Topped with a simple dressing that’s lightly creamy and full of tangy flavor, this homemade Broccoli Salad is loaded with fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots – plus bacon, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds. It’s an easy side dish with big-time flavor!
Easy Broccoli Cauliflower Salad with Bacon
I’ve always liked my mom’s Broccoli Salad more than any other broccoli salad. It has all the right flavors and textures, super fresh and delicious!
Mom’s recipe is a riff on a broccoli salad recipe from a neighbor friend when we lived on the farm. It features small bites of crunchy, fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and onion. Add to that all my favorite mix-ins, like bacon, cranberries, and sunflower seeds. And then fold it altogether with a super simple dressing (only 3 ingredients, plus salt & pepper!) that’s just lightly creamy and wonderfully tangy.
It’s absolute perfection!
What You’ll Need
Here’s what’s included in this crunchy, tangy broccoli salad. See the recipe card for full measurements.
- Broccoli & cauliflower – I like the addition of cauliflower in this broccoli salad, but feel free to use only broccoli.
- Carrot & onion – Add texture and flavor.
- Cranberries & sunflower nuts – These ingredients might be unexpected for some people, but they add so much to this dish. The salty, crunchy nuts and tart, chewy dried cranberries are fantastic with the creamy, tangy sauce!
- Bacon – Cook and chop it. This adds protein and bites of awesome flavor…I sometimes add more than the recipe calls for! If you want to make this a vegetarian salad, just omit it.
- Mayonnaise – It’s important to use good quality mayo for the dressing. Do not use Miracle Whip, which will alter the flavor.
- Sugar – Just a bit of sugar helps to sweeten the dressing.
- White vinegar – Adds a bright tang to the dressing.
- Salt & pepper
Do You Need To Cook Broccoli for Broccoli Salad?
I do not cook or blanch the broccoli (or the cauliflower, or any of the veggies) for my homemade broccoli salad. The crunch of biting into the vegetables is part of what makes it so great. But I will also say that I prefer the broccoli and cauliflower to be cut into pretty small bites – I do not like large chunks that make me want to grab a knife to cut them up!
If you want to remove some of the crunchy edge, go ahead and blanch the vegetables, but only very briefly. I do not recommend cooking for more than 60 seconds. Otherwise, the veggies can get mushy, and that’s definitely not the texture you want here! Be sure to allow the blanched vegetables to cool completely before combining them with the dressing, and drain them super, super well so they don’t water down the dressing.
Everyone seems to have a slight variation to how they make broccoli salad and while I’m quite partial to the ingredients listed here, there are always ways to switch it up.
- Add or change up the mix-ins. My Aunt Donna adds cashews, halved grapes, celery, and bell pepper to her broccoli salad when she makes it. You could also use raisins instead of cranberries.
- Use just broccoli. Not a fan of cauliflower? Replace it with an equal amount of broccoli.
- Sub the vinegar. Use cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or champagne vinegar instead of white vinegar for a little different flavor.
- Add cheese. Many broccoli salad recipes include some cheese. Try adding a cup of thick-shredded cheddar to this one!
- Make it vegetarian. I love the saltiness and protein added by the bacon, but if you want to make a vegetarian side dish, then just skip it.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
The best part of this broccoli salad is that, aside from the bacon, nothing needs to be cooked. Just assemble and chill!
- Combine the salad ingredients. Add the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, cranberries, nuts, and bacon to a large bowl and fold to combine.
- Prepare the dressing. Whisk together the mayo, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Combine & Chill. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and fold together. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours before serving.
Can I Make This Ahead of Time?
Homemade broccoli salad should be chilled for 2 to 4 hours before serving, so the flavors really have time to blend.
And you can absolutely prep the salad a day prior to serving! Just combine the broccoli mixture as directed, cover, and refrigerate. Prepare the dressing and place it in a separate container. Then, 2 to 4 hours prior to serving, fold it altogether, cover, and refrigerate until it’s time to enjoy. So super easy!
This easy broccoli salad with bacon is one of those recipes that goes with pretty much everything.
It’s a staple at summer picnics and BBQs because it goes great with everything from hot dogs and burgers, to grilled pork chops, beer can chicken, and pulled pork.
But I don’t think of it exclusively as a summer dish. Anytime there’s a big group gathering, it’s a great option for a fresh side dish. I also welcome this at holiday gatherings – think Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter!
How to Store Leftovers
Leftover broccoli salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in a covered container. Fold it well before serving and note that the texture will soften more with each passing day.
I do not recommend trying to freeze broccoli salad.
More Salad Recipes:
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Topped with a simple dressing that's lightly creamy and full of tangy flavor, this homemade Broccoli Salad is loaded with fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots - plus bacon, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds. It's an easy side dish with big-time flavor!
- 4 cups small florets broccoli
- 1 cup small florets cauliflower
- 1 cup peeled & thinly sliced carrot
- ½ cup finely diced red onion
- ½ cup cranberries
- ½ cup roasted & salted sunflower seeds
- 8 strips cooked bacon, chopped
- 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large bowl, combine broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, onion, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and bacon.
- In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, pepper, and salt.
- Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and fold to combine. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours prior to serving, to chill and allow flavors to blend. Serve cold.
To prep 1 day prior to serving, place broccoli mixture in a covered container and refrigerate. Place dressing mixture in a covered container and refrigerate. Then, 2 to 4 hours prior to serving, fold the dressing into the broccoli mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
From Mom's recipe box - originally from the New Effington, SD 75th Jubilee cookbook, a recipe from Brenda Krause (our friend/neighbor when we lived on the farm).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 401Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 1415mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 10g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.