Cheeseburger Salad

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Cheeseburger Salad takes the best parts of a cheeseburger and transforms them into a fun and delicious salad. Made with lean ground beef, cherry tomatoes, dill pickles, and shredded cheese, this mouth-watering dish is perfect for healthy lunches or dinners. Jump to Recipe and Video

251 CALORIES 14g CARBS 8g FAT 33g PROTEIN

If you’re looking for a way to step up your salad game, look no further than this oh-so-delicious Cheeseburger Salad. As someone who loves to devour a good burger, I was thrilled to try out a lightened-up twist on this classic American dish. It might sound strange, but trust me—this dish is absolutely fantastic.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. How on earth do you turn a cheeseburger into a salad? Alas, allow me to explain. Cheeseburger Salad is made by cooking ground beef in a savory sauce made from ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Then, it is added to a bed of romaine lettuce, alongside classic cheeseburger fixings.

This salad is a simple, exciting, and kid-friendly way of enjoying a salad. Serve Cheeseburger Salad with Healthy Honey Mustard or Healthy Thousand Island Dressing for a quick, easy, and ultra-satisfying meal. Don’t just take my word for it, try it out for yourself, and let me know what you think!

Healthy cheeseburger salad with ground beef, chopped romaine, pickles, tomatoes, and shredded cheese in a bowl with dressing on the side.

Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps

To bring this delicious and healthy salad to life, you’ll need the following key ingredients:

  • Ground beef: To keep things on the lighter side, I recommend using 95% lean ground beef. You could also swap it out for ground turkey if you prefer.
  • Ketchup and Dijon mustard: To give our ground beef that signature cheeseburger flavor, we cook it in a delicious blend of ketchup and Dijon mustard. For an even more classic “cheeseburger” feel, you can swap out the Dijon for yellow mustard instead.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Combined with the ketchup and mustard, Worcestershire sauce gives the beef a mouth-watering umami flavor.
  • Romaine lettuce: For the base of this dish, I like to use the same greens that I would on a burger: aka romaine lettuce. However, feel free to use mixed greens, arugula, or kale instead.
  • Cheese: To put the “cheese” in this cheeseburger salad, you’ll want to add shredded cheddar cheese. If you prefer, you can use shredded mozzarella instead or your favorite burger cheese.
  • Dill pickles: What is a cheeseburger without the pickles? I love topping this salad off with chopped dill pickles, but this is an optional add-in, so no pressure.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

Here are my top tips and tricks for transforming your favorite fast-food menu item into this healthy salad:

  • Prep ahead of time. To assemble these salads in a pinch, I recommend prepping your meat ahead of time, as it will keep in the fridge for a few days. If you’re opting for homemade dressing, you can prepare that up to a week ahead of time.
  • Swap yellow mustard. If you don’t have any Dijon mustard on hand, feel free to use yellow mustard instead.
  • Add croutons. To really take Cheeseburger Salad to the next level, chop up a hamburger bun and toss the pieces into a skillet with some butter. Cook for about 10 minutes, and then you should have some delicious, on-brand croutons to top off your salad.
  • Add avocado. For a nice creamy texture and heart-healthy fats, add diced avocado to your salad.

Cheeseburger Salad Topping Ideas

For this Cheeseburger Salad recipe, I chose to use signature burger toppings. However, this combination is just one of your many options. If you’re looking to dress up this burger salad, here are some of my favorite topping recommendations:

  • Sliced avocado
  • Chopped bacon
  • Croutons
  • Jalapenos
  • Sauteed peppers
  • Green chilis
  • Fried egg
  • Mushrooms
  • Fried onions
  • Hot sauce

Cheeseburger Salad Variations

As with your typical cheeseburger, Cheeseburger Salad is ultra-versatile and a great dish for mixing up and making your own! To switch things up, here are some of my favorite salad variations:

  • Switch up your protein. Although ground beef is traditional, this salad can be made with ground turkey, ground chicken, or a plant-based ground meat alternative for a vegetarian version.
  • Dress it up. This recipe calls for either honey mustard dressing or thousand island dressing. However, don’t be afraid to mix it up! Ranch, blue cheese dressing, and southwest salad dressing will all work great.
  • Mix up your cheese. While American or cheddar cheese is signature for cheeseburgers, this salad will taste amazing with blue cheese, mozzarella cheese, or pepper jack for a bit of a kick.
  • Make it spicy. Adding some fresh jalapenos or diced green chilies is an easy and effective way to spice this Cheeseburger Salad up.

Salad with burger meat, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and dressing served in a bowl with a spoon

How to Store this Dish and Meal Prep

Cheeseburger Salad is best when enjoyed fresh, but you can easily prep this salad ahead of time. Just make sure to store the ground beef, veggies, and dressing separately. Otherwise, the vegetables will soften. 

You can refrigerate cooked ground beef for up to 3-4 days or freeze it for up to 3-4 months. You can refrigerate homemade salad dressing for up to 1 week. When you’re ready to enjoy, simply take the ingredients out and assemble your salad.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions about making a cheeseburger salad.

Because this salad is made with lean ground beef and a ton of fresh veggies, it is a delicious and healthy alternative to the greasy cheeseburgers we all know and love. You can make this dish even healthier by opting for homemade dressing.

While this dish can easily be served on its own as a standalone dish, you can add on your favorite side dishes if you’re serving a crowd. Since it's a burger, I love serving it with some baked sweet potato fries, potato wedges, or onion rings.

Ground beef cooks rather quickly, so it probably won’t take you longer than 5-7 minutes. It’s done when it’s completely browned, with no pink spots. If you suspect your meat is done, simply take a piece and cut it open. If the inside is brown (as opposed to red or pink), then your meat is cooked.

Ground beef, ground turkey, vegetarian crumbles, or cooked chicken would all work great in this salad. You could also make it with a crumbled beef burger, veggie burger, or turkey burger.

The Recipe
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Cheeseburger Salad

PREP TIME: 5 Min
COOK TIME: 15 Min
TOTAL TIME: 20 Min
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Ingredients

US METRICS
  • 1 lb 95% lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (or yellow mustard)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup dill pickles, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced (or diced)
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (or regular)

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Instructions

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1

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and onion to the pan. Cook until no longer pink, breaking up the beef as it cooks.

Ground beef cooking in a skillet with red onions.
2

Add the garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for abotu 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Ketchup being adding to a skillet of ground beef.
3

To assemble the salad, add the Romaine lettuce to a large bowl. Layer in the tomatoes, pickles, red onions, shredded cheese, and ground beef mixture. Top with dressing of choice.

Cheeseburger salad being assembled with tomatoes, meat, and lettuce.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 3 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 251
Calories from Fat 16
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
12%
Saturated Fat 4g
18%
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
0%
Cholesterol 76mg
25%
Sodium 546mg
24%
Total Carbohydrate 14g
4%
Dietary Fiber 4g
7%
Sugars 7g
Protein 33g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

Notes

Cheeseburger salad if usually served with Thousand Island dressing. To make an easy, lightened up Thousand Island, combine 3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp light mayonnaise, 2 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp sweet relish, 2 tbsp minced onion, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp sweet paprika, 1/16 tsp hot sauce (optional), salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for at least one hour for optimal flavor.
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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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