If you’ve never grilled lettuce before, you are about to have your world flipped upside down! This grilled romaine with balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese is a favorite side dish recipe during the grilling season. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar create the salad dressing drizzled over the top take these grilled hearts of romaine to a whole new level, then topped with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese!
Why I Love This Recipe
I tend to use my amazing grill almost every night for dinner in the summer. And, now that we are living in Arizona, I try to make our whole dinner on the grill to keep the house from heating up more than it does when it is 115 degrees outside!! Don’t even get me started about when it gets hotter than that…
Because my family loves hamburgers so much, I grill them about once a week, along with our favorite grilled chicken marinade, grilled pork loin chops, and a grilled protein skewer. I never struggle to come up with great proteins on the grill, but side dishes are a different story altogether. And then I discovered grilled romaine lettuce!
While you may have never considered grilling romaine lettuce before, I need you to trust me on this one. A short few minutes on a hot grill transforms a relatively bland green into something with a depth of flavor that you will want to make over and over again.
What is Grilled Romaine
Grilled romaine lettuce is a simple recipe that uses a heart of romaine that is cut in half length-wise, allowing the stem to hold both halves together. The romaine is brushed with olive oil and seasoning before a quick trip to a very hot grill. The grill slightly wilts the outside of the lettuce and provides a beautiful amount of smokiness to the lettuce. Once the romaine has been quickly grilled on both sides, it is removed from the grill, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, then sprinkled with fresh Parmesan cheese.
Grilled Romaine Ingredients
Of course, you can customize this recipe to suit your tastes, but these are the basic ingredients used in grilled romaine hearts. I’ve also included a few recipe variation suggestions that you can try out as well.
- Romaine lettuce hearts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh garlic
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Balsamic vinegar
- Fresh parmesan cheese
How to Make Grilled Romaine Lettuce
The key to grilling romaine hearts is to be sure your grill is hot to start so they can caramelize quickly instead of a slow cook where they would get mushy. Keep the lid open to keep the sear and char intense on the outside without overcooking the inside of the lettuce.
- Preheat the grill so it is very hot. The correct grill temperature is vital so you get a quick, hot char on the lettuce instead of steamed lettuce from too low of a temperature.
- Cut the lettuce in half lengthwise so the core holds the leaves onto both sides of the head.
- Brush with olive oil on both the cut side and the outside of each half.
- Season the lettuce with kosher salt and pepper.
- Grill for one to two minutes on each side until charred and slightly wilted on the outside layer.
- Drizzle the grilled lettuce with quality balsamic vinegar.
- Add fresh Parmesan cheese over the top of the warm lettuce.
What to Serve with Grilled Romaine Lettuce
Honestly, the options are endless! Grilled romaine lettuce is just another side dish salad to serve with your dinner. Wherever you would serve a green salad, use this grilled lettuce recipe instead! Because the recipe does have Italian flavors from the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese, I will recommend pairing the salad with any of the following main dish recipes:
- Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
- Mushroom Chicken with Creamy Spinach Sauce
- Parmesan Chicken Bake
- Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
- Lemon Artichoke Pasta
Lettuce on the Grill FAQs
Yes, grilled romaine is very healthy as either a side dish or main dish. The recipe is a unique way to get more vegetables and greens into your diet. It has about 110 calories per serving with 5 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of protein.
You should grill lettuce because it is a delicious spin on a classic salad. Grilling romaine lettuce gives the leafs a hint of char and smokiness without making them soft and mushy. Lettuce is just another delicious vegetable that gets better on the grill.
Can I substitute iceberg lettuce for the romaine?
Yes, that substitution would work well. Cut the head of iceberg lettuce into 8 wedges. The key is to keep enough of the stem of the head of lettuce so it won’t fall apart on the grill. You can also use some long, sharp skewers in the center of each wedge to hold it all together when you flip the lettuce.
My grilled romaine turned out mushy. What did I do wrong?
Yes, something definitely went wrong. There is a difference between slightly wilted romaine lettuce and mushy lettuce! It sounds like your lettuce steamed because you used too low of a temperature on your grill. Turn it up higher and you should be great!
