Grilled Romaine Lettuce is brushed with a salty and savory sauce made with 5 simple ingredients. It is tender yet crisp, full of smoky flavor and will surprise even the biggest sceptics! Serve alongside a grilled protein or on an appetizer tray, and add depth of flavor to any salad.
Table of Contents
Well, I would have agreed with you too, up until the point I made grilled romaine lettuce for the first time. Learning how to grill romaine lettuce is not only ridiculously simple, but the results will knock your socks off!
I genuinely thought of grilled romaine hearts as one of those $15-20 dishes best left to pretentious restaurants.
Well, we’ve all been misled, I’m telling you! These grilled romaine hearts are now actually requested by my friends and family!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s so delicious: When the lettuce is grilled, the natural sugars within it caramelize, and the grill adds extra depths of smoky flavor. The result is something you’d barely even recognize as lettuce. It’s smoky, slightly sweet, savory, and tender but still crunchy!
- With secret sauce: My simple sauce contains a secret ingredient that boosts the flavor to insane levels.
- So easy: Grilled romaine lettuce recipe requires just 5 ingredients and 10 minutes.
- Versatile: This lettuce recipe is super versatile – serve it up as an appetizer, salad, or side dish.
- Crowd pleasing: If there’s any dish that will encourage you and your kids to eat more salad, it’s this grilled romaine!
Ingredients for Grilled Romaine Lettuce
- Romaine lettuce: You can use the whole heads of romaine lettuce or just the hearts. It depends mostly on their size.
- Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil. You can use another high-heat oil like avocado oil.
- Garlic: Fresh grated garlic elevates this dish so much!
- Anchovy paste: The special “secret ingredient”. You can use anchovy paste or minced anchovies. I prefer to use paste that comes in a tube since it lasts forever in the fridge. If you’re not a fan of anchovies, omit it or substitute it for something like steak seasoning, all-purpose seasoning or fresh lemon juice.
- Salt: Just a little to help season the romaine lettuce.
How to Grill Romaine Lettuce
Here is a photo overview how to grill romaine lettuce. Full recipe card is located below. All you have to do is brush lettuce halves with sauce and grill on both sides.
- Slice the romaine: Cut the romaine lettuce in half lengthwise. Discard any broken or brown leaves. You can also remove the top 1-2 inches of the lettuce where the leaves are most likely to wilt. Make sure not to remove the core as it holds all the leaves together, which is important!
- Mix the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the oil, garlic, salt, and anchovy paste.
- Brush the lettuce: Preheat grill to medium-high heat and oil grill grates with oiled paper towel. Then brush both sides of each romaine heart lightly with the sauce.
- Grill the lettuce: Place the romaine wedges on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes or until lightly charred, pressing on it slightly with tongs. Then flip and grill for a further 2-3 minutes. Then transfer to a platter.
- Dress the lettuce: Brush both sides of the grilled romaine hearts once more, this time being liberal, so all the layers soak up the delicious flavor. Then serve warm or cold!
Tips for Best Results
Here are my top tips on how to grill romaine lettuce that will convert even lettuce haters into lettuce lovers.
- Brush lightly before grilling: For the grilling stage, you don’t need too much sauce. Just brush it lightly and try not to get too much of the anchovies on the brush. Also, oversaturating the lettuce with the oil mixture can cause fire flare-ups on your grill.
- Oiling the lettuce: While you don’t want to fully saturate the lettuce before grilling, it’s a good idea to make sure the entire lettuce is brushed with a little oil. This will prevent the leaves from sticking to the grill and protect them from burning too much.
- Don’t overheat the lettuce: If the grill is too hot, then you’ll end up with limp lettuce. Perfect results should be slightly charred grilled romaine hearts with just slightly wilted leaves, especially at the top.
- Don’t touch the lettuce while it grills: That’s how you’ll get clean grill marks. You can even lightly press on the lettuce for more pronounced grill marks.
- Lemon: Add a squeeze of lemon to the sauce for added bright flavor. Especially, if you omit anchovies this is a good add-in.
- Fresh herbs: Add a bit of chopped fresh oregano, rosemary, or thyme. Especially if you choose not to use anchovy paste. In fact, you can whip up a simple herb vinaigrette for this grilled lettuce and it will taste delicious!
