:

    I LOVE wilted lettuce. I thought they only did that in the South. We make it a lot in Alabama!! Yours looks darn good! I am salivating!

  • I’ve never seen this with lettuce! Is that because I’m a West Coast girl? We always do it with spinach – and yes, I adore it. We don’t put tomatoes in it much, tho – more like shaved parmesan, maybe some crispy fried onion rings on top… Yummy! I think I know what’s coming for lunch today!

  • Nancy:

    Definitely fresh spinach and pour the boiling hot mixture of bacon grease, sugar, salt and pepper, vinegar and water over the spinach to slightly wilt it. If you pour it over leaf lettuce, it REALLY wilts. Spinach has a much better texture – AND, we add chopped green onion and shopped radishes.

  • I’ve only ever seen that done with spinach which is heavenly. My favorite salad ever was a wilted spinach salad with hunks of fried chicken tenders, tomatoes, red onions and the hot bacon grease dressing.

  • Oooo bacon. I’m sold!

  • I’d add to the “we’ve always made this with spinach” camp. And the kind my grandma made was always much more wilted than yours looks…I think she may have cooked the “dressing” in the skillet, added the spinach, tossed it around for a minute to really wilt it, and then served it. Yum-me. If and when I ever get some spinach planted and grown I think I’ll have to make this again…

  • That’s IT!!!! That is the recipe I remember Grandma S making when I was little. I remembered lettuce and bacon and Yummy! but not much else. THANK YOU!

    (psst….. off to pilfer lettuce from my neighbors garden. I planted tomatoes, beans, squash, herbs…..but no lettuce…..)

  • My bacon usually disappears too.
    And thanks for the visual of you sitting outside with lettuce flying away in the wind!
    Try mixing sugar and vinegar and then milk then pouring it over your lettuce with some chopped or sliced hard boiled eggs…mmmm!

  • Andrea:

    I always said Bacon Goes With EVERYTHING!!


  • Neena:

    I think you have done your part by planting the garden and providing the lettuce. The people who take lettuce from you should be willing to prepare a nice batch of wilted lettuce for you to come eat at their house!! Or they could make it and bring it to you. You provided the basic ingredient right out of your garden!!

  • Lettuce be frank. (HA!)

    Will you think I’m an idiot if I tell you that I always though wilted lettuce (or spinach) was lettuce that was old, but not yet too bad to eat?! Like, “oh we can have a salad tonight, but the lettuce is a little wilted…” ?! Yes, you will think I’m an idiot? Then, I won’t tell you that’s what I always thought!

    Your delicious-looking dish looks to me like a salad w/ a warm bacon vinaigrette. That’s what I would call it.

    Can’t wait to hear about the celebrity milk-off!

    • I am pretty sure I thought along the exact same lines Shelley. I never understood what people meant when they mentioned wilted lettuce, but I was sure it was not very appetizing.

  • Janet:

    You are so crazy, I love it, the celebrity milk off, I love that your
    kids are just as crazy, how fun is that. My sister is also crazy and
    funny and her children just look at her like she is nuts, I am laughing
    my head off and they are totally disgusted and embarrassed.

  • DirtyKSmama:

    I’ve lived in Seattle and vicinity 2/3 of my life (the rest in good old KS) and this is the first I’ve heard of wilted lettuce. May have seen something similar with spinach.
    If you told me “wilted lettuce” with hot bacon dressing on it, I would think “Bleh! Gooey glop!”
    But with such snappy instructions as above (“just look at photo” “Fry bacon..overstating the obvious”) and pretty pillowcase photos, I’m now intrigued.

  • Fran:

    Were these lovely photos taken with a new camera by any chance??? I look forward to your bacon grease cookbook. My mom always kept a can of bacon grease under our kitchen sink. It was gross, but sure did make food taste good. Now, my doctor makes me feel extremely guilty anytime I consume bacon or its grease – but I do it on occasion despite the guilt. By the way, how did that milk off turn out?

  • Bacon, grease and tomatoes….what’s missing? Plant a garden! Man, I knew I forgot something. No wonder my salad wasn’t as good.

  • Where I grew up in Kentucky, the lettuce and green onions were put into a large metal bowl, the bacon was crumbled a little bit and then the entire pan of bacon grease was poured over the lettuce. Everyone in my family loved it, but till this day I cannot remember trying it. I could never get over that amount of grease. Ick.

    I’d rather use that bacon and lettuce for a BLT.

  • Mrs. I.:

    Lettuce in a pillow case? Does this take the place of a salad spinner? I have NEVER seen anyone put lettuce in a pillow case!

  • Lois:

    Learned to make this from my wunnerful MIL years ago. Her method was a bit simpler. No milk. Drain the iron skillet of all but the grease you intend to use. Add vinegar and sugar to taste and let it simmer a bit. Remove the skillet from heat, toss the lettuce or spinach in the skillet, then put the lid on for a few seconds. Makes for a loverly pan of wilted greens. Serve with crumbled bacon and a few green onions. Ahhhhh….

  • LOL. Lettuce in a pillow case. Okay, anything with bacon and tomatoes is always good. I use bok choy in this case. MMMMmm… Or even spinach. It’s all good. :)

  • We were just talking about my Grandma Nanny’s wilted lettuce salad the other day! mmm, I remember it being soo delicious! She used leaf lettuces. I’m going to have to make some! thanks!

  • Scott:

    My mother made this all the time growing up in Southwest Missouri. Just lettuce from the garden, green onions chopped, sugar, vinegar, and of course, good old bacon grease. BBQ chicken, garlic bread, baked beans, and a fresh batch of wilted lettuce served at the picnic table in the back yard on a summer evening. How could life get any better?

  • Kait:

    That has to be the funniest recipe I have ever seen online. Quick sign this girl up for a cookbook! It would be useless for cooking but it would make you laugh like hell.
    p.s. my lettuce spinner is make of plastic. Perhaps I should take up the pillow case method and entertain my neighbours on the balcony.

  • Action Squirrel:

    Ha! I confess I hold celebrity milk offs at home way more often than is normal. We buy from a local farm, and I am forever making my husband test sheep vs cow vs fresh vs store bought vs organic vs oh my god make it stop already.

    • I love taste tests! I have no idea why. Maybe it is the chance to judge something.

  • Honey,
    you need to get a salad spinner! I got one a year ago and couldn’t live without it! Mainly because I have no small boys to swing the pillowcase.
    Wilted lettuce salad takes me right back to childhood bbqs at grandma’s in So Cal. mmmm!

    • Excellent idea, but where do I store it? Cupboards are full. There is a shoe box sized space under my bed though.

  • Darlene:

    That was good. Epically penance for the stolen bacon.