This Broccoli salad combines fresh broccoli, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and bacon bits in a creamy homemade dressing.
This is the best broccoli salad recipe that we’ve been making for years. It’s a barbecue party staple that proves to be a crowd favorite every time. There’s just something about the flavor combination that makes it an irresistible salad.
I’ve looked for where this salad originates, but haven’t been able to find it. My family has been making a version of this salad for years, so it’s practically a classic summer salad at this point. I make it almost as often as a Classic Wedge Salad.
Most people don’t really like eating raw broccoli. It’s something about the texture or the taste that’s hard to put a finger on. But I get it. Large florets aren’t fun to eat. That’s why we chop the broccoli into small pieces for this salad.
Small pieces of broccoli changes the game. It transforms raw broccoli into crunchy bits of sweetness. I’m not kidding. It’s completely changes the experience of eating raw broccoli.
Now add in bacon bits, sweet dried cranberries, freshly toasted sunflower seeds and a creamy dressing and you have one of the best salads you’ll ever eat.
Even if you don’t care for broccoli, you’ll likely find this salad is pretty darn good. Every time I show up at a barbecue or outdoor party with this salad, it’s gone before anyone even thinks about seconds.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
As I’ve already mentioned, one of the key things about this salad is to chop the broccoli into smaller pieces. Don’t leave the full florets – chop them into two or three pieces each. This takes away the huge fuzzy tops of broccoli that cause texture issues. Small pieces also allows a better ratio of ingredients in each bite.
Once you’ve chopped the broccoli, add it to a large bowl, then add in the bacon, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. Stir this all together.
On a side note, toasting the sunflower seeds is optional. If you want that extra boost of flavor that toasting gives, definitely go the extra mile. It’s amazing how much flavor comes out of sunflower seeds when they’re toasted.
Next, mix together the dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
Add the dressing to the salad and stir well to coat all the little bits in the salad. This is when I add the cheese and onion. I find that the cheese becomes a little soggy if added too soon, and the onion has a way of permeating the whole salad. Adding them at the end keeps both in check.
There’s no set amount of salt and pepper in the recipe because it really comes down to personal taste. It doesn’t require much of either. Just a few sprinkles will do.
The salad benefits from at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before being served, so all the flavors have time to meld.
It will keep for just a day or two, if you have left overs, before it becomes a little watery. You can revive it by adding a bit of extra mayonnaise and stirring well.
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- 1 large head fresh broccoli cut into bite size pieces
- 6 slices bacon
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/8 cup red onion chopped
For the dressing
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
- Cook and crumble the bacon.
- Chop the broccoli into small pieces. In a large bowl, mix the broccoli pieces, bacon, and cranberries.
- In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, and sugar. Stir well until sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to coat. Add the sunflower seeds, cheese and onion to the salad and stir.
- Cover the salad and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld before serving (optional).
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.