- Balsamic and olive oil: You could swap out the olive oil and anchovy sauce for our olive oil bread dip with balsamic vinegar. Bonus: serve the olive oil dip you don’t use with some crusty bread!
- Drizzle with chimichurri sauce.
- For heat: You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce. Alternatively, swap out some of the olive oil for chili oil instead.
- Cheese: This entire recipe is for lettuce, so even if you’re watching your weight, you can feel fairly guilt-free in sprinkling the grilled romaine with a little grated Parmesan cheese. You can also add crumbly cheese like feta cheese or blue cheese on top.
- Prosciutto: This is a version a friend told me about that I have yet to try. You can wrap the lettuce in a bit of prosciutto before grilling, and it will help infuse the grilled lettuce with tons of flavor.
- Sesame oil: Instead of olive oil, try it with toasted sesame oil for extra flavor.
What to Serve with Grilled Romaine Lettuce?
Whether you plan on serving this dish as an appetizer, side dish, or salad, there are several ways to serve it, including:
- As a grilled romaine salad: Sprinkle the grilled lettuce with Parmesan cheese, top with chopped nuts or croutons, and add a little of any creamy salad dressing like healthy ranch or healthy caesar dressing.
- Replace regular lettuce in a salad: Use in place of non grilled lettuce in this lettuce salad recipe or butter lettuce salad for a smoky salad summertime favorite!
- With grilled meat: With grilled chicken breast or carne asada steak as a side dish.
- With seafood: Other grill favorites like grilled salmon and grilled shrimp skewers will pair nicely with it.
- With pasta: Serve alongside pasta dishes and pasta salads like this healthy pasta salad or caprese pasta.
- With burgers: Like these grilled chicken burgers and spinach feta turkey burgers.
How to Store
Store: Grilled romaine lettuce tastes best fresh. However, you can chill any leftovers covered in the refrigerator and enjoy them the next day chilled as a simple side salad.
Make ahead: It is only recommended to make the anchovy marinade in advance – make your paste up to 24 hours in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to grill and use with your romaine.
People grill romaine lettuce because it is delicious! When you grill the lettuce, its natural sugars caramelize and BBQ adds the smoky flavor. Final result is far from a plain boring lettuce, it’s so flavorful!
Romaine lettuce grows with the leaves closed, so you don’t have to wash the inside. However, I recommend giving it a quick rinse on the outside. If you find that your lettuce is particularly dirty, which can sometimes be the case with farmer’s market or garden produce, then wash it after slicing in half but then dry it thoroughly. Don’t try to grill the damp lettuce because it will go limp.
It sure is. Romaine lettuce, in general, is packed with vitamins and minerals. While the cooking process eliminates some of the nutrient value, the cooking time is so low and doesn’t reach the center of the romaine heart sections that it still packs in a healthy nutrition punch.
If you have a grill pan, heat the stove to medium-high heat and lightly oil the pan, then grill lettuce for several minutes per side until there are slight grill-pan marks and the leaves are just slightly wilted.
Most of the time you can buy “romaine hearts” from the store. However, if you’ve bought whole romaine heads and aren’t sure what the “heart” is, don’t fear. If you remove the outer leaves of the lettuce, you’ll notice the leaves begin to lighten in color and become more tightly packed together. This is the “romaine heart”.
More Yummy Grilled Recipes to Try
Browse all my favorite healthy grill recipes!
Grilled Romaine Lettuce
- Cut romaine lettuce in half lengthwise.
- In a small bowl, add olive oil, anchovy paste, garlic and salt; stir with brush to combine. Brush each side of romaine heart lightly (just for grilling, so try not to get much anchovies on the brush) and place on a platter.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat (500 degrees F) and brush with oil. Place romaine hearts on a grill and grill for 2-3 minutes or until charred a bit, pressing onto it with tongs. Flip, grill for another 2-3 minutes and transfer onto the same platter.
- Brush each side, especially the cut side with lots of layers to soak up the sauce, with magic sauce and serve warm or cold. Grilled romaine lettuce basically replaces salad and helps you eat more vegetables.
- Use full heads of romaine or the hearts. Really depends on a size.
- Skip anchovy paste if not a fan or use minced anchovies.
- Can be made on a stovetop grill pan.