This easy broccoli salad recipe is creamy, tangy, sweet, and delicious. My grandma has been making this for holidays and family get-togethers for as long as I can remember, and I’ve loved it for just as long. Fresh broccoli, cubed cheese, chopped bacon, and onion are tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing. A perfect side dish for any occasion!

Overhead photo of broccoli salad in a rustic white bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Broccoli Salad

Our family has long deemed this the best broccoli salad recipe, gobbling it up ever since my grandma began serving it. Even the most broccoli-averse among us seems always to enjoy at least a small serving. It’s undeniably hard to resist!

  • Contrasting Textures – The raw broccoli retains some crunch, the bacon is salty and crisp, and the cheese is smooth and creamy; it all combines to create an amazing mixture of textures.
  • Quick Prep – The broccoli is used raw, so no cooking is necessary except for the bacon; this comes together quickly and easily, which is the perfect dish to bring along to a holiday, party, or potluck.
  • Easily Customizable – Take out ingredients you don’t like, swap in your favorite cheese, add sunflower seeds, chopped nuts or dried fruit… the combinations are endless! You can also change up the dressing; see below for some ideas!

Ingredients Overview

The broccoli salad ingredients are simple and few, but they combine to make the most amazing salad!

Ingredients for broccoli salad (bacon, cheddar cheese, onion, broccoli, mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar) prepped and labeled.
  • Broccoli  For this salad, you’ll use fresh broccoli, specifically the florets. I use 2 heads of broccoli for this recipe, which comes out to about 7 cups of florets.
  • Bacon — Use your favorite brand and cut, then cook it using your favorite method (I have been an oven bacon convert for years!) and coarsely chop it. I love real bacon, but if you’re in a SERIOUS pinch, you could sprinkle on bacon bits.
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese — The cheese is cut into small cubes, but you can also use shredded cheese. You can also use different types of cheese, such as mild cheddar, Colby or Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Swiss, feta, etc.
  • Onion — This is finely chopped, and you can use your favorite variety – white, yellow, or red.

The broccoli salad dressing only requires a few ingredients, as well.

  • Mayonnaise — Real mayonnaise for the best texture and flavor!
  • Sugar — Regular white granulated sugar.
  • White Vinegar — You could also substitute apple cider vinegar.

If the dressing on the salad sounds like something you’ll love, you should also make my Seven Layer Salad, which uses the same dressing.

More Add-In Ideas

One great thing about this recipe is that it’s super customizable! I’ve seen lots of versions with different additions and mix-ins, including:

  • Dried cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Dates
  • Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • Seedless grapes
  • Chopped apples
  • Nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Bell peppers 

If your family makes broccoli salad, I’d love to hear what your favorite add-ins are!

Dressing Substitutions

While I love my grandma’s traditional dressing, the salad lends itself to some flavor modifications when it comes to the dressing if you’d like to try something different:

  • Honey instead of sugar
  • Lemon juice in place of white vinegar.
  • Add a dollop of Dijon mustard for an extra punch of flavor.
  • Honey mustard vinaigrette if you don’t want a creamy dressing
  • Sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or buttermilk-based dressing if you want it creamy but not mayo-y.

How to Make Broccoli Salad

The process is simple and takes very little time.

Step 1 – In a large bowl, toss together the broccoli florets, bacon, onion and cubed cheese.

Step 2 – In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar.

Step 3 – Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and gently stir to thoroughly combine, ensuring everything is coated with the dressing.

Step 4 – Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving for the best flavor!

Ingredients for broccoli salad in separate piles in a white bowl, and photo of them all mixed together.

What to Serve with Broccoli Salad

This is such a wonderfully versatile side dish! It’s great along with holiday spreads like ham, lamb, beef, and turkey, as well as the usual summer picnic foods like burgers, bbq, and sandwiches.

It also makes for a fantastic lunch!

How to Store the Salad

This should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Broccoli salad doesn’t freeze well. As a result, make it and enjoy it within a few days!

Close up photo of broccoli salad in a white bowl with a wooden serving spoon.

More Favorite Side Dish Salads

These are great for holidays, a potluck, summer BBQ, and really any get-together!

Watch the Recipe Video

If you make this classic broccoli salad recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

Broccoli Salad Recipe

Fresh broccoli salad is creamy, salty, tangy, sweet, and oh, so delicious. My grandma has been making this for holidays and family get-togethers for as long as I can remember, and I've been addicted to it for just as long. 
4.57 (39 ratings)


For the Salad

  • 2 heads broccoli, florets trimmed off and cut into bite-size pieces (discard stems)
  • 8 ounces bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

For the Dressing

  • 1 cup (227 g) mayonnaise
  • ½ cup (99 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar


  • In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, bacon, cheese and onion.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and stir together until everything is evenly coated.
  • The broccoli salad can be served immediately, but tastes even better if you cover and refrigerate it for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


  • You should get about 7 cups of broccoli florets from the heads of broccoli, roughly 28 ounces.
  • A great shortcut is using bagged, prepped florets. I still need to cut up some of the larger ones, but it’s a big time saver!
  • You can use a white, yellow or red onion, whatever your preference.
  • There are so many variations to broccoli salad, so feel free to add other ingredients based on your personal preferences: dried cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, chopped pecans, etc.
  • You can make the following modifications to the dressing: plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and honey in place of sugar. You can also use a honey mustard vinaigrette if you don’t want a creamy dressing, or a sour cream or buttermilk-based dressing if you want it creamy but not mayo-y.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 529kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 42g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 592mg, Potassium: 589mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 1260IU, Vitamin C: 136.6mg, Calcium: 283mg, Iron: 1.5mg

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

This recipe was originally published in 2011.

Photography by Ari of Well Seasoned