America’s favorite burger in salad form? Yes, please! This Big Mac salad is made up of perfectly cooked ground beef and onions tossed together with crispy lettuce and tomatoes in homemade, creamy Big Mac sauce.
The Big Mac is an internationally loved burger that has been stealing hearts since McDonald’s put it on its menu back in 1967. It’s a delicious, double-decker burger made up of 3 pieces of bun, 2 beef patties, a slice of cheese, onions, pickles, and to-die-for creamy Big Mac sauce. Sounds dreamy, right? But what about those of us looking to eat a little healthier? This salad is the answer.
My Big Mac salad packs in all of the flavors of a classic Big Mac but removes the bun and allows you to make this fast food favorite in your own home. Ground beef is sautéed with onions until browned and cooked through. Once cooled, the beef is laid on top of a bed of crispy romaine, juicy tomatoes, crunchy pickles, and shredded cheddar cheese. The whole thing is tossed together with my take on the world-famous Big Mac sauce. Why get fast food when you can make something this miraculous at home? And all in just 30 minutes? Beats me!
Why You’ll Love This Big Mac Salad
You may have never thought to turn a burger into a salad but, trust me, you’ll be glad you did. Here are some of my favorite things about this Big Mac salad and why I think you’ll love it too.
- Quick and easy. You know me. I love a simple, tasty 30-minute recipe. This salad fits the bill. In just half an hour you will have yourself a delicious, nourishing meal that the whole family will love.
- Like a burger but with less guilt. I love this Big Mac salad because it has everything I look for in a burger (and more) but without the extra carbs and fast food grease. Plus it packs in some extra veggies. It satisfies that burger craving but with less guilt.
- Easy to make your own. There’s a ton of room for variation in this recipe. Try a different dressing, use a different protein, and/or experiment with add-ins. Check out the section below titled “Recipe Tips & Variations” for some fun ideas.
- Great for meal prep. You can easily make this salad a couple of days in advance and enjoy it throughout the week as a quick and easy lunch or dinner. Check out the section below titled “Can This Big Mac in a Bowl Be Assembled in Advance?” to find out how.
What You’ll Need
Here is the list of ingredients needed to make this Big Mac in a bowl. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for exact measurements.
- Ground beef – I like using leaner ground beef (80/20 or 90/10 would be my suggestion). You could easily use ground turkey or chicken instead if you prefer.
- Yellow onion
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- Romaine lettuce
- Cherry tomatoes
- Shredded cheddar cheese – Not a cheddar fan? Try shredded pepper jack or mozzarella instead.
- Dill pickles
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Dill pickles
- Yellow mustard
- White vinegar
- Garlic powder
How to Make Big Mac Salad
Ready to make the best Big Mac salad you’ve ever tasted? Here’s a quick overview of how to do it. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
- Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing.
- Cook the beef. Heat a skillet over medium. Add ground beef and onion. Sauté, breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool completely.
- Put it all together. Add the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, pickles, and cooled beef to a serving bowl. Toss with dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Recipe Tips & Variations
You didn’t think I’d leave you without some tips and tricks to help you make the best cheeseburger salad possible, did you? Nope! Here they come. I even included some fun ways you can adjust the recipe to fit your taste preferences.
- Don’t crowd the pan. When cooking the beef, it is important not to crowd the pan. The beef will not brown properly and it will release its juices and become tough. Start with a pan that is large enough to allow a substantial portion of the ground beef to make contact with its surface. If you don’t have a large enough pan, cook the beef and onions in batches.
- Drain the grease. After cooking the beef, be sure to remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving any grease behind. Additionally, I suggest draining any excess moisture from the beef after it has cooled before adding it to the salad. This will end you with a grease-free, sog-free finished product.
- Allow the beef to cool. It is important that the beef cools completely after cooking. Otherwise, it will wilt the greens in the salad. Yuck.
- Use a different protein. Ground beef is my favorite here but you could easily use ground chicken, turkey, or pork instead.
- Try a different dressing. Grab your favorite store-bought dressing (Ranch would be fun) or whip up my Spicy Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing or this Avocado Green Goddess Yogurt Dressing.
- Use a different cheese. To me, cheddar screams “Big Mac” the most, but feel free to experiment with other cheeses as well. Shredded pepper jack, mozzarella, or parmesan would work well. You could even try crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese.
- Play with toppings. Anything you could think to put on a burger could go in this salad. I love the idea of adding bacon, sliced avocado, and/or banana peppers but the sky is the limit.
What to Serve with Cheeseburger Salad
This Big Mac in a bowl delivers a hefty punch of protein and veggies. It can certainly be served as a meal on its own but if you are looking for something a little extra, whip up a side or a tasty beverage to go along with it.
- Fries. Complete your virtual trip to McDonald’s by serving this Big Mac salad with a side of fries. I have been loving these Curly Fries with Horseradish Mustard and my Garlic Sweet Potato Fries. You could also try my Polenta Fries or these Eggplant Parmesan Fries.
- Pasta salad. This BLT Pasta Salad or my End of Summer Orzo Salad would be delicious.
- Potato salad. Burgers and potato salad just scream summer BBQ to me. Try this 4-Ingredient Tangy Potato Salad, this Healthy Red Potato and Dill Salad, or my Pesto Pasta with Potatoes and Green Beans.
- Cocktails. I love serving this summery salad with my Sunset Cocktail or these Crushed and Boozy Summer Slushies.
Can This Big Mac in a Bowl Be Assembled in Advance?
Yes! This is actually a great meal prep recipe. Brown the beef, whip up the dressing, and prepare the vegetables. Allow the beef to come cool completely before sealing each component in its own airtight container. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When you are ready to enjoy, toss all of the elements together and dive in.
This salad is best enjoyed fresh. The longer it sits, the soggier the lettuce will get. If you find yourself with leftovers, however, not to worry. Seal the salad in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The sooner you eat them, the better.
More Easy Salad Recipes
This Big Mac salad is so fun, filling, and unique but if you are looking for something a little different, I’ve got you covered. Here are some of my other favorite salad recipes. I can’t wait for your to try them.
- Broccoli Salad
- Vegan Caesar Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Kale Salad
- Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa Salad
- Nutty Spinach and Quinoa Salad
- Harvest Chopped Salad Bowl
Big Mac Salad
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 head of romaine lettuce finely chopped (~6 cups)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup dill pickles diced
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
For the dressing:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 tablespoons dill pickles finely minced
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and set aside while you prepare the salad.
- Heat a skillet over medium. Add ground beef and onion. Sauté, breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through (about 8 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
- Add the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, pickles and cooled beef to a large platter or serving bowl. Toss with dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds for serving.