Recipes » Salad Recipes » Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

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5 from 4 votes
Pure vintage comfort food and the perfect side dish for any summer party. Guests always ask for the recipe!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
A wooden spoon holding a bite of broccoli salad.

This vintage Broccoli Salad recipe is total comfort food and the perfect side dish for any summer party. You’ll combine fresh, lightly blanched broccoli with crispy bacon, roasted sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries in a tangy mayo dressing for an easy recipe that your family and friends will ask for again and again.

I’ve always enjoyed a good vegetable salad. I like the ones with no lettuce and no tomatoes best. I think it’s because they’re so different from a regular old tossed green salad.

A wooden spoon holding a bite of broccoli salad.

Yes, give me a bowl full of veggies, maybe a little bacon, and some sort of sweet-tangy dressing and I’m happy. I’ll take something just like this Broccoli Salad recipe. It rates right up there with deviled eggs, bbq beans, and potato salad as a side for any spring or summer party.

This is one of those old recipes that my friends and I made way back in the 1980s and 90s. I’ve noticed that it’s enjoying a bit of a revival and have seen it pop up on several sites as though it was something brand spanking new. That always makes me chuckle.

Give this a try and I guaranteed your family and friends will be asking for the recipe!

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  • It’s a tried, tested, and proven winner!
  • There are lovely contrasts between the tangy dressing, salty bacon, and sweet cranberries.
  • You can make it ahead.
  • Loads of ways to substitute ingredients.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Fresh broccoli (you can use whole heads of broccoli or purchase the packages of fresh broccoli florets to make your life easier; you’ll need 10 to 12 ounces of florets)
  • Red onion (I prefer red onion for this recipe, but use whatever you have on hand, just be sure to finely dice it)
  • Mayonnaise (or substitute a good quality plain Greek yogurt if you don’t like mayo)
  • Dried cranberries (the perfect sweet complement to the vinegar, bacon, and sunflower seeds in this recipe; of course you could substitute raisins if you like)
  • Bacon (either fry up a few pieces of bacon, use the pre-cooked bacon available in the grocery store, or use the real bacon pieces (not bits!) available in the salad dressing section)
  • Cheddar cheese (use either sharp or extra sharp and be sure to grate it yourself)
  • Sunflower seeds (you’ll want the salted, roasted kernels)
  • Sugar (plain, old white granulated type)
  • Vinegar (use white or cider vinegar)
  • Salt

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Broccoli Salad

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Blanch the Broccoli

Broccoli and ice in a colander with water running over.
OPTIONAL STEP 1.

You’ll find lots of broccoli salad recipes that use raw broccoli florets, but I think this recipe is much better if you take just a little time to blanch the florets. Blanching keeps the broccoli firm but the taste will be a little less “raw” and it also sets the pretty green color. This is an optional step, but I think it’s really worth doing.

To blanch the florets, bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook for 1 minute. Immediately pour the broccoli into a colander. Add a little ice (about 2 cupsful) and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Allow the broccoli to drain very well. Spread it out on paper towels or set it in a colander. You want the broccoli as dry as possible.

Make the Dressing

Mayonnaise, sugar, salt, and vinegar in a mixing bowl.
STEP 2.

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Whisk together until the sugar has dissolved.

Combine Dressing with Other Ingredients

Remaining ingredients added to mixing bowl.
STEP 4.

Add the onion, cranberries, sunflower kernels, broccoli, cheese, and bacon.

Toss gently, taking care not to break up the broccoli, until everything is well mixed and coated with the dressing.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to combine.

Finished broccoli salad in a white serving bowl.
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Recipe Success Tips

  • Save time by purchasing ready to cook broccoli florets rather than whole heads of broccoli.
  • Blanching the broccoli is totally optional, but I do recommend it. I like my broccoli just that wee bit cooked and without so much of the raw taste. However, it’s perfectly fine to skip that step and just toss in the raw florets.
  • For best results, be sure to make the salad ahead of time so that the flavors have a chance to mellow. Refrigerate it for at least one hour and up to eight hours.
  • Store the leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
  • Be sure to grate the cheese yourself. Don’t buy the pre-grated cheese for this recipe.
  • To save time, use the real bacon pieces (not bits!) available in the salad dressing section at your grocery store.
  • If the red onion seems too strong, rinse it briefly under cool water and let it dry before adding to the salad.

Substitutions

  • Instead of mayonnaise, substitute a good quality plain Greek yogurt.
  • Raisins make a great substitute for the dried cranberries.
  • In place of the sunflower kernels you can use roasted, salted peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, pine nuts, or pistachios. Almost any roasted salted nut will work fine.
  • Use a sugar substitute such as Splenda.
  • Use cider vinegar instead of white vinegar.

