The absolute BEST easy-to-make Broccoli Bacon Salad recipe that’s the perfect cold side dish for Summer. Steamed broccoli, crispy bacon, sweet cranberries, and salty nuts are tossed with a creamy dressing made from Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. Serve this healthy salad all year long at picnics, BBQs, or even holiday dinners!

Two salad bowls full of a cold broccoli salad recipe with walnuts, cranberries, and bacon.

Summertime is FULL of so many outdoor activities in which a quick and healthy dish is needed.

From backyard BBQs to Labor Day or July 4th picnics, it seems as if I am always scrambling to find an easy side to bring along.

It wasn’t until recently when at a food blogging conference in Salt Lake City that I realized how absolutely DELICIOUS, easy, and even healthy, a cold broccoli salad could be.

And then you add in perfectly cooked bacon and bites of sweet cranberries and you take your Summer side dish game up another notch!

Plus, who wants to be slaving away in the kitchen on a hot summer day before going out to enjoy your holiday?

I know I don’t, and that’s why this recipe is SO amazing – you can easily prep it ahead the night before and have it ready to go when you are!

Broccoli, red onion, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, cranberries, and walnuts as the ingredients in an easy broccoli salad recipe.

Ingredients

Making this broccoli salad recipe only requires a few easy-to-find ingredients:

  • Broccoli. You need two large heads in order to get the correct amount of florets.
  • Bacon. Opt for a healthier brand that is uncured, nitrate-free, and with no added hormones, sugar, or antibiotics.
  • Red Onion. A sweet or yellow onion may be substituted.
  • Dried Cranberries. These add beautiful red color, but raisins can also be used for a slightly different taste. Or, leave them out for a low-carb or keto dish.
  • Walnuts. Toasting walnuts is key, it really brings out the nutty flavor. Toasted Pecans or roasted almonds would also taste great in this recipe.
  • Mayonnaise. You can also use an egg-free mayonnaise if you are allergic to eggs. Miracle whip will drastically change the taste, however.
  • Greek yogurt. If you are dairy-free, opt for a vegan yogurt alternative.
  • White wine vinegar. Do not use distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar! It will not taste the same.
  • Sugar. Good ole’ fashioned white sugar gives this salad a subtle sweetness. You can sub honey, o leave it out to keep this dish keto.

How to Make a Broccoli Bacon Salad

Here are the steps to follow to make the best broccoli salad:

Cook the Broccoli

As you will see on the internet, there are many ways to make a broccoli salad recipe. Some call for blanching, others recommend you steam it (this recipe!), and a few do not even cook it at all!

After experimenting with a few different methods, it’s safe to say steaming the broccoli is best.

To steam:  Place broccoli crowns and stalks in a steamer basket and steam for 4-5 minutes, or until it turns a bright green. Immediately place broccoli in a bowl at room temperature and let cool. Dab with a paper towel until it is thoroughly dried.

However, if you do not have a steamer basket or rice cooker with a steamer basket, you can always blanch the broccoli.

To blanch: Place broccoli florets in a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Immediately immerse in an ice water bath so it stops the cooking process and the broccoli turns bright green. Dry thoroughly before proceeding.

Cook the Bacon

You can make Air Fryer Bacon (the best option for crispy bacon and no mess!), or Cook Bacon in the Oven. You can also easily cook it in a skillet.

To cook the bacon on the stove, finely chop the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add bits to a medium-sized skillet.

Heat bacon over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes, or until cooked through.

Drain pieces on a paper-towel-lined plate to let them cool before adding to the bacon broccoli salad.

Bacon being cooked in a ceramic skillet with a spatula stirring it.

Make the Dressing

In a large bowl, mix together the mayo, plain Greek yogurt, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Whisk everything until smooth.

A hand whisking together a broccoli salad dressing made from mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, Greek yogurt, and sugar.

Mix it Together

Make sure the broccoli has cooled. Then, pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix until well coated.

Stir in chopped onion, cranberries, walnuts, and cooked bacon pieces to the broccoli mixture.

Keep the broccoli salad in the refrigerator for at least one to two hours before serving.

Meal Prep and Storage

As mentioned previously, this healthy salad is the best picnic or potluck side dish to bring because it is SO easy to prep ahead the night before.

  • To Prep-Ahead: You can prepare it entirely and chill it overnight. 
  • To Store: This dish will keep for up to 3 days when stored in the refrigerator between servings. However, after 24 hours the broccoli will begin to lose its crispness.
  • To Freeze: It is not recommended to freeze as the mayonnaise will separate.

Since this broccoli salad contains both mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, it is VERY temperature sensitive. Do not let it sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature or more than 1 hour when the temperature is above 80 degrees.

Expert Tip: You can keep the bacon pieces separate and add them in just before serving. This helps them keep their crispiness!

Broccoli Bacon Salad in a clear glass bowl with a wooden spoon stirring it.

FAQs

Do I have to cook broccoli for a broccoli salad?

It is not necessary to cook the broccoli, but it is recommended. Steaming is the best option for this recipe as the vegetable gets tender but doesn’t soak up too much water.

How healthy is broccoli salad?

It depends on what you put in the salad! Loading a salad with veggies, nuts, and nutrient-rich toppings are great ways to make a healthy salad. Also, keep dressing ingredients healthy by using Greek yogurt and leaving out the sugar.

How far in advance can I prepare broccoli salad?

The texture is best when served within 24 hours. After that, the broccoli and bacon will lose their crispness.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Chop ingredients into small pieces. This way you get a little something in every bite.
  • Cook bacon in the Air Fryer. The best method for ultra-crispy bacon in a fraction of the time and with no splatter!
  • Dry broccoli thoroughly. If any liquid is left after blanching or steaming you’ll end up with a watery mess in your salad.
  • Let it sit in the fridge. Allow the flavors to meld together for at least 2-3 hours.
  • Add bacon just before serving. This helps it to keep its crispness and not get too soggy from the dressing.
A wooden serving bowl full of a cold broccoli salad recipe with walnuts, cranberries, and bacon.

Other Easy Make-Ahead Salad Ideas:

Try any of these simple and convenient salad recipes:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 4 votes

Broccoli Bacon Salad Recipe

The absolute BEST easy-to-make Broccoli Bacon Salad recipe is the perfect cold side dish for Summer. Serve this healthy salad all year long at picnics, BBQs, or even holiday dinners!
Yield 8 servings
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 large heads of broccoli cut into florets
  • 6 oz. bacon cut into bite-sized pieces*
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • cup red onion finely sliced
  • cup cranberries
  • 1 cup walnuts toasted

Instructions 

  • Steam broccoli for 4-5 minutes in a steamer basket, or until it turns bright green. Place in a large bowl to cool and dab with a paper towel until completely dry.
  • Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through. Drain bacon on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • In a large bowl whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, sugar, and salt.
  • Add cooked broccoli that has cooled to room temperature and toss until well coated.
  • Stir in chopped onion, cranberries, walnuts, and cooked bacon pieces.
  • Cover and chill broccoli salad in refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or up to overnight, before serving. Enjoy!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 4 votes

Video

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: You can prepare it entirely and chill it overnight. 
  • To Store: This dish will keep for up to 3 days when stored in the refrigerator between servings. However, after 24 hours the broccoli will begin to lose its crispness.
  • To Freeze: It is not recommended to freeze as the mayonnaise will separate.
Since this broccoli salad contains both mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, it is VERY temperature sensitive. Do not let it sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature or more than 1 hour when the temperature is above 80 degrees.

Nutrition

Calories: 329kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 375mg, Potassium: 351mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 440IU, Vitamin C: 62.7mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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