This Broccoli Salad is a classic summer potluck side! Fresh broccoli, chewy raisins, crunchy pecans, crispy bacon, and more tossed in a creamy and tangy homemade dressing.
This broccoli salad is such a classic at summer BBQs . . . and for good reason! It’s fresh, it’s crunchy, it’s salty, and it’s tossed in a tangy yet sweet and creamy dressing.
What’s not to love?!
This broccoli salad recipe has everything you want in a side dish: crispy, crunchy, chewy, creamy, delicious textures and flavors.
- Mayonnaise – our creamy base for the sauce.
- Granulated Sugar – adds a touch of sweetness to balance out the vinegar.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – cuts the sweetness from the sugar and gives a tangy flavor. Don’t have apple cider? Try another vinegar instead!
- Salt and Pepper – enhances other flavors and adds a touch of spice.
- Bacon – provides the broccoli salad with crispy texture and smoky flavor.
- Broccoli – can’t have broccoli salad without broccoli. 😉
- Red Onion – gives the salad a little “bite”.
- Raisins – adds a chewy texture and a touch more sweetness to the salad.
- Sunflower Seeds and Pecans – provide the salad with extra crunch.
How to make broccoli salad
- Whisk together mayo, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Add in cooked bacon, broccoli, red onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, and pecans then stir until well-combined.
- Cover and chill for an hour then serve and enjoy!
How to cut broccoli into florets?
Cutting broccoli into florets is incredibly easy!
- Thoroughly wash and dry the whole head of broccoli.
- Pull off the leaves.
- Cut through the large stem, just below where the florets start.
- Slice off the florets and then cut them into smaller pieces, if desired.
I like to chop the florets into small pieces so they’re not too hard to eat and they incorporate well with the other ingredients.
Do you have to cook the broccoli?
No, you do not cook the broccoli for this salad. Everything in this recipe is completely raw, aside from the bacon, of course.
Let the broccoli salad sit in the fridge for a while—at least an hour—after you assemble it and before serving. The vinegar helps break the broccoli down so it doesn’t taste super raw. The longer it sits, the better flavor and texture you’re going to get.
If you absolutely hate raw broccoli, you can blanch the florets. To do this, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add your broccoli florets, cook until the broccoli is tender, and then drain in a colander. Rinse right away with cold water to stop the broccoli from cooking. (*not tested)
How to use leftover broccoli stems
If you’re like me, you don’t want any food to go to waste. So even though you don’t use the broccoli stems in this recipe, here are a couple other ways to utilize them!
- Serve as an appetizer or snack. I like to leave them raw, cut them into strips, and snack on them with a bowl of my Greek yogurt ranch dressing.
- Roast them. Toss them in some oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them up for a cooked snack or yummy side dish.
- Sauté them for other dishes. Chop them up into smaller pieces, sauté them with some garlic and oil, and serve them with your favorite pasta dish. I love stirring them into my instant pot mac and cheese or my Greek yogurt lemon pasta.
Is broccoli salad good for you?
“Healthy” means different things to different people. I tend to think everything in moderation is a-okay! However, objectively, this broccoli salad recipe does contain good for you veggies, lean protein, nuts and seeds, etc. The least technically healthy component is the sugar, but like I said, everything in moderation!
One serving of broccoli salad contains about 300 calories, 21 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, and 7 grams of protein.
- Let it sit. This allows the flavors to meld together and intensify.
- Cut the broccoli small. Smaller pieces become fully coated in the dressing, absorb flavor better, and have a more desirable texture.
- Save the stems. Don’t waste your broccoli stems. Instead, serve them with a dipping sauce as a snack, roast them up, or sauté them for another recipe.
- Dice the red onion extra small. Red onion has a pretty overpowering flavor. You’ll want to dice it up pretty darn small so it’s well incorporated throughout.
- Save the nuts. The nuts will get soggy if they sit too long in the salad. Leave them out, then mix them in right before you’re ready to serve if you’re making this salad more than a day in advance.
Broccoli salad variations
- Lighten it up. Sub regular mayo for a lightened-up, olive oil-based mayo instead. You could also replace half the mayo with plain Greek yogurt but it won’t be quite as creamy.
- Add extra protein. Stir in little pieces of ham or add pieces of hard boiled eggs.
- Make it cheesy. Add some chunks of your favorite cheese.
- Add more veggies. Diced bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, etc.
- Use different nuts. Pine nuts or walnuts are also delicious.
- Make it vegetarian. Leave out the bacon! Add egg for some vegetarian protein.
What to serve with broccoli salad
Not sure what main dish to pair with your broccoli salad? Here are some of my favorites!
- Baked Pork Chops
- Healthy Sun Dried Tomato and Arugula Pasta
- Turkey Bacon Bravo Sandwich
- Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Avocado Pesto
How to store
Leftover broccoli salad will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture will be affected.
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise I used an olive oil based mayo
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon each)
- 1 (12 oz) package bacon cooked until crispy, then crumbled
- 2 pounds broccoli chopped into small bite sized pieces (about 2 - 3 heads)*
- 1/2 small red onion finely diced
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup shelled sunflowers seeds
- 1/2 cup pecans roughly chopped
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Add in cooked bacon, broccoli, red onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, and pecans.
- Stir until well combined.
- Cover and chill at least an hour until ready to serve.
- Taste and re-season, if necessary, then serve and enjoy!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.
This post was originally published July 29, 2015 and has has been updated to provide more detailed content.