Quick and easy, this popular broccoli crunch salad recipe is perfect to make ahead and ideal for a potluck or BBQ. The smoky bacon, crunchy sunflower seeds and tangy dried cranberries are great companions to crisp raw broccoli and creamy homemade dressing.
Why You’ll Love our Crunchy Broccoli Salad
What I love about this broccoli salad recipe is that it is so easy to make. A bowl jammed packed with crunchy broccoli, smoky bacon, tangy-sweet cranberries, sunflower seeds, red onion, plus a creamy homemade dressing you can make with your eyes closed.
This popular broccoli salad combination delivers not only delicious creamy moreish flavours but also crunchy textures that give a fantastic mouthfeel.
The best part is that you can make this side salad recipe in advance and take it to any BBQ, potluck party or cook up with no fuss.
Can You Eat Broccoli Raw?
We generally cook our broccoli, even in salad.
Roasting broccoli softens the texture and enhances the sweetness, just like our broccoli cauliflower salad. But today, in this crunchy broccoli salad, we are keeping the broccoli florets raw.
Yes, raw broccoli. You can eat broccoli raw. My daughter and I often finish the broccoli stem like crunchy carrot sticks. You can also add broccoli stems to a crisp broccoli coleslaw.
Raw broccoli florets add a sweet fresh crunch to any salad. I do prefer them in smaller bites as it makes it easier to eat!
Flavour/Texture: With crisp raw broccoli florets, fried bacon bits, sunflower seeds and red onion, this broccoli salad recipe is no doubt crunchy.
The creamy homemade dressing helps mellow the texture just enough to take the edge and make it a delicious combination.
The overall flavour profile of this broccoli salad is creamy with the salad dressing but with hits of savoury and sweet laced in between. It definitely satisfies the tummy with delicious flavour.
Ease: Super easy. A few chops and a quick fry in the pan is all you need to do for this broccoli salad.
Time: This broccoli salad recipe literally takes about 15 minutes to prep and cook. The salad is ready to serve after making it, but I do find it best to prepare in advance so that the ingredients can meld with the salad dressing for longer.
These are the ingredients you need for crunchy broccoli salad:
Broccoli: As we are using broccoli raw, make sure you have the freshest ingredients. Look for dark green florets that are tight and firm.
Bacon: I used streaky bacon for this recipe as it crisps up nicely when fried. However, you can use middle cut or even pre-cooked bacon bits too.
Sunflower seeds: A good handful of sunflower seeds provides texture and raw nutty flavours.
Dried cranberries: The cranberries balance the salad with tartness and sweetness.
Mayonnaise: The base of this salad dressing is mayonnaise, so make sure you use a good quality brand. I do like to use whole egg mayonnaise.
Apple cider vinegar/honey: To balance the creaminess of the salad dressing, I add little apple cider vinegar and honey. You can choose to use your preferred sweeteners and acid to balance the salad dressing.
Variations and Substitutions
Adjust mayonnaise: If you prefer a slightly lighter version of the salad dressing, you can add sour cream or Greek yoghurt to the mayonnaise mix. Try ½ cup mayonnaise and ¼ cup of sour cream/Greek yoghurt.
Vegan version: Switch the bacon for your favourite vegan brand or omit it completely. Mayonnaise can also be replaced by a vegan version as well.
Cranberries substitution: You can switch the dried cranberries for dried raisins. I do find dried raisins sweeter than cranberries, so adjust the flavours of the salad dressing.
Sunflower seeds variation: Try chopped almonds or pepitas as alternatives if you don’t have sunflower seeds on hand.
Additional toppings: Other popular ingredients you can add include shredded cheddar cheese, chopped almonds, grapes or shredded carrot.
Step by step instructions for how to make potato salad with bacon:
How to Make The Salad
We only need to use the head of the broccoli in this recipe. You can save the stem and eat as a snack like carrot sticks or use in broccoli coleslaw.
Cut and remove broccoli stem from broccoli.
Chop broccoli head into small bite sized florets.
Peel and dice ½ red onion.
Slice bacon into small 1cm pieces.
Heat frypan over medium-high heat and pan fry bacon until crispy.
Remove crispy bacon and drain on paper towel.
How To Make The Creamy Mayonnaise Dressing
In a small bowl, add mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and honey together.
Mix salad dressing well until combined and creamy.
How to Assemble the Salad
In a large mixing bowl, add broccoli, bacon, red onion, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.
Drizzle salad dressing and toss together.
Make sure the salad is well coated and mixed well.
You can serve salad immediately, but if you have time, leave broccoli salad to mingle in the salad dressing for 30 minutes or longer for the flavours to be absorbed.
How to Make This Salad Perfectly (Expert Tips)
Cut the broccoli into small pieces: As we are eating the broccoli raw, it is best to cut the florets into small bite sized pieces. As much as this is a crunchy broccoli salad, we don’t want it to be too hard to bite!
Well dressed salad: Make sure the salad is well coated by the dressing. The mayonnaise will help mellow the broccoli and give it a softer edge.
Prepare ahead of time: I did eat the broccoli salad straight away after making it, but I also had leftovers which I ate the next day. The texture was slightly softer, and the flavours were delicious.
Time does help the ingredients to meld with salad dressing so it can be prepared well in advance and served when you need it.
Great Mains for This Salad
We absolutely love our Crunchy Broccoli Salad but it needs a partner! These mains are worth a try:
Burger and salad…. such a great combination. Give these instant pot sloppy joes a try.
Frequently Asked Questions
I prefer to use raw broccoli in this salad as I do love the extra crunch. Therefore no need to cook the broccoli first. However, if you prefer a slightly softer texture, give the broccoli a quick blanch.
Add broccoli to an ice bath to stop the cooking and retain the crispness and deep green colours.
YES! As much as this salad is ready in 15 minutes and delicious to eat straight away, it does benefit from more time.
You can even make this broccoli salad recipe the night before. That is why this is a salad perfect for entertaining as you can make it in advance.
Any leftovers for the broccoli salad can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Our broccoli salad with bacon, cranberries and creamy mayonnaise dressing truly satisfies the tummy with crunchy textures and creamy, sweet, savoury flavours all piled in a big bowl. This is a fantastic party salad recipe that you can make in advance and feed a crowd.
Crunchy Broccoli Salad
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- Cut and remove broccoli stem from broccoli. Chop broccoli head into small bite sized florets.
- Peel and dice ½ red onion.
- Finely chop bacon. Heat up fry pan over medium-high heat and pan fry bacon until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel.
- In a small bowl, add mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and honey.
- Mix well until combined and creamy.
- In a large mixing bowl, add broccoli, bacon, red onion, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.
- Drizzle salad dressing and toss together.
- Best to cut the florets into small bite sized pieces.
- Make sure the salad is well coated by the dressing. The mayonnaise will help mellow the broccoli and give it a softer edge.
- You can make broccoli salad recipe in advance to help with the flavours. Leave in fridge to chill.
- Try ½ cup mayonnaise and ¼ cup of sour cream/Greek yoghurt for a lighter version of the broccoli salad dressing.
- Switch the bacon for your favourite vegan brand or omit it completely for a vegan broccoli salad. Mayonnaise can also be replaced by vegan version as well.
- You can switch the dried cranberries for dried raisins. I do find dried raisins sweeter than cranberries, so adjust the flavours of the salad dressing.
- If you don’t have sunflower seeds on hand, try chopped almonds or pepitas as alternatives.
- Other popular ingredients you can add include shredded cheddar cheese, chopped almonds, grapes or shredded carrot.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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