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Big Mac Salad

A fresh and healthy version of a fast food classic! Big Mac Salad includes seasoned ground beef and cheddar cheese, sprinkled with sesame seeds and tossed in special sauce–without the added sugar or preservatives. Ready in under 30 minutes!

Stack the salad on our easy Chaffles for a low carb, no bun idea! Or enjoy soup & salad with our delicious Low Carb Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe!

Big mac salad served on a plate.

What is a Big Mac

Remember that jingle, “Two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and a sesame seed bun”? It’s the catchy description of McDonald’s most famous menu item–the Big Mac burger.

None of us are under the impression that Big Macs are exactly good for us but there’s a reason their popularity is endured (aside from the fact that you’re never more than a short drive from a McDonald’s drive-thru!).

There’s no denying this combo of beef, cheese and pickles is tasty, especially when it’s covered in that tangy, creamy sauce!

I took the flavors everyone loves about a Big Mac and transformed them into a fresher, healthier and much more delicious meal-worthy salad. Big Mac Salad makes a satisfying lunch or dinner, and with all that good burger flavor it’s a great way to encourage kids to eat their greens.

This isn’t your average cheeseburger salad, folks. I did my best to hit ALL the Big Mac flavors from the zesty onion right down to a homemade (sugar free) version of that famous special sauce.

For another easy recipe, try this homeamade Cheeseburger Soup!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make big mac salad.

For the salad:

  • Ground beef – I used lean ground beef for true burger flavor. Turkey makes a great substitution too if you want this to be on the lighter side or you just prefer the taste.
  • Red onion – The bite of red onion adds a ton of flavor here. However, yellow or white onion can be substituted.
  • Iceberg lettuce – Again, this makes it more of a classic Big Mac to me with that mild crunch, but feel free to substitute romaine or another leafy green.
  • Dill pickles – Check the label to make sure the pickles have no added sugar!
  • Shredded cheese – I like cheddar cheese best in this salad.
  • Seasonings: Both fresh chopped garlic, along with a little bit of salt and pepper enhance the savory flavor of the ground beef.

For the special sauce:

  • Mayonnaise – Use real mayo with no added sugars (not miracle whip).
  • Dill pickle juice – Reserve some of the juices from the dill pickles you chopped up for the salad.
  • Tomato paste – Canned tomato paste replicates the ketchup flavor in the restaurant’s Big Mac sauce without adding any sugar.
  • Mustard – Dijon mustard is by far the best for this sauce!
Large wooden serving bowl with big mac salad.

Recipe FAQs

Is this recipe Keto friendly?

I would consider this recipe appropriate for a Keto lifestyle, although I know some folks don’t consider any amount of tomatoes to be Keto-friendly. There is only 1 tablespoon of tomato paste used in the entire recipe, however, so the amount of carbs it adds is extremely negligible.

Can you make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can cook the ground beef and assemble the sauce in advance. Wait to assemble all the ingredients until just before serving (I’d also re-warm the beef in a skillet or microwave first). The flavor of the sauce will be even better if it’s chilled for a few hours!

Can I substitute a different kind of cheese for the cheddar?

Yes, any mildly tangy cheese would be good in this salad such as Monterey or Colby Jack.

Big mac salad with special sauce.

Tips & Tricks

  • Make the sauce in advance: Make the sauce up to 1 -2 days in advance to give the flavors time to mingle and meld. I love the taste of the Big Mac Sauce best when I make it the day before and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Meal prep: Dice up the veggies, brown the ground beef and whisk together the sauce ingredients to store in separate containers on a weekend and you’ll be ready to assemble an instant cheeseburger salad whenever hunger strikes during the week.
  • Serving suggestions: This is a delicious meal-worthy salad all on its own for lunch or a light dinner. It would also be wonderful served in a gluten free spinach tortilla as a Big Mac Wrap.

Don’t forget the sesame seeds sprinkled on top to give your salad that extra authentic flair!

More Dinner Recipes

Yield: 6 servings

Big Mac Salad

Big mac salad with sauce in wooden bowl.

A fresh and healthy version of a fast food classic! Big Mac Salad includes seasoned ground beef and cheddar cheese, sprinkled with sesame seeds and tossed in special sauce--without the added sugar or preservatives. Ready in under 30 minutes!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head Iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 4 dill pickles, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds

For the Big Mac sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoon pickle juice
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Slice onion in half. With one half, slice into thin strips. With the other half, dice into pieces.
  2. In a large skillet, add olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add beef, diced onion, salt, pepper, and garlic. Using a wooden spoon, cook and crumble until browned. Drain grease and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  4. Assemble the salad. Either in individual bowls or one large bowl, place lettuce on bottom. Top with beef mixture and chopped pickles. Top with remaining red onion slices and cheddar cheese. Sprinkle salad with sesame seeds.
  5. Drizzle sauce generously over salad. ENJOY.

Notes

  • Make the sauce in advance: Make the sauce up to 1 -2 days in advance to give the flavors time to mingle and meld. I love the taste of the Big Mac Sauce best when I make it the day before and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Meal prep: Dice up the veggies, brown the ground beef and whisk together the sauce ingredients to store in separate containers on a weekend and you'll be ready to assemble an instant cheeseburger salad whenever hunger strikes during the week.
  • Serving suggestions: This is a delicious meal-worthy salad all on its own for lunch or a light dinner. It would also be wonderful served in a gluten free spinach tortilla as a Big Mac Wrap.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1 bowl

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 502Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 1047mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 29g

When it comes to low-carb dinner salads that make the whole family happy, it doesn’t get any easier than this Big Mac Salad. You’re going to love each and every bite.

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