This easy broccoli salad is a quick and easy side dish that is always a favorite at any holiday or family gathering. It’s full of crunchy broccoli, crispy bacon, dried cranberries and nuts and all tossed together in a 3 ingredient creamy dressing. This broccoli salad is also gluten free and dairy free and gets better the longer it sits in the fridge!
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- This broccoli salad is incredibly easy to make!
- It’s a healthy salad option that is dairy free, gluten free, and can be made without any refined sugar.
- It can be prepared ahead of time, and keeps well, making it a great salad for the holidays, family gatherings, potlucks or meal prep!
- There’s tons of substitutions and additions you can make so it’s easy to use up veggies that you have in the fridge.
Looking for more holiday side dish ideas? Check out: Dairy Free Broccoli Casserole, Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts, Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Delicata Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli Salad Ingredients
The ingredients you need are simple and straightforward which is ideal for a salad you can serve both as a dinner side and as a holiday dish. For the salad you’ll need 7 to 8 heaping cups of broccoli that has been cut into bite size pieces, 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, 1/2 cup of bacon bits or chopped bacon, 1/3 cup diced red onions or green onions, and 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds.
For the dressing you will need 1 cup of mayo, 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2.5 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Dressing and salad substitutions for the salad mix-ins and sugar can be found under the additions and substitutions section.
You can prepare the bacon ahead of time, or bake it in the oven while you’re preparing the rest of the salad. Baking it in the oven means there’s even less hands on prep time being you don’t need to stand over the stove to fry it!
How to Prepare Your Salad
Broccoli salad is one of the easiest sides to make! There’s only 3 simple steps so it takes no time at all to prepare it.
The first step is to chop your broccoli into bite size pieces. You can skip this step altogether if you buy precut broccoli florets. Then, whisk the dressing ingredients together and set aside.
The next step is to add the vegetables, nuts and dried cranberries together in a large bowl or container.
Finally, pour the dressing over the broccoli salad and toss together to combine.
You can wait to do this until about 1 hour prior to serving to give the broccoli time to absorb the dressing, soften a bit and let the flavors come together. You will want to refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Recipe Substitutions and Additions
This broccoli salad recipe is so easy to customize to your preferences or by using what you may already have on hand!
Substitutions you can make include swapping the dried cranberries for raisins, using a store-bought poppyseed dressing, or using whatever type of nut you have in the pantry in place of sunflower seeds. Sliced or slivered almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts are all great choices.
Any sugar substitute that suits your dietary needs or preferences will work in the dressing as well. In place of regular sugar you can use honey, coconut sugar, date sugar, or any type you typically use. Add it to the dressing slowly and then increase the amount to taste.
Additions you can make to add a little extra to the salad include mixing in ingredients such as cubed or shredded cheese, diced apples or blueberries, shredded carrots, diced celery, or halved cherry tomatoes.
Making Ahead for Holidays
This broccoli salad is ideal for holidays, BBQs, family events, potlucks and any situation you want to have a delicious side to share that you can easily prep ahead of time. Your salad can be made in advance and kept in the fridge overnight with the dressing tossed in.
Or, you can prepare all of the salad components even further in advance and keep the dressing separate and simply toss together a few hours prior to serving. Using the Ello Plastic Food Storage Container Set with Soft Base is ideal for this because each component of the salad can be kept separate so it all stays fresh and can be prepared up to 3 days in advance.
The set includes 5 containers: a 2 ounce dressing container, a 1.5 cup, 3 cup, 4.5 cup and 9 cup containers, so the 9 cup is perfect for your entire broccoli salad! Each container has a skid-free soft base to keep the containers in place on the counter and to protect the plastic, and a leak-proof lid.
Another thing to love about them is that they are dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe and you don’t need to remove the silicone sleeve! You can find this 10-piece Ello Colormatch set at Target!
Other Vegetable Recipes You’ll Love:
- Instant Pot Steamed Broccoli
- Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash
- Classic Mustard Potato Salad
- Macaroni Pasta Salad
- Air Fryer Butternut Squash
- 7 to 8 heaping cups chopped broccoli
- 1/2 cup chopped bacon (can use bacon bits)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 cup mayo
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2.5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- Optional: 4 ounces cheddar cheese cubes
- Combine the mayo, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a small dish until it’s smooth. Set aside
- Add the remaining ingredients into a large dish, pour the dressing over it and toss with the broccoli
- Once the broccoli salad is well combined, cover and place it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour prior to serving to let the flavors meld together
See post for recipe substitution and addition ideas for the sugar and salad ingredients
Keywords: easy broccoli salad, broccoli salad, holiday broccoli salad, broccoli salad side dish