Cheeseburger Salad

$10.74 recipe / $2.69 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.88 from 8 votes
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If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my story the other day where I was trying to figure out what to do with a pound of ground beef that I had in the freezer. Of course my first thought was, “CHEESEBURGER!” But then my reasonable side kicked in and reminded me that I’m trying to “do better.” 🙄  So, I started thinking about salads. We had just eaten Greek food the night before, and if they can put gyro meat on a salad, then I figured I can put a hamburger on a salad, right? So here it is. I made a Cheeseburger salad. 🤷‍♀️  And it wasn’t even as weird as I thought it was going to be.

Want more salad recipes? Check out our Salad Recipe Archives!

a huge fresh Cheeseburger Salad with animal sauce dressing drizzled over top

What is Animal Sauce Dressing??

“Animal sauce” is the dressing on In-and-Out Burgers. For this dressing I mixed up a homemade animal-sauce-like dressing, which as it turns out is a lot like Thousand Island dressing. So again, burger-salad-burger not so different. If you don’t want to make your own dressing, just grab a bottle of Thousand Island. It’s basically the same thing.

Make it Your Own

I think what I love the most about this cheeseburger salad idea  is all the variations you can do with it. My mind kind of ran wild with the idea and I had to pull myself back in and remember to keep it simple. BUT if you want to go wild, try adding all the fun things you can add to a burger, like caramelized onions, blue cheese, avocado, sautéed mushrooms, bacon… the possibilities are endless.

Close up of a forkful of Cheeseburger Salad with animal sauce dressing
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Cheeseburger Salad with Animal Sauce Dressing

4.88 from 8 votes
When you’re got to have your burger, but you’re trying to do better, make a Cheeseburger Salad!
When you're got to have your burger, but you're trying to do better, make a Cheeseburger Salad!
Servings 4
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 35 minutes




  • 1 lb ground beef ($5.86)
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt ($0.05)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
  • 2 hearts of Romaine ($1.99)
  • 1/4 red onion ($0.25)
  • 1 large tomato ($0.65)
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded ($0.75)


  • Prepare the animal sauce dressing by stirring together the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, cider vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, sugar, and some freshly cracked pepper in a bowl. Set the dressing aside.
  • Rinse the Romaine lettuce well, let it drain, and then cut it into 2-inch pieces. Set the prepared lettuce aside.
  • Place the ground beef in a bowl, add the seasoning salt, and mix with your hands until the seasoning salt is evenly incorporated. Divide the meat into four portions, then divide each portion into four small ping-pong-sized balls. Flatten the balls into mini burger patties.
  • Add a little cooking oil to a non-stick skillet and heat over medium flame. Once hot, add some of the mini burgers and cook on each side until well browned (3-5 minutes each side). Transfer the cooked burgers to a paper towel lined plate and cook the next batch.
  • While the burgers are cooking, thinly slice the red onion, cut the tomato into wedges, and shred the cheddar cheese.
  • Once all of the mini burgers are cooked, build the salads. Place 1/4 of the lettuce in each of four large bowls and sprinkle the sliced onion and shredded cheddar over top. Add tomato wedges to each bowl along with 3-4 of the mini burger patties. Drizzle the animal sauce dressing over top and enjoy!

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Serving: 1ServingCalories: 571.33kcalCarbohydrates: 17.48gProtein: 24.28gFat: 46.53gSodium: 843.48mgFiber: 6.63g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Cheeseburger salad from above with a fork taking a bite and bread on the side

How to Make Cheeseburger Salad – Step by Step Photos

Animal Sauce dressing mixed in a bowl

Prepare the animal sauce dressing first by stirring together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 Tbsp relish (dill or sweet), 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Chop Romaine lettuce

Rinse two Romaine lettuce hearts well, then chop them into 2-inch strips. Set the prepared lettuce aside.

Shaped mini burger patties

Using your hands, mix together 1 lb. ground beef with 1/2 tsp seasoning salt. Divide the meat into four portions, then divide each of those portions into four small ping-pong sized balls. Flatten the balls into mini burger patties.

Cook mini burger patties in the skillet

Add a little cooking oil to a non-stick skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, add some of the mini burger patties and cook until well browned on each side (3-5 minutes on each side). Transfer the cooked patties to a paper towel lined plate and then cook the next batch. While you’re cooking the burgers, thinly slice 1/4 red onion and cut one large tomato into wedges. Shred 2oz. of cheddar cheese.

Finished Cheeseburger Salad in the bowl

To build the Cheeseburger Salad, place 1/4 of the chopped lettuce in each of four large bowls. Sprinkle sliced red onion over top along with a little shredded cheddar. Add tomato wedges and 3-4 of the mini burger patties to each bowl.

Drizzle Animal Sauce Over Cheeseburger Salad

Finally, drizzle the animal sauce dressing over top and DIG IN.

Cheeseburger salad ready to eat in a bowl

Summer eats at their best!

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  1. This is one of our all-time favorite recipes. Every one of our 8 family members really loves this salad. I would just say that we do the dressing 3 to 4 times the amount because its so good.

  2. LURV! This salad is yummo. I love pickles so I add some chopped pickles in the salad, too. I’m also a fan on melted cheese instead of shredded within the salad, so I melt cheese on top of the sliders. Been in the rotation for years. Often pair with Budget Bytes Sweet Potato Fries.

  3. I made the sauce with greek yogurt in a sad attempt to make this healthier. I’ve never had real animal sauce but I thought it tasted fine (and my boyfriend approved). The tiny patties have a surprising amount of flavor. Also served with the sweet potato fries per another commentor’s suggestion. 😋

  4. Another fantastic recipe from Budget Bytes! I made this last night for my husband and I using beyond meat burgers, and your pickled red onion (we didn’t have raw red onion) which turned out fantastic. My toddler had a “deconstructed” salad and ate it all.
    We decided this is going on the regular meal rotation. Thank you again Beth for helping keep my family’s belly and wallet full!

  5. Made this tonight and it is a total winner! The salad is delicious and so simple to make. I love that it is not another chicken salad. Served it with some sweet potato fries on the side.

  6. I made it without the cheese and sugar and was still delish! Can’t wait for tomatoes to be in season this summer to make it again.

  7. Beth. This Cheeseburger Salad with Animal Sauce Dressing is on point!!!! I added some grilled onions, chopped tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese. Honestly, I felt like I was eating a salad from In-N-Out. I’m looking forward to having left overs for dinner and will definitely make this salad again later. Thank you for the amazing recipe!!!! :-)

  8. It’s awesome! I used the Big Mac sauce since it’s pretty similar to the sauce you used and I was in a hurry and it works wonderfully well.

  9. This has quickly become my hubbys favorite! Makes a great lunch for the office too.

  10. I’ve been making cheeseburger salads for years, though usually I just chop up a burger patty. Your little burgers are so cute! I love to add chopped dill pickle to my salad as well.

  11. This looks delicious! I’m currently doing a Whole 30, and this is a great option sans the cheese and sugar in the Animal Sauce. I’m not as worried about the cheese, but do you think it’d taste horribly different with the sugar?

    1. Yes, you probably could get away with it because there is still sugar in the ketchup and the relish. It will just be a bit more tart.