Best Broccoli Salad Recipe

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Laura Lynch
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This recipe was originally published on A Food Lover’s Kitchen.

This Broccoli Salad combines fresh broccoli, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and bacon bits in a creamy homemade dressing.

Broccoli salad

This is the best broccoli salad recipe that we’ve been making for years. It’s a barbecue party staple that proves to be a crowd favorite every time. There’s just something about the flavor combination that makes it an irresistible salad.

I’ve looked for where this salad originates, but haven’t been able to find it. My family has been making a version of this salad for years, so it’s practically a classic summer salad at this point. I make it almost as often as a Classic Wedge Salad.

Most people don’t really like eating raw broccoli. It’s something about the texture or the taste that’s hard to put a finger on. But I get it. Large florets aren’t fun to eat. That’s why we chop the broccoli into small pieces for this salad.

Small pieces of broccoli changes the game. It transforms raw broccoli into crunchy bits of sweetness. I’m not kidding. It’s completely changes the experience of eating raw broccoli.

Now add in bacon bits, sweet dried cranberries, freshly toasted sunflower seeds and a creamy dressing and you have one of the best salads you’ll ever eat.

Broccoli salad

Even if you don’t care for broccoli, you’ll likely find this salad is pretty darn good. Every time I show up at a barbecue or outdoor party with this salad, it’s gone before anyone even thinks about seconds.

» You might also like these Grilled Brats and Pear & Gorgonzola Salad.

Ingredients in Broccoli Salad

This is a crowd favorite, and only a few ingredients involved.

  • Broccoli – 1 large head of fresh broccoli chopped into small pieces for this salad.
  • Bacon – 6 slices cooked and chopped.
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sunflower seeds – Toasted. While not required it is amazing how much flavor comes out of sunflower seeds when they’re toasted.
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Onion – We use red onion, it adds a nice zing to the salad.
  • Dressing – Mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, and sugar.
  • Salt and pepper – To taste.

How to Make Broccoli Salad

As I’ve already mentioned, one of the key things about this salad is to chop the broccoli into smaller pieces. Don’t leave the full florets – chop them into two or three pieces each. This takes away the huge fuzzy tops of broccoli that cause texture issues. Small pieces also allows a better ratio of ingredients in each bite.

Once you’ve chopped the broccoli, add it to a large bowl, then add in the bacon, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. Stir this all together.

Everyone's favorite broccoli salad

On a side note, toasting the sunflower seeds is optional. If you want that extra boost of flavor that toasting gives, definitely go the extra mile. It’s amazing how much flavor comes out of sunflower seeds when they’re toasted.

Next, mix together the dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved.

Add the dressing to the salad and stir well to coat all the little bits in the salad. This is when I add the cheese and onion. I find that the cheese becomes a little soggy if added too soon, and the onion has a way of permeating the whole salad. Adding them at the end keeps both in check.

There’s no set amount of salt and pepper in the recipe because it really comes down to personal taste. It doesn’t require much of either. Just a few sprinkles will do.

The salad benefits from at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before being served, so all the flavors have time to meld.

It will keep for just a day or two, if you have left overs, before it becomes a little watery. You can revive it by adding a bit of extra mayonnaise and stirring well.

We always make this salad for a barbecue or picnic. It keeps well and doesn’t get soggy as it sits out. Serve it with these BBQ Beef Brisket Buns, Smoked Mac & Cheese, or Grilled Tri Tip.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you cut broccoli for broccoli salad?

One of the key things about this salad is to chop the broccoli into smaller pieces. Don’t leave the full florets – chop them into two or three pieces each. Small pieces also allows a better ratio of ingredients in each bite.

Do I have to blanch the broccoli first?

We don’t recommend blanching the broccoli. It really isn’t needed and it is just one more step. If you prefer to then go ahead. Just make sure to dry the broccoli really well after to help the dressing stick and not get to watery.

Tips and Notes

  • Make sure to dry the broccoli well after washing. This helps the salad dressing stick better and not get watered down.
  • The dressing can be made up in advance and left to chill in the refrigerator until you need it.
  • Mix all the salad ingredients together with the dressing and allow to chill in the refrigerator before serving. This allows the flavors to meld.


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Broccoli salad

Broccoli Salad

This salad is packed with fresh broccoli, bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and cheese. It's a huge hit at barbecues and parties.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Calories: 390kcal
Author: Laura Lynch


  • 1 large head fresh broccoli cut into bite size pieces
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 cup red onion chopped

For the dressing

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar


  • Cook and crumble the bacon.
  • Chop the broccoli into small pieces. In a large bowl, mix the broccoli pieces, bacon, and cranberries.
  • In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, and sugar. Stir well until sugar is mostly dissolved.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to coat. Add the sunflower seeds, cheese and onion to the salad and stir.
  • Cover the salad and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld before serving (optional).


Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 387mg | Potassium: 400mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 697IU | Vitamin C: 91mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 1mg

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Broccoli salad

5 thoughts on “Best Broccoli Salad Recipe

  1. Jen says:

    5 stars
    Loved the addition of bacon and sunflower seeds. Both added great flavors and texture to the salad. Thanks for such a lovely side dish for the summer.

  2. Jacqueline Meldrum says:

    5 stars
    I’d never have thought of adding broccoli to a salad. I will have to remember that next time. Thanks for the inspiration.

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