This easy, healthy Broccoli Salad is the perfect side dish. Crisp broccoli, crunchy sunflower seeds, sweet cranberries, and smokey bacon all come together in this delicious recipe. The sweet and tangy dressing pulls it all together for a delicious recipe that everyone will love!
The Best Healthy Broccoli Salad
Did anyone else grow up eating broccoli salad? My mom used to make it all of the time when I was growing up. I have very fond memories of my mom making broccoli salad for cookouts, baby showers, or church events and being super excited when she put a little extra salad aside just for our family.
I love my mom’s traditional broccoli salad recipe but, I wanted to tweak it just a little to make it a bit healthier. My version of the classic uses simple real food ingredients to create a delicious side dish that everyone is sure to love.
A Few Simple Delicious Ingredients
To make this healthy broccoli salad recipe, you’ll need:
Broccoli Florets: you can buy a few crowns of broccoli for this recipe or pre-cut florets. Just make sure to cut the florets into bite-sized pieces.
Bacon: this adds a delicious smoky, richness to the salad. You can cook the bacon on stovetop or in the oven. Just be sure to drain it before using.
Red Onion: this adds the perfect onion flavor to the salad.
Sunflower Seeds: choose roasted and salted sunflower seeds to add a bit of extra crunch to the salad.
Dried Cranberries: while traditional broccoli salad uses raisins, I really prefer the flavor of dried cranberries. If you do not love dried cranberries feel free to use raisins instead.
The Perfect Creamy Dressing
What pulls the salad together and gives it such great flavor is the tangy, creamy dressing that is drizzled over the salad ingredients. The dressing is simple to make and pairs very well with the hearty broccoli florets.
Mayonnaise – the base of the sweet and tangy dressing for this salad is mayonnaise. While traditional recipes may use something like Miracle Whip, I prefer to use a high-quality avocado oil based mayonnaise instead.
Maple syrup – instead of white sugar this dressing recipes uses pure maple syrup to give the dressing and salad that classic sweetness.
Apple cider vinegar – this gives the dressing a bit of tang and helps to balance the sweetness.
Salt and pepper – you likely will not need a ton of additional salt here but black pepper is an essential ingredient and plenty of it.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
Step One: First, make the dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, and the pinch of salt. Stir until smooth.
Step Two: Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, dried cranberries, red onion, and cooked bacon. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and stir until everything is well combined.
Step Three: Serve immediately or store in the fridge for two hours before serving. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I use instead of mayonnaise?
I really think that mayonnaise gives this salad the best flavor but, if you are not a fan, you have a couple of different options that may work for you.
You can use a combination of half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt or sour cream. Or, you can use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
Do you cook or steam the broccoli before making the salad?
No. Since broccoli can be eaten raw, there is no need to steam or cook the broccoli florets for this salad.
How small do you cut the florets?
Since the broccoli is raw, cutting it into bite-sized florets will work best in the salad.
Tips and Tricks
Wait to add the bacon. If you want the bacon to still be crispy when serving the broccoli salad, you can wait to add it until right before serving the salad. This will ensure that it remains crisp.
Let the salad sit. I think this salad really tastes its best after it sits for at least thirty minutes or so. Make it in advance and let it sit in the fridge for a bit to allow all of the flavors to meld.
Stir things up. Give the salad a toss right before serving. It is completely normal for the dressing to settle in the bottom of the bowl. Giving the salad a stir before serving will ensure that that the dressing is evenly distributed on the broccoli.
I hope you give this Healthy Broccoli Salad a try! It’s a simple hearty salad that I know you will love.
If you do give this recipe a try, I want to know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @allthehealthythings / #allthehealthythings on INSTAGRAM. Your reviews help support All the Healthy Things and make it possible for me to continue to create the recipes you know and love.
Recipe by: Ashlea Carver / All the Healthy Things | Photography by: Casey Colodny / THE MINDFUL HAPA