Best Broccoli Salad

Meet my new favorite broccoli salad recipe...aka the best cookout side dish! With a lightly creamy, tangy dressing, it's fresh, healthy, and delicious.

Broccoli salad

This broccoli salad recipe is one of my favorite side dishes. It’s my lighter spin on classic Midwest broccoli salad, and though you won’t find any cheese or bacon here, it’s every bit as delicious. A creamy, tangy dressing coats crisp broccoli florets, chewy dried cranberries, sharp red onion, and smoky roasted nuts. Even salad skeptics will love it.

This broccoli salad recipe is easy to make, and even better, make ahead. A few hours or a day in the fridge gives the broccoli a chance to soften and soak up the dressing’s punchy flavor. Pack it up for a potluck, a cookout, or a weekday lunch. It’s guaranteed to be a hit!

Broccoli salad recipe ingredients

A Broccoli Salad Recipe That’s Good for You

Broccoli salad is a standard cookout side dish, but the typical classic broccoli salad recipe is loaded up with sugar, ample mayo, bacon, and sharp cheddar cheese. My version is a fresher, healthier twist—I nix the sugar, meat, and cheese altogether. The result is a crisp, refreshing salad that’ll be the star of your cookouts all summer long!

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

How to Make Broccoli Salad

The first step in this broccoli salad recipe is chopping the broccoli. Make sure to cut the florets into bite-sized pieces and to finely dice the stems. The small pieces will soften more and soak up the dressing better than larger pieces will.

Next, you’ll mix up the homemade broccoli salad dressing. Instead of using the typical 1 cup mayo: 2 tablespoons vinegar ratio for my broccoli salad dressing, I replace some of the mayo with olive oil and up the proportion of vinegar. I also add a few teaspoons of Dijon mustard and a little honey to the mix, making for a light, super tangy dressing with a delectable sweet/salty flavor.

Add the broccoli, red onion, and dried cranberries to the creamy dressing, and stir to coat.

Broccoli salad dressing

Now for the best part: the smoky tamari almonds and pepitas! They add wonderful crunch to the salad and bring richness and smoky flavor. They’re the perfect nutritious substitute for bacon and cheese. They’re easy to make—toss the almonds and pepitas with tamari, maple syrup, and smoked paprika, and toast in a 350°F oven for 10 to 14 minutes, until golden brown. Top the salad with the nuts.

Season to taste, and enjoy!

Tip: If you can’t find pepitas, sunflower seeds work here too!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Adding florets to bowl of creamy dressing

Best Broccoli Salad Recipe Tips

Want to make the best broccoli salad around? Here are a few simple tips:

  • Cut your broccoli small. Because this salad features raw broccoli, you want to make sure the pieces are small enough to become fully coated and soften in the dressing. Also, when the broccoli pieces are a similar size to the other ingredients in the salad, you can get a little of everything in each bite.
  • Let it marinate. This salad is good right after it’s made, but it’s even better after a few hours (or even days) in the fridge. The broccoli softens and absorbs the flavors of the dressing—my family loved it on day three!
  • Save some nuts for the last minute. Sure, I like to make this salad ahead so that the flavors can develop, but the key to making it great is the crispy, smoky nuts and seeds on top. If you add them too early, they’ll lose their crunch, so save some to sprinkle on right before serving!

Hands tossing almonds and pepitas with seasonings on a baking sheet


  • If you’re making this recipe ahead, wait to add the almonds and pepitas. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Store the rest of the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Add the almonds and pepitas right before you eat.
  • If you have leftover salad, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Healthy Broccoli Salad Recipe

What to Serve with Broccoli Salad

This broccoli salad recipe is a perfect side dish for potlucks and cookouts! Serve it alongside classic cookout recipes like these:

Round out the meal with other summer favorites like grilled zucchini and grilled corn on the cob. Don’t forget the lemonade to drink!

Best Broccoli Salad on a plate

More Salad Recipes You’ll Love

If you love this summer salad, try one of these easy salad recipes next:

Broccoli Salad

rate this recipe:
4.98 from 324 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
This broccoli salad recipe is the perfect easy cookout side dish! Tangy, refreshing, and full of yummy sweet/salty flavor, it's a lighter version of the classic recipe, made with less mayo and no sugar, meat, or dairy.


