Best Broccoli Salad

Meet my 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 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

Storage

  • 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 397 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.

Ingredients

Smoky tamari almonds

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.

 

317 comments

4.99 from 397 votes (259 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. TrinaP
    11.10.2022

    5 stars
    Loved it, think this will be my new BBQ signature salad. Tangy and fresh tasting.

    • Phoebe Moore
      11.11.2022

      I’m so glad you love the recipe!

  2. 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?

  3. Christina
    08.14.2022

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. Karina Lyubenkova
    07.31.2022

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

  7. Stevie Smith
    07.31.2022

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

  8. Chas Badger
    07.31.2022

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

    • Amanda M
      08.23.2023

      Hello! I am looking forward to making this for family game night this weekend. Does anyone have a recommendation for a tamari substitute? I do not have any and neither does my local grocery. I do have soy sauce or I have Kinder’s Japanese Cooking Sauce Japanese BBQ. I’m wondering of one of those would work. I’ve never had tamari so I’m not familiar with the flavor. Thanks!

      • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
        08.25.2023

        Hi Amanda, soy sauce is a great substitute for the tamari!

  20. 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.