Crisp lettuce is the star of this simple lettuce salad recipe with the easiest lemon dressing and a good sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. You’ll be making this easy salad recipe over and over! It comes together in just 5 minutes.
Wondering what you can make with lots of lettuce? This simple lettuce salad with Parmesan and lemon is a must-try! It takes just 5 minutes and 7 ingredients including the dressing!
Serve it as a side, or use this easy lettuce salad as a bed for some grilled fish, chicken kabobs, or even garlic-parmesan shrimp and shrimp skewers. Heck, for a no-cook meal, you can shred some rotisserie chicken or crumble some tuna on top!
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What is the best lettuce for salad?
For something like this lettuce and Parmesan salad, try to use a crispy lettuce such as Romaine or red leaf lettuce (I used both to give me a little variety and good texture). You can also throw in some frisée lettuce, Belgian endive, or arugula, but be sure to start with Romaine lettuce and fill in with the rest.
When buying your lettuce, look for crisp, bright-colored leaves, and avoid anything that looks dry or wilted. Some spotting or small holes are common, particularly if you're buying organic lettuce that's been grown without the use of sprays.
Ingredients for this lettuce salad recipe
- Lettuce - I used hearts of romaine lettuce and red leaf lettuce. As I mentioned above, any lettuce would work, but I like the varied textures and colors of the romaine and red leaf lettuce.
- Shallots, thinly sliced - For mild sharpness, sweetness, and great crunch. For bolder flavor, use thinly sliced red onions.
- Lemon zest - You’ll need the zest of 2 lemons. Save the juice to season the salad.
- Dressing - Lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil form one of the most basic salad dressings, with bright flavor from the lemon juice and a hint of pepperiness from the olive oil. I used our Spanish Hojiblanca EVOO because it is pungent, fruity, and ever so subtly bitter.
- Parmesan cheese - Some freshly grated Parmesan cheese adds some sharpness and nuttiness to the romaine lettuce salad. If you like tangier, sharper flavor, crumbled feta cheese would work as well.
- Crushed red pepper flakes or Aleppo-style pepper (optional) - Red pepper flakes add subtle heat. For an even milder option, try Aleppo-style pepper, which is more sweet than spicy. Or, simply omit if you don’t like heat!
How to make this lettuce salad
Quick and easy leaf lettuce salad is perfect when you need something tasty but are short on time. Here’s how you make it:
- Prepare the lettuce. Chop 1 to 2 hearts of romaine and 1 bundle of red leaf lettuce, and rinse and drain it very well. I recommend using a salad spinner to get rid of excess moisture. You can also give the lettuce a good shake. Pat dry thoroughly. If you have time, wrap the lettuce in paper towels and refrigerate for a little bit. This helps it crisp up.
- Make the lettuce salad. Grab a large salad bowl and add the lettuce, 2 thinly sliced shallots, and the zest of 2 lemons. Keep the lemons! You need them for the next step.
- Add the salad dressing. Season the salad with kosher salt, black pepper, the juice of 2 lemons, and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Toss to combine.
- Add finishing touches and serve. Sprinkle 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese and some red pepper flakes (optional) and toss again. Serve and enjoy!
Lettuce can start to wilt pretty fast after it’s dressed, so this is the kind of salad I like to serve immediately. I love to pair this with my creamy sausage tortellini soup for an easy soup and salad dinner.
Leftovers will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge, but the lettuce will not look its best and the salad will taste soggy. In my house, this easy salad is devoured within minutes, so no issue with leftover soggy lettuce.
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Lemon Parmesan Lettuce Salad
- 1 to 2 hearts of romaine lettuce
- 1 bundle red leaf lettuce
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes, or Aleppo pepper for a milder taste
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- Chop the lettuce and put it in your salad spinner or a large bowl, rinse and drain very well. Pat the lettuce dry (if you have the time you can wrap the lettuce in paper towels and refrigerate briefly to help it crisp up).
- Add the lettuce, shallots, and lemon zest to a bowl.
- Season with kosher salt, black pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Toss to combine.
- Add the Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes (optional) and toss again. Serve.
- Lettuce options for this salad: Look for crispy lettuce like Romaine and red leaf lettuce. You could also add frisée lettuce, Belgian endive, or arugula but be sure to start with Romaine lettuce and fill in with the rest.
- Enjoy immediately! This is not the kind of salad to make ahead as the lettuce wilts quickly once dressed. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days, but the salad will be soggy and not very appetizing. If you're serving fewer people, you can cut the ingredient list in half.
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I liked this. Bumped up the parm because... Well, why not! I was dismayed to find my Aleppo pepper positively ancient (I put dates on everything) so I subbed gochugaru, and that worked very nicely.
Thanks so much, Jason!
Oh my gosh! It was deep!
SO easy, GO flavorful! We loved it!
I make a similiar dressing this one is quick and easy. People should be aware lemons come in different sizes so of course there might be tooo much lemon to your liking - squeeze less! I shredded a little chicken it was delightful. Another time added some garbanzo beans for protein to make a meal of it! Delish.
This salad is AMAZING. I have made it 3 times now and its so delicious.
Very nice, so light and flavorable yet filling,packing lots of mm-mm-good.
Thanks for sharing
I followed the recipe exactly, but no one in my house could eat it because it was so sour — and we are generally a lemon-loving family. Has anyone else noticed this? Does anyone have a recipe hack? I also suggest dressing each salad individually if you are going to have leftover, as this doesn’ t refrigerate well. We generally love all the recipes from this site, but this was sadly inedible.
Oh, no :(. Thank you for the feedback, Denee. I've never experienced this issue before. I'm wondering if your lemons were going bad.
I’m wondering if when you zested the lemons you got some of the pith (the white part). I’ve done this before and it ruined my dish. Sorry it didn’t turn out.
Only a suggestion but on another receipe of Suzy’s she adds 1tsp of honey into the lemon vinaigrette - maybe try this just to take a bit of the ‘tang’ off.
Could you make the salad dressing on the side?
Sure, Karen. That should work fine!
Wow! This is an amazing salad. I used romaine, spinach, spring mix and arugula! I added tomato and cucumber and red onions ( I needed to use them). This is a great recipe! Thank you!
You are very welcome, Megan. Glad you loveed it!
Delicious! Enjoyed by all. Will be a favorite in our salad rotation.
Thanks so much
So glad you enjoyed it, Chris!
This is delicious. I am wondering how you would adjust the recipe to serve 2? Thanks!
Hi, Michelle. I have found when I cut the ingredients in half, it serves 2-3 nicely.
Yet another easy tasty recipe from your wonderful site....thank you for sharing
So glad you enjoyed it, Fay!
I have been making salads for 30 years. I’m late 50’s and this will be the salad presented at every potluck, etc. going forward. Suzy is talented!
Wow! That means a lot, Maureen! Thank you!
This is the easiest, most delicious salad I have ever made! Thank you!
Easy and delicious!
Suzy ! The recipe was a hit! And so simple! I’ve done it twice and the second time I added 1 lime and smoked paprika to the dressing and was very tasty! I am a big fan!
Ooo! Thanks for sharing your adaptations, Lucia! I also love to play around with recipes a bit :).
Loved your feedback ! Thank you ! You are a genius combining ingredients !
Thanks so much, Lucia!
For such a simple salad, this was a huge hit with my family! One of my teens said it had "notes of Cesar Salad"... lol. Very bright... very fresh... very crisp!