Smoky tamari almonds


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Chop the broccoli florets into ½-inch pieces and any remaining stems into ¼-inch dice. Peel any woody or course parts from the stem first.
  • In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mayo, apple cider vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, garlic, and salt. Add the broccoli, onions, and cranberries and toss to coat.
  • Place the almonds and pepitas on the baking sheet, toss with the tamari, maple syrup, and smoked paprika and spread into a thin layer. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes (they’ll get crispier as they sit).
  • Toss the almonds and pepitas into the salad, reserving a few to sprinkle on top. Season to taste and serve.


*Note: Chop the florets into roughly ½-inch pieces. Dice the stem into smaller ¼-inch pieces.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Lauren

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it! Did you use raw almonds? Roasted and salted? Maybe I missed that part?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lauren – raw, unsalted almonds – they’ll get seasoned and roasted in the recipe.

  2. Phoebe

    I need nutritional values of broccoli salad with almonds and pepitos

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Phoebe, unfortunately, we don’t calculate nutrition info for our recipes. The best way to get an estimate is to plug the recipe into an online nutrition calculator like MyFitnessPal.

  3. Michelle Black

    5 stars
    Im a truck driver and was so tired of what I bring on the truck. So I saw Love and Lemons and gave it a try. Ive made 4 of there recipes. Two today to take on my truck. Baked Ziti and Broccoli salad. I allways loved Broccoli salad and now I can make it. And It’s better then I could ever imagined.

  4. Gina

    5 stars
    Really delicious and one of the easiest broccoli salads ever. And I didn’t miss the bacon! Will definitely make this again and again.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  5. Sandra

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh…I just made this and it’s delicious 😋 I will make this again so easy.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  6. Diana

    5 stars
    Loved this salad!
    I removed the mayo and added green apple.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Joe

    5 stars
    Love this salad! I added some frozen peas, shredded carrots, and diced bell peppers to the mix cause I am incapable of following a recipe. Lol. Next time, I want to roast the broccoli before tossing it up; I think that will give some great layers to it, but it was fantastic as written. Also, Jack Daniels Chicken Rub is a great seasoning for the toasted pepitas.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Joe, so glad you enjoyed the salad! Great variation ideas.

  8. Rod

    5 stars
    Thank you. …looking forward to this. In-store “kits” also include toasted sunflower seeds.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hope you enjoy!

  9. Melody

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe a few times now, it’s so delicious!! I’ve received many compliments on it. Including “it’s the best broccoli salad I’ve ever had “ & “your broccoli salad was the best dish on the entire food table”…everyone loves it!!
    If you haven’t made this recipe I highly recommend you give it a try. It is amazing!
    Thank you for this fabulous recipe.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Melody, I’m so glad this salad has been such a hit!

  10. Melody

    I don’t see the nutrition information on the best broccoli salad recipe. How many calories per serving & how big is a serving?

  11. Melody

    5 stars
    This is the most delicious broccoli salad!!
    It was a hit at last years Father’s Day celebration.
    And I’ll be making another huge bowl full for an upcoming birthday celebration. I made it as the recipe states with one addition, I added a little bacon, yum yum !! Even without the bacon this is so tasty! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  12. Mischa Pearson

    5 stars
    I don’t usually comment on recipes, however this time I had to make an exception. I am blown away how good this salad is!!! My hubby must have commented 4 times (between ooohhhs and ahhhhhss) how awesome the salt was! My 15 year old daughter who at first screwed her nose up at it, took a bite and then scoffed the rest. Winner Winner Winner recipe! Thankyou for sharing

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Oh I love this! Thank you for your comment, and I’m so glad you and your family loved the salad!

  13. Cindy B

    5 stars
    My husband had been bugging me forever for broccoli salad. Problem was that I can’t stand it…until now! This is one of my most favorite salads of all time. (And we make a lot of different kinds of salads.) The almond and pepita topping absolutely makes this salad. I have to make extra to snack on. All the components come together to make such a delicious, balanced bite. Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe! You just may have saved my marriage.😉

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hahaha, love it! So glad you’re both enjoying the salad so much.

  14. Susan Collison

    5 stars
    This delicious salad was a most wonderful way to use up left-over broccoli from our Thanksgiving veggie tray! I love all the flavors coming together ~ especially those crunchy, tasty almonds & pepitas! The salad dressing makes just enough to coat, not so much that it overwhelms. Thanks for another winner of a recipe! =)

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Susan, I’m glad your veggies went to good use!

  15. Claire

    5 stars
    Hi. This is a great broccoli salad. Made it a few times for friends and everyone asks for the recipe! So healthy and crunchy and the soy sauce on the almonds is amazing. Thank you!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.