Learn how to make the best Broccoli Salad with bacon, sunflower seeds and cranberries, all tossed in a simple homemade creamy dressing. This easy recipe is the perfect side dish for summer BBQ’s and potlucks!
Broccoli salad is a favorite side dish for parties, potlucks and holidays. The combination of flavors and textures makes this salad so incredibly delicious. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure! This broccoli salad recipe combines crisp broccoli, salty bacon, crunchy sunflower seeds, sweet dried cranberries and spicy red onion with a homemade broccoli salad dressing. The dressing is creamy and tangy with a touch of sweetness. Be sure to plan ahead to make the salad 1-2 hours before you want to serve it so that it has time to chill in the refrigerator before serving. The flavors will meld together and get even better while the salad chills.
What I love most about this classic broccoli salad recipe is that it’s so easy to make. It takes takes less than 30 minutes start to finish. You can make the most of your time in the kitchen by prepping the salad and dressing while the bacon cooks in the oven.
Enjoy this creamy broccoli salad alongside a variety of main dishes, from grilling recipes like Grilled Chicken, Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Turkey Burgers to Baked Chicken Breast and more. If you love broccoli recipes, you might also enjoy this fresh Broccoli Slaw.
Broccoli Salad Ingredients
You don’t need many ingredients to make the best broccoli salad! Here’s a look at what you’ll need:
- Broccoli: Cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces.
- Red Onion: Sweet-spicy red onion adds a delicious bite to the salad. Chop the onion finely so that it doesn’t overpower the other flavors.
- Dried Cranberries: Their sweetness balances out the savory flavors. You can substitute raisins if you prefer.
- Sunflower Seeds: For crunch. Sliced, slivered or chopped almonds also work well here.
- Bacon: Crispy crumbled bacon adds delicious salty, savory flavor. For a vegetarian recipe, omit the bacon.
- Broccoli Salad Dressing: For the homemade dressing, you’ll need mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. For a lighter salad, you can substitute all or half of the mayo with plain Greek yogurt. Or try this Healthy Broccoli Salad recipe.
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How to Make Broccoli Salad
Cook the bacon in the oven. You can also cook the bacon in an air fryer. Once it’s cooked, place the bacon on a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease. Once it’s cool, chop or crumble it into smaller pieces.
While the bacon cooks, combine the other salad ingredients in a large bowl: broccoli, red onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Then pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Finally, add the chopped bacon and stir in gently.
Tips for the Best Broccoli Salad
- Refrigerate the salad for 1-2 hours before serving. It tastes best chilled and the flavors will meld together and get even better as the salad chills.
- Dry the broccoli well after washing it. You don’t want there to be extra moisture to water down the dressing.
- Make it your own by switching up the ingredients. Try adding shredded cheddar cheese, chopped apple (toss it in lemon juice to prevent browning), or julienne-cut carrots.
Storage and Make Ahead Instructions
If you plan to make the broccoli salad more than 12 hours ahead, it’s best to prepare the salad ingredients and dressing and store them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. Then toss the dressing with the salad 1-2 hours before you plan to serve it and refrigerate until serving.
Leftover broccoli salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Be sure to refrigerate leftovers promptly. Mayo based salads should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
More Easy Salad Recipes
Salads are some of the best side dishes for summer. Try one of these crowd-pleasing recipes next.
Creamy broccoli salad with bacon is quick, easy and sure to be the hit of the party! Give this recipe a try and then leave a comment below to let me know how it turned out.
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 ½ pounds fresh broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces, 8 cups
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup roasted sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
- 1 cup mayonnaise*
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- Cook the bacon: Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and fold the edges of the foil up a bit to contain the bacon grease. Lay bacon slices in a single layer on the foil. Bake in the oven for 12-20 minutes, until bacon is cooked how you like it. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to absorb excess grease. Once cool, chop the bacon.
- In a large bowl, combine the chopped broccoli, red onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Add the chopped cooked bacon and stir gently.
- Chill salad in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving.
- You can substitute plain Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise for a healthier broccoli salad.
- To make ahead, store the dressing and salad in separate containers in the refrigerator. Then toss them together 1-2 hours before serving and refrigerate to let the flavors develop.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Fantastic salad. We love it!
I just signed up. I haven’t tried any recipes yet.
Very delicious, i love it
Lovely recipe!! I usually add a sweet vadilia onion dressing to my broccoli salad so I can’t wait to see how this one turns out!! It looks absolutely fantastic!!