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:
4.96 from 86 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


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



Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Susan

    Jeanine, I think you’ve outdone yourself with this one. I appreciate very much having most of the sugar gone. I might steam the broccoli very lightly, as neither my husband nor I care much for raw broccoli. I also like the idea of the tamari roasted almond and pepitas. This salad would go very well with the brisket burger recipe I picked up from another favorite blog this morning…

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Thanks Susan, I hope you enjoy it!

    • Karen

      5 stars
      The dressing is perfect as is. I think that yogurt would make it unpleasantly tangy. I’ll be making this many times. Thanks!

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        Hi Karen, I’m so glad you loved it!!

  2. Laura

    Is it possible to substitute Greek yogurt for the mayo? Otherwise the salad looks so healthy and delicious!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Laura, I haven’t tried it but I think it would be good – I’d just add a little more salt to taste.

      If you make it as-is, I promise you will not even know that there’s mayo in here, there’s so little of it in relation to the amount of broccoli. It just adds a bit of creaminess to coat the raw broccoli. Or if you use vegan mayo (such as Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise), then there’s no actual mayo because it’s made of chickpeas.

      • Roxane Javid

        5 stars
        I made this salad using greek yogurt mainly because I always have it on hand and it would take me a long time to use up a jar of mayo, vegan or otherwise. The Sir Kensington’s you mentioned was only sold as a really big bottle and even the vegan mayo at my grocery store was a big size. Also had to omit the red onions because it aggravates reflux for me. It was fantastic even with the modifications. Didn’t need the extra salt because I am used to less salt so definitely taste before deciding. What was really interesting for me was using smoked paprika for the first time. It really added a kick to the salad and this is one spice I can see using elsewhere. Highly recommend this one!

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          Hi Roxane, I’m so glad you loved it with the greek yogurt!

  3. Elaine

    5 stars
    I made it tonight! #todiefor. This one’s a

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      yay!! I hope you liked the pasta salad as well 🙂

  4. Sabrina from

    another great salad, thank you, love the almond texture contrast with the rest of the ingredients, cranberries are a nice flavor punch too, make ahead even better

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Sabrina, I’m so glad you loved it!

  5. Roxane

    Can’t wait to try this one. Like being able to make it ahead and let the flavors marinate. Works well when you need to “bring a dish” for a gathering. Want to clarify something. You say to work the pepitas and almonds into the salad but to save a few before serving. If you are going to make this the night before a luncheon would you save all of them to work in right before serving or just a few.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Roxane, I’d mix half into the salad when you make it, and put half into a baggie to sprinkle on top either before you leave the house or once you get there, whichever is more convenient! It’ll be delicious either which way, I just like to sprinkle a few near the end so that they’re crispy. I hope you love the salad!

      • Roxane

        Thank you, Jeanine. I am sure I will.

  6. Emily

    5 stars
    I just brought this to a work potluck and everyone loved it! It wasn’t until just now that I realized I left out the olive oil entirely, but I t turned out great anyway! I also used sliced almonds instead of whole ones, and I liked that it matched the texture of the pepitas.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Emily, I’m so so glad everyone loved it!

  7. Danielle

    This is amazing! Perfect salad for Memorial Day weekend!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  8. Andrea

    5 stars
    What a beautiful delicious salad, thank you!!

  9. Dani

    I made this for a family BBQ yesterday and when I was leaving one of my aunts said, “Thank you for the delicious broccoli! That’s something I never thought I’d say…”


    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ha ha, I love hearing that!

  10. Erin

    5 stars
    I made this as directed for a party the night before. I left the nuts out and mixed right before. I think the marinade might have softened the broccoli a slight bit because I also normally don’t like it raw but IT WAS AMAZING! All the flavors and colors blend beautifully. A new fav!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Yay! I’m so glad you loved it!

  11. Marti

    5 stars
    I prepared this for a birthday BBQ and it was a hit! I followed the recipe and doubled it! I accidentally added halved cherry tomatoes, I left half at home. Both batches were gone and I’ve gotten requests to share the recipe! Thank you for this lovely dude dish!

  12. Brenda E

    I just made this–it was so good! Thanks so much for all of the wonderful recipes.

  13. Leah from Love%20and%20Lemons

    5 stars
    Just made this tonight and everyone loved it! Thanks for this recipe. I plan to make again.

  14. niki

    5 stars
    Simply AMAZING!! Adding it to the rotation. I ended up using Dijon mustard mayonnaise. In the words of my almost 2 yo. Num num num!! I’ve been cruising your website for plenty more recipes to try! No shortage of options 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      awwww, I’m so glad to hear that you all loved it so much. Especially love to hear which recipes go over well with the kiddos! 🙂

  15. Alicia

    5 stars
    Thanks for this recipe!
    I made it today for the first time. It certainly will not be the last time!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Alicia, I’m so glad you loved the salad! Thanks for taking a minute to let me know!

