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 167 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.

 

118 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Miriam
    06.02.2021

    Made this for lunch today, it was delicious. (But then I’ve come to expect nothing less from your recipes!) I think that the nuts I made were v slightly burned and next time I’ll leave them in the oven for slightly less time (or maybe just use caremalized pecans??) but either way it all tasted great. Thanks!

  2. Deanne
    05.27.2021

    This was great! The textures and flavours are amazing together and besides a little chopping, it’s so simple to put together. My whole family loved it.

  3. Becky
    05.26.2021

    Love this salad very much. I am trying to transition to being vegan, and recipes like this are so helpful! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Coxey
    05.24.2021

    This is such a easy recipe 👍…the taste is wonderful …will continue to make..thank you🙃

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.24.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  5. Monique
    05.15.2021

    I make this regularly we love it so much. We are vegan so I substitute vegan Mayo. I also add a pack of prepackaged broccoli or kale slaw and a can of chickpeas to make it a lunch. Soooooo goooood!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.16.2021

      I’m so glad you’ve been loving it!

  6. Donna
    05.08.2021

    Can I substitute walnuts for the almonds

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.08.2021

      yes, but I’d watch them more closely in the oven – they might be done in less time.

  7. Lezli salz-bradley
    05.01.2021

    4 stars
    Can you make this the day before? Thinking about serving it chilled with grilled chicken for Mother’s Day!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.01.2021

      You can, just leave the almonds and pepitas out until you’re ready to serve so they stay crisp.

  8. Erica Devine
    04.28.2021

    5 stars
    A truly scrumptious salad. Now a firm favorite for lunches. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.29.2021

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

  9. Elle J
    04.11.2021

    Under the printable version of the recipe, the 2nd ingredient is 3 tablespoons, but you don’t say what the ingredient is. I am assuming it’s the olive oil, but you really should correct the recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.11.2021

      Hmm, I see 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, I’m not sure what might be happening on your monitor? If you have a minute and could email me a screenshot, I could figure out if there’s a glitch.

  10. Prakruthi mk
    04.08.2021

    5 stars
    It was amazing. It was my first time trying the recipe and loved it. Its all the ingredients that are available in your pantry. I didn’t roast the almonds but they tasted the same. Will be trying out other recipes as I go along.
    I want the calorie measurement for the serving that is done so those who are on diet can modulate the quantity they eat.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.08.2021

      I’m glad you loved the salad! I’m sorry, we don’t provide calorie info.

  11. Cyndi
    04.06.2021

    5 stars
    I have made many, many broccoli salads as my family and I never tire of broccoli! And this one is the very favourite, which is saying a lot because we haven’t been let down by any of the broccoli salads I have made. The only changes for us: I don’t use mayo (egg allergy) so I used the same quantity of half Greek Yogurt and half sour cream. I left out the pepitas as I couldn’t find peanut free pepitas (peanut allergy). The smoky tamari almonds are an amazing addition, don’t leave them out! I took your advice and did not add any of the almonds until right before serving and everyone absolutely loved them. I’ve made this salad many times as it’s now in my regular rotation. PS. I have made the smoky tamari almonds by themselves just for us to munch on!

  12. Dianne
    03.17.2021

    5 stars
    Absolutely loved this and will definitely be making it again.

  13. Vera
    03.03.2021

    5 stars
    This was so good! I am not a broccoli lover, my partner is, so I tend to get creative with it. But eating it in this salad was beyond my expectations.

    I did not have any dried cranberries, so I subbed those with grapes, and used what available nuts I had in my pantry. An amazing salad, I will definitely make it again!

  14. CathC from Loveandlemons.com
    03.03.2021

    5 stars
    This is the most delicious salad! Made it exactly as recipe said. The whole family loved it and I’ll be making it again soon for a dinner party. Thanks so much for this great salad, yummo!

  15. rachel black
    02.18.2021

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Will definitely make this in the future.

  16. Serene Flanagan
    02.13.2021

    5 stars
    Really tasty! I chopped up the stems as if celery(made good crunch). Dressing is rock star. I used low sodium soy sauce. I was afraid that it might be too salty for me, so I cut the amount in half. The almonds turned put well. Would be great snack too. Served it with oven poached salmon, butter dolloped & broil-browned before serving. Thanks!

  17. Lizbeth
    02.11.2021

    5 stars
    I just wanted to say that this is super flexible! I’ve made as described (delicious). Today, however, I had a few other things in my kitchen – scallions , a little bit of leftover curry mayo, and dried cranberries w/ orange oil.

    I dropped the mustard and honey in the dressing because of the curry mayo (but kept the garlic). Everything else was the same. This turned out amazingly!

  18. Kate
    02.11.2021

    5 stars
    Loved by everyone around the table! Thank you for such a good recipe. I removed the mayo. I also used a reduced amount of soy sauce instead of tamari because I had that in the cupboard.
    Will definitely make again 🙂

  19. Elizabeth
    01.25.2021

    This recipe is a treat, the flavors are balanced superbly. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.26.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  20. Natalina
    01.25.2021

    5 stars
    Hello! I absolutely love this salad. Do you know the macros for this salad?

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.