Make an easy raw broccoli salad recipe with bacon that everyone will love! It's crunchy, tangy, slightly sweet, and slightly salty which means it's the perfect balance of all of the best flavors and textures.
Chock full of delicious ingredients like bacon, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and a simple homemade salad dressing, you'll be making this broccoli bacon salad recipe on repeat. It's a Whole Lotta Yum!
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Best Broccoli Salad Recipe Ever!
When I think of holiday dinners and summer BBQs, this broccoli salad recipe with bacon and sunflower seeds always seems to be on the menu. I've been making this recipe for 20 years now and each time is a tiny bit different!
It's also fantastic as a cold lunch idea for the week since the veggies keep so well in the fridge. This is perfect as a meal prep lunch or as a holiday or potluck side dish that comes together super quickly and is simple to customize.
And yes, everyone will be asking you for the recipe! It is seriously the BEST broccoli salad recipe ever!
While the main ingredients are making this a raw broccoli salad with raisins and bacon, you can just as easily use dried cranberries or fresh grapes, instead of sunflower seeds you could swap them for chopped pecans or pumpkin seeds. Or why not go half raw broccoli and half raw cauliflower?
We love this broccoli salad with bacon recipe so much, we have numerous variations of it on our website! Whether you want to make a broccoli cauliflower salad with bacon or make a low carb broccoli salad without sugar, this is an easy raw broccoli salad recipe to customize.
Why You'll Love This!
- It makes the best side dish for a potluck or dinner since it keeps well!
- Full of flavor! It's got tang! It's got sweet and salty! Did we mention the bacon?;)
- Since this is a raw broccoli salad recipe, It doesn't get soggy with our creamy homemade dressing, unlike many other salad recipes.
- Healthy! This is a healthy broccoli salad recipe with lots of veggies and protein added, plus it's super simple to adapt to low carb, sugar free, or keto too. You could also use turkey bacon or Greek yogurt to reduce the fat if preferred.
Raw Broccoli Salad Ingredient Notes
Scroll down to the recipe card for the full bacon broccoli salad instructions, but be sure to read all of our notes on what's in our easy broccoli salad since this is seriously the best recipe to customize!
- broccoli crown- You'll just be using the broccoli crowns for this recipe, you can either buy them this way or cut the crowns off of the broccoli heads. Using half cauliflower is a great idea too and adds even more color.
- well cooked and chopped crispy bacon - the best way to cook bacon is in the oven, we also love to air fry bacon when we just need a small amount. The Costco precooked bacon is great if you're a member.
- diced red onion - raw red onion is mild, which makes it a good choice when adding raw onion flavor to a salad. You could also make easy pickled red onions or green onions.
- cheddar cheese -we usually add a sharp or medium cheddar cheese, cheese cubes are a great variation. Other cheeses that would work well include Colby Jack, mozzarella, smoked cheddar, or white cheddar.
- salted sunflower seeds - pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, and pine nuts would all be great.
- Raisins (optional) - we add these in about half of the time, and you possibly noticed they are in our photos. We also love to add Craisins sometimes too.
- mayonnaise (or half mayo half plain Greek yogurt)- our original recipe calls for mayo but to lighten things up a bit we sometimes swap half fat-free plain Greek yogurt for the dressing. You could also use part sour cream.
- Fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. You could also use a red wine vinegar or white vinegar, but we usually recommend the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Sweetener - Granulated sugar is what goes in the salad dressing, it's easy to make this low carb by using granulated monk fruit, or you can use a natural sweetener like honey, agave, or coconut sugar to taste.
If this is a recipe you make often (which we bet it will be!) here's some broccoli salad variations you might want to try:
- Make a salad without mayo- use Greek yogurt and sour cream instead of mayonnaise
- Make a low carb broccoli salad for diabetics by using monk fruit (or another sugar substitute of your choice) instead of sugar and leaving out the raisins, craisins, or grapes
- make a broccoli salad without raisins - while the classic salad recipe adds dried raisins, we leave them out about half of the time. It really depends on what is or isn't already in our pantry!
