Cheeseburger Salad with Healthier Thousand Island Dressing

Seasoned ground beef is tossed with fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes, cheddar cheese, dill pickles & chopped onion then drizzled in a healthier homemade thousand island dressing! This cheeseburger salad is everything you love about burgers thrown into a bowl!

A large white bowl filled with cheeseburger salad that's been drizzled with healthier homemade thousand island dressing and cracked pepper on top

I never know what to call this salad. Cheeseburger salad, hamburger bowl, cheeseburger bowl, big mac salad…deliciousness in a bowl…😉 Whatever you feel like calling it, it’s so soo good! Now if you’re thinking, “why would I ever want a burger salad?” Trust me, this will change your mind! It’s loaded with all your favorite cheeseburger ingredients like cheddar, dill pickles, juicy tomatoes and onion all topped over crisp fresh lettuce and drizzled with the best homemade thousand island dressing! It’s also gluten free, low carb and literally tastes like a burger from your favorite fast food restaurant. (Just better for you and made with wholesome ingredients!)

Ingredients used to make a cheeseburger salad with thousand island dressing

Ingredients For Your Cheeseburger Salad

  • Ground beef: Using quality ground beef is key for this cheeseburger salad. We’ve been using Butcher Box beef for the past few months now and LOVE it! It’s great quality, grass-fed and has a very clean flavor too. (It’s not super oily or fatty like most other ground beefs we’ve tried.)
  • Tomatoes: Any type of tomatoes work for this recipe! (I personally love using cherry tomatoes or tomatoes off the vine. They have such good flavor!)
  • Cheese: Cheddar cheese is a must! You can either dice it like I did or use shredded cheese instead.
  • Dill pickles: An essential ingredient for this salad! (This is what really makes it taste like a cheeseburger.😉) Use dill pickle “chips” or whole dill pickles and cut them yourself if you prefer.
  • Onion: Red onion works the best because doesn’t have a strong onion flavor like white or yellow onion so it won’t overpower your salad.
  • Thousand Island dressing: Use your favorite store bought brand or try my healthier homemade thousand island dressing below!
A white cutting board with chopped green leaf lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped pickles, red onion and cheddar on it sitting next to a large kitchen knife a and a bowl full of chopped lettuce
A white bowl lined with a paper towel filled with cooked seasoned ground beef

How To Make A Cheeseburger Salad

  1. Make the thousand island dressing. Mix your dressing ingredients together then keep it stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. (If you prefer a thinner dressing you can add 1-2 more tablespoons of milk or water. Just keep in mind that doing so might dilute it’s flavor.)
  2. Cook your ground beef. Season your beef with salt and pepper and saute it over medium high heat until it’s cooked all the way through. (About 4-5 minutes. We’ll usually go pretty heavy on the pepper for flavor. It’s so good that way!) Once done, transfer your beef to a bowl lined with a paper towel and let it cool completely.
  3. Prepare the rest of your ingredients. While the beef cools, cut your lettuce, slice your tomatoes and red onion, chop your pickles and grate or dice your cheese.
  4. Toss & serve! Add your lettuce, cooled beef, tomatoes, onion, pickles and cheese to a large bowl and drizzle your desired amount of dressing over the top. Toss your salad until it’s fully coated and serve immediately.

Want the ultimate burger experience?! Serve this salad with a side of your favorite fries or sweet potato wedges!

Healthier homemade thousand island dressing in a white bowl with cracked pepper on top surrounded by cherry tomatoes and a bowl od sweet pickle relish

Healthier Thousand Island Dressing

Any In-N-Out lovers out there?! I think we all can agree the reason In-N-Out burgers taste soo good is all thanks to their special sauce. Which (spoiler alert) is basically like thousand island dressing. So of course we have to incorporate it into our salad too! (It just wouldn’t be the same without it.😉) Most thousand island dressing recipes are loaded with mayo which makes it super creamy but also adds a ton of fat and can give it a weird after taste too. That’s why I love my healthier homemade version! It uses greek yogurt as the base, has just a touch of mayo for flavor and tastes exactly the same (if not better) than your favorite store bought thousand island dressing! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plain greek yogurt
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Milk (any type)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & black pepper, to taste
A burger bowl filled with chopped lettuce, cooked ground beef, tomatoes, dill pickles, red onion and cheddaer cheese sitting next to a small jar filled with thousand island dressing

FAQ’s

  • Can I prep any ingredients beforehand? Absolutely! All your ingredients can easily be prepped 1-2 days in advance. Cook your meat, slice your veggies and mix your dressing then keep them stored in separate containers in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.
  • What other toppings can I use? Anything you put on a hamburger can be used as toppings for this salad! Bacon, avocado and jalapeno are my personal favorites. The sky is the limit!
Close up photo of a burger bowl made with chopped lettuce, cooked ground beef, cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes, chopped red onion and dill pickles drizzled with thousand island dressing

Why you’ll love this cheeseburger salad recipe

  • A well balanced meal! Lots of veggies, protein and healthy fats! This cheeseburger salad has it all!
  • Low carb & gluten free! No bun = No problem! This salad is packed with so much flavor that you won’t even miss the bun!
  • Easy to customize! Gotta have pickles on your burger? Add as many as you want! Love bacon cheeseburgers? Sprinkle some bacon bits on top! It’s so easy to made this salad taste just like your favorite cheeseburger! (Or hamburger if you omit the cheese!😉)

Need it gluten free? Great news, it already is!

Need it dairy free? Replace the greek yogurt with your favorite dairy free yogurt. (Greek style dairy free yogurt tends to work the best.)

More salad recipes you might like:

[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments. I love seeing what you create!]

Cheeseburger Salad with Healthier Thousand Island Dressing

Seasoned ground beef is tossed with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, dill pickles & red onion then drizzled in a healthier homemade thousand island dressing! This salad is everything you love about cheeseburgers thrown into a bowl!
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: big mac salad, burger salad, cheeseburger bowl, cheeseburger salad, hamburger bowl, healthier, thousand island dressing
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 4 cups lettuce, chopped (romaine or green leaf)
  • 1 lb ground hamburger*
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • ½ cup dill pickles, quartered
  • cup cheddar cheese, diced or grated

For the thousand island dressing:

  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 2 Tbsp milk (any kind)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & black pepper, to taste

Instructions

To make the dressing:

  • Mix your greek yogurt, mayo, ketchup, pickle relish, apple cider vinegar and milk together in a bowl. Then season it with salt and pepper to taste. Place your dressing in the fridge while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

To make the salad:

  • Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat it over medium high heat.
  • Once it's hot, add your ground beef and season it with salt and pepper. (I'll usually go heavier on the pepper.) Saute the beef until it's cooked all the way through. (About 4-5 minutes.) Then transfer your beef to a bowl lined with a paper towel and let it cool completely. (You can place your beef in the fridge to cool faster.)
  • Once your beef is cool, add your lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cheese, pickles and cooled beef to a large bowl. Drizzle your desired amount of dressing over the top and toss the salad until it's fully coated.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

*Quality meat is a must for this recipe! I highly recommend Butcher Box for your ground beef. It’s grass fed, amazing quality & has a very “clean” taste to it.

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