Broccoli Salad

published May 23, 2024
summer
Broccoli Salad Recipe
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overhead shot of a mixed up and dressed broccoli salad, with some missing out of the left side of the bowl and a wooden spoon resting in the bowl.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Once the weather is warm enough, I will find any excuse to eat outside. Whether I’m at a cookout or simply cracking open a deli container of pasta salad at the park, eating outside just makes food taste better. To further those efforts, I’m always looking for good side dishes that are make-ahead-friendly and full of flavor — just like this broccoli salad.

Broccoli is a great base for a make-ahead side because it holds up well to dressing without sacrificing crunch. This salad is fully loaded for maximum textural and flavor variety. Shredded cheddar gets into every little pocket, dried cranberries add tangy-sweet flavor and chew, and toasted sunflower seeds add roasty-toasty nuttiness. Oh, and that’s before we even get to the bacon. Toss everything in a tangy, light dressing made with equal parts Greek yogurt and mayo, and it just keeps getting better as it sits.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Crunchy broccoli holds up to creamy dressing without going mushy, making it a great make-ahead side.
  • Bacon, cheddar, dried cranberries, and toasted sunflower seeds add major textural and flavor variety.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Key Ingredients in Broccoli Salad

  • Broccoli. Soak broccoli florets in ice water and then dry completely for maximum crunch.
  • Bacon. Add crispy bacon to the salad and use some of the rendered fat to make a flavorful dressing.
  • Dried cranberries. Add bursts of sweet-tart flavor and chewy texture.
  • Cheddar. Grated sharp cheddar cheese gets in all the nooks and crannies.
  • Greek yogurt. Equal parts Greek yogurt and mayo make for a light and tangy dressing. 
  • Sunflower seeds. Toasted sunflower seeds add a nutty flavor.

How to Make Broccoli Salad

  1. Cook the bacon. Cut bacon into pieces and cook in a skillet until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Chop everything. While the bacon is cooking, chop broccoli and red onion, and grate cheddar cheese.
  3. Make the dressing. In a medium bowl, combine some of the bacon fat, mayo, Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and honey.
  4. Toast sunflower seeds. In the same skillet used for the bacon, toast sunflower seeds until fragrant and golden-brown.
  5. Assemble the salad. Combine all of the chopped vegetables, cheese, sunflower seeds, half of the bacon, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing until well-combined, then garnish with the remaining bacon.

Helpful Swaps

  • Skip the bacon to make it vegetarian instead.
  • Use dried cherries in place of dried cranberries.
  • Substitute toasted slivered almonds for sunflower seeds.
  • Use fresh squeezed lemon juice in place of vinegar.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

You can make broccoli bacon salad ahead of time. In fact, it gets better with a few hours to marinate in the fridge before serving. Hold the final bacon topping until serving so it stays as crispy as possible. 

You can refrigerate leftovers for up to four days.

What to Serve with Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad Recipe

This salad has everything (except lettuce).

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Makes Makes about 7 cups

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 5

    slices thick-cut bacon

  • 1 pound

    broccoli florets

  • 1/2

    medium red onion

  • 3 ounces

    sharp or medium cheddar cheese (about 3/4 cup shredded)

  • 1/2 cup

    mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup

    plain Greek yogurt

  • 3 tablespoons

    apple cider, red wine, or white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons

    honey or granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup

    raw sunflower seeds

  • 1/3 cup

    dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Cut 5 thick-cut bacon slices crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the following, adding each to the same large bowl as you complete it: Cut 1 pound broccoli florets into coarse 3/4-inch pieces (about 6 cups). Finely chop 1/2 medium red onion (about 2/3 cup). Grate 3 ounces sharp or medium cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater if needed (about 3/4 cup).

  2. When the bacon is ready, transfer it with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat to a medium bowl and discard the remaining fat. Reserve the skillet (no need to clean it).

  3. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons vinegar of choice, 2 tablespoons honey or granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the bacon fat and whisk to combine.

  4. Heat the reserved skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds and spread into an even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sunflower seeds, dressing, half of the cooked bacon, and 1/3 cup dried cranberries to the broccoli mixture. Toss until well-combined. Garnish with remaining bacon and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.