by Olena

Healthy Broccoli Salad

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
4.9 from 13 votes

Healthy Broccoli Salad combines fresh broccoli, crispy bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, shredded cheddar cheese and lighter Greek yogurt dressing. This easy salad is the best of both worlds – healthier and flavorful.

Serve it with honey garlic chicken or lemon chicken and the kids will love it!

healthy broccoli salad

It took me 20 years of living in Canada to fall in love with a broccoli salad. I find deli salads and the ones with bottled dressing are overpoweringly sweet, salty and fatty. Now not this healthy broccoli salad. It is fresh and vibrant, perfect summer or potluck salad, or an Easter side dish that comes together in less than 30 minutes.

We now added this healthy broccoli salad recipe to our regular rotation because our family just loves it, especially kids. I also started incorporating broccoli on a regular basis into recipes like broccoli quinoa salad, broccoli cheese soup and broccoli quiche! Even my husband, Alex, who doesn’t generally eat just any creamy food like chicken wild rice soup or potato salad, enjoys this salad. He knows that when it’s made by me it’ll be 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 healthy broccoli salad with Greek yogurt dressing (just a touch of mayo – you can skip) is a proof of that. Pinky promise, it is the best!

And you can still enjoy your broccoli in more traditional warm ways too like healthy beef and broccoli, sautéed garlic broccoli with tomatoes, chicken and broccoli stir fry, and ground turkey and broccoli pasta among others!

healthy broccoli salad with yogurt dressing, dried cranberries and bacon

Ingredients for Healthy Broccoli Salad

Everyone loves broccoli salad with their own twist. And good news is that this healthy broccoli salad recipe is highly customizable. Use what you have on hand and please check out list of substitutions and variations below.

  • Broccoli for broccoli salad is usually raw. You can buy pre-chopped broccoli but I would use it within a few days as it quickly spoils and acquires an odor.
  • Bacon: Let’s just agree that if a little bit of crumbled bacon makes us eat more broccoli (and potatoes and asparagus – I mean, have you tried these Ukrainian breakfast potatoes or bacon wrapped asparagus?!), we should add it.
  • Cheese: Sharp cheddar cheese is a good choice for healthy broccoli salad because it adds more flavor with less calories than regular cheddar. The sharper, the better. Look for old aged or extra sharp cheddar 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.
  • Dried cranberries: Unsweetened dried cranberries are a healthier choice but they are not always available in supermarkets. Use regular ones but maybe less.
  • Sunflower seeds: Fresh sunflower seeds make all the difference. Feel free to give them a quick toasts in the skillet for an extra layer of flavor.
  • Red onion: It is more mild onion variety than yellow or white onion, and looks pretty.
  • Yogurt and mayo: Plain regular or Greek yogurt with at least 2% fat content for the creamy factor. And a touch of your favorite mayonnaise (I like avocado oil mayo) completes the creamy and balanced healthy broccoli salad dressing. On its own, yogurt is too tart and 3/4 cup mayo is too much, so we find a happy medium by combining both.
  • Mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper: To round out flavors in creamy dressing.
broccoli, craisins, sunflower seeds, cheese and bacon drizzled with yogurt dressing

How to Make Healthy Broccoli Salad

This healthy broccoli salad recipe is a great make ahead salad, unlike lettuce salad is quite sturdy and doesn’t wilt, and tastes even better in a few hours.

  • Cook bacon: 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. Or line with parchment paper then toss in compost for even easier clean up. Transfer bacon on triple folded paper towel to drain.
  • Make salad dressing: Combine yogurt, mayo, mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper in a large salad bowl and stir well until combined.
  • Prep veggies and other salad ingredients: 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, especially if you use organic broccoli. Or save for spiralizing one day. Add broccoli along with red onion, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries to a bowl with dressing and set aside.
  • Assemble salad: Crumble or chop bacon, add to the bowl, stir and let salad sit. While you can serve healthy broccoli salad with yogurt dressing right away, I prefer to let flavors “marry each other” in the fridge for about 30 minutes to 2 hours.

More Tips and Variations

Below are few suggestions for substitutions, if you like softer broccoli and how to make super healthy broccoli salad. Also make sure to check out this interesting version of vegan broccoli salad.

  • Softer broccoli: 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.
  • Dried cranberries substitute: Raisins or fresh grapes would also work very well in this light and easy broccoli salad recipe. The addition of sweet fruit/berries combined with salty bacon and sharp cheddar is what makes this salad outstandingly flavorful.
  • Add more veggies: Chopped celery adds volume, texture, crunch and nutrition to any salad, whether it’s chicken salad, tuna salad or a broccoli salad.
  • For super healthy broccoli salad: Skip bacon completely and add 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast to the dressing and maybe another sprinkle to taste to the salad. Feel free to cut back mayo to 1 tbsp and amp the yogurt. Or use olive oil and soy sauce based salad dressing from my spinach salad recipe. It suits this salad very well!

Can I Make Broccoli Salad Ahead?

Yes. 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 anywhere from 30 mins to 2 hours before serving.

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Broccoli is a firm vegetable and doesn’t become soggy quickly.

Serving Suggestions

If you do not serve broccoli salad during Easter, potluck, or at a BBQ here are a few healthy dinner ideas for it:

  • Winner-winner chicken dinner: Honey garlic chicken with its sticky glaze goes amazing with a healthy broccoli salad with Greek yogurt. It’s that combination of sweet and salty combined with creamy and crunchy. That’s when kids fell in love with a broccoli salad concept.
  • Serving a big crowd: Add 1-2 cups of any cooked chicken to bulk up the dish with protein.
  • Put pressure cooker to work: Let Instant Pot meatballs cook on their own while you are prepping this salad. You can even add pasta afterwards to the pot and make a one pot pasta with meatballs and broccoli salad on a side. So easy!
  • Mexican dinner: Chicken quesadilla might be not the norm but so good and easy. Combined with broccoli salad, your quick dinner will consist of protein, fiber and complex carbs in under 45 minutes.
  • Hot day meal: In summer, make easy grilled chicken breast and serve along with super easy Instant Pot corn on the cob.

