This Broccoli Cranberry Bacon salad is unforgettable. The raw broccoli florets, mixed with the sweetness from the cranberries, and the crispiness of the bacon and sunflower seeds and the creamy, tangy dressing create a salad that is tasty and addicting. And you will want to make it again and again.
I finally have a broccoli salad recipe that I love. The inspiration for this recipe came from Spend with Pennies. After doing some adjustments, I have the perfect broccoli salad recipe. Since people have different tastes, I can’t call this the BEST recipe, but can I call it really really good? I really like it! And so far, anyone who tried it, liked it too. Give this awesome salad a try, I think you’ll love it.
Ingredients for Broccoli Salad
Broccoli – as the name implies, you will need broccoli for this salad.
Toasted sunflower seeds – toasting the sunflower seeds really brings out the flavor, so don’t skip this step.
Red onion or shallots – whatever you have on hand. White onions would work in a pinch, as well.
Dried cranberries – or so called craisins. You could also substitute with raisins, but I never really liked raisins, so I can’t recommend them.
Bacon – you’ll need to fry the bacon for this one. I prefer doing it in the skillet as I can better control the degree of frying. You can also bake in the oven, if that works better for you.
Dressing – mayonnaise, white vinegar, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
How to prepare Broccoli Cranberry Bacon Salad
How to toast Sunflower seeds
Start by toasting your sunflower seeds. You could use raw seeds, but toasting them brings them to a whole new level. Make extra, because you might be tempted to eat them as a snack. You can also buy seeds that have already been toasted.
To toast sunflower seeds, heat up a small skillet, and add the seeds to it. Give the seeds a few minutes to heat through and then you have to be careful and mix them every couple of minutes as they can burn. Keep mixing and toasting them until they have reached the desired color. They should be a dark golden brown. Again, be careful that you don’t burn them, as they don’t taste that great burnt. Ha. As if anything does!
Transfer to a plate and let the sunflower seeds cool off.
Fry the bacon at the same time you are toasting the seeds as that helps to save some time. I just fry my bacon in a skillet until it reaches the desired doneness. The bacon should be dark brown in color and crisp in texture when it has cooled off. Set aside.
How to Make the Dressing for Broccoli Salad
To prepare the dressing, add the salt, sugar and white vinegar together in a small bowl and mix well until the salt and sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the mayo, freshly ground black pepper, chili flakes (optional) and salt and mix everything well.
Broccoli Salad Instructions
Wash broccoli and let the liquid run off as much as possible. A salad spinner can be useful in this case, if you have one. Otherwise, just let the excess water run-off. (You can do this step ahead of time to allow for the water to dry off).
Cut the broccoli into small, bite-sized florets and transfer to a medium-sized salad bowl or mixing bowl. Finely chop the onion and add to the broccoli florets. Add the dried cranberries, cooled off sunflower seeds, and crumble the freshly fried bacon into the salad.
Add the dressing and mix everything together. Let the salad stand at least 4 hours or overnight. You can serve the salad after an hour in the fridge, but I it tastes a lot better after 4 hours or more as every broccoli piece gets coated in the dressing.
What to serve with Broccoli Cranberry Bacon Salad
This salad would be perfect on a fine grilling day, served with grilled chicken or any other grilled meat. Check out my post on grilled chicken thighs with the BEST Marinade if you need a good grilling recipe.
Broccoli Bacon Salad Variations
- Raisins – use raisins instead of dried cranberries in the salad. I don’t like raisins, but I’ve used them in a pinch and they work good.
- Raw grapes – cut some grapes in half and add them to the salad. They give an unexpected sweet crunch to the salad that is quite pleasant.
- Cheddar cheese – Add some cubed or grated cheddar cheese.
- Other nuts or seeds – walnuts, pine seeds, or other nuts or seeds would be great here. I’d toast any seeds or nuts before adding them to the salad.
More Salad Recipes
Looking for more awesome salad recipes? Here are some of my favorites:
- Easy Conehead Cabbage Salad with Pistachios
- Korean Spiced Carrot Salad
- Arugula Salad with Tomatoes, Avocado and Feta
Lastly, if you make this Broccoli Cranberry Bacon Salad, make sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating here! I’d love to hear back from you and will do my best to answer and respond to every comment. And of course, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram if you make this recipe. I’d love to see the photos of the recipes you have made!
Broccoli Cranberry Bacon Salad
- 5 cups (400g) Broccoli florets
- ¼ cup (35g) Sunflower seeds, toasted
- 5-6 slices Bacon
- 2 Shallots or 1 small red onion
- ⅓ cup (55g) Dried cranberries
- 2 ⅓ tbsp White vinegar (5% acidity) or 1 ½ tsp 20% acidity and 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ½ cup Mayonnaise
- ⅛ tsp Fresh ground pepper
- Chili flakes (optional)
- Wash the broccoli and let excess water run off. Or use a salad spinner to get rid of the extra water.
- Toast the sunflower seeds if they are not toasted. Just add them to a skillet and toast making sure to mix all the while so that the seeds don't burn. The toasted seeds should be dark golden brown.
- Fry the bacon simultaneously with toasting the seeds to save time. Set aside to let it cool off.
- Prepare the dressing by mixing white vinegar salt and sugar until most of the salt and sugar is dissolved. Add the mayonnaise, fresh ground pepper and some chili flakes (optional). Mix well until you have a well combined, creamy dressing.
- Finely chop the onions or shallots.
- Combine broccoli florets, (cooled) sunflower seeds, onions, dried cranberries in a medium sized bowl. Crumble the bacon into the bowl and add the salad dressing. Mix everything well.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve.