May 25, 2020

Healthy Burger Bowls with Special Sauce

Healthy burger bowls with special sauce are the perfect way to get your burger fix with even more fresh veggies and flavor. These bowls are so easy to make, use only real food ingredients, and the delicious “special sauce” dressing pulls everything together. This recipe is Whole30 compliant, Paleo-friendly, and low carb. 

Healthy Burger Bowls

Healthy Burger Bowls with Special Sauce

Burger bowls or “burger salads” were one of the first meals that I regularly made when I switched to a Paleo lifestyle. Years later they are still my absolute favorite thing. Honestly, the burger bun just gets in the way at this point.

These healthy burger bowls with special sauce are packed with all the classic burger toppings and can easily be customized to add even more veggies and toppings. A delicious creamy special sauce ties everything together so you get that perfect burger bite.

Serve your healthy burger bowls with a side of  crispy homemade air fryer to French fries or roasted potato wedges with chipotle lime aioli for the ultimate weeknight meal that is Paleo friendly, Whole30 compliant, and so GOOD.

Flavorful Ground Beef  for Delicious Burger Bowls

When it comes to the ground beef in these burger bowls you have a few options. You can go the traditional route and serve your burger bowl with a burger patty or crumble the ground beef as shown here. Both are great options and there is really no “wrong” way. With either option you are going to get perfectly seasoned and flavorful ground beef.

Here are a couple of tips and tricks:

  • If you decide to make burger patties you can easily melt sliced or shredded cheese on each patty like you would with a traditional burger.
  • Making burger patties is a great option if not everyone wants to go the burger bowl route. You can make both traditional burgers and burger bowls with the patties.
  • If you crumble the beef, be sure to drain any excess fat from the meat or use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan before adding it to the bowls.
  • Don’t overcook your beef! There’s nothing worse than dry, tough hamburger meat.
  • Don’t love ground beef? You could easily make this recipe with ground turkey!

The Best Burger Bowl Toppings

romaine lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, red onion in a white bowl

Next to the juicy ground beef, the toppings are really the best part of any burger. These burger bowls keep things a bit classic and use delicious toppings like:

  • Fresh tomato
  • Tangy pickles
  • Red onion
  • Herby dill

Of course, you can get even more creative with your toppings! What is great about burger bowls is that there is plenty of room for even more fresh toppings.

Here are a few more topping ideas to try:

  • Crispy bacon
  • Grilled veggies like zucchini, peppers, and onions
  • Creamy avocado
  • Shredded carrots
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Fresh or pickled hot peppers like jalapeños or pepperoncinis
  • Mushrooms
  • Shredded cheese
  • A fried egg
  • Fresh herbs like dill or parsley
  • Sliced green onion

How to Make the “Special Sauce”

special sauce in a white ramekin with a spoon dipped in the middle

Since these are burger bowls, there is no place to spread on your favorite condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, or mustard. So instead, this recipe using a special sauce, that includes all three, as the “dressing” for the burger bowls.

Special Sauce Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Yellow mustard
  • Pickle juice
  • Dill relish
  • Spices and seasonings

To make the sauce, add all of the ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir until they are well combined. Remember, you can always adjust a recipe to fit your tastebuds! If you want a little more tang in the dressing add more pickle juice. Want more mustard flavor? Add a little more. Do not be afraid to get in there and make this your own!

If you are concerned about making sure this recipe stays Whole30 compliant, be sure to check the labels on your ingredients before using them to make the sauce. You will want to use a Whole30 compliant mayonnaise, ketchup, and dill relish in this recipe to keep it Whole30 friendly.

ground beef, red onion, special sauce, tomatoes, pickles in a white bowl

More Delicious Recipes to Love

Chicken Bacon Avocado Chopped Salad

Homemade Honey Mustard Sauce

Healthy Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Whole30 Crispy Buffalo Chicken Wings

Slow Cooker Chipotle Beef Burrito Bowls 



Healthy Burger Bowls with Special Sauce

  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free
  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


For the Burger Meat

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano 
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

For the Salad

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes 
  • Pickles 
  • Red onion

Special Sauce

  • ¼ cup mayo 
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup 
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pickle juice 
  • 1 tablespoon dill relish 
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika


  1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and spices. Brown the beef, breaking it up as it cooks, until it is fully cooked through.
  2. While the beef is browning, make the special sauce. Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together until well combined.
  3. Assemble your burger bowls. Start with romaine lettuce then add the toppings and cooked ground beef. Drizzle the special sauce over everything and then enjoy!

Keywords: burger salad, burger bowl, keto burger bowl, burger in a bowl


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  1. My husband and I loved this recipe – especially the special sauce! I really liked that we got the taste of a burger while keeping it healthier!

  2. Quick, easy, had all the ingredients on hand – subbed beef for turkey. Even the kids loved it and said it was a “keeper”!

  3. These were amazing! Served with a side of fries and even my kids loved it 🙂 Thanks for the great recipe!

  4. This recipe was excellent! I made it ahead of time to take with us camping- it traveled and stored well in the cooler and heated up easily once we were there. It was absolutely delicious. My husband loved it- and he is usually not one to try recipes that would change up his typical burger. This will definitely be a keeper recipe that gets added to our normal menu rotation! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  5. This was amazing! Great for the keto diet but felt like I was eating a Big Mac. Will make again for sure! Thank you!

