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:
4.95 from 175 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.

 

122 comments

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published.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

Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Naomi
    10.13.2021

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe! I made with a few substitutions using what I had; honey instead of maple syrup, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of tamari, and whole grain mustard instead of Dijon. I added a little bit of Prosecco to the dressing since the mustard was lacking the white wine that Dijon has. It’s a keeper!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.14.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  2. LAURIE GRIESEMER
    10.11.2021

    5 stars
    I made this for a family dinner of 9 and it was gobbled up quickly, everyone loved it. It’s a keeper!

  3. Rose
    09.22.2021

    Do you have the nutritional info for this? Wondering how many calories per cup of the salad, mixed with the dressing. Thank you!

  4. Lynn
    08.30.2021

    3 stars
    I was very excited to find a healthier broccoli salad recipe! Unfortunately, the dressing did not stand up to the broccoli nor was there enough to really coat ingredients thoroughly.

  5. Cindy
    08.26.2021

    Wondering if you could use smokehouse almonds?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.26.2021

      Hi Cindy, you could, I’d probably just use them without adding the additional seasonings.

  6. Debbi Tavares
    08.04.2021

    Can you please post the nutrition? Thank you.

  7. Kim Demoe
    07.15.2021

    5 stars
    Made this salad for meal prep. My husband and I both loved it. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Mariadelpilar
    07.05.2021

    5 stars
    Thank you the brócoli salad it is YUMMY and easy to do it

  9. Jen
    07.03.2021

    Can you omit the mayo or use something else?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.03.2021

      I haven’t tried it without mayo (I use vegan mayo sometimes, the Sir Kensington brand made from chickpea water). Greek yogurt might work, but I haven’t tried it.

    • SB
      07.09.2021

      4 stars
      I’ve done this with a lemon tahini dressing, and added just a touch of maple syrup and Dijon. I use this for my coleslaw dressing, too.

  10. Fynn
    06.24.2021

    5 stars
    Loved this. What a winner I will be making this again soon

  11. Jenelle
    06.19.2021

    5 stars
    I just tried this and I absolutely love it. Almonds burned a little and I had to make some substitutions based on availabilty, but it still rocked. Brown mustard instead of Dijon, Soy sauce instead of Tamari.

    • Yvonne
      08.07.2021

      4 stars
      Agree that the temp for the almonds needs to be lower because they burn easily.

  12. Susan
    06.07.2021

    Hi!
    Just made this and it is marinating in the fridge. Used the only almonds I had which were roasted and salted. They did get a little well done so I tried to pick out the best ones. Just a little confused…..was I supposed to use raw almonds? Also saw that someone used sliced almonds. Would I still add the flavorings to them and just bake them less.?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.08.2021

      Hi Susan, yes, I use raw almonds. Yes, if you used sliced almonds, I would watch them in the oven and bake them less.

  13. "Peter Drake" Hexham
    06.07.2021

    5 stars
    An superb salad – thanks for posting
    “Peter Drake” of Hexham Northumberland

  14. Good recipe bad explained
    06.05.2021

    Good recipe but it’s instructions are so bad written. Do I bake the broccoli together with almonds or what?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.05.2021

      The broccoli is raw – the full recipe is in the recipe card at the bottom of the post, above the comments.

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.