Eating healthy doesn't mean we don't crave some of the foods we used to devour and with this Big Mac in a bowl, you can get all the flavor you love without the drive-thru, the grease, or the guilt! Today we are cooking up all the flavors you love - the special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions - and serving it up in a great big, Big Mac salad bowl....It's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Not only is putting your Big Mac in a bowl together super easy, but it's also a super healthy alternative to fast food. This Big Mac in a bowl recipe works for gluten-free eaters, low-carb fans, and keto lifestyles.
If you are looking for more low-carb salads that are a complete meal, check out our hearty keto Cobb salad, this super easy chicken or beef taco salad, and this super flavorful Italian antipasto salad.
Be sure to also check out the low carb Big Mac casserole, complete with a special twist that holds this dish all together.
What is Big Mac Salad?
As the name implies, this Big Mac salad is my take on the classic stack burger you would find at McDonald's. The burger so famous, that there is a song about its toppings.
For this keto Big Mac salad though, we are ditching all three layers of bun and instead, keeping just the meat, cheese, and vegetables.
And of course, using a salad dressing that is eerily close to the famed "special sauce."
I'm hungry just thinking about it! 😉
Why You'll Love This!
- Salads are always a great choice for lunch and dinner when you are trying to eat low-carb or stick to a keto lifestyle.
- This keto Big Mac salad is a hearty salad filled with plenty of vegetables, protein, and fats. This combination will leave your appetite satisfied long after you get to the bottom of your bowl.
- Onions, pickles, and thousand island dressing combine to give you that flavor you know and love.
Ingredients for Big Mac in a Bowl
This may be a salad, but we are not creating a small, light one. For your Big Mac in a bowl, you are going to need quite a few things on hand. Not to worry though as the whole dish comes together in the time it takes to saute your beef.
- ground beef (80/20) - beef with higher fat tastes better
- ground black pepper
- olive oil
- minced garlic
- cheddar cheese, sharp shredded - shred your own
- Dill pickles
- minced onion
- Iceberg lettuce (or 1 bag of butter lettuce)
- Big Mac Dressing - we either make our own (listed below), or we buy Sir Kensington's Special Sauce that's low carb.
- Sesame seeds (or Everything But the Bagel Seasoning)
Big Mac Sauce
- low carb pickle relish (or chopped pickle with juice)
- yellow mustard
- monk fruit (increase if swapping chopped pickle for the relish)
- garlic salt
- onion powder
Step by Step Instructions
Cook The Beef
Over medium-high heat, warm a large skillet and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the ground beef, salt, pepper, and garlic clove. Stir and cook the ground beef until it's no longer pink in the middle, which will take about 6-7 minutes. Drain some of the grease. (And yes, you heard me right, add oil to the meat and then drain the grease. 😉 Adding the oil imparts so much flavor into the ground beef that seriously shouldn't be skipped. You know how you'd never eat plain chicken breast without cooking it with oil or seasoning, well you shouldn't do that with your ground beef either!)
Set aside and let cool down while you prep the remaining low carb Big Mac salad ingredients.
Prep The Salad Ingredients
Prepare the remaining salad ingredients by slicing the pickles, mincing the onion, shredding the cheese, and chopping the iceberg lettuce. Set aside.
Make The Sauce
In a small bowl, add all of the ingredients for the Big Mac sauce, including the mayo, pickle relish, ketchup, yellow mustard, sweetener, garlic salt, and onion powder.
Lay the lettuce in the bottom of 4 bowls, or in as many low carb Big Mac salad bowls as you're making. If you're a hearty eater, this recipe might just be 2-3 servings.
Sprinkle the burger meat on top of the lettuce. Then add the pickles, onion, and shredded cheese. An alternative to sprinkling over the top of your salads would be to group each topping individually in a bowl. It adds a fancier presentation getting served that way.
Drizzle lots of Big Mac sauce over the salad or serve the dressing on the side. The sauce and yummy toppings are what give the salad so much flavor. Feel free to add as many pickles, onions, and cheese as desired. Enjoy!
How to Meal Prep Big Mac Salads
You can easily pre-assemble your Big Mac salad on your meal-prep days to have them ready during the week! Simply assemble the 4 salads in meal prep containers and leave the dressing off of it until ready to serve so the greens don't get soggy.
Stored covered, your keto Big Mac salad will keep for up to 4-days in the fridge. And yes, cold ground beef in a salad is super good! No heating required.
Big Mac Bowl Recipe Tips
- Use 80/20 ground sirloin for ground beef with lots of flavors! Almost fat-free ground beef just seriously does not taste as good
- Adding 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan for cooking adds a ton of flavor to your meat. It seems odd, I know, but it's true.
- While a Big Mac traditionally only has lettuce and pickles, feel free to include additional vegetables like tomatoes to your liking.
- Try using cabbage or broccoli slaw in your Big Mac salad for a variation on lettuce.
- In a pinch, using Thousand island salad dressing or French dressing will work.
Is Big Mac Salad Healthy?
This salad version of the classic burger is a much healthier option than the drive-thru one. Removing the bread brings down the carb count tremendously. A traditional Big Mac contains 563 calories and a whopping 41 net carbs!
However, as with most things, your end product is only as healthy as the ingredients you use and the amount you consume. Be sure to include plenty of lettuce, pickles, onions, and beef, and be conscientious of the amount of dressing and cheese you add.
Oh, and watch those salad bowls! If your bowl is too large, you will be tempted to fill it up.
Is Big Mac Salad Keto?
Yes, Big Mac salad is keto - when you follow the recipe! Using pickles in the sauce instead of relish will keep the dish sugar-free, or be sure to find a relish that is low carb. If you feel it needs to be sweeter, increase the monk fruit a bit.
Just 3 Net carbs per serving! The ground beef, cheese, and pickles are all zero carb. The carbs are coming from the lettuce and sauce. It's important to shred the cheese from a block since pre-shredded cheese adds potato starch and has carbs. Always check the labels you're going to purchase for hidden carbs.
Can You Buy Big Mac Sauce?
While you can't buy McDonald's exact Big Mac sauce recipe, there are some on the market at grocery stores that taste very similar. Be on the lookout for grocery store brands that call a similar sauce "burger sauce" or "special sauce," which will be found with condiments such as ketchup.
Is Big Mac Sauce Made Out of Thousand Island?
While Big Mac Sauce isn't exactly Thousand Island dressing, it does taste very similar. Thousand Island essentially has many similar ingredients as burger special sauce but it's a little bit thinner consistency.
More Low Carb Salad Recipes
And be sure to pin the recipe for later on Pinterest so you can easily get back to it!
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