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Wilted Lettuce Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing

Thanks for sharing!

This classic recipe for wilted lettuce with bacon is the perfect way to eat leaf lettuce from the garden. The warm bacon dressing is a little sweet, tangy and savory all at once. It’s the perfect mix.

small plate piled high with wilted lettuce salad with big chunks of bacon and hard boiled egg mixed in.

Have you ever had a Southern wilted lettuce salad? It was always one of my favorite salads growing up, but I got out of the habit of making them.

When MiMi gave me a bunch of fresh leaf lettuce from the garden I knew I had to dig out the recipe and bring it back. It has always been a favorite of mine and I could easily make a meal of it.

There is just something about the slightly sweet and really simple salad that draws me in. Of course the bacon doesn’t hurt!

It always feels a little strange pouring the hot dressing over the salad. Wilting leaves is usually the enemy of salads, not the intent, but whoever came up with this one knew what they were doing!

leaf lettuce in salad spinner.

I can’t help but wonder if the first version of this salad was a mistake though. A hurried cook realized they ran out of oil and used hot bacon grease perhaps?

Then after a bite they were hooked?! Who knows? No matter the origin, it’s a tasty creation.

My husband was quite pleased with it as well. He isn’t a huge salad fan and normally only eats them loaded with toppings.

But this classic wilted lettuce salad recipe won him over in spite himself. Every time I make it, he is surprised how much he likes it.

I think most recipes have you include the onions raw. I am not a huge fan of raw onions, so I like to cook them until they are just translucent in the bacon grease and just stir them in as part of the dressing. It takes the edge off of them and makes them more enjoyable for me.


You could also use green onions instead of white onions. That would give you an mild onion flavor without having to cook or soak them

Luckily I just got a bunch more fresh lettuce from our CSA box, so there is more wilted lettuce in our future. That is the beauty of this time of year, there is plenty of delicious fresh produce.

Bowl of lettuce topped with hard boiled eggs and warm bacon dressing ready to be tossed.

Did you come here looking for ways to revive wilted lettuce?

Obviously you see by now, this recipe uses a hot bacon dressing to slightly wilt greens. The result is delicious.

The wilting action is part of what earned this salad nicknames such as killed lettuce or kilt lettuce salad. The hot bacon kills the crisp crunch of fresh lettuce.

You can use that same dressing on slightly wilted greens if you would like. Or, to try to revive wimpy greens, you can try soaking them in ice water for fifteen or twenty minutes.

If your lettuce is slimy, go ahead and toss it. It isn’t worth wasting more ingredients on greens that are already too far gone.

Plate of wilted lettuce salad in front of large bowl of salad.

More great side salad recipes

Some of our other favorite simple side salads using fresh garden produce are caprese quinoa salad and creamy dill cucumber salad. What are your favorite fresh garden sides?

Did you make this great recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

Yield: 8 Servings

Wilted Lettuce Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing

serving of wilted lettuce salad with bacon and hard boiled eggs.

This vintage recipe for wilted lettuce with bacon is the perfect way to eat leaf lettuce from the garden. The warm bacon dressing is a little sweet, tangy and savory all at once. It’s the perfect mix!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 8 cups leaf lettuce
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • Optional: 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 2-3 hard boiled eggs

Instructions

  1. Thoroughly wash and dry lettuce leaves, use your salad spinner if you have one. Then place in a large salad bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove the slices of bacon to cool on a paper towel, but leave the warm bacon grease in the pan.
  3. Thinly slice onion and cook in the bacon fat over low heat until it begins to soften.
  4. Carefully stir in the vinegar, salt and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add ketchup if you’d like (we like it both ways!)
  5. Chop or crumble bacon and dice the hard boiled eggs and place in serving bowl with lettuce Pour warm bacon dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 121Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 344mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 6g

All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see it! Share a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and tag me @carleecooks to let me know how it went!

 This classic recipe for wilted lettuce with bacon is the perfect way to eat leaf lettuce from the garden. The warm bacon dressing is a little sweet, tangy and savory all at once. It’s the perfect mix.

This recipe was originally shared on Cooking With Carlee in 2018.

Thanks for sharing!

Rena Zimmerman

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

We always had this in the summer when we had a garden. The difference is MOM sliced up green onions, radishes, but no sugar. Mom passed away in 1989 and I have never been able to get the bacon grease to vinegar ratio right. But ill sure try this one! We had a pot of pinto beans and cornbread. Everyone had buttermilk except me. Yuck! The lettuce never went to waste because I are all the leftovers. Thank you!

Carlee

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

I hope this helps you get that right ratio. Pinto beans and cornbread sounds perfect with it. I think I'd have to pass on the buttermilk as well, but I don't know if I've ever tried it on its own. I love food memories like this, thank you for sharing.

Henrietta Schaefer

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

We wilt celery cabbage with bacon, vinegar and pepper. NO SUGAR

Rena Zimmerman

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

@Henrietta Schaefer, my mom fried cabbage in bacon grease.

Carlee

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

That sounds delicious too!

Andrea Nine

Friday 11th of June 2021

My mom used to make a wilted lettuce salad with lettuce straight from our garden. Now I want one as it’s been years. Oh gotta have the bacon. So yummy. Have a great weekend.

Carlee

Friday 11th of June 2021

It makes that freshly picked leaf lettuce so good, doesn't it?!

Jan

Sunday 7th of October 2018

YOu seriously know the way to my heart!!! Thanks for sharing on our pork recipe link up!

Carlee

Monday 8th of October 2018

It is definitely a classic for a reason!

Jan

Sunday 5th of August 2018

I can't eat alot of green vegetables, due to digestive issues, but I LOVE this one! I haven't made it in forever! I must do this soon! Thanks for sharing it at our Celebrate 365 Farmers Market Recipe Inspirations

Carlee

Monday 6th of August 2018

It is one of my favorites too! I only think to make it a few times a year, but then I always wonder why I don't do it more!

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