Craving a classic burger meal deal from your favorite fast-food restaurant? With this keto Big Mac salad, you get all the flavors of the classic sandwich with just a fraction of the carbs.
WHY I LOVE THIS SALAD?
- This salad is a great way to get more non-starchy vegetables in your day on a low carb diet
- it’s got the amazing flavor of a copycat big mac sauce to make it indulgent.
- It is high in protein thanks to the minced meat.
- I love how the crunch of the lettuce and balances the soft and rich texture of the other ingredients.
WHAT REPLACES BREAD IN A KETO BIG MAC SALAD?
In a keto Big Mac salad, the bun from a traditional Big Mac sandwich is replaced by a bed of lettuce or other leafy greens mixed with finely diced onions and chopped tomatoes. Skipping the bread allows the salad to be low in carbs and fully suitable for those following a keto diet. The good news is that all the other ingredients in a Big Mac are actually low carb.
HOW TO MAKE A ‘BIG MAC SALAD’ KETO
This recipe seems like it has a lot of ingredients, but it’s almost all either easy-to-find produce items at the store or pantry and fridge staples (like mayo and spices for the dressing).
For the salad itself, you’re going to build your base using what would normally be the toppings on a Big Mac. So you’ll start with some lettuce, finely diced onions, chopped tomatoes (we use cherry but regular are fine too), and pickles.
Then you’re going to brown some ground beef – because what good is a burger-like salad without the beef!
Add the beef to your salad and also add some shredded cheddar cheese in there. Then comes the last step – the sauce!
WHAT IS BIG MAC SAUCE – AND HOW DO YOU MAKE IT?
Many people think the Big Mac sauce is simply Thousand Island dressing. While they may taste similar, they’re not exactly the same.
Here are the ingredients for Big Mac sauce, straight from the McDonald’s website:
- Soybean Oil,
- Sweet Relish (Diced Pickles, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Corn Syrup, Xanthan Gum, Calcium Chloride, Spice Extractives),
- Water, Egg Yolks,
- Distilled Vinegar,
- Spices, Onion Powder,
- Salt, Propylene Glycol
- Garlic Powder,
- Vegetable Protein (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy and Wheat),
- Caramel Color,
- Extractives of Paprika,
- Soy Lecithin.
Clearly, we’re not going to be using the exact formula from their version with those ingredients.
But here’s a little secret many people aren’t aware of – McDonald’s actually went public back in 2012 with a YouTube video about how to make a homemade version of their Big Mac sauce. Essentially, I’m using that same formula in this recipe!
There are only two small changes to their video version. This recipe uses regular distilled vinegar rather than white wine vinegar because it’s more common that you’ll have it on hand, and it uses dill pickle relish rather than sweet pickle relish to reduce the carbs (as sweet pickle relish has more sugar added to it).
So to make your own homemade Big Mac sauce, all you’ll need is:
- Dill pickle relish
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
One quick recommendation – double-check the pickle relish nutrition facts when you’re searching for them at the store. I like Heinz Dill Relish because there’s no sugar added, and that’s what I based the nutrition facts off of here. But any low carb pickle relish should work fine.
Once you’ve gathered those up, that’s it! You can find the exact amounts in the recipe card and all you need to do is mix those up into your dressing.
NUTRITION FACTS FOR A BIG MAC SALAD – MACRONUTRIENT BREAKDOWN
As written, this recipe contains 616 calories per serving with 47 grams of fat and just 6 grams of net carbs! For anyone on a low carb diet, that’s quite a bit better than the 45 grams of carbohydrates in the regular sandwich version.
Here’s the macronutrient breakdown as far as percentages go for this keto big mac salad:
- 69% fat
- 25% protein
- 6% carbs
These percentages work out to be quite nice for an individual meal on the keto diet.
TIP TO MAKE A PERFECT BIG MAC SALAD
- I recommend using lean ground beef as the sauce is already quite rich.
- You can use ground turkey, ground chicken or even ground lamb instead of ground beef.
- You can even use vegetarian or vegan minced meat. If you want to make the salad vegan, make sure to use vegan cheese.
- I love layering this salad in a mason jar and mixing it when I want to eat it.
CAN YOU REDUCE THE CARB COUNT MORE?
If you wanted to decrease the carb content a bit more, you can modify the amounts of ingredients to fit your needs. For example, two of the bigger contributors to the carb count in this salad are the onions and cherry tomatoes. You can leave the onions out completely, and you can cut it down to just a few cherry tomatoes per salad (10 total) – these changes would bring the total carb count to 7 grams and the net carb count to 4 grams.
Yes. Just leave out the cheddar cheese. The rest of this low carb big mac salad recipe (including the sauce) is dairy-free!
Yes. I recommend using it within 5 days if you make it ahead of time. Just store it in a mason jar in the fridge.
It sure is! If you plan to meal prep it, I recommend making the salad with all the vegetables and meat. Include the cheese and dressing in separate containers that can be poured on when you’re ready to eat it. Sometimes when shredded cheddar sits in a salad with damp vegetables (like pickles and chopped tomatoes) it can take on an odd texture, so keeping it separate works well! If I meal prep this recipe, I usually eat the meat cold on the salad, but if you prefer you can also keep the meat in a separate container so you can heat it up when you’re ready to add it to your salad.
Keto Big Mac Salad – Low-Carb Keto Recipe
- 8 cups chopped romaine
- 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onions
- 20 cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
- 1/2 cup dill pickle chips
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- 2 tbsp dill pickle relish
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Start by preparing all the vegetable ingredients for the salad – chopping the romaine lettuce, finely dicing the onions, halving or quartering the cherry tomatoes, and measuring out the pickles. Combine these in a large bowl or divide the ingredients between four plates.
- Next, prepare your big mac dressing by whisking together the mayo, mustard, relish, vinegar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside for now.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook your ground beef until browned, about 6-9 minutes. Stir frequently, breaking the meat into chunks as it cooks. When it’s almost done, stir in the salt and pepper to season.
- Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and add it to the salad. Add the cheddar cheese and your prepared dressing. Enjoy!