Whip up this simple keto ground beef cheeseburger salad when you crave a burger. It's called a Big Mac Salad because it was inspired by the popular fast-food hamburger. The taste is sure to satisfy any fast food cravings.
This Big Mac salad recipe starts with a garden salad base served with all your favorite burger add-ons. You'll find lean ground beef topped, chopped dill pickles, shredded cheddar cheese and a drizzling of Thousand Island style Big Mac sauce.
If you take away the sesame seed bun and special sauce, the burger patty sandwich is generally safe for a keto diet. I’m not sure how many carbs the Big Mac sauce adds. But it is a bit sweet so I’m sure there’s sugar in it. Here’s how to recreate the burger into a low-carb salad.
All of the ingredient amounts for my keto Big Mac salad recipe are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
There are two parts to this recipe – the salad itself and the salad dressing. The surprising thing is that even with the huge list of ingredients in it, there are only 2 grams of net carbs in each serving of salad! This salad makes 8 servings, so it’s perfect for meal prep.
I used lots of the same ingredients that you might find on your favorite cheeseburger. There are dill pickles, sliced or diced onions, crisp iceberg lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, ground beef, and lots of spices.
Then, I made my own version of a McDonald’s Big Mac salad dressing. I used a combination of the following sauce ingredients:
- Tomato Paste
- Sour Cream
- Spices - Sage, Oregano, Basil, Cayenne Pepper
- Sugar Substitute
- Salt and Pepper
- Sweetener is optional – I don’t care for sweet dressings so I didn’t add any sweetener to the sauce drizzled on this salad. But, you can add a bit of stevia and or monk fruit extract if you’d like.
- Add cayenne pepper for kick – I added some optional cayenne pepper to the dressing to spice it up a notch. It gives this Big Mac salad a nice kick. I also added some tomatoes for color.
Other than cooking the ground beef mixture, the salad comes together quickly. It should take no more than twenty minutes to make the Big Mac dressing and assemble the whole low carb hamburger salad in a big salad bowl.
To start, ground beef is sautéed with onions and garlic in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Then the meat is seasoned with herbs and spices.
While the meat is cooking, I’ll whisk up the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. That way, the flavors have a chance to blend before drizzling over the salad.
I also get the Big Mac salad mixture ready in a large bowl or platter as the meat cooks. It’s just chopped greens and sliced tomato.
When the meat is cooked, it’s sprinkled over the salad. Then I add the toppings on top of the ground beef crumbles. These include pickles, freshly grated cheddar cheese, and red onions.
In the past, I would make my low carb hamburger salad by just placing a grilled burger on top. However, I like how the loose ground meat is spread throughout the dish.
The special sauce dressing that tops this keto Big Mac salad has great flavor. I prefer it over the special sauce that’s used for the original fast food hamburger. However, you can just use a regular Thousand Island dressing or a Russian Dressing if you prefer
I’m not an onion fan. But the original Big Mac calls for onions, I decided to add it. I used red onion on top and regular white in the meat mixture. But feel free to leave the onions out as they do add in some carbs. Or, you can use onion powder instead.
I top the low carb cheeseburger salad with freshly shredded cheddar cheese. McDonald's Big Mac uses American cheese which is a processed cheese and I avoid using it. However, you can top the salad off with any cheese you like.
Before you get to the recipe further below, read through these common questions and see if it’s one you might have had too.
My calculations of 2 grams net carbs per serving are based on using about 2 tablespoons of the Big Mac salad dressing per person.
Salads are an excellent choice for meal prepping and this recipe is no different. The best way to store it is in a sealed container and storing the dressing separately. The salad will last about 5 days in the refrigerator.
If you enjoy this Big Mac bowl recipe, you may want a few more ideas for low-carb salads? They are so easy to prepare and will keep you feeling full. These are some of my favorites.
- Cobb Salad made with chicken, bacon, and avocado tastes just like the one from your favorite restaurant.
- Taco Salad is a classic and this low-carb version will fulfill those cravings for spicy and salty foods.
- Sunomono Japanese Cucumber salad is light and tangy and a refreshing way to eat fresh cucumbers.
- Mock Low-Carb Potato Salad tastes just like your classic potato salad, but with a lot fewer carbs.
- Keto Broccoli Salad has the added bonus of bacon! Enjoy the creamy dressing on other salad ideas too.
Big Mac Salad
- 1 ⅓ pounds ground beef about 600 grams
- ½ small onion chopped (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- ⅛ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon ground oregano
- ¼ teaspoon marjoram
- ⅛ teaspoon chili pepper (optional)
- 12 ounces lettuce greens
- 2 spears dill pickles diced
- 3 small tomatoes sliced (optional)
- ¾ cup cheddar cheese freshly grated
- 1 small red onion sliced (optional)
- Salt & Ground Black Pepper to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing
- Dilute tomato paste in water and add some sweetener (if desired). Add mayonnaise and sour cream. Season with sage, oregano, basil, salt and black pepper. Mix well and set aside.
- In a slightly greased skillet, sauté onions until translucent over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for a few minutes without burning. Add lean ground meat then season with thyme, oregano and marjoram. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Add a little chili pepper for some heat. Thoroughly cook beef. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towel. Set aside.
- Cover platter with greens. Layer cooked beef, chopped greens - lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, dill pickles and top with cheddar cheese. Drizzle with dressing. Enjoy!
Array ( [calories] => 273 [carbohydrates] => 2 [protein] => 19 [fat] => 21 [saturated_fat] => 7 [polyunsaturated_fat] => 4 [monounsaturated_fat] => 3 [cholesterol] => 66 [sodium] => 380 [potassium] => 60 [sugar] => 1 [vitamin_a] => 300 [vitamin_c] => 3.3 [calcium] => 100 [iron] => 2 [serving_unit] => g )
Notes on Nutritional Information
Nutritional information for the recipe is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts as it has been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.
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Updated on December 9, 2020, with additional recipe tips and clearer images. Originally published on May 5, 2017.