Broccoli Salad

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Broccoli salad tossed with a creamy yogurt dressing. This side dish is topped with sunflower seeds, red onion, cranberries, crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese for a savory and sweet combination.

Broccoli salad in a large white bowl

This easy broccoli salad recipe makes the green cruciferous vegetable the star of the dish. Broccoli is loaded with health benefits, so take advantage of its nutritional superpowers. The bite-sized pieces are first blanched and then quickly chilled to make it easier to chew while bringing out its natural sweetness.

The dressing is lightened up with high protein Greek yogurt mixed with red wine vinegar and honey for a sweet and tangy combination. It’s the perfect summer salad that can be prepared ahead of time for a potluck.

broccoli cooking in a pot of boiling water

Blanch and shock

Pre-cooking the chopped pieces of broccoli using the blanch and shock method makes the vegetable more tender and sweet. When the broccoli is raw, it has an extremely fibrous, chewy, and sulfurous taste. A quick 1-minute plunge in boiling water softens the thick stalk and brings out a more mild flavor.

To ensure that florets stay vibrant green and crisp-tender, immediately add them straight to very cold water until chilled. You can skip this step if you prefer the raw taste or short on time, however, I suggest to chop the broccoli into smaller pieces.

How to make broccoli salad

  • Blanch broccoli florets in boiled salted water for 1 minute.
  • Chill broccoli in an ice water bath and then drain.
  • Cook bacon in a skillet until crispy and then chop.
  • In a large bowl combine broccoli, onion, bacon, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and cheese.
  • In a small bowl whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, water, mustard, pepper, and salt.
  • Serve broccoli salad with creamy yogurt dressing.

unmixed bowl of broccoli salad ingredients ready to be combined

Easy broccoli salad dressing

Nonfat Greek yogurt is the base, mixed with red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and a small amount of homemade mayonnaise to add a touch of creaminess to the dressing. It’s luxurious, tangy and sweet. The dressing is drizzled and tossed with the broccoli mixture. It’s amazing!

Add toppings

Tasty toppings like sharp cheddar cheese, smoky bacon, diced red onion, crunchy sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries add layers of texture and flavor. Switch up the type of cheese like other semi-hard varieties like smoked gouda, mozzarella, or provolone. Add in fresh fruit like apples, pears, or peaches for extra crunch.

Broccoli salad with cheddar cheese, cranberries, and bacon

Make it ahead of time

Once the head of broccoli has been chopped up and blanched, it can be stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. I make a tray of oven-roasted bacon each week, which can be refrigerated for a week and then chopped up and added to the broccoli salad.

The dressing can be made 3 days ahead. Toss it up to an hour before serving, or serve the dressing on the side so guests can add as much as they’d like.

Close up view of broccoli salad with creamy dressing

Serve this with

Blanching makes broccoli more edible

Fresh broccoli is difficult to eat, but blanching the florets in hot boiling water for just 1 minute brightens the color and softens the pectin in the cell walls without becoming mushy. Immediately cooling in ice water stops the cooking process to prevent overcooking.

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Broccoli Salad

Broccoli salad is a delicious side dish tossed with a creamy yogurt dressing. Topped with sunflower seeds, red onion, cranberries, crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese for a savory and sweet combination.
Pin Print Review
4.34 from 15 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 3 quarts water, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 1 pound broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 slices bacon
  • cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • cup sunflower seeds
  • cup red onion, ¼-inch dice
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • In a large saucepan add 2 quarts (8 cups) of water and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil.
  • In a medium-sized bowl add 1 quart (4 cups) cold water and 4 cups ice.
  • Add broccoli florets to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute.
  • Immediately transfer broccoli to the ice water bath until cool, 5 minutes. Drain the broccoli florets very well.
  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes on each side.
  • Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined sheet pan to drain. Once cooled chop the bacon into smaller pieces.
  • In a large bowl add broccoli, chopped bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, red onion, and cheddar cheese.
  • In a small bowl make the salad dressing by whisking together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, honey, 1 tablespoon water, dijon mustard, black pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt. Taste and season as desired.
  • Drizzle some of the salad dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve salad with additional dressing on the side.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • I recommend using Fage nonfat Greek yogurt because it has a neutral flavor and not too sour.
  • Apple cider vinegar can be substituted for red wine vinegar. 

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Nutrition Facts
Broccoli Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 155 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 13mg4%
Sodium 377mg16%
Potassium 140mg4%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 100IU2%
Vitamin C 28.9mg35%
Calcium 90mg9%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

14 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy Caywood says

    HiJessica,

    I can’t wait to try this. I’ve never cared for broccoli salads as the broccoli hasn’t been cooked and it does seem too chewie. I’m eager to give the blanching a try. (That’s how I often cook my asparagus).

    The dish is beautiful looking and seems I could make a meal out of it for my husband and I.

    Thank you for another healthy recipe to look forward to. Happy spring! Judy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think you will like the brief blanching Judy, it definitely solves the chewiness issue. Happy spring to you!

  2. Poppie says

    I made this salad today as meal prep for my busy week….I used Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar Cheese and Crispy Prosciutto in place of the bacon. At the last minute I discovered that I was out of red wine vinegar so I substituted balsamic vinegar. This salad is amazingly good and totally addictive! Thank you for the recipe….

  3. Dinna says

    How much of the dressing ingredients. I’m confused because I only see 1 T Dijon and 1/2t salt? Thanks, looks yummy!
    Donna

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Dinna- Check out the ingredients list: 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar,
      2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  4. Laura Sage says

    This is so close to my mom’s recipe, I made a couple of changes in her dressing to match yours and it’s delicious. We used sugar but I’m using honey now, and instead of yogurt we were using just mayo. We’ve always cut the florettes into very small pieces, as they soften sitting in the dressing overnight in the refrigerator, but I tried blanching, and it does make it better. This way it doesn’t have to sit overnight in dressing and you can eat it right after you make it. One thing I will continue to do the same old way, though, is to add my bacon immediately before serving. We like the bacon crispy instead of chewy. Thank you for this recipe.

  5. Cynthia says

    I have a question. Everytime I cook bacon for something like this the bacon goes back to almost raw again from the moisture of what ever I add it to. I’ve tried thin cut, thick cut and I cook it to death and still, it does it. Any tips on how to avoid this

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