This crunchy Broccoli Salad is a classic recipe with crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, tangy cranberries, and a sweet creamy dressing. It comes together in just 15 minutes!
The Best Broccoli Salad Recipe
There are so many times that we’re browsing at the deli and we ask for a container of this Classic Broccoli Salad. It’s the perfect mix of a powerhouse veggie with a sweet and tangy dressing and tons of fun mix-ins with different flavors and textures.
So we set out to make this one-of-a-kind salad at home. And the results were amazing! Not only did it take less than 15 minutes to prepare, but it also tastes so much better! The dressing steals the show. It’s perfectly creamy, without it being too heavy, and coats all of the ingredients with just the right amount.
The salad is crunchy from sunflower seeds and has a bit of tanginess from dried cranberries and red onions. Let’s not forget about the bacon! (Which, of course, you can omit if you’re eating vegetarian.) But we highly recommend adding the salty and rich bacon that balances the salad out. It’s an incredible mix of textures and flavors.
What You’ll Need
The list of what you need to make this easy Broccoli Salad is below. Scroll down to the recipe card for the exact measurements that you’ll need.
For the Dressing
- Plain Greek Yogurt: Or you can use mayonnaise. You can also use a combination of the two.
- Sour Cream
- Honey: You can use another sweetener, too. Maple syrup also works well.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Red wine vinegar or rice vinegar would be good substitutes.
- Lemon Juice: Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor!
- Salt and Pepper
For the Broccoli Salad
- Broccoli: Fresh broccoli is always recommended for this salad. You don’t want to use frozen and then thawed broccoli — it will be very soggy.
- Bacon: You can omit it if you want the recipe to be vegetarian. If you are in a rush, you can use bacon bits, but freshly cooked and crumbled bacon will give you the best flavor.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese: This adds a little more saltiness and perfect little creamy bites.
- Dried Cranberries: You could also use dried tart cherries. The little sweet tangy bites really take this salad to the next level flavor wise.
- Red Onion: You could use white onions, too, or sliced scallions for that tangy and bright flavor.
- Sunflower Seeds: Salty sunflower seeds add the perfect amount of crunch to the salad! Sliced almonds or pine nuts would also work.
How to Make Broccoli Salad with Bacon
Here are the two basic steps for making this delicious salad. It’s so easy!
First, make the dressing. Do this by combining all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and then whisking together until it’s smooth. You can do this step up to 5 days ahead and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to dress your salad.
Then add the salad ingredients into a large bowl. Drizzle the salad dressing into the bowl and gently toss everything together.
Let the salad rest before serving. You can even put it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before enjoying the salad, making it the perfect make ahead summer dish for cook outs, potlucks, etc.
Recipe Tips & Variations
Here’s what to do if you’re out of an ingredient or you simply want to try something different. These helpful tips will ensure that your salad turns out perfectly every time.
- Different ways to add some crunch: You don’t have to use sunflower seeds as the crunchy element. Sometimes we use sliced almonds or chopped pecans instead. You could also use sesame sticks to add something crunchy and a little sweet. If you are using sesame sticks they will need to be added right before you serve this salad as they can get soggy.
- Other cheeses that will work: You could use crumbled blue cheese, goat cheese, or feta as a tangy alternative to cheddar cheese.
- What to do if the dressing is too thick: You can thin it out with a little water. Or buttermilk would also do the trick.
- Don’t use granulated sugar as a sweetener. We recommend honey because of its flavor and consistency. The dressing will not be as smooth if you use regular sugar because it can’t dissolve in the cold dressing.
What To Serve With Broccoli Salad
Below are some of our favorite recipes to serve with this classic potluck side dish.
- BBQ Sandwiches: Crunchy broccoli pairs great with BBQ! It’s a great way to add some nutrition to the meal and the flavors work well together. So, try serving the salad with our Crockpot BBQ Sandwich, Pulled Pork, or a sandwich made with our Shredded Beef.
- Fire up the Grill: Whether it’s grilled steak or chicken, Broccoli Salad is a quick and easy side dish for the nights that you want to enjoy cooking on the grill.
- Kid-Friendly Dinner Idea: Serve it with a classic sandwich like a BLT or Grilled Cheese for a dinner that the kids will go crazy over.
How Long Will This Last?
This salad will stay fresh while stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. And this is what makes it a great make-ahead side dish for quick dinners or a potluck feast!
For the dressing:
- 5.8 oz plain Greek yogurt, or mayo
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Broccoli Salad:
- 2 heads of broccoli, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces
- 4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cup dried cranberries, or dried cherries
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- In a small bowl mix yogurt, sour cream, honey, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper until smooth. Store in the refrigerator while assembling the salad, or for up to 1 week in an air-tight container.
- In a large bowl, toss to combine the broccoli, bacon, cheese, cranberries, red onion, and sunflower seeds.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until well coated.
- Let the salad rest for a few minutes before serving, or store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before serving.