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Crunchy, easy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, and nuts all tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. Tips for making the best broccoli salad. A classic potluck, BBQ, or summer side dish recipe!

Crunchy, easy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, and nuts all tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. Tips for making the best broccoli salad. A classic potluck, BBQ, or summer side dish recipe!

This easy broccoli salad recipe is the first to be devoured at a potluck for good reason.

There are many reasons I love this salad but one of them is that it keeps you on your toes. You’ve got crunchy, you’ve got sweet, you’ve got tangy, you’ve got crispy.

A bowl of homemade broccoli salad. Crunchy, easy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, and nuts all tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. Tips for making the best broccoli salad. A classic potluck, BBQ, or summer side dish recipe!

The crunchy broccoli paired with extra crispy bacon with dried cranberries and nuts with a sweet tangy dressing is just one winning combination. 

It’s a classic for a reason! I love that this homemade broccoli salad with dressing can be made ahead of time.

Broccoli Salad Ingredients. What Ingredients go in broccoli salad. Broccoli Salad made with bacon, cranberries, onion, nuts, and sweet and tangy dressing.

WHAT GOES IN BROCCOLI SALAD?

  • Broccoli: You want to focus on the broccoli crown part (which is the very top) and cut off most of the stem.  If you want to save time, you can buy a bag of pre-cut broccoli crowns so you have less waste. Cut them into small bite-size pieces.
  • Bacon: We want crispy bacon for this recipe so that it stands up against the dressing. When cooking the bacon, you can use a skillet, a microwave, or an oven. I love to use the oven when cooking bacon because it is less messy. It is so easy — just set your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cook for about 20 minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.
  • Red Onion: Diced red onions have a strong punch of flavor, a perfect balance to the sweet cranberries and the savory bacon. Once again, dice these to be very small.
  • Dried Cranberries: Can also used dried cherries or raisins. You want these sweet fruits in the salad to provide balance and a fun burst of flavor.
  • Sunflower Seeds: Most recipes for broccoli salad call for sunflower seeds. You can also use almonds, walnuts, or pecans. Either way, the crunch of nuts or seeds are characteristics of a classic broccoli salad. I have tried both sunflower seeds and almonds and either one tastes delicious!

TIP: How to make dried cranberries soft again

If your dried cranberries or raisins have dried up a bit and are no longer soft…you can put them in hot water and let them soak to allow them to soften and plump up a bit. Shriveled raisins are not as good as plump raisins! 

A bowl of homemade broccoli salad. Crunchy, easy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, and nuts all tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. Tips for making the best broccoli salad. A classic potluck, BBQ, or summer side dish recipe!

HOW TO MAKE BROCCOLI SALAD DRESSING

BROCCOLI SALAD DRESSING INGREDIENTS

  • Mayonnaise: The base of this dressing keeps it creamy without being heavy.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: The small hint of vinegar gives the salad its tang.
  • Sugar, Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes: All of these are used to provide flavor to the salad. The red pepper flakes give the smallest hint of spice. If you like lots of spice, add more!

Mix all the ingredients in a separate bowl before incorporating the rest of the broccoli salad ingredients. Stir well enough that the dressing coats the whole salad and isn’t in specific parts.

If you would prefer a poppyseed dressing, you can use my homemade poppyseed dressing or a store-bought dressing.

Broccoli Salad. Crunchy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, nuts, tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. A classic potluck side dish recipe! www.modernhoney.com #broccolisalad #sidedish #potluck #sides

How to make the Best Broccoli Salad:

  1. Start with broccoli crowns. You want to focus on the broccoli crown part (which is the very top) and cut off most of the stem.  If you want to save time, you can buy a bag of pre-cut broccoli crowns so you have less waste. Cut them into small bite-size pieces.
  2. Cook the bacon until nice and crispy. Once the bacon is cooked, cut into small bite-size pieces. 
  3. Make the dressing. The dressing is made with mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. The red pepper flakes add the smallest amount of subtle flavor. If you like spice, add a little bit more. 
  4. Stir in your favorite dried fruit such as dried cranberries, dried cherries, or dried raisins
  5. Use your favorite type of nut. Most recipes for broccoli salad call for sunflower seeds. You can also use almonds, walnuts, or pecans. I have tried this broccoli salad with sunflower seeds and almonds and both taste delicious!
Crunchy, easy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, and nuts all tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. Tips for making the best broccoli salad. A classic potluck, BBQ, or summer side dish recipe!

HOW TO MAKE HEALTHIER BROCCOLI SALAD

Broccoli itself is a powerhouse of vitamins such as calcium and vitamin K, but you might want to supplement this superfood with some healthier ingredients to make this a low-calorie and low-fat broccoli salad. Here are some suggestions that I have to keep this salad delicious and make it even healthier!

