An easy-to-make side dish for any occasion, this broccoli salad has a simple dressing of mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar over crisp broccoli, bacon, and cheese.

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Side view of a large bowl of prepared broccoli salad with a large serving spoon tucked along the side.

About Broccoli Salad

An iconic side dish for cookouts and potlucks, this delightfully crunchy broccoli salad has great texture and a tangy sweet dressing. It goes wonderfully with all the best foods you can find at a cookout, from all kinds of grilled meats to baked potatoes to toasted garlic bread.

What’s in broccoli salad?

To whip up a fresh broccoli salad, you’ll need the following:

  • Mayonnaise – Used to make the base of the dressing.
  • Sugar – To give the dressing a slight sweetness.
  • Apple cider vinegar – For adding some tang and a thinner consistency to the dressing.
  • Broccoli florets – The star of the show!
  • Red onion – For flavor, color, and crunch.
  • Sunflower kernels – Gives some delicate texture and saltiness to the salad.
  • Bacon – Because everything is better with bacon.
  • Raisins – Add more sweetness and a little softness to counter the other hard textures.
  • Cheddar cheese – Because every good salad needs some cheese.
Top down view of a large bowl of broccoli salad, shown with other bowls of ingredients nearby like sunflower kernels, chees, and bacon.

Can you use frozen broccoli?

Sadly, no. Broccoli salad is all about having crisp, firm broccoli, and frozen broccoli will become very soft once thawed. You’ll only get the right texture of this salad with fresh broccoli.

Can you use precooked bacon?

Yes, you can totally use precooked bacon. However, this recipe works best when the bacon is crispy, and sometimes precooked bacon can be a little soft. Check the package for microwaving instructions, as this should help zap some crispiness back into the bacon.

Can you make broccoli salad in advance?

Yes, you totally can! And there are two ways you can go about it:

Only the dressing: Once mixed, the dressing can be stored by itself in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two to three days. When ready to use, simply pour it over the salad ingredients and toss everything together.

The whole salad: Once the entire salad has been prepared and mixed, it can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before serving. Broccoli salad can be served directly from the refrigerator or can be left out for 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature.

Spoon holding a portion of broccoli salad over a bowl of broccoli saald.

How long is broccoli salad good for?

Once prepared, broccoli salad can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three to four days.

How long can broccoli salad be left out?

No matter the situation or circumstance, you never want to leave perishables like mayonnaise sitting out for too long.

For most foods, the general rule of thumb is that a perishable item should not be in the “danger zone” for more than two hours. And by “danger zone”, this is usually at or just above room temperature. This time may vary depending on the temperature of the room.

Since this salad will likely be served cold, you “should” have a solid one hour (and up to two hours) before you need to pack it up (depending on other factors, such as the temperature of the room, etc). However, be sure to still check on the salad every now and then and use your best judgment.

Once you pass the recommended time, you can cover the salad and place it back in the refrigerator. If your guests still want more broccoli salad, let it chill for at least 30 minutes before bringing it back out again.

Can you freeze broccoli salad?

Bad news here, guys. Due to the mayonnaise in this salad, I can’t recommend freezing it. Mayonnaise is an emulsion, and the consistency of an emulsion will completely break down during the freezing process. The flavor will remain the same but the texture will change in a way that many may feel is off-putting.

For best results, try to enjoy coleslaw when it’s freshly made.

Notes & tips for broccoli salad

  • If you don’t already have one, you’ll need an extra large bowl to mix all of the ingredients together.
Close up view of broccoli salad, showing off the vibrant color of the ingredients and the thin layer of dressing.

More delicious salad recipes

Other great vegetable dishes

How to make broccoli salad

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a large bowl, whisk together the following ingredients: mayonnaise, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.

Step 2 – Add the other ingredients to the bowl: broccoli florets, cheddar cheese, sunflower kernels, bacon, raisins, and red onion. Use a spatula to gently toss ingredients and coat everything in the dressing.

Step 3 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Side view of a large bowl of prepared broccoli salad with a large serving spoon tucked along the side.
5 from 2 votes

Broccoli Salad

15 mins prep
235 kcal
Yields: 16 servings (1/2 cup per)
An easy-to-make side dish for any occasion, this broccoli salad has a simple dressing of mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar over crisp broccoli, bacon, and cheese.

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • In an extra large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, and apple cider vinegar until sugar has dissolved.
    1 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Add broccoli, cheddar cheese, sunflower kernels, bacon, raisins, and red onion to bowl, then use a spatula to mix ingredients and coat with dressing.
    5 cups broccoli florets, 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1/2 cup sunflower kernels, 8 slices bacon, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup raisins
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

Recipe makes about 8 total cups.

Nutrition

Serving: 11 serving | Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 219mg | Potassium: 189mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 263IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy