Broccoli Bacon Salad – This yummy broccoli salad is one of my favorite summer sides for barbecues, picnics, and potlucks. (Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly)
Summer is salad season for me. I think it’s a combination of all the fresh fruits & veggies in season and the soaring summer temps that make me crave something cool. It’s also perfect for grilling season–summer salads and sides are exactly what we need to fill out a meal.
Can we still be friends if I tell you that this Broccoli Bacon Salad is one of my favorite ways to eat broccoli? Fresh broccoli, crispy bacon, lots of goodies, and a tangy dressing to tie it all together? Yep, definitely a favorite.
It’s maybe not the healthiest way to eat broccoli, but classic broccoli salad like this makes an excellent summer side dish for barbecues, picnics, or potlucks (you know, someday, when we do those again!).
Cool, crisp, and refreshing, my broccoli bacon salad is the perfect way to eat broccoli in the summer. And here’s all you need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO MY BROCCOLI BACON SALAD:
BROCCOLI FLORETS. The base of this salad is plenty of fresh broccoli. I suggest making sure you cut your broccoli florets into small, bite-sized pieces so they’re easier to eat and get better coated in all that yummy dressing.
CRISPED, COOKED BACON. We add some smoky, salty yumminess to our broccoli salad with crisp, cooked bacon. The smoky flavor really adds a lot to the dressing!
DRIED CRANBERRIES. For some subtle sweetness, I add some dried cranberries (or cherries or raisins!) to my broccoli bacon salad. Not only do they look like little jewels in the salad, but they also taste amazing!
SUNFLOWER SEEDS OR TOASTED ALMONDS. Then, for a little crunch, I love adding sunflower seeds or toasted almonds. I use whichever I have on hand–both options are delicious! (You can also use smoked almonds if you want even more smoky flavor!)
RED ONION. I don’t like it when raw onion overpowers a salad, so I only use a little in my broccoli bacon salad. It’s enough to add color and flavor without taking over.
A CREAMY, TANGY DRESSING. Lastly, we tie all those yummy flavors and textures together with a creamy dressing that’s tangy and slightly sweet. It’s reminiscent of all those retro summer salads but made a little lighter thanks to naturally sweetened options.
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST BROCCOLI BACON SALAD.
TRUST THE DRESSING. When you first stir in the dressing, it may not look like enough, but after sitting for just a few minutes, the salad will loosen up a bit and soften. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out!
A TIP FOR COOKING BACON. You can absolutely cook your bacon on the stovetop, but I actually love cooking my bacon in the oven. I line a baking sheet with parchment or foil, then lay strips of bacon out on the baking sheet and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or till I get to my desired crispiness. I love that it’s more hands-off, and it’s easy to cook without a big, splattery mess.
A FEW IDEAS FOR CHANGING IT UP. If you want to play with this broccoli salad recipe a bit, you can try…
- Adding 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings to the dressing for a more pronounced bacon flavor
- Swapping in green onions for the red onions
- Using broccoli slaw instead of broccoli florets
- Trading toasted or smoked almonds instead for the sunflower seeds
- Adding cubed or shredded cheese (my mom always adds cheddar, and it’s yummy!)
HOW LONG DOES THIS SALAD LAST? Once the broccoli bacon salad is dressed, it’s at it’s best for the first 2-3 days. After that, it’ll continue to soften, so if you don’t plan to eat it all within 2-3 days, I recommend storing the dressing separately and dressing it before eating for the best texture. The dressing will keep about 1 week in the refrigerator (as will most of the components!).
A LITTLE FOOD SAFETY REMINDER. I love serving my broccoli bacon salad at barbecues, potlucks, and picnics, but it’s important to remember that salads like this need to be kept chilled and can only stay out 1-2 hours at most before bacteria will start to grow.
MORE SUMMER SIDES TO LOVE:
- Settler’s Beans (BEST Baked Beans EVER)
- Honey Lime Fruit Salad
- Vegan Broccoli Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
- Farmer’s Market Quinoa Salad
- Thai Cucumber Salad
- Lemon Dill Shrimp & Orzo Salad
Broccoli Bacon Salad – This classic broccoli salad is one of my favorite summer salads for barbecues, picnics, and potlucks. (Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly)
FOR THE BROCCOLI BACON SALAD:
- 1 lb. broccoli florets, cut into small pieces (about 8 cups)
- 6–8oz bacon, cooked & crumbled
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or cherries
- 1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds or toasted almonds
- 3–4 Tbsp. finely minced red onion
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise*
- 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp. salt (or more, to taste)
- 1/4 tsp. pepper (or more, to taste)
FOR THE SALAD:
- In a large bowl, combine broccoli florets, crumbled bacon, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and onion.
- Drizzle with dressing (see below) and stir to combine.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 8 hours ahead of time. (Note: if making ahead of time, I recommend adding the sunflower seeds right before serving, so they preserve their crunch.)
- Salad will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
FOR THE DRESSING:
- In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cider vinegar, maple syrup, and salt and pepper.
- Whisk until smooth. Taste and add more salt or pepper, as desired. (Note: the dressing will take on some of the other flavors in the salad once combined, so don’t be tempted to go crazy on seasonings in the dressing)
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Broccoli Bacon Salad, Broccoli salad, Classic Broccoli Salad, Paleo Broccoli Salad