The Best Broccoli Salad combines fresh broccoli, crispy bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, shredded cheese and creamy dressing. This easy salad is the best of both worlds – healthier and flavorful.
We served this broccoli salad recipe with honey garlic chicken. Kids loved it!
Broccoli Salad Recipe
It took me 20 years of living in Canada to love a broccoli salad. But don’t you kinda agree that deli and bottled dressing versions are less than even OK? Now not this broccoli salad recipe. It is fresh and vibrant, perfect summer or any time salad, or an Easter side dish that comes together in less than 30 minutes.
We now added this salad to our regular rotation because our family just loves it. Even my husband, Alex, who doesn’t generally eat just any creamy soup or salad. Unless it is made by me because he knows it is lighter. 🙂
So, this broccoli salad has everything it should have. It is the best of both worlds – healthy veggies and seeds combined with everyone’s favorite bacon and creamy dressing. I always say that moderation is key when living a healthy lifestyle, at least for us. And this salad is a proof of that. Pinky promise, it is the best!
Ingredients You Will Need
Everyone loves broccoli salad with their own twist. And good news is that it is highly customizable.
- Broccoli for broccoli salad is usually raw. You can blanch broccoli in a pot with boiling water for 1 minute. Then transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking process and drain really well before adding to a salad. You can buy pre-chopped broccoli but I find a head of broccoli chopped at home way more fresh.
- Yogurt + mayo make creamy and balanced dressing. On its own, yogurt is too tart. And 3/4 cup mayo is too much.
- Dried cranberries: I try to buy unsweetened, doesn’t always work out haha. Raisins or grapes would also work well.
- Sunflower seeds: I try to buy sunflower seeds in bulk so I can smell how fresh they are haha. Don’t laugh but stale seeds have ruined my food in the past.
- Red onion is more mild than yellow or white onion and looks pretty.
- Bacon: Let’s just agree that if a little bit of crumbled bacon makes us eat more broccoli, we should add it.
- Cheese: The thicker the shred, the better for a broccoli salad. Do not use pre-shredded store bought thin cheese. Grate your own into thickers pieces.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
Broccoli salad is quite sturdy and tastes even better in a few hours and can be made ahead.
- Bake bacon in 400 degrees F preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until crispy. I line baking sheet with silicone mat for easy clean up and drain fat into a jar to use for cooking. Transfer bacon on triple folded paper towel to drain.
- While bacon is baking, chop broccoli florets into bite size pieces. I prefer to cut a floret into 4 quarters. You can also peel and chop the stem, a heck of a nutrition power house. I do it, especially with organic broccoli. Or save for spiralizing one day.
- Add red onion, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries to a large salad bowl.
- Make dressing by combining mayo and yogurt in a medium bowl. I usually add oil based dressing ingredients straight to a salad bowl. But with creamy dressing I find mixed separately is better.
- Crumble bacon, drizzle dressing, stir and let salad sit. While you can serve broccoli salad right away, I prefer to let flavors “marry each other” in the fridge for about 30 minutes – 2 hours.
How to Make Ahead and Store
To make ahead, combine all broccoli salad ingredients, except seeds, and do not stir. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Store seeds separately in a container in a pantry or on a counter, otherwise they will become soggy in the fridge. Stir broccoli salad 30 mins – 2 hours before serving.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Broccoli is a firm vegetable and doesn’t become soggy quickly.
If you do not serve broccoli salad during Easter, potluck or BBQ here are a few dinner ideas for it:
- Honey garlic chicken goes amazing with a creamy salad. That’s when kids fell in love with a broccoli salad.
- Serving a big crowd? Add 1-2 cups of cooked chicken to bulk up the dish with protein.
- Let Instant Pot meatballs cook on their own while you are prepping this salad.
- Chicken quesadilla might be not the norm but so good and easy. Who cares? 🙂
- In summer, make easy grilled chicken breast and serve along with super easy Instant Pot corn on the cob.
More Healthy Salad Recipes
- Cauliflower potato salad
- Spinach salad
- Brussels sprouts salad
- Beet salad with arugula
- Broccoli quinoa salad
- Browse 30 more salad recipes.
- 1 large head of raw broccoli 5 cups, chopped
- 5 bacon strips low sodium
- 1/4 cup red onion diced
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries unsweetened
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup cheddar cheese coarsely grated
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt 2%+ fat
- 1/4 cup quality mayo I use avocado oil one
- Ground black pepper to taste
- While bacon is baking, chop broccoli florets into bite size pieces and place in a large salad bowl.
- Add red onion, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and cheese.
- Make dressing by combining mayo and yogurt in a medium bowl.
- Crumble bacon, drizzle dressing, stir and let salad sit.
- While you can serve broccoli salad right away, I prefer to let flavors "marry each other" in the fridge for about 30 minutes - 2 hours.
- Make ahead: Combine all broccoli salad ingredients, except seeds, and do not stir. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Add seeds before serving otherwise they will become soggy in the fridge. Stir broccoli salad 30 mins - 2 hours before serving.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Broccoli is sturdy and doesn't become soggy.
- I line baking sheet with silicone mat for easy clean up and drain fat into a jar to use for cooking.
- Usually broccoli salad is made with raw broccoli. But you can blanch it in a pot with boiling water for 1 minute. Then cool in ice bath, drain well and add to salad.
- I prefer taste of freshly chopped broccoli but you can use chopped in bags.
- Raisins or grapes would go well instead of cranberries.
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