There’s no deprivation or “diet food” involved with this lush cheeseburger salad recipe! We’ve got slowly caramelized onions, shredded Gruyere, sautéed mushrooms, succulent crumbled burger, and crisp butter lettuce drizzled with a creamy chipotle aioli. I’ve copied the flavors of one of my favorite restaurant burgers, boosted the veggies, and ditched the refined grains. It’s lighter than a burger and fries, but you’d never know from the taste!
Back when I was on my weight loss journey, I discovered this amazing cheeseburger salad recipe with Big Mac dressing. It was under 500 calories per serving but tasted just like a burger! I think burger salads are a really great concept to help lighten up meals.
I’ve featured a taco salad on the site, but I recently realized there is not a single burger salad to be found. That definitely needs to change, starting with this recipe.
This cheeseburger salad is a copycat of one of my favorite burgers of all time, B.good’s mushroom & Swiss burger. This burger has all the delicious toppings that you’d want on a burger…
Caramelized onions? Check!
Plenty of sautéed mushrooms? Absolutely!
Some tasty shredded Gruyere? Yup!
Creamy chipotle aioli dressing? Yes indeed!
I piled all of this goodness atop a bed of butter lettuce and added the crumbled beef and cherry tomatoes. I promise this salad is just as good as a burger and fries meal! To seal the deal, the salad offers up some advantages beyond good taste alone.
Cheeseburger salad nutrition versus burger and fries
It’s important to note that just because something is a salad it doesn’t automatically mean it is low in calories. I know of a certain restaurant salad that will run you over 1,000 calories for the single meal. It is topped with quesadillas and an extremely generous amount of oily dressing.
If you are turning a burger into a main dish salad meal, I recommend comparing your entire burger meal to your entire salad meal. Few people order and have a single burger as their entire meal. I know that when I go to B.good, I always get sweet potato fries with my burger.
Here’s a mini comparison of this salad versus my typical burger and fries meal (estimates, of course):
|Calories||Protein (g)||Saturated Fat (g)|
|Burger and Fries||800||33||13|
What amuses me about this is that I wasn’t trying to make a lighter or higher protein meal with this big beast of a salad. I was simply playing around, trying to capture the flavors of one of my favorite burgers in salad form.
By accident, I knocked off over 100 calories and added 8 grams of protein. The saturated fat remained about the same, even though I did not skimp on cheese or beef here.
Additionally, you are ditching the refined grains (in the burger bun) by having a salad instead. You are also nixing the fried foods in this dish when you skip the fries.
Burgers can only fit so many fruit and veggie toppings, but the sky is the limit with a salad. I chose to add some juicy cherry tomatoes to my salads for additional color and flavor. As you can see, there are more tomatoes on these salads than I could (easily) top a burger with!
How to meal prep your cheeseburger salads
It’s simple to turn this recipe into a meal prep if you keep your hot and cold foods separate. There is no avocado or other ingredients that brown quickly here. Everything should stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.
To package your salads, put the lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes in big salad bowl containers. These ingredients will stay cold. The container should be large enough to add the hot ingredients right before serving.
Put the beef, sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized onions in containers that can be heated. And keep the chipotle aioli in small dressing containers with leak-proof lids. If you were counting, that is three containers per finished meal.
When you are ready to eat, heat up one of your hot foods containers in the microwave or in an oven. Once it is heated to your liking, dump the contents on top of one of the cold food containers. Finish the salad by drizzling with the chipotle aioli dressing.
If you put your hot foods on the cheese in the salad bowl, the cheese melts a bit. This is an excellent way to fit a little extra gooey cheese deliciousness into your day. I try not to pass up these good opportunities when they arise.
By the way, I know it is a bit of a pain to keep each meal in three separate containers. However, this is the best way to make sure that everything ends up at the right temperature. In addition, keeping the dressing separate from your salad prevents the dreaded lettuce sogginess.
I absolutely loved being able to enjoy the flavors of one of my favorite burgers for lunch all week. You can definitely expect some more burger salad creations from me in future posts!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Cheeseburger Salad (Favorite Burger Copycat!)
- 8 cups butter lettuce, torn into large pieces
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 lb baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into small pieces
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 2 large Vidalia onions (cut in half, then thinly slice)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
For the chipotle aioli dressing:
- 8 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce, finely chopped (include both sauce and pepper)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Season the ground beef with the Montreal steak seasoning. Brown it in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, breaking it up as it cooks. Set it aside after it has finished cooking. It will take about 10 minutes.
- Put 1T of the olive oil in the skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. Set the mushrooms aside.
- Put the last 1T of olive oil in the skillet. Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the onions and slowly cook them down, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and turn a lovely golden brown. It will take around 40 minutes to caramelize the onions. Don't rush this process!
- To make the chipotle aioli dressing, simply whisk the "for the chipotle aioli dressing" ingredients together. Chill until ready to serve.
- Divide the butter lettuce between four bowls. Divide the beef, mushrooms, Gruyere, caramelized onions, and tomatoes between the bowls. Drizzle each salad bowl with an equal amount of the chipotle aioli dressing.
- For tips on making this recipe a non-soggy meal prep, don't miss the article above!
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). If you wanted to make this a lighter recipe, it’s easy to do so! I’d start by dropping the amount of cheese down to 4 ounces (1 ounce per serving). Another thing you could try is substituting the mayo for non-fat plain yogurt (perhaps seasoned with herbs and garlic). Lean ground turkey or chicken could also work in place of the beef here. For a higher calorie meal, add in some baked fries or whole grain crackers. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on this dish! You might be amazed at how incredibly tasty (and not “diet-y”) a well-constructed salad can be!
What are some of your favorite burger toppings? Is there anything you think is a must on a good burger?
I’d love to hear about it if you make this cheeseburger salad! You can leave a comment and a recipe rating for this dish below!