Broccoli Salad

5 from 34 votes

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Beautiful, colorful, substantial, crunchy, and a perfect make-ahead broccoli salad for all kinds of occasions.

Two spoons in a bowl of Broccoli Salad.

A simple broccoli salad is never out of place at a casual gathering. It’s the perfect thing to offer to take to a potluck or picnic, to add to a barbecue or an al fresco menu, or to round out a buffet. You may have noticed (as I have) that the presence of bacon in a salad turns some members of the crowd from salad-disinclined to salad enthusiasts. In some areas of the country, you might see this salad called Amish Broccoli Salad.

This salad is kind of engaging on many levels. It’s beautiful and colorful, it’s quite substantial, and it’s a great make-ahead salad, as the flavors meld while it sits for a bit, and it has sturdiness that leafy green salads just don’t have. It would be great with Crispy Baked Eggplant Parmesan or Baked Tortellini.

Spoon in a bowl of Broccoli Salad.

Broccoli Salad: Beautiful, colorful, substantial, crunchy, and a perfect make-ahead salad for all kinds of occasions.

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Ingredients

For the Honey Balsamic Dressing

  • Mayonnaise – Adds a bit of creaminess to the dressing.
  • Whole milk Greek yogurt or sour cream – More creaminess! Either one works here.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – Gives the dressing more flavor and silkiness.
  • Balsamic vinegar – You can sub in another vinegar, but balsamic adds a bit of richness and sweetness to the salad.
  • Honey – Provides just a touch of sweetness, which balances out the stronger flavors nicely.

For the Broccoli Salad

  • Broccoli  – See How to Chop Broccoli for Broccoli Salad below! Peel and use the stems as well as the florets.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese – Buy pre-shredded cheese or shred it yourself.
  • Red onion – Or whatever color onion you have on hand (though red adds a nice color to the salad).
  • Dried cranberries – Try other dried fruit like dried cherries or chopped dried apricots.
  • Pepitas – Or use sunflower seeds or toasted almonds.
  • Crumbled cooked bacon – You can cook your bacon in a pan, in an air fryer, or bake it in the oven.
Ingredients for broccoli salad in bowls.

How to Make Broccoli Salad

  1. Make the dressing: Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
  2. Make the salad: Place the broccoli in a large bowl. Add the cheddar cheese, onion, dried cranberries, pepitas, and half of the bacon. Pour about ⅔ of the dressing over the salad and toss.
  3. Let the salad sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Variations

  • To make vegetarian Broccoli Salad, just skip the bacon.
  • If raw broccoli isn’t your thing, steam the broccoli in florets for a few minutes before chopping it.
Adding bacon, cheese, onions, and cranberries to broccoli salad with spoon.

FAQs

Can I use all of the broccoli head in Broccoli Salad?

The inside of the stems is actually one of my favorite parts of broccoli. It’s tender and has a lovely smooth texture. Depending on how you cook it (or not, as in the case of this salad), it can be really appealing in its own right, not just as the part of the vegetable that holds up the crown!

Just make sure to trim the bottom of the stalks and peel the thick, tough outer layer of the stalks, especially if they are fat stalks (the skin will be thicker the larger the stem is). You can use a vegetable peeler or a paring knife for this purpose.

Can you eat raw broccoli in a salad?

Most recipes that feature broccoli call for it to be cooked: steamed, roasted, sautéed, etc. In this recipe, the broccoli is left uncooked, which makes for a really crunchy salad. You want to make sure to chop the broccoli fairly fine; smaller pieces will be easier to eat and also absorb the dressing better, which will soften them a little.

If raw broccoli feels a bit too intense for you, you can definitely steam or sauté the florets for a bit to soften them before chopping the broccoli and using it in the salad.

Cup of honey balsamic dressing pouring over a bowl of Broccoli Salad.

How to Chop Broccoli for Salad

For the stems, I find it easier to slice them into planks, then stack and slice the planks into thin sticks, then cut those sticks crosswise into small bits.

For the crowns, I also start by slicing them with a large, sharp knife crosswise into “slices” which will fall apart as you cut, but that’s fine. Then I start by giving the pile of sliced crowns a rough chop, and continue chopping until the pieces are all about ½-inch or smaller. Let the weight of the knife, assisted by your non-dominant hand placed on top of the knife, help you along.

Pro Cooking Tips

  • Make sure to keep some of the bacon to the side for sprinkling on the top. This not only keeps the bacon crunchy, but it also gives it pretty good curb appeal.
  • The cranberries and pepitas are optional, but they add a lot of textural interest to the salad. The pepitas offer a salty crunch, while the dried fruit adds a tart-sweet, chewy texture.
  • Use about ⅔ of the dressing in the salad, then taste. Add the remaining dressing if you like, or pass it on the side so that people can drizzle a bit over their salads if they like.
Broccoli Salad in white bowl with serving spoon.

Make-Ahead and Storage

  • You’ll want to let the salad sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. This makes it a great salad to get done before guests arrive, or at least earlier in the day.
  • You can also refrigerate it for up to 2 days. If you are planning to make the salad ahead, add the bacon and the pepitas and toss just before serving.

What to Serve With Broccoli Salad 

White bowl of Broccoli Salad with two spoons.

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5 from 34 votes

Broccoli Salad

Beautiful, colorful, substantial, crunchy, and a perfect make-ahead broccoli salad for all kinds of occasions.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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Ingredients 

For the Honey Balsamic Dressing

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup whole milk Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

For the Broccoli Salad

  • 6 cups roughly chopped broccoli (about ½-inch big pieces)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup pepitas (or sunflower seeds or toasted almonds)
  • ½ cup crumbled cooked bacon (divided)

Instructions 

  • Make the Dressing: In a medium bowl or pitcher, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
  • Make the Salad: Place the broccoli in a large bowl. Add the cheddar cheese, onion, dried cranberries, pepitas, and half of the bacon. Pour about of the dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Add the remaining dressing if you like, or pass it on the side so that people can drizzle a bit over their salads if they like.
  • Let the salad sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving, or refrigerate it for up to 2 days. If you are planning to make the salad ahead, add the bacon and the pepitas and toss just before serving.

Notes

  • Make sure to chop the broccoli fairly fine; smaller pieces will be easier to eat and also absorb the dressing better, which will soften them a little. 
  • If raw broccoli feels a bit too intense for you, you can definitely steam or saute the florets for a bit to soften them before chopping the broccoli and using it in the salad.
  • Make sure to keep some of the bacon to the side for sprinkling on the top. This not only keeps the bacon crunchy, but it also gives it pretty good curb appeal.
  • The cranberries and pepitas are optional, but they add a lot of textural interest to the salad, and the pepitas offer a salty crunch, while the dried fruit adds a tart-sweet chewy texture.
  • Use about of the dressing in the salad, then taste. Add the remaining dressing if you like, or pass it on the side so that people can drizzle a bit over their salads if they like.

Nutrition

Calories: 294kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 283mg, Potassium: 330mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 575IU, Vitamin C: 62mg, Calcium: 147mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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