Best Broccoli Salad (Classic Recipe)

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Did you grow eating Broccoli Salad? This classic recipe was at pretty much every bbq and potluck I ever went to growing up. There’s lot’s to love with this best Broccoli Salad from the sweet-tart cranberries to the salty savory bacon, and crunch of sunflower seeds all combined together with a creamy dressing. This salad keeps well for days in the fridge, so we like to make it for meal prep to have during the work week. It pairs well with simple main dishes from the grill, or even a roast chicken for Sunday dinner.

A speckled pottery bowl filled with Broccoli Salad with sunflower seeds and dressing alongside and gold serving spoons.

Broccoli Salad was one of those classic recipes I grew up eating all the time. It was everywhere, kind of like 7 layer salad. My mom made it often, and so did all of my friends moms. It was also at pretty much any kind of get together I can remember from birthday parties to backyard bbq’s.

But somehow over the years I haven’t been seeing it around as much. So today I though I’d share my best recipe for this classic that really does need to make a come back! This recipe is how my mom used to make it to the best of my recollection. I don’t think she even had a recipe for this salad, it was just one of those classics you made from memory.

A speckled pottery bowl filled with Broccoli Salad with gold servings spoons, and a white and blue striped linen.

Let’s get started by talking about this ingredients for this Broccoli Salad recipe!

  • Broccoli – I like to use both the tops and the stems in this recipe so there’s no waste. If you peel the stems with a vegetable peeler, the inside is tender, sweet, and perfect chopped up in this fresh salad.
  • Bacon – Use whatever bacon you like the best. I’ve used everything from classic bacon to an uncured peppered bacon, and you cannot go wrong! Be sure to check the labels to see if it works for you if you have dietary issues. Our local health food store has several brands of bacon now without any sugar or preservatives which has been so nice.
  • Red Onion – is classic in broccoli salad. You could use other types of onion, but really red onion is best here, and adds a lot of savory flavor.
  • Cranberries or Raisins – I know raisins used to be the most used in the classic version of this recipe. But dried cranberries are so much better. Try looking for fruit juice sweetened dried cranberries. They’re not as overly sweet and are perfect here.
  • Sunflower Seeds – I like to buy the already roasted lightly salted sunflower seeds to keep things nice and easy.
  • Dressing – I like to use a mixture of homemade or avocado mayo from the store with fresh lemon juice. You don’t want to use bottled lemon juice here because this dressing is so simple, fresh becomes extra important. If you don’t like mayo, see my options below.

How to make Broccoli Salad without mayo?

  1. Use your favorite Greek yogurt in place of some or all of the mayo. I find the best results are to replace just half of the mayo with yogurt so it’s still perfectly creamy. However broccoli salad is still super good, just a touch lighter with a yogurt only dressing.
  2. Try my Healthy Broccoli Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing. This is a no mayo version that’s super creamy and way too good. The only downside to this recipe is the avocado dressing doesn’t keep as long in the fridge.
  3. Use a vinaigrette dressing in place of the classic creamy one. Try my Lemon Vinaigrette, 2-Ingredient Balsamic, or White Balsamic Vinaigrette. Any of these options will work perfectly here.
  4. If you detest mayo, (I didn’t used to be a huge fan) try making my homemade mayo recipe that you’ll find with my Curried Chicken Salad recipe. Both Tyler and I weren’t exactly crazy about mayo before I started making it from scratch. It takes just minutes in the blender and tastes amazing!

Now let’s jump in and make this recipe step by step!

Strips of bacon on a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 1:

Start by cooking the bacon to make bacon bits. I like to bake mine in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet. There’s virtually no cleanup and it’s the easiest way to cook bacon I’ve ever tried.

It also cooks evenly which is super nice for a salad. You can crispy it up to your liking with no soft bits in your salad!

Finely chopped up bacon bits on a wooden cutting board.

Step 2:

Once the bacon has been drained and cooled, chop it up into small bacon bits.

Chopped cranberries, minced onion, bacon bits, and sunflower seeds on a wooden cutting board.

Step 3:

Prep the other ingredients by mincing up the onion and roughly chopping the cranberries.

Chopped broccoli on a wooden cutting board.

Step 4:

Prep the broccoli by cutting up the tops into small bite sized pieces. To use the stem, peel away the touch outer layers, then chop into small bite sized pieces.

Chopped broccoli, cranberries, onion, and bacon bits in a bowl with the dressing and sunflower seeds in bowls next to it.

Step 5:

Add all of the salad ingredients to a bowl except the sunflower seeds. Mix the salad together with the dressing. Then add the sunflower seeds if you’re serving it right away. Or keep them separate until you’re ready to serve the salad.

Broccoli Salad in a speckled pottery bowl with a blue and white striped linen, gold serving spoons, and dressing and sunflower seeds by it.

Storage Tips:

  • This salad keeps well for up to 4 days in the fridge. It’s nice to keep the sunflower seeds separate so they stay nice and crunchy.
  • You can also store the salad ingredients separate from the dressing and mix together about 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors develop.

Serve this Broccoli Salad with:

  1. Any simple grilled or roasted meat like chicken, steak, or pork chops.
  2. Best Baked Chicken Breasts
  3. Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken
  4. Bacon Wrapped Ranch Chicken
  5. Easy Herb Roasted Chicken
A super close macro view of broccoli salad.

Love broccoli salad? Try these other fun variations!

I really hope you enjoy this classic Broccoli Salad, it’s so perfect for everything from lunches to backyard bbq’s. And if you do get a chance to make it, I hope you’ll leave me a comment/rating below. I always love hearing from you here! Also for lots more salad recipes, head over to the recipe index.

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Broccoli Salad in a speckled pottery bowl with a blue and white striped linen, gold serving spoons, and dressing and sunflower seeds by it.

Best Broccoli Salad (Classic Recipe)


  • Author: Kari
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Did you grow eating Broccoli Salad? This classic recipe was at pretty much every bbq and potluck I ever went to growing up. There’s lot’s to love with this best Broccoli Salad from the sweet-tart cranberries to the salty savory bacon, and crunch of sunflower seeds all combined together with a creamy dressing. This salad keeps well for days in the fridge, so we like to make it for meal prep to have during the work week. It pairs well with simple main dishes from the grill, or even a roast chicken for Sunday dinner.


Ingredients

Scale

8 ounces bacon, 6-8 strips

2 heads broccoli, 1 1/2 pounds, about 56 cups chopped

1/4 cup minced red onion

1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds

Dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise of choice, I use this mayo recipe

1/4 cup Greek yogurt, or dairy free yogurt of choice

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out the strips of bacon evenly on the baking sheet and bake until crispy, 10-15 minutes. Drain the bacon and let cool.

Meanwhile chop the broccoli heads into small bite sized florets. Using a vegetable peeler, peel away the tough outer layer of the stems. Chop the stems into small bite sized pieces.

Place the chopped broccoli into a large mixing bowl along with the onion, cranberries, and sunflower seeds. Keep the sunflower seeds separate only if you’re not serving this right away.

Mix together the ingredients for the dressing and finely chop the bacon. Add the dressing and bacon to the salad and toss to combine.

Season to taste and serve immediately. I find this salad tastes even better if it has 15 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge first for the flavors to develop after it’s been mixed.

Refrigerate and serve within 4 days, but it tastes best within the first 2 days.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Chopping
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Best Broccoli Salad, Broccoli Salad Recipe, Classic Broccoli Salad, Easy Broccoli Salad, Broccoli Salad with Bacon

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