This Healthy Broccoli Salad is made with savory bacon pieces, crunchy sunflower seeds, chewy craisins, cheddar cheese and fresh crisp broccoli tossed with a sweet-tangy homemade dressing without mayo! Fresh, crunchy and delicious, this is a perfect side dish for potlucks, and get togethers and one of my personal favorite ways to eat broccoli.
Healthy Broccoli Salad
Broccoli Salad is THE recipe that helped me learned to love raw broccoli as an adult. There is something about the sweet tangy dressing combined with the other interesting texture and flavors that really takes crunchy broccoli from ok to amazing! My fresh broccoli salad recipe makeover leaves out the traditional mayonnaise used in the dressing and replaces it with Greek yogurt instead, giving all the creaminess but also a yummy tangy flavor.
Broccoli Salad one of my favorite side dishes for summer parties, pot lucks, and even just regular family dinner. It is quick and simple to make and can even be made ahead and stored in the fridge until you are ready to eat. This recipe will definitely be your new go-to broccoli salad!
What is In Broccoli Salad?
Broccoli salad is great because it is so versatile. You can add other ingredients or leave out some. Typically, broccoli salad includes these main ingredients:
- Bacon: Crunchy pieces of bacon gives broccoli salad a savory and satisfying element. I like to buy thick cut bacon and cook it until it is super crispy. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can leave it out and add extra nuts or seeds to compensate.
- Red Onions: Red onion gives this salad crunch, but also a very mild spicy flavor that onions add to recipes. A lot of kids (and adults) have a hard time with raw onions. If you fall into that category, you can substitute the onion for chopped celery to get a similar crunch.
- Nuts/Seeds: Traditional broccoli salad includes roasted sunflower seeds which is my personal favorite. You can also use sliced almonds, pine nuts, or pepitas.
- Dried Fruit: Craisins (dried cranberries) are what is called for in this recipe. They give a sweet chewiness that the red color compliments the green broccoli perfectly. You could also use raisins, or chopped dried apricots as a substitute.
- Cheese: Shredded cheddar cheese goes well with the other flavors in broccoli salad. You can use mild, medium or sharp cheddar for this recipe. You can also use small cheese cubes if you prefer instead of shredded.
- Dressing: The dressing for broccoli salad is the magic and what makes it so delicious. You will need Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, a little honey, and salt and pepper to taste. It sounds simple, but it has a tangy sweet flavor that is out of this world!
Can I Use Frozen Broccoli?
Technically you can use frozen broccoli, but the texture and flavor just does not compare to using fresh broccoli florets. If you decide to use frozen broccoli, you will need to blanch it first.
To blanch broccoli, heat a pot of water to boiling. Add your broccoli and cook for just 30-60 seconds – it doesn’t take long! As soon as your broccoli turns from dull to bright green it is done. Remove the broccoli immediately into a bowl of ice water. Drain it and pat dry. Now you are ready to use it for your broccoli salad.
Should I Cook My Broccoli First?
Cooking broccoli for broccoli salad is not necessary. However, if the flavor of raw broccoli seems too strong to you or your kids, you can blanch your raw broccoli florets which will bring out more sweetness in the broccoli. Just note that the texture won’t be quite as crunchy.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
Broccoli salad comes together in just 15 minutes! And remember, you can always make it ahead if you are short on time.
- Start by cooking your bacon until it is super crispy. Set it aside while it cools.
- Next chop your broccoli. I like to make sure it is chopped into very small uniform pieces. I also like to cut off most of the stalk because the floret has a better texture and absorbs more flavor. Add your chopped broccoli to a large bowl.
- Dice the red onion and add it in with the broccoli.
- Add the dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and cheddar cheese. Give it all a stir.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and stir to coat all the pieces.
- If you are going to serve it immediately, crumble your bacon and add it in the salad. If you are going to store it in the fridge and serve it later, crumble the bacon and store in a container to add when you are ready to serve the salad.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli is loaded with nutrients and can be delicious raw or cooked. A lot of people don’t realize that broccoli has almost double the amount of Vitamin C as an orange per serving! Broccoli also gives you:
- Vitamin A – helps keep your eyes healthy and your bones strong
- Folic acid – needed normal tissue growth and cell function
- Calcium – broccoli contains a highly absorbable form of calcium which is needed for strong bones and teeth
- Fiber – promotes gut health and helps keep you ‘regular’ 😉
Frequently Asked Questions and Tips for Making Broccoli Salad
- How should I store broccoli salad? Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Raw broccoli can have a unique and interesting smell and so I always like to make sure the container I store it in is actually airtight!
- How long does broccoli salad last in the fridge? It will last in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- How many calories are in broccoli salad? All of the nutrition information for this broccoli salad recipe is included at the bottom of the recipe card. This recipe makes 6 servings and the nutrition info is for 1 serving.
- What can I serve with broccoli salad? Broccoli salad is a great side dish for summer meals. Some main dish ideas that go well with broccoli salad are:
- Pulled Pork Sandwich
- Grilled Chicken
- Steak Kabobs
- Grilled Shrimp
More Favorite Veggie Salad Recipes
- 5 cups broccoli, florets about 1 pound chopped small
- 1/2 cup cranberries, dried
- 1/2 cup red onion diced
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds roasted and salted
- 4 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Start by cooking your bacon until it is super crispy. Set it aside while it cools.
Next chop your broccoli. I like to make sure it is chopped into very small uniform pieces. I also like to cut off most of the stalk because the floret has a better texture and absorbs more flavor. Add your chopped broccoli to a large bowl.
Add dried cranberries, diced red onion, cheddar cheese, and sunflower seeds to the large bowl with the broccoli. Give it all a quick stir.
In a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and mix well.
If you are going to serve it immediately, crumble your bacon and add it to the salad. If you are going to store it in the fridge and serve it later, crumble the bacon and store the bacon in a container to add when you are ready to serve. Enjoy!
- If you aren’t going to serve the salad immediately, you can wait to add the bacon pieces until you are ready to serve so that they stay crispy.
- This salad can be prepared the day before (without the bacon) and stored in the fridge. The longer the dressing sits on the broccoli, the more flavorful it will be.
Calories: 172kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 312mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 587IU | Vitamin C: 69mg | Calcium: 144mg | Iron: 1mg
I’m a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.