Best Broccoli Salad

Meet my new favorite broccoli salad recipe...aka the best cookout dish around! With a lightly creamy, tangy dressing, it's fresh, healthy & delicious.

Broccoli salad

I hope you have some fun grilling & chilling plans coming up this weekend because I’ll be sharing 3 super fun cookout salads this week. They’re all easy to make and more importantly – easy to make ahead. First up – broccoli salad! This is a healthier spin on the traditional midwest broccoli salad but it’s every bit as flavorful. Small broccoli florets are marinated in a creamy/tangy dressing along with dried cranberries and smoky tamari-roasted almonds. It’s a one-bowl recipe that’s great as a pack-able picnic salad or an easy make-ahead lunch.

Broccoli salad recipe ingredients

A Broccoli Salad Recipe That’s Good for You

Broccoli salad is a classic summer cookout dish, but the traditional recipe is loaded up with sugar, ample mayo, bacon, and cheese. My recipe is a fresher, healthier version – I nix the sugar, meat, and cheese altogether – and the result is a crisp, refreshing, tangy dish that’ll be the star of your cookouts all summer long!

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

Instead of using the typical 1 cup mayo: 2 tablespoons vinegar ratio for my broccoli salad dressing, I replace some of the mayo with olive oil and up the proportion of vinegar. I also add a few teaspoons of Dijon mustard and a little honey to the mix, making for a light, super tangy dressing with a delectable sweet/salty flavor.

Broccoli salad dressing

The dressing is delicious, but smoky, sweet/salty tamari almonds and pepitas really steal the show here. Not only do they add a wonderful crunch to this salad, but they also bring richness and smoky flavor, so they’re the perfect nutritious substitute for bacon and cheese.

A full pound of broccoli, chewy dried cranberries, and flecks of red onion round out this recipe – it’s SO fresh, healthy, and easy to make!

How to make broccoli salad

Broccoli Salad Tips

Want to make the best broccoli salad around? Here are a few simple tips:

  • Cut your broccoli small. Because the broccoli stays raw for this dish, you want to make sure the pieces are small enough to become fully coated and soften in the dressing. Also, when the broccoli pieces are a similar size to the other ingredients in the salad, you can get a little of everything in each bite.
  • Let it marinate. This salad is good right after it’s made, but it’s even better after a few hours (or even days) in the fridge. The broccoli softens and absorbs the flavors of the dressing – my family  loved it on day three!
  • Save some nuts for the last minute. Sure, I like to make this salad ahead so that the flavors can develop, but the key to making it great is the super crispy, smoky nuts & seeds on top. If you add them too early, they’ll lose their crunch, so save some to sprinkle on right before serving!

Broccoli Salad Recipe ingredients

Broccoli Salad Serving Suggestions

If you make this recipe for a cookout, it’d be great alongside veggie burgers, black bean burgers, portobello “dogs,” or BBQ jackfruit sandwiches. As I said above, it’s the perfect recipe to make ahead – I think it actually improves over time, as the broccoli softens in the dressing and the flavors develop as it sits.

Alternatively, pack this salad up for a healthy lunch! For some of my best lunch-packing tips, check out this post.

Healthy Broccoli Salad Recipe

Best Broccoli Salad on a plate

If you love this broccoli salad recipe…

Try this slaw, this corn salad, this pasta salad, or this potato salad next!

Check out this post for 37 more salad recipes, and this post for 85 more vegan recipes!

Broccoli Salad

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 257 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Serves 4 to 6
This broccoli salad recipe is the perfect easy cookout side dish! Tangy, refreshing, and full of yummy sweet/salty flavor, it's a lighter version of the classic recipe, made with less mayo and no sugar, meat, or dairy.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound broccoli crowns
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons mayo, I like Sir Kensington's or vegan mayo
  • tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • cup diced red onions
  • cup dried cranberries

Smoky tamari almonds

  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup pepitas
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, more to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Chop the broccoli florets into ½-inch pieces and any remaining stems into ¼-inch dice. Peel any woody or course parts from the stem first.
  • In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mayo, apple cider vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, garlic, and salt. Add the broccoli, onions, and cranberries and toss to coat.
  • Place the almonds and pepitas on the baking sheet, toss with the tamari, maple syrup, and smoked paprika and spread into a thin layer. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes (they’ll get crispier as they sit).
  • Toss the almonds and pepitas into the salad, reserving a few to sprinkle on top. Season to taste and serve.

