This Broccoli Salad recipe is a staple for any gathering! The creamy dressing goes perfectly with fresh broccoli, savory bacon, sweet dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and diced red onions. Honestly, this salad isn’t just for spring or summer – it’s a quick and easy recipe that’s perfect all year long!
Broccoli Salad Recipe
There are so many types of Broccoli Salad recipes out there, but this one is a true classic. Made with fresh broccoli (of course), crispy bacon, subtly sweet yet savory red onions, dried cranberries, salty sunflower seeds, and drizzled with a sweet and tangy dressing, this recipe is as easy as it is delicious!
This salad is a family favorite as well as a crowd pleaser. It is constantly requested for family functions and community potlucks. I can whip this up in no time and even make it a few days in advance to save myself time, so I’m always eager to show up with a batch in hand.
It’s a dish that is elevated enough for baby or bridal showers, engagement lunches, and holiday get togethers. However, it’s also easy enough for a casual BBQ or quick thrown together brunch! Trust me, this Broccoli Salad with bacon is sure to be your family’s favorite new side dish too!
The Best Broccoli Salad Recipe
This is my favorite broccoli salad so of course it’s the best in my eyes! Here are some of the many reasons it’s a family favorite:
- The flavors! This salad is sweet, tangy, and savory. I love the blend of the sweet cranberries and salty bacon pieces. The broccoli is fresh and absorbs the tangy dressing perfectly. The sunflower seeds and sharp onion add flavor and crunch that can’t be beat.
- It’s SO easy to make. This whole recipe takes barely 10 minutes to whip up. Once you slice and dice the broccoli and onion, everything gets thrown into a bowl. The broccoli salad dressing gets whisked together in a separate bowl and you’re good to go! Toss together immediately or take them on the go to serve at a party or get together. Easy to make, even easier to enjoy.
- It’s versatile. You can serve this broccoli salad at parties, potlucks, soirees, BBQs, or just for lunch or as a side at dinner. It pairs great with chicken, pasta, pot roast, salmon – you name it, it works!
This salad can feed a crowd. This salad can easily be doubled or tripled to make an entire tray to serve at a large event. Perfect for crowds at potlucks and BBQs, baby and bridal showers alike. It’s always a favorite wherever I bring it!
What You’ll Need
Full of fresh ingredients, this easy broccoli salad recipe is just the thing for all your spring and summer parties! As always, you can find the full printable recipe with complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need…
For the broccoli salad:
- raw broccoli florets: You’ll want to cut the florets into small and even pieces.
- diced red onions: Red onions are the best in salads for their color and sharp flavor.
- dried cranberries: For a taste of sweetness along with the savory.
- sunflower seeds: These provide a wonderful crunch and texture to the salad.
- bacon bits: I love using fresh, crisp bacon crumbled into pieces for this recipe. You can use bacon bits for the recipe if needed but I find that the cooked bacon really sets this over the edge.
Try these tasty variations:
- Instead of sunflower seeds, almond slices, pecans, or walnuts make good substitutions.
- Grapes or raisins can substitute for dried cranberries.
- Cook your favorite bacon OR use bacon bits for easy preparation..
For the dressing:
- mayonnaise: For a creamy base to the dressing.
- apple cider vinegar: I love the tangy flavor this adds.
- granulated white sugar: This adds a balancing sweetness to the dressing.
- salt and pepper: To taste. Feel free to adjust to your preference.
How To Make Broccoli Salad
- Combine the broccoli florets, diced red onions, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and bacon bits in a large bowl. Toss to combine.
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a smaller bowl.
- Toss the dressing with the broccoli mixture is evenly coated in the dressing.
- Serve salad garnished with additional bacon, cranberries and sunflower seeds.
Broccoli Salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. I recommend storing the salad and dressing separately prior to serving. Once served, it can be stored as is. However keep in mind that as the salad sits in the dressing you’ll start to lose some of that crunch and texture.
Broccoli Salad Recipes FAQs
Nope! That’s the beautiful thing about this salad, it uses fresh broccoli. No blanching or cooking the broccoli is required, just wash and cut. That being said, if you prefer to blanch your broccoli, that’s absolutely fine. Place in an ice bath immediately following and then drain and allow to dry thoroughly.
This is entirely up to you. If you want to cook the bacon, use about 8 strips (or half a pound)of bacon and make sure to cook until crisp.
Trish’s Tips and Tricks
- If you aren’t serving this salad right away, you can prepare everything in advance. Store separately, then toss the salad in the dressing just before serving to keep the ingredients from becoming too soggy.
- Keep the broccoli bite sized to ensure it’s easier for everyone to enjoy, including little ones.
- Instead of sunflower seeds, almond slices, pecans, or walnuts make good substitutions. Grapes or raisins can substitute for dried cranberries.
- If you’d like to make this salad on the spicier side, try adding a tablespoon of sriracha while mixing up the dressing.
- If you aren’t a fan of mayonnaise, you can try substituting something on the lighter side like sour cream or plain greek yogurt. This will alter the taste so try at your own risk!
Appetizers and Side Dishes Perfect for Spring Socials
- Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip
- Waldorf Salad Recipe
- Chicken Salad
- Cannoli Dip
- Turkey Pesto Appetizer Bites
- Salsa Cream Cheese Chicken Wraps
- How to Build a Beautiful Appetizer Platter
How To Make Broccoli Salad
For the Salad
- 8 cups broccoli florets cut into bite-sized pieces (raw)
- ½ red onion diced (about ½ cup)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup bacon bits
For the Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients and toss until evenly distributed.
Prepare the dressing.
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar and salt and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.
- Pour dressing over the salad and use tongs to toss the dressing with the salad until the ingredients are evenly coated.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with additional sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and bacon bits.