  16. Nicole

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! This is now one of my go to side dishes!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Nicole, I’m so happy you loved the broccoli salad!

  17. Jamie

    5 stars
    I made a double batch of this salad for thanksgiving and it was a hit!! I used agave instead of maple syrup and a shallot for the onion (what I had on hand). Totally recommend making ahead of time as the marinade softens and flavors the broccoli to perfection. Wouldn’t change a thing about this—thank you for such a delicious healthy recipe that my carnivorous family couldn’t get enough of!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Jamie, I’m so glad everyone loved it!

  18. Elizabeth

    5 stars
    Another winner! Used shallot instead of onion because I tend to tolerate that Better in the raw. Like others have said – this is excellent and the marinade almost “cooks” the broccoli (almost like vegetarian ceviche). So easy and yummy and definitely will make an appearance at potlucks this summer. I am also wondering about subbing out some of the Mayo/oil for yogurt (I’d use Greek kite hill almond) just to lighten it a bit. It does not taste too heavy or have a fatty mouth feel whatsoever (quite the opposite in fact), but given I could easily eat half the recipe myself, I’d be interested to bring down the oil amount just a little and enjoy the fat via the delicious nuts and seeds. If I try this, will report back!

  19. Tamara

    Can I sub soy sauce instead of tamari? Same proportion? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      yep, you can!

  20. Amy

    I just made this tonight and it is delicious! I subbed the mayo in the dressing for tahini. Not really in efforts to make it healthier, just because I’ve been really into tahini lately. The results were great! Keeping this recipe for sure.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Amy, I’m glad you loved it! I love tahini so much, I’ll have to try it that way 🙂

  21. Lalla

    5 stars
    I was hesitant to make a recipe with raw broccoli. I made this one last night and we loved it. Will definitely make this again!
    Jeanine, I love your cookbooks. Thank you for this recipe.

  22. Theresa

    5 stars
    I absolutely love this salad! I had never eaten broccoli salad before. In all my 38 years it had always looked so gross. Then I found your recipe by accident and the photos looks so good I went for it. I LOVE this salad so much. I craved it all summer long. I make it at least 2 times a week in warmer weather and I still make it a few times a month the rest of the year.
    Thank you

  23. clara webb

    what is Tahini i have never heard of this help

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      It’s like peanut butter, except it’s made with ground up sesame seeds. Look for it in the middle eastern aisle of any grocery store.

      • Lynn

        My daughter has nut and seed allergies so we don’t have any in our house. What can I use instead of the almonds?

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          Hi Lynn, just double the pepitas – they’re still so crunchy and tasty!

          • Lynn

            Pepitas are a seed so I can’t use them.


        • Jeanine Donofrio

          oh sorry, I read to quickly and just saw the nut part. I would just skip the toppings (nuts & seeds) altogether.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  24. Christina Gibson

    5 stars
    Boy! This broccoli salad is so yummy. We ate it right after making it so I’m looking forward to leftovers today with blended flavors. We had it with mango Salsa and leftover grilled salmon.

  25. Rachel

    5 stars
    I love broccoli salad. Just made two batches for different friends and dinners. I taste-tested, and it was dry, so I doubled the sauce, and it still tasted nice and light. Used toasted slivered almonds, and they were the perfect size. I used salted pepitas, so I didn’t bother with tamari. Best after one day. I will definitely make it again.

  26. Nina

    I made this last night for a group of friends alongside a bbq. Never received so many compliments about a salad & there was nothing leftover. Absolute winner of a recipe – thanks so much for sharing.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Oh yay, I’m so glad it was such a hit!

  27. Aynn

    I don’t usually cook, as myhusband and I buy most of our main meals from a catering company we like. WE mistakenly got a pound of broccoli and he found this recipe. I’m going to try it, but I haven’t all the ingredients, so I want to know:
    Can I use balsamic vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar?
    What is it like if I don’t have any onions?
    Can I use raisins instead of cranberries?


    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Aynn, balsamic will be a lot stronger and sweeter in flavor. It might work, of if you have white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar those would be my top choices. The onions add some flavor and crunch. Yes, raisins will be just fine instead of cranberries. I hope that helps!

  28. Mary Laub

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight and served it with grilled Halibut. I didn’t have pepitas but I did have almonds. My husband raved about it, even there was no bacon or heavy mayo in it.
    Will definitely make it again.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Mary, I’m so glad you both loved it!

  29. Lisa

    5 stars
    Hi, is there a nutritional/caloric breakdown for this recipe? It’s so gooooooood! I’ve already made it twice after having it at a friend’s house. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it! Apologies, I don’t calculate nutritional info.

