Keto Big Mac Salad
Craving a burger 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. This salad is a great way to get more non-starchy vegetables in your day on a low carb diet, and of course it’s got the amazing flavor of a copycat big mac sauce to make it indulgent.
How to make a Big Mac Salad
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 Alginate, Garlic Powder, Vegetable Protein (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy and Wheat), Sugar, Caramel Color, Turmeric, 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 from 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 Bic 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.
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.
Here are a few questions you might come across as you make this recipe:
- 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.
- Can you make this a dairy-free keto salad? Yes. Just leave out the cheddar cheese. The rest of this low carb big mac salad recipe (including the sauce) is dairy free!
- Can you make the dressing ahead of time? 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.
- Is this a good meal prep recipe? 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.
More Keto Salad Recipes
Looking for even more keto salad recipes to mix into your routine? Try one of these tasty ideas from fellow bloggers:
Keto Big Mac Salad
For the salad:
- 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 (we use 85% but any type works)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
For the Big Mac dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- 2 tbsp dill pickle relish (look for no added sugar if possible)
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 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!