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This broccoli salad recipe is perfectly crunchy, sweet and tangy, and loaded with bacon! It’s the ultimate summer salad for BBQs, cookouts, and picnics.

Need another summer classic? Try my Easy Macaroni Salad or 15 Minute Waldorf Salad next.

broccoli salad with wooden salad utensils

Why you’ll love it

There’s no denying that this broccoli salad with bacon is a total treat, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s been a mainstay in American homes for generations, and that’s because it’s incredibly tasty. Cheddar, bacon, all the toppings… yes please!

I didn’t stray too far from the classic salad dressing, but my not-so-secret ingredient is a bit of bacon fat, and let me tell you that it takes it totally over the top. Like, definitely worth a couple of extra calories. This creamy broccoli salad also is a fantastic make ahead salad.

What you’ll need

For the salad

  • Bacon – we’ve got a generous amount cut into small pieces so that each bite has bacon-y goodness!
  • Broccoli – fresh broccoli is best for this recipe for that crispness
  • Onion – red onion is my go-to variety for salads because it’s less sharp than others
  • Dried cranberries or golden raisins – use whichever you prefer! They add a touch of sweetness
  • Almonds – who doesn’t appreciate a little nutty contrast and crunch?
  • Cheddar – if possible, grate your own cheddar for freshness, texture, and flavor

For the dressing

  • Bacon fat – it’s important to set this dressing apart from all the rest. Don’t skip it!
  • Mayonnaise and sour cream – for the traditional creamy base. I prefer Hellmann’s for the mayo, but use your favorite brand.
  • Vinegar – a bit of tang for contrast and balance. Use either white or cider vinegar.
  • Sugar – it gives that signature sweet quality to the dressing
  • Salt & pepper – I like to be fairly generous with both
ingredients for broccoli salad in prep bowls

Tools for this recipe

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How to make broccoli salad

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

making dressing and frying bacon for broccoli salad

Fry the bacon, and transfer to a paper towel lined plate when done. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients and add them to a large salad bowl. Spoon in some of the bacon grease to a small bowl that you’ll make the dressing in. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients, and stir until it’s smooth.

adding dressing to broccoli salad

Pour the dressing onto the salad, add the bacon, and then toss until coated. It’s delicious right away or chilled for a few hours to let the flavors meld some more.

Broccoli success tips

  • Should I blanch the broccoli? You can if you want a softer texture, but I don’t find it necessary. It’s a personal preference. If going that route, 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.
  • Can I use frozen broccoli? If you want a softer broccoli salad, then you can, but if you want it to be nice and crisp, I don’t recommend it. Frozen broccoli is parboiled (blanched) before it’s frozen.

Pro tips

  • Ensure the broccoli florets are as dry as possible if you rinse them first. No one wants a watery salad!
  • I tried to make a fairly generous amount of dressing so that if you have a bit over a pound of broccoli, there will still be enough. If there’s too much, you don’t need to use it all and can save the rest.

How to make broccoli salad ahead

  • Prep and chop all your ingredients. Add the salad ingredients to a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Combine the dressing in a small bowl, and store it in a covered jar in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, toss and enjoy!
  • You can also dress the salad up to a day ahead of consuming it and chill in the fridge. It’ll hold up well, and the flavors will intensify.

Substitutions and variations

  • The almonds can be swapped for sunflower kernels. 
  • You can swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt if that’s all you’ve got on hand.
  • Try subbing the mayo for Miracle Whip if you prefer the taste or like a little extra zip!
  • If you’re on the hunt for something a little lighter, try my Healthy Broccoli Salad instead.

What to serve with broccoli salad

Leftovers and storage

  • Broccoli salad is best eaten within a few days of making it. It’ll keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. If making it more than a day or so ahead of time, I recommend adding the dressing closer when you’re actually serving it.
  • If it has been left out longer than a couple of hours especially in the sunshine, I recommend eating it right away or tossing it for food safety reasons.
a bowl of broccoli salad with serving utensils

Please leave a star rating and review below if you made this best broccoli salad recipe! Tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram with your creations.

broccoli salad with wooden salad utensils
5 from 10 votes

Easy Broccoli Salad

This broccoli salad recipe is perfectly crunchy, sweet and tangy, and loaded with bacon! It's the ultimate summer salad for BBQs, cookouts, and picnics. You'll adore the homemade creamy dressing.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

Salad:

  • 6 strips bacon (I prefer thick cut)
  • 5-6 cups broccoli florets see note
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat from frying the bacon
  • 3/4 cup mayo
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • 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 1 tablespoon of the remaining bacon fat to a medium bowl that you'll make the dressing in.
  • To the dressing bowl, add the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, sugar and salt & pepper. 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 chill to let the flavors meld for an hour or two prior to serving. The salad will last for a few days in the fridge.

Notes

  • I recommend buying approximately 1.5 pounds of broccoli because when cut, it will make about 5-6 cups, or buy a one pound bag of pre-cut broccoli florets. I like to chop the florets fairly small for broccoli salad so they’re easy to eat.
  • 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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 492kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 43g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 40mg, Sodium: 418mg, Potassium: 509mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 618IU, Vitamin C: 69mg, Calcium: 152mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! Iโ€™m Natasha.

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20 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Soooooo glad we found your recipe! Made it so often lately I’ve almost got it memorized! It turns out a little different each time but it’s all eaten by the next day.

    This bowl I used the bagged florets and it was so easy!

    Thanks!!!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this several times. Eat as a side or as a main dish. We like to saute the red onions before adding them. Will be making it again soon for sure!

  3. 5 stars
    Donโ€™t get me wrong, I love Mayo but I had some honey Greek yogurt to use up! Subbed it for about 2/3 of the Mayo and the sugar. Itโ€™s delicious!

  4. It turned out perfect. At first I thought I made too much, it was gone in 2 days. Thanks for the recipe! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ

  5. Sour cream isn’t available where I live. Should I substitute with Greek yogurt or just leave it out of the recipe?

    1. Hi! You could swap Greek yogurt. I do suggest that in the “substitutions and variations” section in the blog post. Hope you enjoy the recipe, Kelly! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. 5 stars
    I finally made your Broccoli Salad, almost exactly, and itโ€™s the taste memory from my childhood!!!! Iโ€™ve searched for years, but anytime I thought the recipe sounded right, I was disappointed by the outcome. I opened a bag of organic broccoli from Costco, was talking to a friend as I meticulously cut each flower it into a perfectly tiny size. When I finished I realized I had just cut up 3 pounds of broccoli but decided to go for it because we were having 20 people over for dinner, as one does. The salad was an absolute hit and a friend stopped by the next day and had a bowl of it because she loved it that much. She said โ€œI wish more people would eat this wayโ€ LOL. Anyway, the search is over, thanks 1 million for sharing this recipe, youโ€™ve saved me from hours and hours of research. I will be making this over and over again for the rest of my life!!!!
    P.S. I added sunflowers and left out the cheddar as suggested, perfection

  7. Hi. This looks amazing!

    Iโ€™d like to cut out all of the Mayo/sour cream for Greek yogurt. What are the sugar/vinegar adjustments?

    Thank you!!
    Litsa

    1. Hi Litsa! Thanks! It’s entirely up to you… I would just taste and adjust as you go along until it tastes good to you. You may want to start with half the vinegar since Greek yogurt is more tangy. I’ll be honest, though… replacing all the mayo might not taste as good, and the dressing won’t be as silky and it’ll dry out faster. I’d maybe do a 50/50 mayo/yogurt mix or at least include a bit of mayo in there for texture. Let me know how it goes if you do try!