At my house, we have a few meals in rotation that we turn to when we want something satisfying and familiar. Burger salads are one of those no-fail favorites. We almost always have everything in the house to make them, it’s easy to do a kid-friendly version (a.k.a. a burger on a bun), and I can throw some store-bought potato or cauliflower tots in the air fryer for a zero effort side dish.
Customize Your Salad
Burger salads are adaptable — just like you can add lots of different toppings to a hamburger, you can use the same ingredients in your salad. Here are some ideas beyond the basic lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions:
- Crumbled bacon or bacon bits
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Sautéed onions
- Fried eggs
- Sliced avocado
- Tater tots (yup, you can sprinkle them right in the salad!)
You can also switch up the iceberg lettuce base.Try spring mix, romaine, butter or green leaf lettuce, or baby spinach. You can toss in other typical salad veggies if you want to as well, but honestly, I like to keep things simple so that the flavor profile of the salad is most like eating an actual hamburger.
Dressing or Burger Sauce?
And as for the dressing, it’s a burger sauce, of course! It’s made with ketchup, mayo, mustard, and chopped dill pickles, super simple and good. To save some effort, you can sub in a store-bought Thousand Island, Russian dressing, burger sauce, or aïoli if you like. I also make sure to have ketchup and mustard at the table in case anyone wants to drizzle them on.
Of course, if a burger sauce isn’t your favorite dressing, you can go in an entirely different direction with barbecue sauce, or a honey mustard or ranch dressing.
An Easy Weeknight Favorite With Minimal Cooking Required
This is such an easy meal to put together. The only absolutely required cooking is to cook the actual hamburgers, and everything else is just assembly. You could even buy a bagged iceberg salad mix if you wanted to make this a zero chopping recipe.
My method for cooking hamburgers is the same as most people— I sear them in a skillet on the stove. Let them sear for about 3 minutes, flip and cook them for another 3 minutes, and they are done.
Make It Vegan
This is a very easy recipe to veganize with a few plant-based ingredient subs. To make the recipe vegan, shape the patties from Beyond Beef or Impossible Beef instead of ground beef, sprinkle on vegan cheese shreds instead of cheddar, and stir vegan mayo into the dressing instead of an egg-based mayo.
Season Your Burgers
My favorite burger seasoning is this one by Mike Lang, which has a little bit of kick from cayenne and ground mustard, and an extra savory note from ground cumin. I sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon on each burger patty. You could use your favorite store-bought seasoning blend instead, or just salt and pepper.
Serving and Planning Ahead
Serve the burger salads with fries or tots, or have them on their own for a lighter meal.
These salads are best eaten right away. If you’d like to prep ahead, you can mix up the dressing up to 5 days ahead, and shape the patties and chop up the salad veggies up to 1 day ahead. Keep everything in the fridge until you’re ready to cook the burgers, then season the patties just before cooking.
More Dinners for Burger Fans
- Cheeseburger Pizza
- Cheeseburger Soup
- Cheeseburger Empanadas
- Cheeseburger Casserole
Shape the burgers:
Divide the ground beef into 4 even portions. Using your hands or a burger mold, shape them into patties about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2” thick. Sprinkle the burger seasoning onto both sides of each patty (1/4 teaspoon per side).
Cook the burgers:
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Spray the pan with avocado oil, then add the burger patties. Let them sear for 3 minutes, or until they are well browned and will release easily from the pan.
Use a thin, flexible spatula to flip the burgers. Leave them to cook for 3 minutes more, without moving them around, until they are well seared on both sides and still just a bit pink in the middle (you can cut one open to test, if you like, or use an instant read thermometer and refer to the temperature guide here). Remove the patties to a dish to rest.
While the burgers are cooking, make the dressing:
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper until evenly combined.
Assemble and serve the salads:
In four wide, shallow bowls, arrange the lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle chips, and cheddar cheese. (I like to sprinkle each ingredient evenly around the bowl rather than making piles of ingredients, so each bite gets some of everything.) Top each salad with one of the burger patties, then drizzle a few tablespoons of the burger sauce onto each salad, to taste. Top each salad with a couple grinds of black pepper and serve right away.
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