More Healthy Salad Recipes

Or go and check out my list of the best 45 healthy salad recipes for more inspiration!

healthy broccoli salad recipe served in white bowl
Healthy Broccoli Salad

Healthy Broccoli Salad

Healthy Broccoli Salad combines fresh broccoli, crispy bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, shredded cheddar cheese and lighter creamy dressing. This easy salad is the best of both worlds – healthier and flavorful.
4.85 from 13 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 306kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 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 mayonnaise I use avocado oil mayo
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line large baking sheet with silicone mat or unbleached parchment paper. Place bacon strips on it and bake for about 20 minutes or until crispy. After transfer bacon on triple folded paper towel to drain.
  • In a large salad bowl add yogurt, mayo, mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper; whisk to combine and set aside.
  • Chop broccoli florets into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the dressing. Also add red onion, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and cheese.
  • Crumble or chop bacon, add to the salad bowl, stir and let broccoli 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.
  • We served salad with honey garlic chicken. In summer, grilled chicken breast and corn on the cob would be so appropriate.

Store: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Broccoli is sturdy and doesn't become soggy.

    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.

      Notes

      Recipe updated April 2021. See Recipe Post for more Tips.
      • Broccoli for broccoli salad is usually raw. You can buy pre-chopped broccoli but I would use it within a few days as it quickly spoils and acquires an odor.
      • Cheese: Sharp cheddar cheese is a good choice for healthy broccoli salad because it adds more flavor with less calories than regular cheddar. The sharper, the better. Look for old aged or extra sharp cheddar 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.
      • Dried cranberries: Unsweetened dried cranberries are a healthier choice but they are not always available in supermarkets. Use regular ones but maybe less.
      • Sunflower seeds: Fresh sunflower seeds make all the difference. Feel free to give them a quick toasts in the skillet for an extra layer of flavor.
      • Yogurt and mayo: Plain regular or Greek yogurt with at least 2% fat content for the creamy factor. And a touch of your favorite mayonnaise (I like avocado oil mayo) completes the creamy and balanced healthy broccoli salad dressing. On its own, yogurt is too tart and 3/4 cup mayo is too much, so we find a happy medium by combining both.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1cup | Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 370mg | Potassium: 484mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 718IU | Vitamin C: 91mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 2mg
      Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

      Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes anywhere including social media, print and all world wide web. Nutritional info is provided for informational purposes only and to the best knowledge.

      Did you try this recipe?

      Follow @ifoodreal on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #ifoodreal. Show me what you are making!

      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

      25 comments on “Healthy Broccoli Salad

      Our “happiness” software automatically deletes any comments of racial, politicial, religious or any offensive nature without publishing, so we can keep on happily cooking delicious recipes for you. For substitutions please refer to extensive recipe post and recipe card notes. If you don't see an answer, you are welcome to try your version and let us know how it went as recipes are posted only as tested. Comments may take up to 24-48 hours to reply. Please see our full comment policy.:).

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

      Recipe Rating




      This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

      1. 5 stars
        Made it this evening absolutely yummy and it’s true there was not a strong broccoli taste at all? Will defo be doing again and the cauliflower potato salad too ❤️❤️

      2. 5 stars
        Another great recipe! Thanks Olena! I had fat free yogurt so I added a small box of raisins to sweeten it up a little. I like that the recipes have whole foods. My husband love this! I finally found healthy recipes that are fun and easy to make!

      3. 5 stars
        Awesome. This is exactly a kind of recipes I have been looking for ,easy and practical.

      4. 5 stars
        I was missing dried cranberries but it still tasted sooooo good. As a bachelor who’s disastrous in the kitchen this has become my go to dish. My family also were in disbelief that I was taking Broccoli.

        So thank you !!!!

      5. 5 stars
        This is a delicious salad!! I highly recommend. We had it on it’s own as a meal and it was extremely satisfying.

      6. 5 stars
        We really enjoyed this recipe. In fact after giving the recipe to my daughter-in-law she made it for her family a few days later, and sent me a picture of it. Hers looked equally delicious, as when I made it.
        Really enjoyed the lower calorie version of the dressing, in comparison to the way we usually make it, for Broccoli Salad.

      7. 4 stars
        I gave this 4 stars. I found the yogurt dressing a smart substitution but not as rich as the traditional mayo which left me wanting more. With additional tweaking extra vinegar and nutritional yeast- I made this recipe work. I doubled the recipe for thanksgiving so likely quadrupled the vinegar in the original recipe and adding 1/4 c nutritional yeast

      8. Elena, thanks for the delicious recipe. I had all the ingredients on hand! I have 3 Ukrainians staying with us for a week. Do you have any soup recipe they might enjoy?

        1. That’s wonderful! I’m on my phone so can’t link recipes. Please search my website for Ukrainian borscht, chicken noodle soup or split pea soup.

      9. 4 stars
        Used Greek yogurt and it was a tad on the tart side so did end up using a small amount of raw local honey in the dressing. Everyone at the potluck expected bacon, haha. Too bad! There was plenty of unhealthy stuff to be had, this salad stayed reasonably healthy.

        I enjoyed this so much I’ll make just for myself.

      10. 5 stars
        Sooo GOOD!!! Made it today… making extra batch to carry to a function this weekend. Thank you Olena!!!

      The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. You assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.

      This page may contain affiliate links. ifoodreal.com is a participant of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep iFOODreal recipes free. Thanks for your support!