  • Substitute the mayo: I would recommend using a low-fat mayo option to reduce calories in this salad. If you want to add more protein, you can do half mayo and half plain Greek yogurt. Any more than that the salad would be too tangy and other flavors would get lost.
  • Add more veggies: Feel free to add in any additional veggies that you have on hand! Some ideas may be fresh celery, zucchini, shredded carrots, etc. Fresh apples could also be substituted for dried fruit.
  • Replace the sugar: You still want some form of sweetener in this recipe, but if you wanted a more natural sugar I would suggest substituting the sugar with 3 tablespoons of honey or pure maple syrup.
Broccoli Salad. Crunchy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, nuts, tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. A classic potluck side dish recipe! www.modernhoney.com #broccolisalad #sidedish #potluck #sides

ADDITIONAL TIPS

  • Make sure to let your broccoli dry out completely before mixing it in with the rest of the salad. If not, the leftover water can mix with the dressing, making it runny and wet.
  • Let the salad chill in the fridge a little bit before serving so that the broccoli and other ingredients have more time to absorb the flavors of the dressing.
  • Store in an airtight container after making. It should be good for 4-5 days.
  • If you prefer, you can blanch or cook your broccoli. Just remember to let it dry completely before mixing it with the rest of the salad!
Broccoli Salad. Crunchy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, nuts, tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. A classic potluck side dish recipe! www.modernhoney.com #broccolisalad #sidedish #potluck #sides

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Crunchy, easy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, and nuts all tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. Tips for making the best broccoli salad. A classic potluck, BBQ, or summer side dish recipe!

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4.84 from 6 votes

Best Broccoli Salad

By: Modern Honey® – www.modernhoney.com
Crunchy, easy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, and nuts all tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. Tips for making the best broccoli salad. A classic potluck, BBQ, or summer side dish recipe!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients  

  • 5 cups Broccoli Crowns (cut into small bite-size pieces)
  • 6 slices Bacon (cooked and cut into pieces)
  • 1/3 cup Red Onion (diced)
  • 3/4 cup Dried Cranberries (or raisins or dried cherries)
  • 1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds (or chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts)

Dressing:

  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup Sugar (or 3 Tablespoons if you want it less sweet)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions 

  • Cook bacon according to package instructions until very crispy. If you want to cook it in the oven, set the oven to 400 degrees and cook on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Cut into bite-size pieces.
  • In a large bowl, toss together broccoli, onion, cranberries, and bacon.
  • In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Pour over broccoli salad and toss well until it is completely coated.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. This salad lasts for days in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Broccoli: You want to focus on the broccoli crown part (which is the very top) and cut off most of the stem.  If you want to save time, you can buy a bag of pre-cut broccoli crowns so you have less waste. Cut them into small bite-size pieces.
  • Bacon: We want crispy bacon for this recipe so that it stands up against the dressing. When cooking the bacon, you can use a skillet, a microwave, or an oven. I love to use the oven when cooking bacon because it is less messy. It is so easy — just set your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cook for about 20 minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.
  • Red Onion: Diced red onions have a strong punch of flavor, a perfect balance to the sweet cranberries and the savory bacon. Once again, dice these to be very small.
  • Dried Cranberries: Can also used dried cherries or raisins. You want these sweet fruits in the salad to provide balance and a fun burst of flavor.
  • Sunflower Seeds: Most recipes for broccoli salad call for sunflower seeds. You can also use almonds, walnuts, or pecans. Either way, the crunch of nuts or seeds are characteristics of a classic broccoli salad. I have tried both sunflower seeds and almonds and either one tastes delicious!

Nutrition

Calories: 261kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 393mg, Potassium: 187mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 278IU, Vitamin C: 34mg, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish, Vegetable Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Calories: 261
Keyword: broccoli salad, broccoli salad with bacon
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Broccoli Salad. Crunchy broccoli salad with crispy bacon, sweet dried cranberries, onion, nuts, tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. A classic potluck side dish recipe! www.modernhoney.com #broccolisalad #sidedish #potluck #sides

Hi, I'm Melissa Stadler!

I am an Award-Winning Recipe Creator. Cover of Food Network Magazine. Two-Time Pillsbury Bake-Off Finalist. I am passionate about sharing the best recipes so you have success in the kitchen!

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The flavor combinations were spot on. This side dish was a big hit at Easter dinner. I’ll definitely be making again (soon because I only was saved a small portion before it was devoured by my guests). Thanks so much!

  2. 4 stars
    Hey kids, eat your veggies! This broccoli salad is a great way to get your 6-year-old to down some broccoli without complaint. The dressing is sweet and tangy and the dried fruit and sunflower seeds provide a boost of fun. Also easy to make and perfect if you’re looking for a side to make a day ahead. To my taste, the dressing tended a little far to the sweet side – next time I will add less sugar and a touch more acid.

  3. 5 stars
    Just beautiful. It looks so delicious and mouth-watering. I have a funeral service to go to this week and I think I will make a big bowl of this and your Strawberry dessert you made. This is a very healthy and delicious looking salad. I can’t wait to make it. Thanks Melissa…..
    Donna