Difference between Cabbage and Lettuce

By: | Updated: Jan-16, 2018
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A famous blogger once wrote an article about her husband who was supposed to buy some lettuce at the grocery store but came home with a cabbage head instead. Frustrated and amused at the same time, she ended up going back to the grocery store herself to get the right vegetable! Has that happened to you? If you are just as confused as the husband in the story, this article is for you.

Summary Table

Cabbage Lettuce
Belongs to the genus Brassica Belongs to the genus Lactuca
Has thick, tough leaves Has thin, crispy leaves
Has a pungent taste and odor Odorless; has a sweet or slightly bitter taste
Can be eaten raw, stewed, braised, sauteed, or boiled Usually eaten raw, although some varieties are used in soups
Thrives in cool climates Thrives in warm but shady areas


Cabbages in a basket
Cabbages in a basket

Cabbage is a small-stemmed plant with a leafy head. It can be green, red, or purple. The surface of its juicy leaves is hairless and waxy. It is a member of the genus Brassica and is somewhat related to other cruciferous plants like broccoli and cauliflower.

Growing cabbage is easy in areas where the weather is cool. It can even withstand extremely cold weather. Some kinds of cabbage, however, can be grown in different areas with warm climates as long as the pH level of the soil is not beyond 6.5. This is why some types of cabbage have different colors, texture, and shapes. The following are the most common types of cabbage:

  • Savoy cabbage – has green curly leaves
  • Spring green cabbage – has loose-headed green leaves
  • Green cabbage – can range from faint green to dark green
  • Red cabbage – has smooth red leaves
  • Dutch cabbage – can range from white to faint green

The tough outer leaves of the cabbage head are often discarded, leaving the soft inner leaves that usually form a ball. Cabbage is a versatile vegetable. It is eaten across the globe and can be prepared using various cooking methods. It can be eaten fresh (as a side dish or coleslaw), pickled, stewed, steamed, sauteed, or boiled. It is famous for its powerful odor and taste, which is due to the production of hydrogen sulfide upon its contact with heat.

Cabbage, like other vegetables, is packed with vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, calcium, and folate are abundant in cabbage leaves. Cabbage also has a minimal amount of cholesterol and saturated fat. Because of its nutritional profile, cabbage is used as a herbal supplement by some people. It is available in juice, capsule, tablet, and tincture form.

Different kinds of lettuce
Different kinds of lettuce

Lettuce, scientifically known as Lactuca sativa, is a short-stemmed leafy vegetable that belongs to the genus Lactuca. When cut, its leaves release a white fluid which is actually sap, hence its name Lactuca – a Latin term for “milk.” The crunchy leaves wrap around each other, and they can be rich green or deep red.

Although it is available in a red variety, lettuce is known for having a high chlorophyll content. It thrives in a sandy and shady area with a pH level of 6 to 7. The following are the most common varieties of lettuce:

  • Iceberg or crisphead – has green leaves that are tightly packed in a ball
  • Romaine – has medium green leaves that are sweet and crunchy
  • Butterhead or Boston – has light green leaves
  • Loose leaf – leaves do not form a ball
  • Summer crisp, French crisp, or Batavian – has large and thick leaves

Lettuce is typically eaten uncooked because of its sweet taste with notes of bitterness. It is the primary ingredient in green salads and is also used in sandwiches and wraps. Some types of lettuce, however, are used in soups. Lettuce is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and iron.

Cabbage vs Lettuce

What, then, is the difference between cabbage and lettuce?

Both are short-stemmed, leafy vegetables, and both can be green or red. Cabbage belongs to the genus Brassica, whereas lettuce belongs to the genus Lactuca. Cabbage can be grown in cold areas, whereas lettuce thrives in a warmer area under the shade.

When it comes to the texture and taste, cabbage leaves are noticeably tougher and thicker than lettuce leaves. Cabbage leaves have a strong odor and taste, while lettuce leaves are odorless, and can be both bitter and sweet.

Additionally, cabbage is more versatile than lettuce. It can be eaten raw, stewed, sauteed, boiled, or braised. On the other hand, lettuce is usually eaten raw in salads, sandwiches, and wraps.

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