My grilled lettuce burned! What did I do wrong?
Sounds like you had the opposite problem as the person above you 🙂 Your grill was either too hot, or you left it on the grill for too long. First, I would suggest trying a slightly lower temperature on your grill and seeing how that works. Be sure to watch your time closely and don’t let it cook for too long. If this is still not solving your problem, use the coolest spot on your grill. For most gas grills, that would be the back of the grilling surface.
What Does Grilled Romaine Taste Like?
When romaine hearts are grilled, their natural sugars caramelize on the outside so the lettuce becomes much sweeter. Plus, you get that delicious smokiness from the open flame of your grill. The outside of the lettuce softens and wilts just a bit, but the inside is still firm and cool.
What Is The Difference Between Romaine Lettuce And Romaine Hearts?
They both come from the same head of lettuce. Romaine hearts are simply the center of a head of romaine lettuce. The hearts are lighter in color, sweeter, and more tender than the outer leaves of a head of romaine lettuce. They are also sturdier which makes them perfect for grilling.
Grilled Romaine Recipe Variations
Being a home cook provides endless opportunities to experiment with recipes, personalizing them to your tastes and creativity. Any of the following variations would be great spin-offs of this grilled romaine lettuce recipe.
- Create a main dish salad by chopping up the finished lettuce before adding the balsamic and Parmesan, then add any form of grilled protein, or leftover protein, you have on hand.
- Add grilled vegetables to your salad. Grilled asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, or squash would all be great additions. Once both the lettuce and veggies are finished grilling, chop them up into bite-sized pieces, add the quality balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese, and enjoy!
- Take a Mediterranean direction. After the lettuce comes off the grill, drizzle with quality red wine vinegar, and add chopped Kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes, red onions, and feta cheese.
- Add blue cheese and bacon to the salad for a whole different flavor profile in the grilled romaine.
- Serve with Casear salad dressing instead of adding the balsamic vinegar after grilling the lettuce. Add a few croutons, along with the fresh parmesan cheese, and you’ll have a delicious salad.
Grilled Romaine Video
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Grilled Romaine Lettuce
A super easy grilled side dish recipe that will make you a lover of grilled lettuce forever!
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
2 hearts of romaine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Heat grill to medium high heat.
- Slice romaine in half lengthwise, keeping the stem intact. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.
- Grill cut side down for 3-4 minutes until charred well. Flip and grill another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Drizzle cut sides with vinegar and parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 3 minutes
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Grilled
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1 half head
- Calories: 109
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 538 mg
- Fat: 9 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 7 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 5 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Cholesterol: 5 mg
Keywords: grilled side dish recipe, low carb side dish recipe, grilled romaine
This recipe scared me at first but I really like it a lot! Thank you so much. I think next time I will grill them just a bit longer because I want the core to soften a bit.
It is definitely a bit “unique” to place something you have only ever eaten fresh on the grill! Nice job being brave 🙂
bob linke says
how long would you oven-broil the romaine to get the same result???
Hey Bob! You will need to have the romaine just an inch or two away from the broiler, otherwise it will just bake. The time should be about the same. Keep an eye on it and look for that blackening on the surfaces.
Wow!I loved the flavor the grilling added to the lettuce. I want to try serving it chopped up after I grill it and then dress it with the vinegar and cheese.
Thank Shelly! I’ve thought about doing the same thing, specifically to make it easier for my kiddos to eat. That, and setting a half head of romaine in front of them always gets weird looks since it is salad in a form they aren’t used to 🙂
I made this for the salad course for a dinner party that was I grilled everything from the appetizer to dessert. Everyone loved your recipe!! The char is fabulous on the romaine lettuce!!
I’m so glad you all loved it Patty!
Found this recipe last year. Thought it was unusual to grill a salad. It’s our go to recipe now. Made it many times. Air fried it this time. Turned out perfect.
Carole Jones says
Thanks Randy! I will try that soon
So easy. I did it in my air fryer. I like it. My man doesn’t like cooked lettuce. I believe it was cooked just right.