A burger with various toppings and condiments on a fluffy bun is a delicious. The only downside: Those burger buns are full of extra calories and carbs. So what to do when you’re craving a juicy burger but don’t want to the extra carbs? Just swap the bun for lettuce leaves! A lettuce-wrapped burger is a lighter alternative to the classic sandwich that’s lower in calories and more filling. Plus, it packs an added crunch — especially when you use the right lettuce. Keep reading to learn about the health perks of using lettuce as a burger wrap along with a trick for making the leafy green extra flavorful!
Why you should wrap a burger in lettuce
Store-bought burger buns are loaded with additives and preservatives, making them less than healthy. On the other hand, lettuce leaves are brimming with nutrients that are beneficial when creating a healthier sandwich. Here, Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements, describes three key benefits of substituting bread for lettuce leaves as you’re assembling a burger.
1. It lowers calorie intake
According to Best, preparing a lettuce-wrapped burger instead of a traditional one can help you stick to your weight loss goals. “By substituting the bun with lettuce leaves, you significantly reduce refined carbohydrates and calories, which can aid weight loss efforts,” she says. This is even true for fast food burgers: A single lettuce-wrapped burger from Elevation Burger contains 180 calories, 0 grams of carbohydrates and 12 grams of total fat. Meanwhile, a single cheeseburger from Shake Shack has 440 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 24 grams of total fat.
2. It helps you feel fuller longer
Lettuce is notorious for being low in calories and full of nutrients like vitamins C and fiber. In fact, an entire head of green lettuce has just 54 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 33 grams of vitamin C. What’s more, green lettuce contains about 342 grams of water per head. “Its high water content can enhance satiety, promoting a feeling of fullness and potentially reducing overall calorie intake,” Best notes.
3. It helps prevent blood sugar spikes
Consuming lettuce is a better choice than a bread bun as it’s a low glycemic index food, making it unlikely to trigger blood sugar spikes. “Removing the refined carbohydrates from the bun helps stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing cravings and the likelihood of overeating,” Best says. This is not only good news if you’re looking to eat cleaner, but also if you need a diabetic-friendly alternative to a standard burger. And it’s a super popular option for those looking to cut carbs on a keto diet. (Click through to read how one woman lost 224 lbs using a burger to stop from being hungry on keto.)
Overall, these are a few reasons Best calls this dish is “a health-conscious choice for those seeking a wholesome and flavorful burger option.”
The best type of lettuce for bunless burgers
Among the numerous lettuce varieties, loose leaf lettuce is the best option for wrapping burgers. These are greens that don’t form a compact head like you see with iceberg, so they’re easier to use as wraps. The reason? Loose leaf lettuce is sturdy yet flexible enough to hold one or two burger patties while still maintaining its crunchy texture. It also has a mild and sweet taste that will complement the bold flavors of the burger plus any toppings and condiments you like.
Common types of loose leaf lettuce include romaine, Boston and butterhead. Our favorite loose leaf lettuce to use for healthy burgers is Revol Greens’ Butter Leaf Lettuce (Find near you at RevolGreens.com). These lettuce leaves are buttery and tender, perfect texture and flavor qualities for wrapping burgers.
Trick for making the tastiest lettuce-wrapped burgers
If you’d rather use heartier loose leaf lettuce like romaine, Rosie Elliot, owner of Kitchen Appliance Answer, suggests lightly charring the leaves beforehand. “Grill the leaves for a minute to soften them up before assembling your burger,” she suggests. Quickly grilling romaine at medium-heat gives the leaves a smoky taste and makes them extra pliable for wrapping around burgers.
This shouldn’t take longer than a minute, so watch the individual leaves as they’re grilling to avoid wilting. Afterwards, let the leaves rest uncovered for about 10 minutes or until they’re cool to the touch before building the burger. (Click through for more tips on grilling romaine lettuce so it doesn’t stick to the grates or burn.)
How to make lettuce-wrapped burgers
This lettuce-wrapped burger recipe shared by Elliot infuses the patties with a nice kick thanks to garlic powder and onion powder. But you can add other seasonings like a pinch of chili flakes or a few drops of Worcestershire sauce for a spicy or extra savory kick. Ultimately, a lettuce-wrapped patty is an excellent guilt-free way to satisfy your bt cravings!
- 1 lb. ground beef (80/20) or turkey
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- A generous pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 large head loose leaf lettuce such as Revol Greens Butter Leaf
- 4 slices cheese (your favorite variety)
- Toppings and condiments like sliced avocado, tomato, mayo and onion
- Active: 12 mins
- Total time: 17 mins
- Yield: 4 servings
- Heat grill to medium-heat.
- Mix ground meat, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Shape into 4 even-sized patties.
- Place patties on grill. Cook on one side about 3 minutes, flip and grill another 4 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 130 to 135°F for medium-rare meat. (Click through to read our story on how to grill burgers for more cook times based on your desired level of doneness.)
- During last 2 minutes of cooking, place cheese on burgers and melt before removing from grill. Once fully cooked, transfer burgers rest on wire rack over plate, cover with foil and rest 5 minutes.
- Serve each burger with topping and condiments between lettuce leaves (about 1 to 2 leaves per side of bun). Enjoy!
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This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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