Fresh broccoli salad is creamy, salty, tangy, sweet, and oh, so delicious. My grandma has been making this for holidays and family get-togethers for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been addicted to it for just as long. Make this recipe to get veggies into even the pickiest of eaters (i.e. me)!
Whether it’s for an easy side dish, or simply because you love the taste of fresh produce, this salad will become a favorite. At least, that’s my hopeful wish!
Just like my Easy Grape Salad, it’s an Easter treat. And if there’s one way to get me to eat broccoli, this salad is it!
Dancing with cheese and bacon, and a tangy-sweet mayonnaise dressing, this dish will convert you into a broccoli lover. Okay, maybe not a full-on broccoli lover, but I bet you’ll love it in this salad!
And if the dressing on the salad makes your stomach happy, you should also make my Seven Layer Salad, which uses the same dressing.
Ingredients in Broccoli Salad
The ingredients are simple and few, but they sing together in perfect harmony.
- Broccoli — fresh is best; cut into florets
- Bacon — cooked and coarsely chopped
- Cheese — cheddar cheese in ¼” cubes
- Onion — finely chopped, white, yellow or red
The dressing only requires a few ingredients, as well.
- Mayonnaise — not Miracle Whip for the best flavor
- Sugar — granulated white
- Vinegar — white
How to cut broccoli into florets
Since we are using fresh heads of broccoli for this recipe, we need to break them down into small florets.
Florets are the flowery part of the head. Or, if you look at broccoli as a tree, florets are the small branches and leaves. We don’t want to use the trunk or large branches here.
- Wash the broccoli head thoroughly before doing anything else. This is really important because any contamination on the surface of the vegetable will be taken through all of it with the knife if we don’t wash first.
- Pull off the leaves. Just grab them and pull out and down toward the base. They should snap or peel right off.
- Cut through the stem below the florets with the tip of a sharp knife.
- Slice off the florets that are easily separated with your knife.
- Turn the remaining bunch of florets upside down on your cutting board, and slice down through the middle of the stalk. Pull the two halves apart.
- Continue cutting and pulling until all of the florets are separated.
- Trim the larger stems off with the tip of your knife. I like the florets to be around the same size as the cheese cubes in this recipe, so around ¼”-½”.
How to make the salad
The process is pretty straightforward and takes very little time.
- Prepare the broccoli florets as explained above
- Combine the broccoli, bacon, cheese, and onion in a large bowl
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar in a medium bowl
- Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture
- Stir everything together, making sure all the ingredients are coated well in the dressing
- Serve immediately OR refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving (preferred)
While I love my grandma’s traditional dressing, the salad lends itself to some flavor modifications when it comes to the dressing if you’d like to try something different:
- Plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise
- Honey instead of sugar
- Honey mustard vinaigrette if you don’t want a creamy dressing
- Sour cream or buttermilk-based dressing if you want it creamy but not mayo-y.
What else can I add to the broccoli salad recipe?
This is my grandma’s recipe, and her go-to ingredients are bacon, cheddar, and diced onion. However, one great thing about this recipe is that it’s super customizable! I’ve seen lots of additions and variations, including:
- Shredded cheddar instead of cubes
- Dried cranberries
- Sunflower seeds
- Cherry tomatoes
If your family makes broccoli salad, I’d love to hear what your favorite add-ins are!
How to store the salad
While you can serve this immediately after making it, I think it’s best when you cover it and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. The flavors meld together and the dressing gets absorbed a bit, making it just perfect. And leftovers the next day are even better! Store it in an airtight container and use it within 4 days.
Broccoli salad doesn’t freeze well. As a result, make it and enjoy it within the timeframe listed above!
If you make this recipe and love it, I would so appreciate it if you would take a moment to leave a rating below. Thank you so much!
Broccoli Salad Recipe
For the Salad
- 2 heads broccoli florets trimmed off and cut into bite-size pieces (discard stems)
- 8 ounces bacon cooked and coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese cubed into ¼-inch pieces
- 1 small onion finely chopped
For the Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, bacon, cheese and onion.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and stir together until everything is evenly coated.
- The broccoli salad can be served immediately, but tastes even better if you cover and refrigerate it for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- You should get about 7 cups of broccoli florets from the heads of broccoli, roughly 28 ounces.
- A great shortcut is using bagged, prepped florets. I still need to cut up some of the larger ones, but it's a big time saver!
- You can use a white, yellow or red onion, whatever your preference.
- There are so many variations to broccoli salad, so feel free to add other ingredients based on your personal preferences: dried cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, chopped pecans, etc.
- You can make the following modifications to the dressing: plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and honey in place of sugar. You can also use a honey mustard vinaigrette if you don't want a creamy dressing, or a sour cream or buttermilk-based dressing if you want it creamy but not mayo-y.
Originally published in 2011, this has been updated to include new photos and more in-depth recipe tips.
[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]