  6. This recipe was so good and so easy to make! I love the fact that is still burgers but just with more lettuce 🙂 The sauce is so on point and a really great addition to the dish besides your plain ketchup or mustard. Will be using that sauce for a lot more things! Can’t wait to make this a regular meal!

  7. I LOVE all of Ashleas recipes! This is the second one iv’e made this week alone. It was SUPER easy, fast and simple to make. My husband was obsessed with the special sauce. It definitely completes this meal. Thanks Ashlea!

  8. I’ve made this recipe a few times now – it’s so fast, easy and GOOD. I love being able to mix up the toppings to use what I have on hand. The dressing will make anything work!!

  9. This is the first recipe I’ve made from All the Healthy Things and it was amazing! Super quick and easy to make, and the sauce is delicious! I’ve already made the sauce again as a dip for sweet potato fries. I’ll definitely be making this meal often this summer!

  10. Made this recipe for dinner tonight and it was great! As the name suggests, tastes like a burger in a bowl. I will definitely make it again. Thank you!

  11. I made this for dinner, we all loved it. I think next time I’ll double the special sauce since it was so good. My picky teenagers loved it and asked for seconds. I will definitely be making this again!

  12. This was my 1st All the Healthy Things recipe, and I’m a fan! This was so easy to make and delicious. I will definitely be making this again.

  13. This is such an awesome idea! Delicious and easy to make…just the kind of recipe I need on these hot summer days!

  14. This was so good! Easy to make and all the flavors of a burger in a lighter version.

    Will definitely be adding this to my rotation of staple meals.

  15. Why have I never thought to do this before? Thanks Ashlea for this awesome recipe! It is SO dang good and simple…will definitely be making it again and again

  16. This salad is just as easy to prepare as it is delicious! I looked up at my husband last night and said, omg it’s so good I don’t even miss the hamburger bun. Meanwhile, he was *this close* to licking his plate bc the special sauce is THAT GOOD. Thanks for such a simple, flexible and delicious recipe!

  17. YUM! This was super flavorful and very easy to cook up after a busy Monday! We loved the special sauce so much and this really snuck in extra greens 🙂 this was my first recipe of yours and I can’t wait to try more!

  18. I tried this the other night, and let me tell you…has to be one of the top 3 salads I’ve had in my LIFE. Seriously SO TASTY. I’m not an onion eater, so I thru on some wildbrine sauerkraut in addition to tomatoes, pickles, and some leftover breakfast potatoes for kicks. Topped with a cut up burger and the special sauce…this was one delicious salad that I will be making on the reg. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  19. I love different types of bowls and it did not cross my mind to do a burger bowl until following All the Healthy Things. So delicious!! The sauce was my favorite part!

  20. We made this the other night and inhaled it so quickly we forgot to take pictures. We aren’t currently strictly paleo (or Whole30), but this was delicious enough to completely satisfy our burger cravings! The beef seasonings were delicious (better than some burgers we’ve had), and the special sauce… Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm! And it came together SO quickly! This will be a regular week-night staple. It would be easy to turn this into a “grilled chicken [sandwich] bowl” or something similar—the sauce makes it. Can’t wait to make it again!

  21. Made these the other night and will definitely be making again! I made mine as a burger since my fiance wasn’t sure if he’d like it over salad. Next time he said he’s excited to try as the “burger bowl”!

  22. These burger bowls are SO good! The meat is tasty and we loved the sauce. Will definitely be a regular meal throughout the summer! I added sliced avocado to it as well.

  23. Love this recipe!! New go-to salad for the summer! Usually salads aren’t “filling”, but this is so satisfying!

  24. This salad is AMAZING! So fresh and SO flavorful!! My husband is obsessed. Adding this to our summer dinner rotation ASAP!

  25. I made this tonight and it was delicious! I already can’t wait to make it again. I don’t think I ever need a real burger again after finding this recipe!

  26. I’m doing Whole 30 and we had this for dinner tonight. It was amazing. I’m looking forward to making this ASAP along with trying your other recipes 🙂

  27. I am doing my first official Whole30 and am on day 8. I made this burger bowl tonight with the secret sauce and I’m suddenly not feeling overwhelmed about the next 22 days. This was absolutely delicious and a go-to (whole30 or not) from here on out. I can’t wait to dig into your other whole30 recipes. Thank you!

  28. Love this burger bowl! The special sauce is fantastic, I scraped every last bit into my bowl and licked the spoon! This recipe will be on repeat in my weekly meal plans all summer.

  29. On day 26 of 30 of my Whole30 and I think I’ve made these burger bowls at least 8 times. Burger patties instead of ground beef work well if you’re in a pinch. The protein options are endless! I have a jar of secret sauce in my fridge at all times now!

  30. This was delicious! I used ground turkey that I had on hand and some homemade refrigerator pickles. I’ll definitely make this again.

  31. Absolutely LOVED this recipe! I love how it is so simple to make but the flavors from all the seasoning and the burger sauce just really brings it all together. Such a healthier alternative when I’m craving fast food burgers!

  32. This recipe is the best! Burger bowls have become a favorite among my husband and I. It is so easy and you can truly use whatever you have on hand. So versatile and so tasty!

  33. My husband and kids love these! A great way to use summer greens and the sauce is AMAZING! So full of flavor and perfect for lunch 🙂

  34. This was so delicious, especially the special sauce! I added some banana peppers and they were 🌶👌🏼. Thanks for the inspiration – would never have thought to make a burger bowl if I hadn’t seen it on your lovely Instagram account.

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