Best Broccoli Salad

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

Broccoli salad

This broccoli salad recipe is one of my favorite side dishes. It’s my lighter spin on classic Midwest broccoli salad, and though you won’t find any cheese or bacon here, it’s every bit as delicious. A creamy, tangy dressing coats crisp broccoli florets, chewy dried cranberries, sharp red onion, and smoky roasted nuts. Even salad skeptics will love it.

This broccoli salad recipe is easy to make, and even better, make ahead. A few hours or a day in the fridge gives the broccoli a chance to soften and soak up the dressing’s punchy flavor. Pack it up for a potluck, a cookout, or a weekday lunch. It’s guaranteed to be a hit!

Broccoli salad recipe ingredients

A Broccoli Salad Recipe That’s Good for You

Broccoli salad is a standard cookout side dish, but the typical classic broccoli salad recipe is loaded up with sugar, ample mayo, bacon, and sharp cheddar cheese. My version is a fresher, healthier twist—I nix the sugar, meat, and cheese altogether. The result is a crisp, refreshing salad that’ll be the star of your cookouts all summer long!

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

How to Make Broccoli Salad

The first step in this broccoli salad recipe is chopping the broccoli. Make sure to cut the florets into bite-sized pieces and to finely dice the stems. The small pieces will soften more and soak up the dressing better than larger pieces will.

Next, you’ll mix up the homemade broccoli salad dressing. 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.

Add the broccoli, red onion, and dried cranberries to the creamy dressing, and stir to coat.

Broccoli salad dressing

Now for the best part: the smoky tamari almonds and pepitas! They add wonderful crunch to the salad and bring richness and smoky flavor. They’re the perfect nutritious substitute for bacon and cheese. They’re easy to make—toss the almonds and pepitas with tamari, maple syrup, and smoked paprika, and toast in a 350°F oven for 10 to 14 minutes, until golden brown. Top the salad with the nuts.

Season to taste, and enjoy!

Tip: If you can’t find pepitas, sunflower seeds work here too!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Adding florets to bowl of creamy dressing

Best Broccoli Salad Recipe Tips

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

  • Cut your broccoli small. Because this salad features raw broccoli, 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 crispy, smoky nuts and seeds on top. If you add them too early, they’ll lose their crunch, so save some to sprinkle on right before serving!

Hands tossing almonds and pepitas with seasonings on a baking sheet


  • If you’re making this recipe ahead, wait to add the almonds and pepitas. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Store the rest of the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Add the almonds and pepitas right before you eat.
  • If you have leftover salad, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Healthy Broccoli Salad Recipe

What to Serve with Broccoli Salad

This broccoli salad recipe is a perfect side dish for potlucks and cookouts! Serve it alongside classic cookout recipes like these:

Round out the meal with other summer favorites like grilled zucchini and grilled corn on the cob. Don’t forget the lemonade to drink!

Best Broccoli Salad on a plate

More Salad Recipes You’ll Love

If you love this summer salad, try one of these easy salad recipes next:

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Broccoli Salad

rate this recipe:
4.99 from 380 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
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.


Smoky tamari almonds


  • 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.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Ellie

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I served it on top of a jacket potato.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Ooh yum! So glad you loved the salad.

  2. This is a wonderful recipe. I usually see a bunch of sugar in dressing for broccoli salads. Thank you for not adding sugar!!! Nice and fresh. I love the veggies marinating for a few days. Smart.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Mimi, I’m so glad you loved the salad!

  3. Joan Muller

    5 stars
    Thanks for this healthy salad. Was a big hit!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad it was a hit!

  4. Tara

    5 stars
    THE BEST broccoli salad!! I make it every week and have introduced it to so many people. It’s also so versatile! I often mix in cabbage or fennel instead of or in addition to red onion. Slivered almonds or roasted cashews can easily replace the tamari almonds if you’re short on time.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Tara, I’m so glad you love this recipe! Thanks for sharing your variations. They sound delicious!

  5. Donna

    5 stars
    I only had half of the broccoli, so I cut all the ingredients in half….Turned out wonderful.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Donna, I’m so glad you loved the salad!

  6. Kathy Delfino

    5 stars
    Wow, this was delicious!!! Made it for large family gatherings and everyone loved it! Not easy with vegans, gluten free and dairy intolerant and a few picky eaters! Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Kathy, I’m so glad it was a hit!

  7. Donna

    5 stars
    I loved this! Thank you. I didnt cook or blanch the broccoli. I doubled the recipe.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

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

  8. Alexa

    5 stars
    Packed this for my bf’s bento. He loved it! Only way I can get him to eat raw broccoli haha

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Alexa, I’m so glad he loved it!

  9. Debbie

    I made this recipe and added Farro to stretch it for a pot luck get together (that usually includes a lot of vegan eaters). Because of the Farro addition I doubled the dressing. It was delicious and really enjoyed by everyone! We enjoy so many of your recipes! Thank you!

  10. Jessica Aukema

    What a delicious recipe, and I didn’t have the ingredients for the smoky tamari almonds. I just tossed the dressing with broccoli, no it was amazing! Thank you! Next time I’m getting all the ingredients 😁

  11. Treena

    5 stars
    Wow, sooooo delicious!!! Raw broccoli is not something I’m usually a fan of, but this salad is amazing. I had it with some red lentil curry for a delicious lunch on a very cold day. (-38 C in Canada today)

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  12. Sandi from

    5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe…I found a deli salad similar one day for a lunch. I loved it so I looked for a recipe—found yours.. my omnivore husband likes it so much, he asks me to make it and will eat it instead of fries with a veggie burger. For me, that’s a big score!! Thanks!!

  13. Jodie

    5 stars
    I’m a lazy ass sometimes when it comes to cooking! Looked at this and winged it by not measuring and doing a half portion. I like it a little sweet so maybe a bit heavier on the maple syrup! Threw in some carrots and a squeeze of lemon juice and it was damn delicious! Oh and had some spicy pecans left from thanksgiving so just used those. So good after going on a bad carb binge the last couple days! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ha, I’m glad you loved it!

  14. Diane

    5 stars
    I don’t usually rate recipes but this one is worthy! Simple and absolutely delicious side is you want something fresh and crunchy to compliment a ham or turkey dinner in the winter. My guests and family loved it! The best part is you can make the day before and it’s even better!

  15. Kelly

    5 stars
    Delicious. 💖 Didn’t have tamari or almonds so just toasted the pepitas. Beautiful salad. Thank you xx

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  16. Roxane Javid

    5 stars
    One of my go to sides or luncheon main course since it was first shared on the email. A favorite of friends and family who always ask me to share the recipe with them. Easy and tasty and leftovers taste wonderful over mixed greens or even in a wrap. And yes have brought it to Thanksgiving dinner in the past.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Roxane, I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying it!

  17. Justine

    This looks wonderful. Would you be able to blanch the broccoli instead of raw ?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Justine, it’s not necessary, the broccoli gets soft after it sits in the dressing. If you did want to blanch it – I would do it very quickly so the broccoli doesn’t get mushy, and make sure to pat it dry really well before incorporating 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.