Overhead Photo of a big mac salad

Lincoln’s really into origami right now so I made him an origami fortune teller (#middleschoolflashbacks) with fortunes inside, which he thought it was the coolest thing ever. Hey, I can’t fold a paper crane to save my life, but a couple of mountain and valley folds plus some goofy fortunates? All over it.

I predict you’ll want to make this Big Mac Salad, which is a dead ringer for the real thing, ASAP when you see how easy and delicious it is. This low carb gluten free salad is packed with Big Mac flavor – no drive thru required!

Watch How to Make It!

Lincoln is also into hamburgers from the central Iowa burger chain B-Bops (which arguably pumps out the best burgers this side of the Mississippi) and demolishes a double patty burger with alllll the fixins’ any time he gets a special request meal.

Man oh man, the sight and smell of his juicy burger is slightly torturous for this gluten free gal, so I decided to take matters into my own hands, or rather BOWL, and make a Big Mac Salad to get the same flavors – sans gluten. I have to say, this dish really and truly squashes my craving for a giant, loaded burger, with the added health and hydration benefits of eating a salad!

Cheeseburger Salad with special sauce dressing

Gluten Free Big Mac Salad

A Big Mac Salad is essentially a gluten free big mac in a bowl, and it comes with serious staying power, minus the gross-feeling side effects of eating an actual Big Mac cheeseburger. Crisp romaine lettuce is the bed for seasoned ground beef, thinly sliced red onions, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped dill pickles, and fresh tomatoes, drizzled with that must-have signature special sauce. DROOL! This salad keeps me feeling full for HOURS.

Fresh hamburger salad with lots of toppings

Big Mac Salad Ingredients

  • Romaine lettuce: I’ve been buying big Costco packs of romaine lettuce then zipping through one each afternoon for a lunchtime salad. Super convenient! Romaine holds up well to lots of toppings, but you could use whatever lettuce you have on hand.
  • Seasoned ground beef: I always simply season burgers with GF worcestershire sauce, homemade seasoned salt, and pepper, which is how I seasoned the ground beef for these burger bowls. If you have leftover grilled burgers from another meal, chop those up and use them instead. Ground turkey breast would be fine to use for a lighter swap.
  • Cheddar cheese: I prefer freshly shredded cheese for this salad, as you can really taste the creamy, fat shreds. And if you can’t taste the cheese, what’s the point of adding it?!
  • Red onion: When it comes to burgers, I’m usually a purist and choose white onions for topping them, though red onions look gorgeous in this salad. Either variety will work.
  • Dill pickles: I highly recommend Grillo’s Pickles which are crisp, fresh, and gluten free. They are SO good!
  • Tomatoes: Any type of tomato you have on hand will work fabulously in this salad. The photos show sliced grape tomatoes though cherry, Roma, or vine-ripened tomatoes are great too.
  • Special Sauce: Can’t have a Big Mac without special sauce – it’s the defining ingredient! I use the same recipe as the dipping sauce for my Cheeseburger Quesadillas, but swap the ketchup for French salad dressing instead. Just seems more salad-y, but you could use ketchup if that’s all you have on hand.

Alrighty, who’s hungry?!

ground beef on a salad with special sauce salad dressing

How to Make This Recipe

Start by making the Special Sauce Salad Dressing. In a bowl, stir together:

  • Mayonnaise
  • French salad dressing (or ketchup)
  • Minced onions (red or white)
  • Minced pickles
  • Distilled white vinegar

That’s it! The dressing can be made several days ahead of time and actually gets better and better as it sits.

Next, brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, seasoning with a few dashes of worcestershire sauce, homemade seasoned salt, and pepper. Scoop the browned ground beef onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool slightly.

The rest of the prep work involves a little face time with your cutting board: chopping lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles, and then grating cheese. When it’s time to eat, pile the lettuce onto plates or in bowls then add the toppings, drizzle with plenty of Special Sauce Salad Dressing, and dig in! I hope you love these enormously filling and super satisfying Big Mac burger bowls – enjoy!

overhead Photo of a big mac salad

More Plate-Busting Salads:

Big Mac Salad

5/5 (6 REVIEWS)


A Big Mac Salad is as satisfying as it's drive thru counterpart! This low carb, gluten free salad recipe will fill you up for hours!


5-6 salads

  • 1lb ground beef
  • worcestershire sauce
  • homemade seasoned salt and pepper
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped (can use cherry, grape, or vine-ripened tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles
  • For the Special Sauce Salad Dressing:
    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup French dressing (could use ketchup)
    • 2 Tablespoons minced pickles
    • 2 Tablespoons minced onion (red or white)
    • 1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar


  1. For the Special Sauce Salad Dressing: Add ingredients to a bowl then whisk to combine. Can be made several days ahead of time.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat then add the ground beef. Let the beef cook undisturbed until the bottom is golden brown then add a few shakes worcestershire sauce, season with homemade seasoned salt and pepper, and continue to saute until cooked through. Scoop onto a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool slightly.
  3. Once slightly cooled, divy lettuce between plates or bowls then top with the cooked ground beef, red onion, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and dill pickles. Drizzle with Special Sauce Salad Dressing then serve.
  4. Leave a comment and star rating if you loved the recipe! Thank you for considering!


This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


Photo collage of a Big Mac Salad