This easy crunchy broccoli salad is loaded with the delicious flavors of bacon, cheddar cheese, crunchy sunflower seeds, red onion, and dried cranberries! Dressed with an easy to make creamy dressing it is the perfect addition to potlucks, cookouts, or any weeknight dinner!
I love a delicious crunchy chopped salad, full of flavor and texture this easy broccoli salad recipe comes together quickly, and is full of deliciousness! It is one of my favorite dishes to make during the summer, it compliments grilled chicken, burgers, even hot dogs, beautifully, and travels well to take to picnics, and BBQs! It is always a hit and I am frequently asked to share the easy recipe!
FAQ ABOUT THIS BROCCOLI SALAD RECIPE
Can I use cooked broccoli?
This recipe is best with raw fresh broccoli florets. The raw broccoli stays nice and crunchy and pairs well with the other toppings. I would not recommend using cooked or previously frozen broccoli. If you prefer slightly softer broccoli you can blanch it in boiling water for 60 seconds and then rinse with cold water, drying well before making the salad.
Can I use bottled dressing?
Yes! While the tangy dressing included in this recipe is super easy, and the dressing ingredients are something you probably have in your pantry right now, if your short on time (or prefer the taste) bottled dressing works well. I recommend getting coleslaw dressing so that it fits with the flavor profile.
Can I add sour cream or Greek yogurt?
If you want to add a little more creaminess to your dressing sour cream or Greek yogurt make great additions to your dressing. If you’d like to add some you can replace 1/3 cup of mayo and have a thicker creamier dressing.
Can I use raisins instead of cranberries?
Traditional broccoli salad often has raisins in it. I personally like dried cranberries more because they add a bit of tartness. However if you would rather use raisins you absolutely can! You can use regular raisins or even golden raisins. If you’d like you can even do a mix of raisins and cranberries for a bit of variety.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes! This delicious side dish is actually better the next day! It is one of my favorite salad recipes to make ahead of time to have on hand for parties or to take along to a gathering. I do recommend if you make it ahead of time to wait and add the bacon until right before serving. I like crispy bacon so I don’t like it to sit and soften overnight.
Can I use different cheese?
I always make this classic broccoli salad with cheddar cheese but if you are looking to put a twist on it you can easily swap out the cheese for a different flavor. Something like goat cheese or feta make a tasty addition, you could also use Monterey jack for a more mild flavor, or any other cheese you love!
Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe-
8 Cups of Chopped Broccoli– This is about 2 large heads of broccoli. I like to finely chop mine but you can chop it into small pieces or larger pieces.
1/3 Cup Diced Red Onion– Red onion has a nice mild taste in this salad. If you use another type of onion you’ll probably want to use less.
1/3 Cup Shelled Sunflower Seeds– These add a nice crunch to the salad. If you don’t like sunflower seeds you can swap out for peptias (shelled pumpkin seeds)
½ Cup Dried Cranberries– These add a bit of sweetness and a bit of tartness to the salad. For less sugar use sugar free dried cranberries.
1- lb package of Bacon– Cook the bacon until it is crispy and then crush into bacon bits. If using store bought bacon bits make sure to use real bacon bits not “bacon flavored”
½ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese– You can use mild or sharp cheddar. If you want a strong taste use extra sharp cheddar. You can use pre-shredded or shred it yourself.
For the broccoli salad dressing-
1 Cup Mayonnaise– Use your favorite brand, or favorite recipe for homemade mayonnaise.
¼ Cup Sugar- I like to use cane sugar but any white sugar will work.
1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar– This adds a nice tart taste to the dressing. You can also use red wine vinegar or white vinegar.
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice– Fresh lemon juice is best!
Here’s how to make this simple broccoli salad
First finely chop the broccoli and place in a large mixing bowl.
Add in chopped onions, sunflower seeds, cranberries, and cheddar cheese. Crumble bacon and add it to the bowl. Stir ingredients until everything is well mixed.
In a medium size bowl combine mayo, sugar, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Stir until well mixed.
Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture, fold in until everything is evenly coated.
This salad can be served immediately but it is best when covered and refrigerated for at least an hour.