One of my husband’s favorite foods on the planet is a really good greasy cheeseburger. Unfortunately, he has some health issues that make him feel terrible whenever he eats one.
We realized a few years back that it was the combination of the meat with the grain-filled bun that caused the issues—so we moved to bunless burgers, using sweet potato planks or lettuce leaves instead of buns. That worked, but it was messy and hard to control all the glorious burger toppings.
Then, a few months back, I decided to put all the burger fixin’s into a big bowl salad instead. My burger-loving husband took one bite and then looked at me and said, “Can we please have these every week?” And since that day, we have!
My husband gets to eat his “burger” and still feel great—the best of both worlds. So if your body feels better with a gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, or even Whole30 diet, but you’re still missing your burgers—this is the recipe for you!
How do you make loaded burger bowls?
These burger bowls are basically all your favorite burger toppings just layered into a big dinner salad—so whatever toppings you love on burgers, you can add them to the salad! Here are my recommendations:
- Sauté up some ground beef with seasonings until brown and crumbly. Some burger bowls use full burger patties or meatballs, and I tried those, but I found that browned ground beef got you great, savory burger flavor in every salad bite.
- Mix up your Special Sauce! This is the dressing for the salad, and a Whole30- and paleo-friendly version of the special sauce that gets put on a Big Mac at McDonalds. You blend it all up in the blender!
- Assemble your bowls! I do romaine or green leaf lettuce, red onions, cherry tomatoes, crumbled bacon, avocado, the beef, and dill pickles, and then drizzle on the special sauce. My daughter likes to add chunks of sharp cheddar cheese (which makes it not Whole30- or paleo-compliant).
What can you serve with burger bowls?
I believe burger bowls tend to be filling enough to be a meal on their own, but if you’re looking to add a little bit more heft in the form of a filling carbohydrate—this is the perfect meal to serve with Baked Sweet Potato Fries. The fries are super good dipped in the Special Sauce!
Okay, so what’s the secret to the Special Sauce?
To make a Whole30- and paleo-friendly dressing for these burger bowl salads, you’ll create a date-sweetened Special Sauce right in your blender! The sweetness of the sauce comes only from pitted Medjool dates—no added sugar—and the savory taste comes from coconut aminos.
I always have coconut aminos in my kitchen because they are a gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, Whole30-compliant alternative for both soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. You can purchase them online, or many major supermarkets now carry them with either their soy sauce or their salad dressings. If you can’t get your hands on coconut aminos, then Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or tamari will all work—just be warned that those items are usually not Whole30-compliant.
Can you meal prep these burger bowls?
You sure can! In fact, these burger bowl salads are perfect candidates for the Salad in a Jar method! Just layer the individual elements in a jar in the following order:
- Special Sauce
- Seasoned Beef (cooled)
- Bacon (cooled)
- Avocado (make sure to treat with Fruit Fresh)
Then seal the jar up tight and keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. When you’re ready to eat, dump it all into a bowl, and enjoy! Our general Salad in a Jar post has more information (and a video) to give you all the tricks and tips to make sure your salads stay fresh and crisp for days.
The recipe below is my favorite combination of burger toppings, but feel free to experiment with whatever toppings sound good to you. I think a burger bowl with blue cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized onions would be amazing! Enjoy.