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Grilled Romaine Lettuce

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Grilled Romaine Lettuce with a Glorious Char

***Editor’s Note ~ Due to the overwhelming amount of traffic this post has provided the site, I decided it needed a face lift.  This was done originally with my old point and shoot camera so I decided to redo the grilled Romaine entirely with my DSLR. So if this looks different to you because you’ve been here before, it’s the same process, but with better pictures***

Sounds nuts right? Grilled Romaine lettuce? Grilled lettuce? Isn’t that just grilled salad?! I thought the same thing, but decided to try it anyway. I was ridiculed soundly by friends and family who thought this was some sort of joke. I took the ribbing while doing the prep, cooking the lettuce and even while plating it. Then I handed out the forks to those around the fire and the only sound was the charred yet crisp lettuce being crunched by suddenly mute mockers.

Romaine lettuce has some natural sugars inside that are not released by slathering it with caesar salad dressing. It is only release when grilling the lettuce. Combine that with something so simple as grated cheese and the resulting combination is as wonderful as it is off the wall with a sweet smokiness and a lovely savory of the cheese. Or make the best Caesar’s salad by you’ve ever had by making grilled salad first.

Grilled Romaine Lettuce Ingredients:

2 heads of Romaine lettuce, the leafy outer leaves removed and sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 cup of fresh grated Romano cheese (any hard grated cheese could be used like Asiago or parmesian)
Course salt and fresh cracked pepper

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Grilled Romaine Lettuce Ingredients

Prep and cooking is even easier than compiling the ingredients. First, remove the outer leafy leaves as they will get wilted before the rest of the lettuce picks up a nice char:

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Remove these leafy outer leafs

With these two heads, I had quite a few leaves I had to pull away:

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Discard these leafs

With the outer leaves removed, the lettuce look like giant hearts of romaine:

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Giant Hearts of Romaine Lettuce

Rinse the heads of lettuce under cold water:

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Now place the Romaine heads on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.  Then cut the heads of Romaine in half lengthwise:

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Now time for the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Always lay the flat side down first when doing this. That way you apply these ingredients on the flat side last and thus it will be facing up and not flat on the cutting board which is where all the oil, garlic, salt and black pepper will wind up and require a second coating. I didn’t get shots of them being applied to the curved side first, so in these pictures I have skipped ahead. First drizzle the olive oil:

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Then dust the halved heads of Romaine with the granulated garlic and sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper:

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Again, apply the oil, garlic, pepper and salt to the curved side first and then repeat for the flat side.

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Ready for Grilling

Now off to the grill which I prepared for direct grilling over very hot coals.  This is a quick process, so don’t go to the bathroom or refill your drink after you start.

Place the half heads of Romaine right over a hot fire flat side down:

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Grilling Lettuce

This only takes a couple of minutes so keep checking the underside. Look for the lettuce to blacken a bit. A nice char is the desired result without having the lettuce wilt too much under the heat:

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Grilled Romaine Lettuce

Notice how I have them not quite flipped over.  With one side being rounded, in order to get an even char all the way around, I have to char them in three phases with the curved side getting a sear on two sides, almost like a triangle.

During the cooking process, some of the leaves you cut through are going to pull away from the head like so:

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Pull these off the Grilled Lettuce and discard

Once all the grilled Romaine lettuce heads are charred evenly they should look similar to this:

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Gloriously Grilled Romaine

You can plate this a couple of ways.  You can remove from the grill, lop off the bottom inch or two (where sediment can build up even if you wash well) and put into a bowl where you add the grated cheese and toss. The other option is to serve the grilled romaine halves individually as I did here, adding the cheese as soon as it leaves the grill:

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Add the Cheese to the Grilled Romaine

On the table and ready to serve:

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Grilled salad my be the perfect side to go with a grilled steak. Once the steak is pulled off to rest, throw the lettuce on. The steak, depending on thickness, should be perfectly rested when your grilled salad is ready to be plated. And if you skipped the cheese and and salt went with a warm bacon vinaigrette, it would be paleo on top of being gluten free!

I get asked all the time if this recipe can be done on a gas grill. It can, but the grill needs to be able to get wicked hot. If your grill used to get that hot but has cooled off as it has aged, don’t junk it just yet. Call the brilliant people at and have them do a little triage. It could simply be a fuel regulator or a burner that needs to be replaced which is a lot cheaper and easier than buying and building a brand new grill.

If you have any questions about the above dish please feel free to comment below or email me.

Grilled Romaine Lettuce
To truly appreciate the unbeknownst sweetness of romaine lettuce, one must grill it. Only with that char, will one every experience a magical side dish.
Cuisine: BBQ
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 heads of Romaine lettuce, the leafy outer leaves removed and sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • ½ cup of fresh grated Romano cheese (any hard grated cheese could be used like Asiago or parmesian)
  • Course salt and fresh cracked pepper
  1. Remove the leafy outer leaves of each head of romaine
  2. Rinse the heads under cold water
  3. Slice down the center lengthwise
  4. Place flat side down and drizzle with olive oil and dust with granulated garlic, salt and black pepper
  5. Flip over and repeat the step above
  6. Prepare the grill for high heat grilling
  7. Place the half heads of romaine flat side down over the coals
  8. Once the flat side has a nice blackened char (about 2-3 minutes depending on the heat of the grill) flip over and sear one side of the curved side
  9. After another 2-3 minutes rotate to char the other half of the curved side of the half head of romaine
  10. Remove any leafs that come loose during the cooking process
  11. Once the flat side and the curved side are charred, remove from the heat, place on a platter and sprinkle the grated cheese on the lettuce
  12. Serve immediately
Do not eat the bottom two inches or so at the base. Romaine lettuce is known to collect dirt and grit at the base. The only reason the base is not cut off is because the lettuce would fall apart like confetti on the grill without the base.

Here’s a nice collage of the process:

Grilled Romaine Collage

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  1. AMAZING Taste! I grilled the romaine, along side of summer squash, zucchini and onion. I also quartered a pear and had that on the grill. When the romaine looked ready, I crumbled goat cheese on top and drizzled balsamic vinegar, and closed the grill cover for a minute. Then, I removed the lettuce from the grill. On top of the cheese went the onions, then the zucchini and the summer squash. Of course on top went slivers of the roasted pear. My husband, friend and I loved this fun and flavorful salad. We will definitely keep on experimenting with grilling lettuce.

  2. Thanks for this simple but awesome recipe, did tonight on a charcoal grill after cooking a meduim rare blue cheese stuffed Ribeye steak aw life is good!


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