FAQs

How much broccoli salad should I plan to serve per person?

Broccoli salad multiplies really well to feed a crowd. The recipe using 12 ounces of florets makes 6 servings, so plan on 2 ounces of raw broccoli florets per person and multiply the other ingredients accordingly.

What goes well with broccoli salad?

I love to serve broccoli salad with turkey burgers, grilled chicken, grilled pork chops, and my citrus marinated ribeye steaks!

How long does broccoli salad last in the fridge?

You can keep broccoli salad in a tightly sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Finished broccoli salad in a white serving bowl.

More Vegetable Salads

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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Recipe

A wooden spoon holding a bite of broccoli salad.

Broccoli Salad

Pure vintage comfort food and the perfect side dish for any summer party. Guests always ask for the recipe!
5 from 4 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Salads
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 11 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 635kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces broccoli florets (or 2 to 3 whole heads)
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cup red onion finely diced (about 1/2 a medium onion)
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup cooked, crumbled bacon (about 8 ounces of bacon, or use "Real Bacon" pieces)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • cup roasted, salted sunflower kernels

Instructions

  • (Optional but recommended step) Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook for 1 minute. Immediately drain the broccoli in a colander with ice and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Allow the broccoli to drain very well. Spread on paper towels or set it in a colander. You want the broccoli as dry as possible.
  • In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, vinegar, and sugar. Whisk together until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the onion, cranberries, sunflower kernels, broccoli, and bacon. Toss gently, taking care not to break up the broccoli, until well mixed and coated with the dressing.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to combine.

Notes

Tips
  • Save time by purchasing ready to cook broccoli florets rather than whole heads of broccoli.
  • For best results, be sure to make the salad ahead of time so that the flavors have a chance to mellow. Refrigerate it for at least one hour and up to eight hours.
  • Store the leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
  • Be sure to grate the cheese yourself. Don’t buy the pre-grated cheese for this recipe.
  • To save time, use the real bacon pieces (not bits!) available in the salad dressing section at your grocery store.
  • If the red onion seems too strong, rinse it briefly under cool water and let it dry before adding to the salad.
Substitutions
  • Instead of mayonnaise, substitute a good quality plain Greek yogurt.
  • Raisins make a great substitute for the dried cranberries.
  • In place of the sunflower kernels you can use roasted, salted peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, pine nuts, or pistachios. Almost any roasted salted nut will work fine.
  • Use a sugar substitute such as Splenda.
  • Use cider vinegar instead of white vinegar.
Notes
  • Broccoli salad multiplies really well to feed a crowd. The recipe using 12 ounces of florets makes 6 servings, so plan on 2 ounces of raw broccoli florets per person and multiply the other ingredients accordingly.
  • I love to serve broccoli salad with turkey burgers, grilled chicken, grilled pork chops, and my citrus marinated ribeye steaks!
  • You can keep broccoli salad in a tightly sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 635kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 56g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 847mg | Potassium: 262mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 562IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 175mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on May 23, 2014.

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20 Comments

  1. I make a similar salad, but never cook the broccoli. I also put half a head of cauliflower in to make it go further and have even more crunch.

  2. This is my husband’s favorite salad. I always tried to make it by memory, but never got it quite right. He’s going to be on cloud nine when I make this later this week!

  3. Oh, that looks lovely, Lana! Yes, I also have a version of this wonderful salad and it is great for a large gathering in the backyard for a BBQ. Or any other time! Thanks for sharing…..:)

  4. This salad sounds delicious! I get tired of the same old lettuce/tomato salads too, this one sounds like a a perfect summer salad!

  5. I love broccoli salad, it’s been my first stop at the picnic table since I can remember. I love the addition of yogurt and cranberries! YUM!

  6. I make a similar salad, and it’s always a huge hit. Love your version! Especially with the dried cranberries and sunflower seeds!

  7. My mother in law makes a similar recipe and it is amazing. I like that yours calls for yogurt

  8. I love me some broccoli salad! And all I would need to do is to replace the bacon with coconut bacon (it’s good!) and this is completely vegan. Yum!

  9. This looks delish! I never will know why I disliked broccoli when I was younger when there are amazing dishes like these to be eaten! :)

  10. Oh yum! This looks exactly like the broccoli salad at the local grocery store that I’m obsessed with (only, I’m pretty sure they use mayo instead of yogurt in their dressing, so this is MUCH better). Love the fact that you’ve added in bacon, too.

  11. I make a similar salad – but I love the addition of cranberries and sunflower kernels in yours! I’m looking forward to trying your version the next time we make this salad!

    1. Hope you enjoy it, Martha! It’s one of those timeless salads that just never goes out of style.