Big Mac Salad

6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Big Mac Salad is a healthier twist on fast food! Easy cheeseburger salad with homemade croutons and copycat McDonald’s Special Sauce!

What’s not to love about weeknight meals like Taco Salad that can double as a tasty Side Dish? This easy cheeseburger salad is another recipe that’s great as a light dinner, lunch, or side for any occasion. Check out some other incredible comfort food salads like the creamy Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, and the flavorful BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad.

Big Mac Salad in bowl

In a perfect world, you could eat fast food every day without gaining a pound and be a model of health. Until that world exists, there are delicious ways to get all the flavors of your favorites in a lighter, healthier dish like this cheeseburger bowl complete with the famous Copycat Big Mac Sauce!

Tasty Big Mac Salad is great as an easy dinner on summer nights or served as a crowd-pleasing side dish for barbecues. Crisp lettuce is topped with seasoned ground beef, cheddar cheese, and burger toppings. It’s truly a healthy burger in a bowl! This Big Mac Salad keeps the toppings simple with onions and tomatoes, but feel free to load it up with all your favorites.

It wouldn’t be a Big Mac Salad without a spot-on copycat Special Sauce as the dressing or a sesame seed bun. If you are on a low-carb diet, you can skip the buttery garlic homemade croutons. If you need to make the sauce to fit low-carb or Keto diets, check out the variations section on how to cut the carbs.

Big Mac Salad can be served as a light meal on its own, especially at lunchtime. If you want a more hearty dinner, do a soup and salad combo meal with Tomato Soup and a side of Dinner Rolls. You can even brush the dinner rolls with melted butter and sprinkle them with sesame seeds for mini burger buns.

If you love tasty McDonald’s secret sauce as much as we do and want more delicious burger-inspired recipes, be sure to check out our Big Mac Sloppy Joes and Big Mac Pasta Salad. They may not be as light and fit as this Big Mac Salad, but they are every bit as delicious!

How to Make Big Mac Salad

Big Mac Salad is a delicious and satisfying twist on the classic fast-food burger. With all the flavors you love from the original, this salad can be easily made at home for a healthier, guilt-free option. Check it out!

  • Step One: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss diced sesame seed buns with vegetable oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 6-8 minutes until toasted.
  • Step Two: In a large skillet, cook ground beef and diced yellow onion on medium-high heat, breaking it apart as you cook, for 6-8 minutes. Allow the beef to cool.
  • Step Three: In a large bowl, add halved grape tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, Big Mac Copycat Sauce, and cooled beef. Toss gently to combine.
  • Step Four: Finish the salad by topping it with the prepared croutons and serve immediately.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a store-bought dressing instead of the Big Mac Copycat Sauce?

Yes, if you prefer a store-bought dressing or are short on time, you can substitute Thousand Island dressing for a similar flavor profile.

Can I add other toppings to the salad?

Absolutely! Feel free to customize your Big Mac Salad with additional toppings like pickles, chopped bacon, or avocado slices.

What type of lettuce should I use for this salad?

Iceberg lettuce or Romaine lettuce is recommended for its crunchy texture but feel free to use your favorite greens.

Is there a vegetarian option for this recipe?

Yes, you can replace the ground beef with a meatless crumble or cooked, crumbled veggie burger to make a vegetarian Big Mac Salad.

How long does this salad last in the refrigerator?

For optimal freshness, consume the salad within a day or two. Store the croutons separately to prevent them from becoming soggy.

Big Mac Salad in bowl

Key Ingredients in Big Mac Salad

Big Mac Salad is an easy-to-make, crowd-pleasing dish that uses simple, accessible salad ingredients which can be easily found at your local grocery store. The combination of flavors and textures creates a satisfying meal that’s perfect for lunch or dinner. Check it out! 

  • Ground Beef: Lean ground beef provides a hearty, protein-packed base for this salad. It’s cooked with yellow onions (or white onions), adding extra flavor and texture. You can cook and break up burger patties in a pinch. You can also use ground turkey or chicken for a leaner option.
  • Lettuce: The lettuce adds a refreshing crunch to the salad. Iceberg or Romaine lettuce works well, but feel free to use your favorite greens.
  • Grape Tomatoes: Halved grape tomatoes contribute a burst of color and natural sweetness to the dish. Cherry tomatoes can also be used as a substitute.
  • Cheddar Cheese: Shredded cheddar cheese gives the salad a creamy, savory element. You can swap it with your preferred cheese variety, such as mozzarella or pepper jack.
  • Big Mac Copycat Sauce: This homemade sauce is the star of the show, replicating the iconic Big Mac flavor. You can find the Copycat Big Mac Sauce recipe down below. If you’re short on time, substitute with store-bought Thousand Island dressing for a similar taste.

