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Classic Broccoli Crunch Salad

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This easy broccoli salad is perfect for summer picnics or cookouts. Crisp raw broccoli is combined with dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and bacon for a delicious broccoli crunch salad. It is kind of like coleslaw made with broccoli instead of cabbage and topped off bacon for extra yummy flavor!

salad in a bowl closeup

This broccoli crunch salad is a delicious salad that has lots and lots of broccoli. The broccoli is mixed with dried cranberries, bacon and sunflower seeds for a fresh, healthy salad with a lot of crunch! 

Summer is in full swing, and it is time for outdoor picnics, cookouts and potlucks. I love salads like blue cheese coleslaw and 7 layer salad but I get bored always making the same recipes when I am asked to bring a dish to pass.  Broccoli crunch salad is a great change of pace!

broccoli crunch salad on a fork

Why Broccoli Crunch Salad is Perfect for Summer

  • Broccoli is good for you and is prolific, especially in the early summer.
  • Serving the raw broccoli with the mayonnaise and vinegar dressing really changes the flavor of it to something different and unique.
  • As the name implies this is a very crispy salad with crunchy broccoli, sunflower seeds and bacon. 
  • This is an traditional salad that has been served at summer cookouts for generations.
  • This is a great salad to make ahead of time since it holds up well to refrigeration and tastes even better after a few hours.
ingredients for broccoli crunch salad

Key Salad Ingredients

Broccoli – This broccoli salad uses both the stems and florets. The stems add great texture to the dish. Even if you normally don’t eat broccoli stems chop them up small and give them a chance in this salad!

Sunflower seeds – I prefer to use roasted unsalted sunflower seeds. If you use salted ones you will probably want to reduce the amount of salt in the dressing.

Bacon – Bacon makes everything better, especially vegetables! Cook the bacon so it is nice and crispy and crumbles into bacon bits.

Dried cranberries – The cranberries add tartness and sweetness to the salad.

Red onion – Like the broccoli the onion is raw, so use red onion to keep the onion flavor from being too strong.

Homemade Dressing

The dressing is made from mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. It is a classic coleslaw type dressing. My family doesn’t like salads that are swimming in mayonnaise, so I use just enough to make the the salad creamy.

The acidic vinegar in the dressing helps soften the broccoli so it is more tender and doesn’t taste as “raw” as you might expect.

broccoli salad with bacon, onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds

How to Make Broccoli Crunch Salad

1. Chop the Ingredients

The broccoli should be cut into small and even pieces. Use the small broccoli stems by cutting them into small pieces. They will tenderize and disappear into the salad. The florets can be cut a little bit larger.

mixing the ingredients in a bowl

Dice the red onion into small pieces and crumble the bacon into tiny pieces. Then toss the broccoli, red onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and bacon bits together in a large bowl.

2. Add the Dressing

In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper together and whisk until it is smooth and creamy.

mixing the salad dressing

Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture. Toss the salad until the broccoli is evenly coated. 

How to Serve

You can serve the broccoli salad right away if you like or put in the refrigerator. I think it tastes better after a few hours in the frig. The flavors meld together and broccoli softens just a bit in the dressing.

I like to garnish the top with extra sunflower seeds, cranberries and bacon right before serving. Another alternative is to keep the sunflower seeds and bacon and add them before serving if you want to make the salad as crisp and crunchy as possible.

forkful of broccoli crunch salad

Variations and Tips

  • Raisins or dried cherries can be used instead of or in addition to the dried cranberries. Just keep the total amount of dried fruit to less than 1 cup to avoid overwhelming the other ingredients.
  • You can substitute slivered almonds or roasted pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds.
  • I also love this salad with 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles added to the dressing!

FAQ

How long with broccoli salad last?

This salad stands up pretty well to refrigeration in an air tight container. It will keep well for 2 days. If you are making it farther ahead than that make the dressing in a separate container and pour it on right before serving. If stored without the dressing it will keep for 3-4 days.

Should I blanch the broccoli for broccoli salad?

I have made this salad both with raw and blanched broccoli. I don’t think there is much taste difference, so now I don’t bother to blanch it.

But if you really, really don’t want to eat raw broccoli then put a big pot of salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Quickly dunk the chopped broccoli in the water and remove it after 1 minute with a slotted spoon. Let the broccoli drain and cool and proceed with the recipe.

What do broccoli stems taste like?

The broccoli stems taste a lot like the florets, they are just crunchier. Cut them small and you won’t even notice them.

bowl of broccoli salad from the top

Find More Summer Recipes

Yield: 12

Broccoli Salad with Bacon

broccoli salad with bacon, onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds

Crisp raw broccoli is combined with dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and bacon for a delicious broccoli crunch salad.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

Salad

  • 8 cups broccoli, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked

Dressing

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Garnish

  • extra sunflower seeds, cranberries and bacon

Instructions

  1. Chop the broccoli into small pieces, dice the onion and crumble the bacon into bacon bits.
  2. Mix the broccoli, onion, dried cranberry, sunflower seeds and bacon in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and whisk until it is smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour the dressing over the broccoli and toss it until it is evenly coated.
  5. Serve garnished with more sunflower seeds, cranberries and bacon.

Notes

  • Raisins or dried cherries can be used instead of or in addition to the dried cranberries. Just keep the total amount of dried fruit to less than 1 cup to avoid overwhelming the other ingredients.
  • You can substitute slivered almonds or roasted pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds.
  • Add 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles to the dressing for even more flavor.
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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    12

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 287Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 1293mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 6gSugar: 10gProtein: 8g

    Nutrition facts are estimates.

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    top view of broccoli brunch salad with bacon on the side
    pinterest collage for broccoli crunch salad
    By on May 20th, 2021

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