Broccoli Salad is a fast, delicious, classic salad recipe everyone loves! Sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy salad full of fresh broccoli, bacon, sharp cheese and more in a sweet-tangy dressing!
If you’ve never had Broccoli Salad before you are in for a treat!
The first time I tried it, it was love at first bite!
The blending of sweet, salty, smoky flavors and the perfect crunch!
It’s a nutrition-packed salad that everyone can’t get enough of!
What is Broccoli Salad?
This classic salad recipe is made with fresh raw broccoli florets and a combination of other colorful ingredients.
This well loved recipe is the perfect mixture of sweet, salty, crunchy ingredients.
The ingredients are coated with an easy, sweet, tangy dressing.
It’s great for picnics and get togethers.
Leftover last well in the refrigerator without getting soggy like many other salads.
- fresh Broccoli florets
- sharp Cheddar Cheese
- dried Cranberries
- crumbled Bacon
- salted Sunflower Seeds (hulls)
- Red onion
- Sour cream
- White vinegar
- Granulated sugar
- salt and pepper
Does the Broccoli need to be cooked first?
No! The delicious super star of this recipe is the raw broccoli.
Once coated with the creamy dressing, it softens slightly but still retains a great crisp bite.
Can frozen broccoli be used?
No, use fresh.
When frozen broccoli thaws the texture and flavor are different than fresh raw broccoli.
For a time saving alternative purchase pre-cut broccoli florets instead.
Then all you’ll need to do is open the package and add the florets to the salad!
Use Thickly Grated or Cubed Cheese
Sharp cheddar cheese has a bolder flavor that’s a perfect addition to the salad ingredients.
Use a thickly shredded OR small cubed version. This ensures it will combine well and evenly distribute in the salad.
Finely grated cheese doesn’t mix as evenly or deliver the same flavor punch.
You can either cook and crumble the bacon (don’t overcook until it’s super crisp).
Store-bought prepared and crumbled bacon works great too. Be sure to use a fresh type crumbled bacon vs bacon bits.
How to Make Broccoli Salad – Step-by-Step
STEP 1: In a large mixing bowl combine all the salad ingredients: broccoli florets, cheese, dried cranberries, bacon, sunflower seed hulls and red onion.
STEP 2: In a separate small mixing bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
STEP 3: Pour the dressing into the salad ingredients and toss to fully coat.
STEP 4: Cover and chill for 2-3 hours before serving. NOTE: this allows the flavors to blend well and to soften slightly.
Substitutions and Variations
Another great thing about this recipe is that it is very flexible.
Need to swap in a different ingredient? No problem?
Want to make it healthier? We have suggestions on that too.
General Substitution Ideas
Cheese – use your favorite cheese instead of sharp cheddar. Like a bit of spiciness? Try some Pepper Jack cheese!
Dried Cranberries – raisins, dried cherries or other chopped dried fruits can be used.
Sunflower Seed hulls – substitute a roasted, chopped nut like pecans, slivered almonds,
Red Onion – try a sweet onion like Walla Walla or Vidalia.
White Vinegar – give the dressing a different flavor with apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar or a flavored vinegar.
Lower Fat Substitution Ideas
- Turkey Bacon instead of pork bacon
- Light mayonnaise or olive oil mayonnaise instead of full fat mayo
- Lower fat shredded cheese
- Swap in plain Greek yogurt for part or all of the Sour Cream
Make it a Main Dish
Sliced grilled chicken can be added into broccoli salad to make it into a more complete meal.
How to Store
Make it Ahead
This is a great ‘make ahead’ recipe.
Store the mixed salad ingredients and dressing separately.
Combine them together a couple of hours before the serving.
In the Refrigerator
- If the mixed salad ingredients and the dressing are stored separately, they will last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
- If the salad has been combined with the dressing, it will last for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Freezing this salad is not recommended.
Make it a Meal – What Else to Serve
Broccoli Salad is delicious and versatile. It can be served with anything you love.
Here are some favorite ideas:
Broccoli Salad is always a favorite thanks to a delicious mixture of simple ingredients giving a sweet-tangy flavor and perfect crunch!
- 5-6 cups fresh Broccoli florets aproximately 2-2 ½ broccoli heads
- 1 cup sharp Cheddar Cheese thickly shredded or cubed
- 2/3 cup dried Cranberries
- ½ cup Bacon cooked and crumbled
- ½ cup salted Sunflower Seeds
- ½ cup diced Red Onion
- 3/4 cup Mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Sour Cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons White Vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons Granulated Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper or to taste
In a large mixing bowl combine broccoli florets, cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, bacon, sunflower seeds, and diced red onion. Set aside.
In a separate smaller mixing bowl, make dressing by stirring together mayonnaise, sour cream, white vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing into broccoli mixture and stir until incorporated.
- Chill for 2-3 hours for best flavor or serve right away. Enjoy!
Finely grated cheese does not mix well with the other ingredients to evenly distribute through the salad or provide a bite of great flavor. Use thickly grated or cubed cheese for this recipe.
Mixing the Recipe
Use a large mixing bowl with plenty of space to allow room for mixing the salad ingredients and the dressing to well coat.