Our broccoli salad recipe substitutes sun-dried tomatoes for bacon and almonds for cheddar and swaps some of the mayo in the dressing with Greek yogurt.

The result is a healthier recipe that’s gorgeously creamy, crunchy, and packed with sweet, tangy, and savory flavors.

You’ll love how simple and tasty this is and how great and happy it will make you feel.

Broccoli salad with sun-dried tomatoes on a white plate

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian and gluten-free diet. For vegans, swap mayo and yogurt for their non-dairy alternatives.

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What is broccoli salad?

Broccoli Salad with lemon wedges

Broccoli salad is a classic American side dish, a distant relative of Coleslaw, which was brought over by Northern European immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries.

It’s widely enjoyed across the United States in summer gatherings, potlucks, picnics, and barbecues.

Traditionally, the salad combines crunchy broccoli with bacon, cheddar cheese, and a sweet, tangy, and creamy mayonnaise-based dressing.

Broccoli salad with almonds and sun-dried tomatoes

We love broccoli salad, and since we like to eat it more than just during the occasional potluck, we made some delicious healthy modifications.

We substitute flavor-packed sun-dried tomatoes for bacon and swap half of the mayo with creamy and lower-fat Greek yogurt.

I know letting go of bacon can be difficult. But give this recipe a chance. It’s a crowdpleaser, and it’ll make you feel awesome!

Ingredients for broccoli salad

Ingredients for broccoli salad

Broccoli

Get the freshest broccoli you can find. Make sure the florets are bright green without yellow or brown spots.

You can substitute cauliflower for broccoli or make a lovely broccoli cauliflower salad.

You can make broccoli salad with frozen broccoli; however, we recommend blanching the frozen broccoli in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, then draining them and letting them cool and dry thoroughly before making the salad.

Sun-dried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained from the oil, and cut into pieces, are the perfect substitute for bacon.

They add a bold and savory flavor to every bite.

Red onion

Red onion adds the necessary sharpness to cut through the creamy dressing.

Substitute a shallot or a couple of spring onions for red onion.

Dried cranberries

Dried cranberries add a a pleasant sweet and slightly sour flavor.

Substitute raisins or dried blueberries.

Almonds

They add crunch and healthy fats. Substitute walnuts or pecans.

Mixed seeds

You can add sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, or a mix of all.

Dressing

ingredients for broccoli salad dressing
  • Mayonnaise: you can use our easy vegan mayo or your favorite store-bought mayo.
  • Yogurt: we recommend Greek yogurt or fat-free Greek yogurt. Sour cream and non-dairy alternatives work well, too.
  • Maple syrup: substitute sugar.
  • Apple cider vinegar: substitute lemon juice, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or rice vinegar.
  • Salt & black pepper: we recommend sea salt.

How to make broccoli salad

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

1. Chop the broccoli

Rinse and dry the broccoli with a kitchen towel, then cut it into small bite-size florets.

You can also cut the stem into small pieces and peel the outer part of the stem if it’s woody.

Add to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Tip: Make sure the florets are pretty small, smaller than bite-size.

chopped broccoli in a white bowl

2. Toast nuts and seeds

Chop the almonds into small bits and add them to a non-stick skillet.

Add the mixed seeds and toast for 2 minutes or until they brown and start to pop. Move them around the pan often.

Set aside to cool.

Tip: Toasting makes the nuts and seeds crunchier and more flavorful than raw ones.

toasted almonds and seeds in a pan

3. Make the dressing

To a small bowl, add mayo (or vegan mayo), Greek-style yogurt (or non-dairy yogurt), maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and black pepper.

Whisk until combined.

Tip: Substituting half of the mayo with fat-free Greek yogurt reduces the calories in the dressing almost in half, adds protein and freshness, and retains all the gorgeous creaminess of the dressing.

Broccoli salad dressing in a bowl

4. Mix the salad

To the bowl with the broccoli, add finely chopped red onion, cranberries, toasted almonds, seeds, the dressing, and sun-dried tomatoes drained from their oil and cut into small strips with scissors.

Ingredients for healthy broccoli salad in a bowl

Toss until well combined, then taste and adjust for salt.

You can serve immediately. However, it is more delicious if the flavors meld for 30 minutes before serving.

Broccoli salad after mixing ingredients

Serving suggestions

Serve this salad with your favorite grilled protein for BBQs, cookouts, 4th of July celebrations, and summer parties.

We love it with BBQ Tofu and grilled tofu, but of course, it is delicious with your usual meets, too.

Broccoli salad served with plant based patty
Broccoli salad served with a grilled plant-based burger patty.

Variations

Broccoli cauliflower salad

broccoli cauliflower salad with a silver spoon

Broccoli cauliflower salad is another creamy, crunchy, and tasty recipe for potlucks and summer cookouts.

You can make it with the same ingredients, using half broccoli and half cauliflower.

Here’s our broccoli cauliflower salad recipe.

Questions

Can you make broccoli salad in advance?

You can make broccoli salad 2 to 3 days in advance. The salad keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge, and it gets tastier after a few hours because the sauce and the veggies have time to meld.

Can broccoli salad be frozen?

We don’t recommend freezing broccoli salad. The dressing and the other ingredients will separate, the broccoli will lose its fresh and crunchy texture, and the salad won’t taste as good.

