This broccoli salad recipe is perfectly crunchy, sweet, tangy, creamy, and bacon-y! This side dish is sure to be a hit with everyone who tries it.
I didn't skimp on anything in this broccoli bacon salad. It's a treat. Yup, there's cheddar in there too. It's a great make ahead salad since it won't go soggy in a hurry. It's also great for enjoying year-round. Bring it to that summer potluck or bring it as a side dish for a Sunday supper or even Thanksgiving. Why not?
Want a lighter version of cold broccoli salad? Try my Healthy Broccoli Salad.
There are tons of versions of this side dish out there... it's been a mainstay in American homes for generations. If somehow you've never tried this style of broccoli salad before, you may be a bit in awe of the combo of ingredients, but trust me... it works.
I didn't stray too far from the classic broccoli salad dressing. It's got mayo, sour cream and vinegar for a bit of tang, sugar for that signature sweetness, and my not-so-secret ingredient is a bit of bacon fat leftover from frying the bacon. Oh yeah. The more bacon, the better!
How to make the best broccoli salad (summary):
Fry up some cut-up bacon until it's nice and crispy. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients (chop broccoli and onions, grate cheese if you're not using pre-grated, etc.) and add them to a large salad bowl. Once the bacon is done, place it on a plate lined with paper towel. Add one tablespoon of the bacon grease that's left in the skillet to a small bowl that you'll make the dressing in. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and stir until it's nice and smooth. Add the dressing to the salad (don't forget the bacon!) and toss until coated. It's delicious right away or chilled for a few hours to let the flavors meld some more. (Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below)
Should I blanch the broccoli for broccoli salad?
You can if you want (bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the broccoli for 30 seconds to 1 minute then drain it and put it in an ice bath right away to stop further cooking), but I don't find it necessary. Some people don't like the softer texture either. It's a personal thing.
Can I use frozen broccoli?
If you want a softer broccoli salad then you can (thaw it first), but if you want it to be nice and crisp, I don't recommend it. Frozen broccoli is parboiled (blanched) before it's frozen.
Recipe notes & tips:
- To get one pound of florets, buy more than 1 pound of broccoli since you'll be trimming off the stems (don't worry... it doesn't have to be exact). I like to chop the broccoli into fairly small pieces. This is definitely up to you, but I find it easier to eat when the florets are smaller.
- Ensure the broccoli florets are as dry as possible (like if you rinse them first) - no one wants a watery salad.
- I tried to make a fairly generous amount of dressing so if you have a bit over a pound of broccoli there will still be enough. If there's too much, you definitely don't need to use it all.
- I used golden raisins since they tend to be a bit softer and plumper than the regular kind, but you can definitely use regular raisins or swap with dried cranberries if you're not a raisin fan.
- The almonds can be swapped for sunflower kernels.
- You may swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt.
- Try subbing mayo for Miracle Whip if you prefer.
- You can sub some of the mayo out for Greek yogurt if you want to lighten it up a bit, but keep in mind the dressing will be less creamy and more tangy, so you may need to adjust the vinegar and sugar to get a similar flavor.
- Broccoli salad is best eaten within a few days of making it. If making it more than a day or two ahead of time, I recommend adding the dressing closer to the time of serving it.
- Food safety: If the broccoli salad has been left out longer than a couple of hours, I recommend eating it right away or tossing it.
- If possible, grate your own cheddar for the best flavor. I like this cheese grater for cheddar.
More tasty broccoli recipes to try:
Questions about this broccoli salad? Tried this recipe? Talk to me in the comments below!
- 6 strips bacon (I prefer thick cut) cut into small pieces
- 5-6 cups broccoli florets see note
- 1/3 cup red onion chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins (I used golden raisins)
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat from frying the bacon
- 3/4 cup mayo
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cut the bacon into small pieces (I use kitchen shears to make this easy) and fry in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy (about 10 minutes).
- Meanwhile, prep the remaining salad ingredients and add them to a large bowl.
- Once the bacon is done, take it out of the skillet and transfer it to a paper towel lined plate. Add one tablespoon of the remaining bacon fat to a small bowl that you'll make the salad dressing in.
- To the salad dressing bowl, add the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, and sugar. Stir until smooth. Taste and adjust if needed (e.g. add more sugar or vinegar).
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss (add the bacon in as well). You can serve it right away or cover the bowl tightly and let the flavors meld for an hour or two prior to serving. The salad will last for a few days in the fridge.
- I recommend buying a bit over a pound of broccoli (up to 1.5 pounds) because by the time you trim the stems and cut it into florets, you'll end up with about a pound of broccoli florets, which equals roughly 5-6 cups.
- Be sure to dry off the broccoli well if you've rinsed it.
- This salad is very forgiving! Feel free to leave an ingredient out if you don't like it... e.g. omit the cheddar. Or add more/less of an ingredient.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.