The Best Broccoli Salad

My mom makes amazing broccoli salad and it’s one of those nostalgic foods for me that I can eat, and eat, and eat some more of. It doesn’t hurt that broccoli truly is one of my favorite foods. For real. And then cookies of course.

I’ve never shared a recipe for broccoli salad because I thought it may be a regional thing confined only to potlucks and picnics in the midwest where I grew up.

The Best Broccoli Salad - My FAVORITE recipe for the classic salad with a tangy dressing that everyone LOVES!! Flavor and texture galore in this EASY salad that's perfect for parties, picnics, and potlucks!!

But a month or so ago I was at an event in northern California and low and behold broccoli salad was one of the sides. I was in cruciferous heaven.

My mom’s easy recipe for broccoli salad includes broccoli, bacon, celery, green onions, red grapes, raisins, and sunflower seeds all tossed in a tart-and-tangy dressing made with mayo, sugar, and apple cider vinegar.

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The Best Broccoli Salad - My FAVORITE recipe for the classic salad with a tangy dressing that everyone LOVES!! Flavor and texture galore in this EASY salad that's perfect for parties, picnics, and potlucks!!

If you’ve never tried this odd combination of ingredients, it’s one of those don’t knock it until you try it because it actually all works and it’s delicious kind of recipes.

So many textures and flavors in every bite including crunchy broccoli, crisp celery, salty bacon and sunflower seeds, juicy grapes, and sweet raisins.

The Best Broccoli Salad - My FAVORITE recipe for the classic salad with a tangy dressing that everyone LOVES!! Flavor and texture galore in this EASY salad that's perfect for parties, picnics, and potlucks!!

There are tons of recipes out there for broccoli salad and some use almonds rather than sunflower seeds, some don’t have raisins, others use red rather than green onions, some use red wine vinegar, and so forth. If you don’t like a particular ingredient, omit it or swap it out because it’s a very flexible recipe. Just don’t omit the broccoli.

I like to make the salad about 4 hours before I plan to serve it, chill it, and at service the flavors have married and the dressing has softened the broccoli and has had time to really penetrate all the nooks and crannies of the florets yet they still retain plenty of crunch.

The Best Broccoli Salad - My FAVORITE recipe for the classic salad with a tangy dressing that everyone LOVES!! Flavor and texture galore in this EASY salad that's perfect for parties, picnics, and potlucks!!

Print Recipe

The Best Broccoli Salad

If you've never tried this odd combination of ingredients, it's one of those don't knock it until you try it because it actually all works and it's delicious kind of recipes. So many textures and flavors in every bite including crunchy broccoli, crisp celery, salty bacon and sunflower seeds, juicy grapes, and sweet raisins. If you don't like a particular ingredient, omit it or swap it out. I make the salad about 4 hours before I plan to serve it, chill it, and at service the flavors have married and the dressing has softened the broccoli yet it still retains plenty of crunch.

Yield: about 10 cups

Prep Time: about 15 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Total Time: about 2+ hours, for chilling if desired

Ingredients:

  • 5 to 6 cups of small raw broccoli florets (from about 2 large heads of broccoli with stalks discarded)
  • 1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 cup celery, diced small
  • about 3/4 to 1 cup cooked bacon, diced small
  • about 3/4 cup sunflower seeds (I use salted)
  • about 3/4 cup raisins
  • about 3 green onions, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 heaping cup mayonnaise (I use light)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • about 2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or as desired for consistency
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Directions:

  1. To a large bowl, add the broccoli, grapes, celery, bacon (Tip - Save time by using precooked bacon and zap it in the microwave for about 1 minute to cook), sunflower seeds, raisins, green onions; set aside.
  2. To a medium bowl, add the mayonnaise, sugar, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, celery seed, pepper, and whisk to combine. If necessary, add additional apple cider vinegar so that dressing is pourable but still thick. Evenly pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
  3. Salad may be served immediately but I prefer to cover it and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours to chill before serving.
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18 comments

  1. I have a cookbook from the early 90’s and it is a compilation of recipe variations from home cooks all over the country. There are several similar to yours with little tweaks but they are all from the Midwestern states. I haven’t seen or made this in such a long time so I am happy to see a recipe come around again!

    • I would LOVE that cookbook! That is my idea of a perfect cookbook! I love regional cuisines and also if they’re potluck/family-style/church basement type recipes, even better. Those are where the real gems are at :)

      Funny though that all the broccoli salad recipes are from midwestern states!

  2. This is one of my favorite dishes and it is served often here, but I have never seen it made with grapes. I often use red onion and dried cranberries instead of raisins. And I do live in the Midwest–KY to be exact.

  3. This looks amazing! Totally need to make this over the summer!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  4. Funny to think that there are people out there who haven’t had this! I guess you are right, it’s a midwestern thing … but a tasty one!

  5. I haven’t had broccoli salad in ages!! This looks so good! I need to make a big bowl of it soon!

  6. This looks great. I have never been to the Midwest and have never had Broccoli Salad. I have a question what can I use in place of sugar? I am post Whole30 but still trying to be sugar free as that is my BIG weakness. I don’t want to stall my weight loss and eating added sugar will do that to me.

    Would Stevia work or honey or maple syrup?

  7. How DELISH does this look!? And you know that’s something special when I’m saying it about broccoli salad. ;) Gotta try this!

  8. I’m not a broccoli salad lover, but ever since that gathering I’ve been super crushing on raw broccoli. There was some left over and it’s now my favorite way to eat it!!

  9. I live in SE Tennessee and we eat broccoli salad here. I have a recipe similar to this only it uses raisins instead of grapes.

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