Storage

Make ahead: You can make this salad 2 days in advance; it will taste even better as the flavors have time to meld.

Refrigerator: Keep leftovers in an airtight container for five days.

Freezer: We don’t recommend freezing this recipe.

Broccoli salad in a glass container

More summer salad ideas

Broccoli salad on a big white plate with a spoon

Broccoli Salad

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 28 votes
Our broccoli salad recipe substitutes sun-dried tomatoes for bacon and almonds for cheddar and swaps some of the mayo in the dressing with Greek yogurt.
The result is a healthier recipe that’s gorgeously creamy, crunchy, and packed with sweet, tangy, and savory flavors.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Course: Side dish
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

FOR THE SALAD

  • 2 medium heads broccoli about 1½ pounds; cut into small florets and stems chopped into small pieces
  • ½ red onion finely chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup almonds chopped
  • ¼ cup seeds sunflower or pumpkin
  • ½ packed cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil cut into strips with scissors or chopped

FOR THE DRESSING

  • ½ cup vegan mayo or regular mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt we use fat-free Greek yogurt. Substitute non-dairy yogurt.
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • BROCCOLI: Rinse and dry 2 medium heads broccoli. Cut them into small bite-size pieces.
    You can also cut the stem into small pieces. Peel the outer part if it's woody.
    Add them to a large mixing bowl.
    chopped broccoli in a white bowl
  • NUTS & SEEDS: Chop ¼ cup almonds then toast them with ¼ cup seeds in a small skillet for 2 minutes or until they start to brown and pop.
    Set aside to cool.
    toasted almonds and seeds in a pan
  • DRESSING: In a small bowl, whisk ½ cup vegan mayo, ½ cup Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper.
    dressing in a bowl
  • SALAD: To the bowl with the broccoli, add ½ red onion (chopped), ½ cup dried cranberries, toasted almonds, seeds, the dressing, and ½ packed cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained from their oil and cut into small strips with scissors.
    Ingredients for healthy broccoli salad in a bowl
  • TOSS: Toss until well combined, then taste and adjust for salt.
    You can serve immediately. However, the salad is more delicious if the flavors meld for 30 minutes before serving.
    Broccoli salad after mixing ingredients

Video

Healthier Broccoli Salad

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of broccoli salad out of 8 servings.
SUBSTITUTIONS
Broccoli: Substitute one small cauliflower for 1 head of broccoli.
Sun-dried tomatoes: we use them to replace the bacon, but you can, of course, use bacon bits instead.
Red onion: Substitute shallots or green onions.
Cranberries: Substitute raisins or dried blueberries. You can even add halved grapes.
Almonds: Substitute walnuts or pecans.
Seeds: You can use most seeds or omit them.
Vegan mayo: Substitute regular mayonnaise.
Greek yogurt: Substitute sour cream, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt, or more mayonnaise.
Apple cider vinegar: Substitute white vinegar or lemon juice.
STORAGE
Make ahead: You can make this salad 2 days in advance; it will taste even better as the flavors have time to meld.
Refrigerator: Keep leftovers in an airtight container for five days.
Freezer: We don’t recommend freezing this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 441mg, Potassium: 521mg, Dietary Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 675IU, Vitamin B6: 0.2mg, Vitamin C: 88mg, Vitamin E: 2mg, Vitamin K: 87µg, Calcium: 79mg, Folate: 60µg, Iron: 1mg, Manganese: 0.4mg, Magnesium: 42mg, Zinc: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below or mention @theplantbasedschool on Instagram. We are also on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok.

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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

5 from 28 votes (22 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made it yesterday and it turned out fabulous!! Very tasty. Colleague wanted to know what the dressing was.

  2. 5 stars
    I served this salad to a friend who came for lunch last week and we both enjoyed it. As my friend is a bit of a picky eater, I blanched the trimmed broccoli for about 90 seconds, then immersed the brocolli into an ice water bath to keep it as crunchy as possible. I liked the substitution of sliced sundried tomatoes for bacon. Will definitely make again, without cooking the broccoli if it’s only for me, as I love raw broccoli. I may also add some sliced Chinese water chestnuts.

    1. Fantastic, Lynne – I’m delighted you both enjoyed the salad 🎉

      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment and a rating here. Have a great rest of your week.

      Kindest, Louise

      1. 5 stars
        Made it again today, this time adding a tin of sliced water chestnuts (well drained) and used lightly salted roasted cashews instead of almonds as I had some I wanted to use up.

    1. Hi Linda,
      I’m very happy you liked the broccoli salad. Thanks so much for leaving a message here.
      Best,
      Louise

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. I added grapes and it could not have been better. My kids asked for seconds and thirds. Will definitely be on our regular rotation. Thanks for a great tasting and healthy salad.

    1. Hi Amy,
      That’s fantastic – I’m delighted your kids liked the broccoli salad!
      Thanks so much for leaving a comment, and have a great week ahead.
      Kindest,
      Louise

    2. 5 stars
      Dee-licious! I am ALWAYS trying a new, simple veggie dish and this did NOT disappoint. Thanks for suggesting blanching the brocolli. Even the guys loved it!

      1. Hi Toni, that’s fantastic- I’m very happy you enjoyed the broccoli salad.

        Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Kindest,

        Louise