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!

5.0 from 6 reviews
Broccoli Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
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.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad, side dish
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound broccoli crowns
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons mayo (I like Sir Kensington's) or vegan mayo
  • 1½ 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
  • ⅓ cup diced red onions
  • ⅓ 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
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

 

24 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Susan
    05.20.2019

    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
      05.25.2019

      Thanks Susan, I hope you enjoy it!

    • Karen
      05.27.2019

      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
        05.27.2019

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

  2. Laura
    05.20.2019

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.20.2019

      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
        05.25.2019

        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
          05.25.2019

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

  3. Elaine
    05.20.2019

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.25.2019

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

  4. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    05.20.2019

    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
      05.25.2019

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

  5. Roxane
    05.21.2019

    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
      05.21.2019

      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
        05.22.2019

        Thank you, Jeanine. I am sure I will.

  6. Emily
    05.24.2019

    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
      05.25.2019

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

  7. Danielle
    05.26.2019

    This is amazing! Perfect salad for Memorial Day weekend!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.27.2019

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  8. Andrea
    05.28.2019

    What a beautiful delicious salad, thank you!!

  9. Dani
    07.05.2019

    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
      07.10.2019

      Ha ha, I love hearing that!

  10. Erin
    07.10.2019

    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
      07.10.2019

      Yay! 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.