Alternative Cooking Methods

While the original recipe calls for oven-toasting the croutons and cooking the ground beef on the stovetop, you can also air-fry the croutons or cook the beef using a pressure cooker.

  • Air-fryer Croutons: Toss the diced buns with vegetable oil and garlic salt, then air-fry at 375°F for 5-6 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through, until crispy and golden brown.
  • Pressure Cooker Ground Beef: Cook the ground beef and onion in the pressure cooker on the sauté setting, then drain and allow to cool before assembling the salad

Can Big Mac Salad Be Made Ahead of Time?

Yes, Big Mac Salad can be prepared ahead of time. Cook the ground beef and onion, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Prepare the croutons and store them separately in an airtight container at room temperature. When you’re ready to serve, assemble the salad by tossing the ingredients together and topping with croutons.

Substitutions in Big Mac Salad

This salad recipe can be easily tailored to suit individual preferences. Customize the salad with different protein options, cheeses, and even additional toppings to create a meal that’s perfect for your taste buds.

  • Ground Turkey or Chicken: For a leaner protein option, swap ground beef with ground turkey or chicken.
  • Thousand Island Dressing: In a pinch, use store-bought Thousand Island dressing mixed with a tablespoon of yellow mustard instead of the homemade Big Mac Copycat Sauce.
  • Cheese Varieties: Substitute cheddar cheese with your favorite cheese, such as mozzarella, pepper jack, or Colby-Jack.

How to Make Copycat Big Mac Salad Dressing

Mix the following sauce ingredients well. Refrigerate for 24 hours before using for the best (and most authentic) taste.

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup creamy French dressing (Kraft or Wishbone brands work great)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Variations on Big Mac Salad

  • Meat: To make this salad lighter and reduce the fat, use ground turkey or ground chicken. For a vegetarian Big Mac Salad, substitute ground Beyond Meat crumbles.
  • Cheese: You can use any shredded cheese you like or have on hand like pepper jack cheese for a little kick or mozzarella for a creamier cheese topping.
  • Toppings: Try burger favorites like dill pickles, bacon, avocado, and crispy fried onions. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or everything bagel seasoning for Big Mac bun taste!
  • Keto Special Sauce: You can swap the French Dressing with 3 tablespoons of tomato paste mixed with 1 teaspoon of sugar substitute, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and ½ teaspoon paprika (smoked). You can also just increase the ketchup to ¼ cup sugar-free ketchup.
  • Big Mac Salad Shaker: Prep your Big Mac Salad in quart-size mason jars for lunch on the go. Layer in this order: dressing, ground beef, onions, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce. Bag the croutons on the side so they don’t get soggy. Shake, shake, shake to mix like the fun McDonald’s Salad Shakers from the early 2000s.

How to Serve Big Mac Salad

Big Mac Salad is a satisfying, standalone meal served in salad bowls, but you can also pair it with other dishes for a complete feast. Consider serving it alongside some delicious appetizers, such as Buffalo Wings or Crispy Zucchini Fries. For a sweet finish, try a scrumptious dessert like Chocolate Chip Blondies or Oreo Balls (Oreo Truffles).

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How to Store Big Mac Sauce

  • Serve: Big Mac Salad is best served fresh and chilled and can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Don’t top with croutons until ready to serve.
  • Store: Store the dressing and croutons separately from Big Mac Salad for the best texture. Refrigerate in airtight containers for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: Salads with greens don’t freeze well but you can freeze some ingredients to make Big Mac Salad later. The croutons will stay fresh in a freezer-safe bag and frozen for up to 6 months. The ground beef mixture can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Big Mac Salad in bowl

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Pin Recipe

Big Mac Salad

Big Mac Salad is a healthier twist on fast food! Easy cheeseburger salad with homemade croutons and copycat McDonald's Special Sauce!
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder



  • 2 sesame seed buns , diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt


  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion , diced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes , halved
  • 8 cups lettuce , cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese , shredded
  • 1 cup Big Mac Copycat Sauce , recipe


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Toss buns with vegetable oil and sprinkle with garlic salt.
  • Add to baking sheet and cook for 6-8 minutes until toasted.
  • Meanwhile, add beef and onion to a large skillet and cook on medium high heat, breaking it apart as you cook, 6-8 minutes.
  • Let beef cool.
  • Add the tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar, big mac sauce and cooled beef to a large bowl and toss gently.
  • Top with croutons and serve.


Note: If you toss croutons, they’ll get soggy if the salad sits for too long.


Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 779mg | Potassium: 459mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1172IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 197mg | Iron: 2mg
Big Mac Salad Pin 1

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Big Mac Salad collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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