You don’t have to wait for ‘burger night’ or even have a grill to enjoy everything you love about a good burger when you’ve got a Burger Bowl with Special Sauce to satisfy that craving. The best part is that you can have them on the table in under 30 minutes and they’re infinitely customizable to take advantage of what you have on hand right now. You can even use ground turkey – this is your Burger Bowl with Special Sauce. You call the shots here, friend.
This post was created in partnership with Primal Kitchen.
This recipe was originally published July 28, 2020; Updated March 16, 2022.
Have It Your Way
Now you can skip the drive-thru and make a mean Burger Bowl with Special Sauce at home with this easy-to-prepare recipe that lets you use up what you’ve got on hand while customizing it to meet your diet preferences and tastes. At the bare minimum you’ll need a bowl, some hamburger, and our ridiculously easy and tasty sauce.
What You’ll Need to Make a Burger Bowl
Consider this as the starting point for your burger bowl:
- Ground beef or turkey
- Mixed greens or greens of choice
- Tomatoes: Cherry or grape tomatoes are easy and just need to be halved if they’re large but sliced or diced fresh tomatoes also work great
- Avocado: Sliced, mashed, or a scoop of your favorite guacamole adds healthy fats and richness
- Pickles: Dill, sweet, spicy…spears, slices, chopped – they’re all good so use the ones you like best. Sauerkraut is also a delicious option!
- Onion: Diced or sliced – yellow, white, or red onions. Fried, grilled or caramelized onions are also fantastic here but we’re really fond of these Quick-Pickled Onions for the tangy-zing they add to a Burger Bowl and everything else they touch
- Cheese: Choose your favorite cheese or leave off the cheese to make this Burger Bowl with Special Sauce dairy-free and Whole30-friendly. Shredded cheddar is a natural choice but crumbled blue cheese and shredded pepper jack are great ways to make your bowl even bolder
- Bacon: Oh, yes. BACON. Go all out and crumble on some bacon if you’d like, it adds a delicious smoky flavor
How to Make a Burger Bowl
It’s really quite simple and this is more of a formula or template than a recipe (except for the Special Sauce – there is a recipe for that below). Start by filling a bowl with a generous portion of leafy greens (Romaine, green or red leaf, butter leaf, spring mix, spinach, etc.) then top it with browned ground beef (or a grilled burger, if you wish) and pile on your favorite burger toppings.
What’s a Burger Without Fries?
It’s just a burger, sadly. So that’s why we’ve added a side of oven-baked sweet potato wedges to this Burger Bowl. They’re the perfect vehicle for getting that Special Sauce to your mouth. If you’re short on time, consider swapping the homemade fries for a bag of frozen sweet potato fries and prepare them according to the package instructions. Looking to keep it low-carb or keto? Omit the fries and add more veggies to fill your bowl.
How Do You Make Special Sauce?
With just a few fridge and pantry staples you can whip up a creamy special sauce in minutes flat, that’s perfect for drizzling over your burger bowl. Here’s what you’ll need to combine:
- Mayo: We’re particularly fond of this avocado oil mayo (and this egg-free version) but use whichever brand you enjoy.
- Ketchup: Looking for an unsweetened, Whole30-friendly ketchup that actually tastes amazing? Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup is one you need!
- Mustard: Dijon mustard is our go-to but spicy brown mustard is delicious too. Even good old yellow mustard is a winner in this burger-turned salad.
- Onion powder: You can certainly mince or grate some fresh onion but a little onion powder is a great shortcut
- Vinegar: Either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work. If you don’t have any vinegar on hand, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice will work too. You just need something to add a little acidity to the sauce
- Fine salt and black pepper
Our Go-To Condiments for Just About Everything
Not all condiments are created equal. Some are packed with sugar and others, like Primal Kitchen, aren’t, which is why they’re the brand we reach for time and time again. Not only are Primal Kitchen ketchup, mustard, and mayo free of refined sugars, they’re made with natural and organic ingredients, have a short ingredient list, and they taste amazing. They’re also Paleo-certified and Whole30-approved.
What’s So Special About Special Sauce?
Well, it’s delicious! And it’s super versatile. You can enjoy it on a burger bowl (or a burger with a bun), on a turkey sandwich, or even on grilled chicken. And you definitely can – and should – dip some oven-roasted sweet potato wedges in it, too. And you can make it ahead and keep it in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.
Want to know more about red meat and how to choose the best quality? Check out our Real Food 101 post on How to Choose Quality Red Meat
For the Burger Bowl:
- 1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
- 8 oz leafy greens of choice (about 8 cups)
- Burger toppings of choice: Pickles, onions, tomatoes, cheese, crisp-cooked bacon, etc.
- Optional: Oven-roasted sweet potato wedges or frozen French fries
For the Sweet Potato Wedges (may use store bought, frozen sweet potato fries or regular fries)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and patted dry
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- Coarse salt and chopped parsley for sprinkling
For the Special Sauce:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons no-sugar-added ketchup
- 2 tablespoons diced pickles (may substitute pickle relish)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Fine salt and black pepper, to taste
Skip steps 1-4 if using frozen sweet potato fries or regular fries
- Preheat oven to 400℉. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- While the oven preheats, slice sweet potatoes (with skins intact) into wedges about ½-inch thick. Place sweet potato wedges on the baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic powder, and chili powder. Drizzle over sweet potatoes and toss well to coat.
- Arrange sweet potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes, flipping only when the undersides have begun to brown and crisp up a bit. Baking time may vary based on the thickness of your potatoes and the amount of moisture in the sweet potatoes.
- While the sweet potatoes are in the oven prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Make the Special Sauce by adding all of the sauce ingredients to a small bowl and stirring to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
- Next place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Break up the beef and cook until it is no longer pink.
- Assemble the bowls by placing about 2 cups of leafy greens in each bowl, then top with the ground beef, avocado slides, bacon, and desired burger toppings. Add a few sweet potato wedges to the side of each bowl (or serve on the side) and drizzle with special sauce.
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- Serving Size: ¼ of the recipe (meat, sauce, and sweet potato wedges)
- Calories: 433
- Fat: 27 g
- (Sat Fat: 5 g)
- Sodium: 754 mg
- Carbohydrate: 3 g
- (Fiber: 1 g
- Sugar: 6 g)
- Protein: 24 g
- Cholesterol: 80 mg
© The Real Food Dietitians
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This post was made possible by our friends at Primal Kitchen. Although we received compensation for this post, the opinions expressed here are – as always – 100% our own. Thank you for supporting the great companies we work with thereby allowing us to continue creating great recipes and free content for you.
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Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Rachel of Half Acre House
Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her husband and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘real food evangelist’ and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them break free of the diet mentality and find their own food freedom. In her spare time, she enjoys CrossFit, telemark skiing, mountain biking, and camping out under the stars.