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Wilted Lettuce Salad & Hot Bacon Dressing. A Classic Arkansas Recipe.

A classic recipe handed down to me by my Grandma Mary from Arkansas, you’ll love this Wilted Lettuce Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing. Don’t let the hot dressing scare you – you will not believe how easy it actually is!

wilted lettuce

My Classic Wilted Lettuce Recipe is a family favorite

One dish  I remember eating over and over when I was growing up is Wilted Lettuce Salad. My mom used to make it all the time – I think because it’s a great way to use up the plethora of leaf lettuce we had in the garden when I was growing up.

My mom got the recipe from her mom, my Grandma Moore from Arkansas. I asked my mom about the history of the salad and she just laughed and said it’s an Arkansas thing. It’s the only way they eat leaf lettuce down there, she said.

wilted lettuce salad

So, while I enjoy eating this salad because it’s so nostalgic for me, it’s also just darn good. Just the right mix of healthy and not. Sweet and tangy. Crunchy and salty. I love this salad because it has all the right flavor combinations, in my opinion. It’s also easy. If you’d like to make it too, here’s how.

How to Make a Wilted Lettuce Salad

Making this wilted lettuce salad dressing is so easy. It’s basically lettuce and green onions with bacon! I cut up bacon first and then cook it in a cast iron skillet. The little pieces of bacon cook so quickly and then they’re ready to put directly on the salad. Since we also use the bacon drippings in the salad, there’s no need to worry about getting the bacon grease off them!

Prepare the salad washing well in a salad spinner and then shredding a head of leaf lettuce, or romaine lettuce works very well also. If you have an abundance of spinach in the garden, feel free to shred some of it too, but that is my addition, not the typical wilted lettuce.Thinly slice 2-3 green onions, and add them to the bowl. I go ahead and salt and pepper my salad as well. Then I’m ready for the hot dressing.

hot bacon salad wilted lettuce

The hot dressing in a wilted lettuce salad is just bacon drippings and apple cider vinegar. You’ll want to heat the bacon grease to just smoking and then pour it over the prepared salad. Next, pour the apple cider vinegar in the same pan you cooked the bacon in, heat it sizzling as well, then pour it over the salad.

Toss everything together in a large bowl – give it a quick taste test – add a bit more vinegar or salt if you want, and you’re done!

A note about the bacon and bacon grease. The recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of bacon grease, but I really just eyeball it. I have found that cooking 4 ounces of bacon yields about 4 tablespoons of grease, but you might want to measure it out the first time you make this salad.

cooking bacon in cast iron

If you decide to measure the grease, I recommend taking out the crumbled bacon pieces, then measuring the grease, then heating the grease back up. After you have a feel for how much grease you get in the pan, you can skip this step and just pour the bacon and grease directly on the salad without measuring.

Wilted Lettuce Salad with Bacon Dressing

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Yield: 8 servings

Wilted Lettuce Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing. A Classic Arkansas Recipe.

wilted lettuce recipe

A classic Arkansas recipe - Wilted Lettuce Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing. You can prepare everything ahead of time and then add the dressing when you're ready to eat. Delicious!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • One head lettuce, about 8-10 cups, washed and shredded
  • 3-4 green onions with whites. Thinly sliced.
  • 4 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons hot bacon grease
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh pepper


  1. Cut bacon into small pieces called lardon and cook well over medium high head
  2. Wash lettuce well and spin to dry. Then, cut it into strips, or simply tear it.
  3. Place it in a large bowl and add the sliced green onions.
  4. Crumble the bacon and add it to the salad.
  5. Pour the hot bacon grease over the salad. Put vinegar in the same pan to heat, and then pour it over the salad. Toss salad well.


Visualize that sizzling plate of fajitas you get at a Mexican restaurant and that's what making this salad is like. The hot dressing coats the lettuce and wilts it. The salad is served warm.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 142Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 402mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 6g

Nutritional data is not always correct.

Did you make this recipe?

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Carla Kelly

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Well, we're from Ohio and wilted lettuce was a beloved staple in our family too. We made it a bit differently. Mom wasn't a gardener, so she would shave down iceberg lettuce as thin as she could into a bowl and salt it lightly and stir; this would make the lettuce weep out some lettuce juice. Meantime, she was heating (roughly) equal parts of bacon grease, cider vinegar and water and a touch of sugar, until hot, which she poured over the lettuce and stirred up to combine with the lettuce juice. It was served immediately. It went especially well with beans, mac and cheese and other heavy dishes because the vinegar helped with digestion. Any way you make it, wilted lettuce is a real winner and I hope others will see your listing and try it!!

Sue Harmon

Thursday 30th of May 2019

My husband's family is from Tennessee and this was a staple there, even in restaurants. Took alll the grown kids "home" to visit and went to a local diner for ice cream. Someone decided to try the wilted salad they saw on the menu and soon everyone at the table was ordering that instead of ice cream! Can't wait to try your recipe.

Stacy from Missouri

Sunday 12th of May 2019

Our family loves us some wilted lettuce, actually making this today for mothers day. It is actually one of my oldest sons favorite things and I am going to show my New Daughter in law how to make today so he can have it more often...Thanks for the recipe.

James Bonzon

Wednesday 27th of March 2019

My German aunt from St. Louis used to make this all the time. Sometimes she also made canned blue lake whole green beans with the same mixture. She would let the beans steep in the onion, drippings, and vinegar with a hint of sugar, overnight. The texture of the beans would wrinkle a bit and be delicious when heated the next day.

What makes the lettuce wilt? How long does it take to wilt?


Wednesday 27th of March 2019

The heated grease or oil makes the lettuce wilt and it wilts right away when you pour it over the lettuce! I love German salads. They are the best! :-)

Venton Chaney

Sunday 27th of January 2019

My Grandmother from Pa. use to make the same thing. I grew up eating this all the time. We happened to be talking at work about foods we grew up eating, and wilted lettuce came up. I haven’t had any since the early 90’s and didn’t know how to make it. I am so glad I found this. Thanks so much!!


Sunday 27th of January 2019

Glad you found it! Enjoy. :-)

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