Notes

*Note: Chop the florets into roughly ½-inch pieces. Dice the stem into smaller ¼-inch pieces.

 

194 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Brenda Leis
    07.22.2022

    5 stars
    Great salad. I like that the dressing is lightly done so this salad keeps well over a few days. I had Costco’s tamari almonds in the pantry so used them.

  2. Shira
    07.22.2022

    5 stars
    This was a great quick dinner! I love how it is dressed very lightly. We subbed raisins for the cranberries.

  3. Laura Childs
    07.21.2022

    5 stars
    I made this Broccoli Salad. I added a few minced carrots and used sliced almonds instead of the whole almonds! It was so good!!

  4. Ellen Ehrsam
    07.20.2022

    5 stars
    Loved this salad! The leftovers were even better. I added dried cherries along with the dried cranberries which added a nice bit of tartness to the salad. It also came together faster than I expected!

  5. 5 stars
    Loved adding just a touch of the sweet cranberries to the sharper dressing. Next time, I’ll make it a day in advance from when I need it, as the second day is better. The broccoli is still crisp, but has taken up the dressing more. Thanks for the recipe. Easy since you don’t have to cook the broccoli.

  6. Love this salad recipe, super easy. The salad is not only healthy but delicious with the sourness from the vinegar and mustard complimenting the crunchy sweet broccoli, nuts and dried cranberries. Will make again for sure.

  7. Chelsea Petre
    07.17.2022

    5 stars
    So tasty! Love the crunch, and the sweet and salty!

  8. Melissa McCartan
    07.17.2022

    5 stars
    I love this salad. It is so yummy and easy to make! Broccoli stays nice and crisp and holds up well in the fridge so I can make enough to have for lunch during the week. Delicious!

  9. LeeAnn
    07.16.2022

    5 stars
    What a great recipe! The best broccoli salad I’ve ever had. A touch of sweet but not overly so. Just right for my taste. I like trying to incorporate a vegetable into my breakfast most days and this is the perfect breakfast vegetable.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.16.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  10. Sue Roberts
    07.16.2022

    I love broccoli salad and this was the best recipe I’ve tried! Easy to make and tastes wonderful!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.16.2022

      I’m glad you loved it!

  11. Kim
    07.13.2022

    5 stars
    Delish! I added in a little bit of quinoa to make it more of a main and added cashews to the nut mix because it was what I had on hand and new it would live up to the hype. Definitely did, could eat just that with a spoon.
    Also liked adding in the stems. Waste not want not.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.16.2022

      Yum! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Emily Simaika
    07.13.2022

    5 stars
    Love this salad! Great for picnics too!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.16.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  13. Far Momin
    07.12.2022

    5 stars
    I made the broccoli salad with my homegrown broccoli today and my family loved it! Thank you for a delicious recipe! I know I’ll be making it for summer cookouts 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.16.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  14. Anne Kellogg
    07.11.2022

    Lovely salad! We had an abundance of broccoli in our fridge and this was a great use for it.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  15. Annika Carnes
    07.11.2022

    5 stars
    Another winner! I love the combination of the different flavors and textures. I made a batch of the broccoli salad yesterday to take with me to work for lunches this week and it’s the perfect salad to transport. Everything is still very crisp and crunchy even though it’s been sitting in the dressing since yesterday. I do like how light the dressing is. The salad really holds up well and I know I will make this again. Very tasty!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2022

      I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it!

  16. Cainim Truax
    07.09.2022

    5 stars
    Made this for dinner this evening. Perfect accompaniment to turkey burgers!

    We’re not quite vegetarians but Love and Lemons is getting me closer and closer. Hopefully one day.

    Thanks to Jeanine ‘s recipes like this salad we are meat free 5 or 6 days most weeks.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2022

      I’m so glad you’ve been loving the recipes!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.