How Long Does Lettuce Last

By Charlotte King

Lettuce is a popular vegetable that is known for its many health benefits. Lettuce is an excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, and folate. Lettuce is popular because it is low in calories and has a refreshing taste. Lettuce is one of the harder vegetables to store because its shelf life is short. However, there are several techniques that you can try out to make your lettuce last longer.

Lettuce lasts for a different amount of time, depending on how you store it. Lettuce stored on the counter will last the least amount of time. You can increase its life span by storing it in a refrigerator or freezer. There are a few tricks that you can use to make the lettuce last even longer, and we discuss them all below. So, read on!

Why Does Lettuce Spoil So Fast

How Long Does Lettuce Last

One of the primary reasons for your lettuce spoiling quickly is because of how you store it. Lettuce is one of the more temperamental vegetables regarding how much exposure to air and water it needs to retain its freshness.

Because of its high water content, if you store the lettuce in too dry of an environment, the leaves will start to wilt quickly. If you store it in a wet cloth or with wet leaves, the lettuce will begin to decay. Storing the lettuce with high ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables will cause the lettuce leaves to turn brown.

Lettuce, be it romaine or iceberg, needs to be stored with the care that depends on the environment you are living in. In the sections below, we have described how long lettuce lasts stored in different ways and how you can store it best.

How to Buy Lettuce

Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to buy, and a few simple tips will help you buy nice and fresh lettuce every time.

  • Lettuce has a very high percentage of water, which is why it wilts quickly. When buying lettuce, the first thing to remember is to buy only the amount you need and look for lettuce with crisp and fresh-looking leaves.
  • If you buy romaine lettuce, look for lettuce where the leaves are tightly closed. As the lettuce becomes staler, the leaves will open up more.
  • Make sure the stem of the lettuce or any of the leaves are not turning brown when you are buying the lettuce.
  • Lettuce will decompose faster if stored next to ethylene-producing fruits such as apples and bananas. So make sure you never store it next to any such vegetables and fruits.

How Long Will Lettuce Last

Does Lettuce Last

On the Counter

Lettuce is not a vegetable that you can store on the counter. You may have a two or three-hour window where the lettuce will still be edible. After that, the risk of bacteria rapidly multiplying and making the lettuce unsafe for consumption increases drastically, especially if you live in a warm climate.

A safer option to store your lettuce is in the refrigerator. If you have lettuce on your counter, use it within a couple of hours or move it to the fridge to extend its life.

In the Refrigerator

The refrigerator is the best way to store your lettuce to extend its life.

Lettuce Leaves

If you have loose lettuce leaves, they may last up to a week in the refrigerator. Wash the lettuce leaves thoroughly with water and dry them before storage. To dry them, you can spin them in a salad spinner to remove most of the excess water. Let the leaves air dry for some time to get them as dry you can before storing them. To store the leaves, wrap them in some moist paper towels before storing them in a plastic bag.

Iceberg Lettuce

Head lettuce such as iceberg lettuce lasts longer in the refrigerator as its leaves are tightly packed, limiting the exposure of the leaves to the elements. In the case of head lettuce, it also becomes easier to discard some of the outer leaves if they start losing their quality, and you get an almost perfect head of lettuce again. If stored correctly, tightly bound iceberg lettuce will last anywhere from 10 – 20 days, depending on the quality of the produce.

Romaine Lettuce


In the case of romaine lettuce, where the leaves are much more loosely coupled than iceberg lettuce, more of the lettuce is exposed to the elements, which causes it to spoil much quicker. When stored correctly, romaine lettuce lasts only for 7 – 10 days.

In storage, lettuce needs some airflow to dry out the excess water, but not so much that it causes the lettuce to dry out. The best way to store the lettuce in the refrigerator is in a plastic bag where you can control the bag’s opening, similar to a ziplock bag. Place your lettuce in the bag and close it halfway before placing it in the crisper section of your fridge. The crisper is the coldest section of the refrigerator that is designed to keep your vegetables fresh.

Observe your lettuce bag for condensation. The key to keeping the lettuce fresh is condensation on the bag’s inside, but not too much. If you notice too much condensation, open the bag some more and wipe off the moisture using kitchen towels. If your lettuce is looking a little dry, close the bag some more to contain the moisture.

Whichever form you are storing the lettuce in, be it the entire head or as leaves, check on them every day or so to check their quality. If they are starting to degrade, use them in recipes as soon as possible, and if at any point of time you question whether the lettuce is safe for consumption, toss it. Always remember, when in doubt, toss it out!

In the Freezer

Did you know you can even freeze lettuce to preserve it for longer? Frozen lettuce can last for up to 6 months in your freezer. Frozen lettuce works excellent in soups, stews, and other recipes where you need to process somehow or cook the lettuce. However, if you are thinking of using the frozen lettuce in a salad or eating it the same way you would eat fresh lettuce, you will be disappointed.

Lettuce is more than 90 percent water. Because of this, it does not retain its texture very well when frozen and then thawed. That’s why it is better to use your frozen lettuce in a dish you plan to cook it.

The best way to freeze lettuce is to freeze them as leaves. This makes it much easier to use them in your recipes. Separate your head of lettuce into leaves and wash and dry them thoroughly. Add them to freezer bags and load them into the freezer. Another option when freezing lettuce is to puree it before freezing it in icecube trays. This method makes it very easy to use them in soups and stews.

How to Identify if the Lettuce Is Going Bad

Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to identify if they are going bad. Nine times out of ten, your lettuce leaves will turn dark and start to wilt, which is a clear indication that the lettuce is going bad.

If your lettuce has been stored while still wet, it might turn slimy, which indicates that it has gone bad.

If there is a sour vinegar-like smell emanating from your lettuce, the lettuce has gone bad, and it needs to be discarded.


Lettuce is one of the most nutrient-packed and well-loved vegetables around the world. From salads to burgers, they find a place in our meal in some form or the other, and this makes it essential that you know how to buy, use and store this lettuce to reap its full benefits. Hopefully, this quick guide will come in handy the next time you are looking to store your lettuce. Also, check out our guide on how to wash lettuce to consume your lettuce safely.

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