I have to be truthful and say the first time I heard the idea of a ‘cheeseburger salad’, I immediately thought ‘no thanks’! What is it about making snap judgements anyways? In any case, my better judgement finally kicked in and I realized that a cheeseburger wasn’t all that different than these In and Out Style Lettuce Wraps I’m obsessed with.
I mean… really let’s just think about that for a minute. I almost missed out on how good a cheeseburger salad was over a snap judgement, when I’m already a fan of lettuce wrap burgers. Sometimes my brain scares me a little with it’s complete lack of logic in times like this!
Anyways, today’s cheeseburger salad is similar to my In and Out Lettuce Wraps. But instead of the animal sauce, I went with a secret sauce dressing. Which if I’m correct, originally came from the famous ‘golden arches’.
Not that it matters too much where it all originated, because this salad is flat out delicious! In fact I’m making it tonight again, and you might even be able to catch some of the meal prep I did for it over on Insta Stories.
One of the things I like to prep ahead is the bacon bits. It’s the height of summer and oh so hot right now. So if I’m turning on the stove to cook bacon, it’s going to be for more than one meal! I usually cook 1-2 packages, then I cut it all up into bacon bits, and freeze it in portions before it vanishes!
If you know you have a busy night coming, you can always prep a few things ahead. I usually prep the pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and the dressing ahead if I’m going to be using in within a couple days.
I also like to grate the cheese ahead, but speaking of cheese, you can easily leave it out to be a burger salad with secret sauce dressing instead. If you’re strictly paleo, or dairy free, you’ll find there’s so much flavor going on here that you won’t miss the cheese, (well not much anyways… I always miss the cheese personally).
One final thing I almost forgot to mention: you can also sauté the beef in a skillet on the stove top if grilling isn’t your thing. But if you do have access to a grill, definitely go that way because that grill flavor really makes the ‘burger’ flavor authentic to a great hamburger.
Ok… so a second last thing, the recipe calls for tomato paste, but I have used ketchup in a pinch which works great, (just omit the maple syrup or it will be way too sweet). I tend to stay clear of ketchup because I don’t do well with cane sugar. But one of the times I made this, I opened the pantry door to get my last can of tomato paste, only to find I didn’t actually have any. So I used ketchup instead, and it tasted great!Print
All the flavors of the ultimate burger in a super portable chopped salad, so perfect for picnics and patio dinners!
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped into bite sized pieces and washed, 12-14 cups
2 cups grated aged white cheddar cheese, (not packed), omit for dairy free and paleo
3 cups halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, or any tomato chopped bite sized
1 1/2 cups sliced dill pickle
1/2 cup bacon bits, from 4-5 cooked strips, drained and chopped
1 – 14 ounce red onion
1 pound ground beef
Secret Sauce Dressing:
1/3 cup avocado oil mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup pickle juice, (from dill pickles)
1 Tablespoon maple syrup, optional – add to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
Prep all the salad ingredients except the red onion and beef, and place everything in a large serving bowl.
Preheat the grill over medium high heat until a temperature of 350º-400ºF is reached. While the grill heats, cut both ends from the onion, and peel away the tough outer layer. Then slice into 1/2″ slices from the top to the bottom. Form 4 patties from the ground beef. Then place the beef patties, along with the onion slices on the grill, and turn the heat down to medium to maintain a temperature around 350ºF. Grill the onions for 3-4 minutes per side, then remove them to cool. Grill the beef patties for about 8 minutes per side. Timing will vary depending on how thick the patties are, and how well done you prefer your beef.
While the onions and beef are grilling, make the secret sauce dressing by whisking together all the ingredients until smooth.
When the beef patties are done, serve the salad, beef patties, grilled onions, and secret sauce dressing together. You can also keep all the salad ingredients separate, and let each person assemble their salad individually.