This Sunny Broccoli Salad is a simple, tasty and hearty broccoli salad served with bacon, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and mixed with a delicious, homemade mayonnaise-vinegar based dressing that is perfect for BBQs and get togethers.
This recipe is a classic side dish – especially for any BBQ or summer party. Not only is it simple, but the homemade dressing and bacon take it to the next level. Bring it with our famous potato salad and pulled pork and everyone will love you!
Broccoli + Bacon = DELISH
We have enjoyed Broccoli Salad for as long as I can remember. I think we first had it a BBQ restaurant years ago and have tried numerous recipes since then.
I’ve posted a few broccoli salads here on the site (Strawberry Broccoli Salad and this Broccoli Slaw), and both are delicious, but this one is my all-time favorite recipe for Broccoli Salad. It comes from my sister-in-law (on the hubby’s side).
As I had mentioned, we have tried lots of versions of this recipe, but today’s version has all the ingredients that I love. The combination of broccoli, sunflower seeds, bacon, and craisins is absolutely amazing. Since I first tried this recipe, we have made it a few more times and even my family agreed it was their new favorite.
This super simple dressing is just the right amount of creamy without being too heavy. It consists of only three ingredients: mayo, vinegar, and sugar.
For a punch of flavor, you can add 1-2 TB of Creole or other coarse grain mustard (2 TB is strong, so if you’re looking for a more mild flavor, stick with 1 TB).
If you’re not a huge fan of mayo-based dressings or want to make it a little bit “healthier”, you can use miracle whip (dairy free), or plain greek yogurt (less fat), but it will change the flavor slightly.
You can always use honey or an alternative sweetener in place of the sugar.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
We love that this recipe takes just about 10-15 minutes to make. The ingredients needed include:
- mayonnaise (reduced-fat mayonnaise, or salad dressing)
- fresh broccoli florets, chopped
- shelled sunflower seeds
- bacon, cooked and crumbled
In a large bowl combine mayonnaise, craisins, sugar, and vinegar. Add broccoli and stir to coat. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
What type of vinegar do you use? I usually use white distilled vinegar, but apple cider or red wine vinegar work great too!
Do you have to cook the broccoli for broccoli salad? Nope! That’s the beauty of this salad—you just have to throw all the ingredients together, no cooking required (except for the bacon!). Don’t let the raw greens scare you away! The raw broccoli is what adds the deliciously fresh crunch to this salad.
broccoli salad variations:
Ingredients to add: There are so many ways you can customize this recipe by either swapping or adding ingredients. Here are some ideas for ways you can tailor this recipe for your crowd.
- Swap out the sunflower seeds for pine nuts, chopped pecans, cashews, or almonds.
- Add cubed or shredded cheddar cheese.
- Use raisins or fresh red grapes instead of craisins.
- Add other fruits and veggies like cauliflower florets, chopped kale, shredded carrots, chopped celery, apple chunks, chopped red onion, etc.
MAKING AHEAD + STORING
Broccoli salad can be prepared a day ahead of time without losing its texture. Just be sure to leave out the bacon and nuts until you’re ready to serve or they might get a little soggy.
If you need to prepare it 2-3 days in advance, combine all of the salad ingredients and leave the dressing out until you’re ready to serve. Once the dressing has been added to the salad, it will only last 1-2 more days in the fridge.
With summer get togethers and BBQs every week, you better believe we will be making this salad more often, and I hope you guys enjoy it just as much as we did!
For more salad recipes, check out:
- Summer Corn Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Quick Caprese Salad
- Easy Coleslaw
- Broccoli Strawberry Salad
- Pea Salad
Broccoli Salad Recipe
- 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 7 cups chopped broccoli florets
- ½ cup Craisins
- ½ cup shelled sunflower seeds
- 8 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
- In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar and mix well.
- Add broccoli and Craisins and stir to coat.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Before serving, stir in sunflower seeds and bacon.