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 226 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.

 

149 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Samae
    04.14.2022

    5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I could have cut down the dressing a bit but overall it was excellent!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.15.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Deanna
    04.11.2022

    5 stars
    The family loved this recipe! We used plain raw crushed almonds and cashews and a few shelled sesame seeds with the pepitas instead of the tamari mix. I also did double the honey and added a bit of sugar to take the edge off the dijon. We always add more garlic. And I only had white onion this time. I really enjoyed it! Thank you so much!! We will love this from here on.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.11.2022

      I’m so glad everyone loved it!

  3. Erica Grace
    04.01.2022

    5 stars
    This is fantastic! I have made it twice now. First time I followed it to the letter. Loved every bite. Second time I opted to not season or toast the nuts (no good reason. Just thought what the heck). So good. This SALAD IS SO GOOD! I am having it as part of my batch cooking/meal prep habits…. Its made my lunches extra good – like with grain bowls or even on top of another salad like the spinach and arugula salad my kids didnt eat the night before. 😎

    • Liz
      04.01.2022

      What tips do you have when meal prepping the broccoli salad?

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        04.02.2022

        Hi Liz, it keeps well for multiple days in the fridge – if you wanted, you could keep the nuts and seeds separate until you’re ready to eat.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.02.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it and that it’s so versatile!

  4. Tere Myers
    03.16.2022

    So excited to prepare this for our Easter Dinner as we celebrate the Risen Lord and Saviour! Should I use dried cranberries that have had sugar added? Thank you very much! Please have a Blessed Day 💕

  5. Elizabeth H
    02.22.2022

    5 stars
    This is, by far, the best broccoli salad I’ve ever had – truly scrumptious and so easy to prepare!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.23.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  6. King P.
    02.19.2022

    5 stars
    Awesome recipe thank you for sharing. I tried it for my first time and followed the directions as is, and it turned out great. I definitely recommend!

  7. Martha Taranto
    02.12.2022

    This is such a great recipe. Thanks! I’ve made it twice. My family loves it. It has won a spot in our regular rotation.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.13.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  8. DG
    01.30.2022

    5 stars
    Perfect and delicious. Everyone asked for recipe.
    I made it a second time and added crumbled bacon. Very good.
    Do you have nutritional content?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.01.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it! I’m sorry, we don’t post nutrition facts, you could plug the ingredients into a site like my fitness pal.

  9. Faith
    01.29.2022

    5 stars
    Wowwwww this is good. Looks like it’s going to be dry but it’s BOMB. ❤️

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.01.2022

      Ha, I’m so glad you loved it!

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.