Beautiful, flavorful, and fresh broccoli salad combines crunchy broccoli florets with cranberries, sunflower seeds, red onion and crispy crumbled bacon tossed in a homemade creamy dressing!
Love easy salad recipes like this? Be sure to try this succotash salad, this easy white bean salad or this wonderful orzo pasta salad!
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The Best Broccoli Salad Recipe
If you never thought you’d be using broccoli and addicting in the same sentence, one bite of this easy broccoli salad and it will all start to make sense.
Maybe it’s not just the fresh broccoli but also the sweet cranberries and crunchy sunflower seeds. Or perhaps it’s the salty bacon or the homemade tangy dressing!
Whatever it is, this quick and easy salad recipe harmoniously combines so many contrasting flavors and textures that it really is THAT good!
It’s one of my favorite ways to eat raw broccoli, and if you’re looking for a way to get your kids to eat more veggies, this salad is it. I’d say, for anyone who isn’t even a fan of raw broccoli, even you can’t help but ask for seconds. It’s delicious!
As much as it’s the perfect summer salad during grilling season, it’s also an easy side dish year-round. The seeds and cranberries make this great for summer gatherings and potlucks during the fall and winter too.
- Bacon bits: These can be cooked and cooled ahead of time, or while you’re prepping the other ingredients.
- Broccoli florets: You can cut your own from a head of broccoli or buy them pre-cut for convenience. If cutting them yourself, look for a head or broccoli that is nice and green, with no brown or yellow spots, and it should look and smell fresh.
- Dried cranberries: Whether you use the ones that have a bit of sugar coating on them or not, will determine how much sweeter your salad will be.
- Red onion: Adds a mildly sweet, crunchy aromatic flavor. Raw red onions are always a great addition to any salad.
- Sunflower seeds: A nutty, crunchy element that can be omitted or swapped for your favorite nut or seed.
- For the dressing: Apple cider vinegar, white sugar, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper
1. Add cheese to your salad. Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, feta cheese, or goat cheese can all be used.
2. Extra veggies like frozen sweet peas are a tasty addition.
3. Swap the sunflower seeds for chopped pecans, walnuts, slivered almonds, pine nuts, or sesame seeds.
4. No cranberries? Use raisins instead.
5. Use green onions or sweet onions instead of red ones.
6. White wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice can be used in place of apple cider vinegar.
7. Swap the fresh broccoli florets for broccoli slaw.
How to Make This Classic Broccoli Salad Recipe
This recipe will come together in minutes with a few simple steps. Once it chills in the fridge to let the flavors marry, it’s ready to serve!
Step 1: Make the salad dressing by combining the vinegar, sugar, mayonnaise salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
Step 2: Mix well then place it in the fridge until you’re ready to dress your broccoli salad.
Step 3: Chop the strips of bacon and add the bits to a skillet or cast iron pan to cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until crispy.
Step 4: In a large bowl, add the broccoli, dried cranberries, red onion, cooked bacon bits, and sunflower kernels.
Step 5: Grab the dressing from the fridge and pour it overtop the broccoli salad. Stir to combine making sure everything is well coated.
Place the bowl in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!
- Wash the broccoli in advance to give it enough time to dry. If you use wet broccoli it will water down your dressing.
- If you cut the florets yourself, make sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- Use pre-cooked bacon for quicker prep.
- Make it ahead of time and allow it to sit for a couple hours for the flavors to meld together. You can even make it the day before and it’ll taste even better.
- Enjoy a bowl of this broccoli salad as a complete meal for a light lunch or easy dinner idea. You can also serve it as a side dish to everything from baked bbq chicken wings and marinated grilled shrimp to grilled Italian chicken and bbq pulled pork.
You’ll most likely have nothing left! On the off chance that you do, keep it stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
You can make it ahead by combining it and tossing it in the dressing and allowing it to sit overnight until you’re ready to eat it. If you plan to make it further in advance, I suggest not dressing the broccoli salad until the day before serving.
It definitely has some major nutrients in it! Broccoli is loaded with fiber, It definitely has some major nutrients in it! Broccoli is loaded with fiber, potassium, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Cranberries have antioxidants and nuts and seeds provide good fats and Omega 3s.
You can certainly lighten up the salad by using plain greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, skipping any added cheese and even omitting the bacon if you prefer.
Replacing refined sugar with honey or maple syrup can also up the health benefits of this delicious broccoli salad!
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Broccoli Salad Recipe
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoon white sugar
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
For the salad:
- ½ cup bacon bits
- 8 cups broccoli florets diced in bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup red onion diced
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
Make the dressing
- In a medium bowl, add the apple cider vinegar, sugar, mayonnaise, salt, and black pepper and mix together well. Place n the refrigerator.3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 ½ tablespoon white sugar, 1 cup mayonnaise, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ⅛ teaspoon salt
Make the Salad
- Add the bacon bits to a skillet or cast iron pan and cook the bacon for about 8-10 minutes until crispy.½ cup bacon bits
- In a large serving bowl, add the broccoli, cranberries, red onion, cooked bacon bits and sunflower seeds and toss together.8 cups broccoli florets, ½ cup dried cranberries, ¼ cup red onion, ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
- Then pour the dressing over top and stir to coat all the ingredients well.
- Place in the refrigerator chill for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend together.
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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Excellent and so easy.
Thank you so much for advising raisins as a substitute for the cranberries as my wife is allergic to them, otherwise I’m looking forward to making this ASAP, as per your recipe!