  30. Susan

    5 stars
    This is sooo good… even better the next day. Hubby stood at the fridge and finished off… he loves it. Making more today!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ha ha, I’m so glad it was such a hit!

  31. Ellen

    5 stars
    This is a very delicious recipe! I actually added finely chopped romaine and spinach and made it a full salad for lunch rather than just a side. It was great!

  32. Diane

    5 stars
    So so good! I didn’t have cranberries so I used goji berries and I’m glad I risked it. I dumped them in the dressing first while I chopped broccoli and onions and they softened nicely. I really appreciate a dressing without sugar. The touch of honey is just right.

  33. Mathias Becan

    Great recipe! I would lightly steam my broccoli keeping it’s crunch instead of raw. It still is a good salad 😊

  34. Alma

    5 stars
    Amazing! Lasts well in the refrigerator! Even better in a day or two! Thanks this will be added to my favorites!

  35. Renee from Pinterest

    5 stars
    Love this recipe!!! I have made it 3 times in one month. It is delicious, healthy & totally addicting. Thank you for creating it:)

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve been loving it so much!

  36. Carrie

    5 stars
    I made this for Thanksgiving and everyone LOVED it. I used a sherry balsamic instead if apple-cider vinegar (it’s what I had on hand) and a little chipotle powder on the nuts. I could eat this as a stand-alone dish. Was amazing! I have shared with friends and family and highly recommend it. Thank you for sharing!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad everyone loved it!

  37. nepali gandhi

    absolutely loved this ! Made it for a dinner party and it was devoured in minutes so going to use this one for another party this week .

  38. Vickie

    5 stars!!! I can’t get enough of this. I eat it for DAYS. (Actually, it doesn’t even last that long!) I tried it tonight with cauliflower and it’s still delicious. Yum!

  39. Ailsa

    5 stars
    Amazing and light. I hate mayo dressings so had tended to stay away from broccoli salads. I substituted the mayo with lactose free yoghurt and it was still yummy. Kids even like/tried it. Going straight onto the recipe favs list.

  40. Natalina

    5 stars
    Hello! I absolutely love this salad. Do you know the macros for this salad?

  41. Elizabeth

    This recipe is a treat, the flavors are balanced superbly. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  42. Kate

    5 stars
    Loved by everyone around the table! Thank you for such a good recipe. I removed the mayo. I also used a reduced amount of soy sauce instead of tamari because I had that in the cupboard.
    Will definitely make again 🙂

  43. Lizbeth

    5 stars
    I just wanted to say that this is super flexible! I’ve made as described (delicious). Today, however, I had a few other things in my kitchen – scallions , a little bit of leftover curry mayo, and dried cranberries w/ orange oil.

    I dropped the mustard and honey in the dressing because of the curry mayo (but kept the garlic). Everything else was the same. This turned out amazingly!

  44. Serene Flanagan

    5 stars
    Really tasty! I chopped up the stems as if celery(made good crunch). Dressing is rock star. I used low sodium soy sauce. I was afraid that it might be too salty for me, so I cut the amount in half. The almonds turned put well. Would be great snack too. Served it with oven poached salmon, butter dolloped & broil-browned before serving. Thanks!

  45. rachel black

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Will definitely make this in the future.

  46. CathC from

    5 stars
    This is the most delicious salad! Made it exactly as recipe said. The whole family loved it and I’ll be making it again soon for a dinner party. Thanks so much for this great salad, yummo!

  47. Vera

    5 stars
    This was so good! I am not a broccoli lover, my partner is, so I tend to get creative with it. But eating it in this salad was beyond my expectations.

    I did not have any dried cranberries, so I subbed those with grapes, and used what available nuts I had in my pantry. An amazing salad, I will definitely make it again!

  48. Dianne

    5 stars
    Absolutely loved this and will definitely be making it again.

  49. Cyndi

    5 stars
    I have made many, many broccoli salads as my family and I never tire of broccoli! And this one is the very favourite, which is saying a lot because we haven’t been let down by any of the broccoli salads I have made. The only changes for us: I don’t use mayo (egg allergy) so I used the same quantity of half Greek Yogurt and half sour cream. I left out the pepitas as I couldn’t find peanut free pepitas (peanut allergy). The smoky tamari almonds are an amazing addition, don’t leave them out! I took your advice and did not add any of the almonds until right before serving and everyone absolutely loved them. I’ve made this salad many times as it’s now in my regular rotation. PS. I have made the smoky tamari almonds by themselves just for us to munch on!

  50. Prakruthi mk

    5 stars
    It was amazing. It was my first time trying the recipe and loved it. Its all the ingredients that are available in your pantry. I didn’t roast the almonds but they tasted the same. Will be trying out other recipes as I go along.
    I want the calorie measurement for the serving that is done so those who are on diet can modulate the quantity they eat.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad you loved the salad! I’m sorry, we don’t provide calorie info.

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.