This quick and easy recipe for Broccoli Salad combines all my favorite ingredients from other broccoli salads into one ultimate recipe. It’s the perfect no-cook recipe for those warm summer potlucks and gatherings.
I’m a sucker for a great easy broccoli salad recipe, but I want mine loaded up. The more stuff mixed in it the better. I think there’s something about the sweet and savory flavors of this dish that just make it one of my favorite salads. But everybody’s recipe is a bit different, so I decided to create a recipe that has all of my favorite ingredients in one fresh broccoli salad – crisp broccoli florets, bacon, red onion, sunflower kernels, cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, and a sweet, tangy, and creamy dressing.
Let’s break this down a little…
For this recipe, I call for about 8 cups of raw broccoli florets. For me, that was about 3 medium-sized heads of broccoli, which equated to about 2 1/2 pounds.
Now some recipes call for you to blanch the broccoli first, but I think it’s just one extra step that’s not necessary. That being said, if blanching is your thing, a quick 45 to 60 second dunk in salted boiling water should do the trick. Just be sure to immediately plunge the broccoli in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Then make sure the broccoli is super dry before adding it to the salad. Extra water on the broccoli can make for a runny dressing.
Y’all know I like easy, so I opted to use a (3.5-ounce) bag of chopped real bacon from the grocery store rather than cooking my own. Just be sure to get the real stuff, not imitation bacon bits. If you’re feeling super ambitious and want to cook your own bacon, you’ll need to cook about 16 slices or 1 pound of bacon to crisp, then drain, and crumble to create 1 cup of crumbled bacon. Hey, y’all know I love me some bacon.
When it comes to the cheese, I want to actually see it and taste it, so I avoid the finely shredded cheese and go with thick cut shredded sharp cheddar.
While red onion can be pretty powerful, I think it’s an important flavor in this dish. I like to dice it finely so there aren’t huge chunks of it and only use just enough to add a hint of flavor. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup which should equal about 1/4 of a medium-sized red onion. If you find the onion to be super pungent, you can dice it and soak the onion in 1 cup of water mixed with about 1 tablespoon of baking soda. This mixture helps to draw out some of the acid, making the onion a little less strong. Just be sure to rinse them very well and dry them off before adding them to the salad.
The other ingredient worth mentioning here is the vinegar for the broccoli salad dressing. I use white wine vinegar. It’s a bit milder than the pantry staple apple cider vinegar. And while I used to not even know it existed, the more I use it in recipes, the more I love it. But apple cider vinegar can certainly be used in this recipe. Just use what you have on hand.
And while we’re talking about the dressing, I do like mine a touch sweet, but not too sweet. If you like it sweeter, it’s super easy to add a little more white sugar to suit your taste.
Like many similar salads, this one can be eaten immediately but does benefit from a little time in the fridge to allow all those flavors to get happy. I recommend about an hour, but it can be longer – even overnight. Just be sure to toss it well right before serving.
Want a fun twist on this classic broccoli salad? Check out my Bacon and Blue Cheese Broccoli Salad!
Easy Broccoli Salad
- 8 cups bite-size broccoli florets (about 3 heads of broccoli), rinsed and dried well
- 1 (3.5-ounce) package real chopped bacon (about 1 cup) (or 14 to 16 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled)
- 1/2 cup dry roasted sunflower kernels
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced (about 1/4 medium red onion)
- 1 cup thick cut shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- In a very large bowl, combine the broccoli, bacon, sunflower kernels, cranberries, onion, and cheese. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar.
- Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Toss again before serving.