- Mix in other veggies like peas, shredded cabbage, or shredded carrots
- Use a different dressing! Instead of making our homemade broccoli salad dressing, you can easily just use coleslaw dressing, honey mustard dressing, Ranch, poppyseed dressing, Vinaigrette, or a store-bought dressing of your choice.
- Make a vegan broccoli salad - use plant based cheese and your favorite salty vegan protein like seitan crumbles or pan crispy tempeh.
How to Make Broccoli Salad with Bacon
Making our easy broccoli bacon salad recipe is a matter of making a simple homemade dressing, chopping the veggies, and combining it all together.
We often let it rest in the fridge to combine the flavors, but this is optional!
Make the Broccoli Salad Dressing
Step 1: Mix the mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, and sugar (or another type of sweetener to taste) in a small bowl and set it aside in the fridge.
Assemble the Salad
Step 2: Cut off the tops of the broccoli heads. It's fine if you get little stem bits in your salad, but most of the broccoli pieces should just be from the heads or florets.
Chop the broccoli into very small pieces and put it into a medium-size bowl.
Step 3: Add the broccoli pieces, chopped red onion, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cooked bacon, sunflower seeds, and raisins or Craisins (if you're using dried fruit) to a large bowl. Toss together.
Step 4: Add the dressing to the salad and gently combine. Let the broccoli salad recipe with bacon sit for at least one hour in the fridge to let flavors blend.
This is one of those recipes that it tastes even better the longer it sits! We like to make it in the morning when we need it by late afternoon or evening.
Bacon Broccoli Salad Recipe Tips
- Prep all of your veggies and cook the bacon before starting the recipe. It's super quick and simple to assemble once your ingredients are prepped.
- Salads with mayo can only be kept out for a brief period of time. Make sure to store this in the fridge once it's assembled.
- Use the leftover broccoli stems for making a batch of riced broccoli.
- If you're one of our low carb readers, to keep carbs down shred the cheese from a block since pre-shredded cheese adds starch, use a keto friendly sweetener, and use a mayo that doesn't have added sugar.
How long does broccoli salad last in the fridge?
Up to 4-5 days when stored in an airtight container. One benefit of raw broccoli is that it stays nice and crisp even being stored with the dressing.
Freeze: We do not recommend freezing this recipe since the raw veggies won't freeze and defrost well.
What Goes with Broccoli Salad
If you're wondering what to serve with broccoli salad, it might depend on your intended use! When we meal prep it for lunch we just add a side of fresh fruit or carrot sticks. If you're serving it as a main dish or for a potluck, here's what we recommend:
- Slow Cooker pulled pork
- Baked ribs
- Spiral sliced ham
- Baked beans
- Whipped cream mac and cheese
You can purchase either a head of broccoli, broccoli crowns, or a bag of broccoli florets for our broccoli salad recipe. You'll just need the broccoli crowns or the "tree" part of broccoli florets if you have those.
Cut the broccoli stems from the stalks and just use bite-size pieces of broccoli florets for the recipe. Broccoli stalks are totally edible and can be used for other purposes.
While our broccoli salad with bacon uses raw broccoli, if you really don't want to eat it uncooked you could just give it a quick blanch! Blanching is a great way to cook veggies crisp tender before using them in a recipe or freezing them.
1. Bring a medium to large sized saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add the raw broccoli and boil it for just 1 minute on medium high heat.
2. Instantly remove the broccoli and add it to an ice bath of cold water with ice cubes added in a large bowl.
3. Let the broccoli cool completely and then use it in your favorite recipe.
Perhaps you've heard of Amish broccoli salad and you're wondering how that differs from our bacon broccoli salad recipe. They're essentially the same salad but just called a different name!
The basics for both salads include raw broccoli (and often cauliflower), bacon, nuts or seeds, dried fruit or fruit (optional) and a tangy dressing made of sweetener, mayo + sour cream, and lemon juice.
More Broccoli Recipes
If you loved our easy broccoli salad with bacon recipe then you'll love these broccoli recipes too!
- Broccoli Cakes
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Roasted Broccoli
- Homemade Cheddar Sauce for broccoli
- Riced Broccoli
- Chicken Casserole with Broccoli
- Broccoli in the Microwave