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 279 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.

 

235 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Eliza
    09.09.2022

    5 stars
    This salad is great. The combo of flavors really compliment each other. Do you have the nutritional breakdown for it?

  2. Christina
    08.14.2022

    Hi. Just made salad. I do not have smoked paprika. Can I use regular paprika?

  3. Ali
    08.05.2022

    5 stars
    This was divine! I missed the cooking club deadline, but gained a new favorite summer salad!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.10.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Moira
    08.03.2022

    5 stars
    Wasn’t sure before I made it for a party. Everyone asked for the recipe Now a family firm favor

  5. Karina Lyubenkova
    07.31.2022

    I make this all the time, my family and I love it, thank you! 🙂

  6. Stevie Smith
    07.31.2022

    5 stars
    Easy, light and fresh! Delicious salad for summer!

  7. Chas Badger
    07.31.2022

    5 stars
    I really liked this recipe. Cool side for hot summer days & easy to make! We loved it!

  8. Diane Blodgett
    07.30.2022

    5 stars
    It is wonderful! It is perfect for the cook-out we are having!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.31.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Emily
    07.30.2022

    5 stars
    Easy and yummy! Pretty too!
    My partner declares this recipe, “Yum!”.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.31.2022

      I’m so glad it was a hit!

  10. Bridget Cassun
    07.29.2022

    5 stars
    Delicious! This salad was easy to make; perfect for the summer. Loved the crunch of the nuts and seeds and the tart cranberries. Made the Love and Lemons vegan mayonnaise. Will be making this again!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.30.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it and the mayo!

  11. 5 stars
    Made this delicious salad for lunch today. Simply served it with a slice of homemade bread. It’s the perfect summer meal – light, fresh and healthy.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.30.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Carrie McCormack
    07.29.2022

    5 stars
    Delicious and super easy. Also able to make ahead. What else could you want from a side dish!?? We served with BBQ salmon. Perfect! Will make again. I bet it’d be a great light lunch too.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.31.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  13. Erica
    07.29.2022

    5 stars
    Delicious and even better on day 2. Definitely an easy go-to favorite with ingredients you are sure to have at home.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.31.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  14. Susan Collison
    07.28.2022

    5 stars
    Who knew broccoli could taste like dessert?!! The sweetness from the cranberries, and dressing & nut/seed topping really made this delicious! I love this healthier, vegan twist on a classic salad.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.31.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

      • Lisa
        08.07.2022

        5 stars
        I made this today for the first time and it’s fantastic! The smoked paprika really kicks it up a notch! I added just 1 tbsp oil and 2 more tbsp follow your heart Mayo. I also cut back on the cranberries a bit and added dates. This will be a go to for summer picnics!

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          08.10.2022

          I’m so glad you loved it!

  15. Megan Lane
    07.28.2022

    5 stars
    Super easy and delicious! Even better the second day.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.31.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  16. Samantha Barnett
    07.27.2022

    Thanks for the recipe! Cranberries and broccoli are such a unique combo!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.28.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  17. Beth Ehrsam
    07.27.2022

    Great salad !! The directions are very clear and the salad comes together easily. I used dried cherries and slivered almonds – both were great. Guests liked it too!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.28.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  18. Brooklynn Van Ryn
    07.27.2022

    5 stars
    We love this spin on a classic and make this salad regularly in our home. It saves well and is great for work lunches.

  19. Laurie
    07.26.2022

    5 stars
    This broccoli salad was SO good! I love broccoli, and the combination of the broc, cranberries and nuts – amazing! The nuts with the tamari sauce are to die for! I did end up having to double the dressing for a pound of broccoli.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.28.2022

      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.