Classic Broccoli Bacon Salad
Crunchy with a hint of sweet, Broccoli Bacon Salad is healthy and tasty. My versions adds apples for a perfect lunch, dinner or picnic side!
There’s a restaurant near us that we like. And every summer, just for summer, they put a Broccoli Bacon Salad on the menu. Three months only! Once Labor Day rolls around, it’s history. Eat it while you can.
So finally I said, “Silly girl, everyone makes a Broccoli Bacon salad. Just do it.” Which is how I learned that it’s not just tasty, it’s easy too! Especially with the efficiency tips I include below!
Yes, Broccoli Bacon Salad has a broadly appealing flavor, but it also has real character! How good is that!
What is Broccoli Bacon Salad?
Why You’ll Love This!
Tasty. I eat this because I love its sweet, savory, crunchy goodness. The other benefits are just gravy.
Easy. While in a perfect world I always eat local, I don’t hesitate to use options like pre-cut broccoli when I’m busy. Even pre-crumbled bacon. Yup, gotta live in the real world!
Healthy. Full of healthy broccoli with some fruit and nuts, this is a nutritious salad option. I’ve even lowered the calories and increased the nutrition by using some yogurt in the dressing.
What You’ll Need
- Broccoli florets. This is the nutritious and tasty main ingredient.
- Pear or apple. Adds a light sweetness and nutrition.
- Walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds. Adds crunch and nutrition.
- Bacon bits or bacon substitute. Adds flavor.
- Dried cranberries. Adds nutrition and chewiness. You can use raisins or dried currants if you prefer.
- Red onion. Adds a savory note that helps balance the salad.
- Mayonnaise. This is the main dressing ingredient.
- Greek yogurt. Lightens the dressing and adds nutrition.
- Apple cider vinegar. Adds a hint of balanced tartness to the dressing.
- Honey. Adds flavor and a sweet note to the dressing.
- Salt, pepper. Adds flavor.
- No special tools are needed.
Step by Step Directions
Chop ingredients as needed.
Combine salad ingredients.
Toss salad with dressing.
How to Serve
This falls into the category of what I call “casual salads.” These are (usually) vegetable-based salads that are right at home alongside sandwiches, burgers, and other informal foods. And since they don’t wilt when dressed, they are perfect to mix up ahead of time, then pack up for picnics, potlucks, and other fun events.
Some other favorite casual salads include my Classic Carrot Raisin Salad, Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad, Asian-Inspired Broccoli Slaw, or Easy Thai Carrot Salad.
And while I probably wouldn’t serve this at a very formal dinner, I wouldn’t hesitate to include it at an semi-formal garden party or a nice weekend dinner say with Whole Roast Chicken or Slow Cooker RIbs.
Variations and Special Diets
A favorite way I enjoy this is served over lettuce, so I get even more healthy goodness. That’s one of my mottos–add a veggie!
Some people like to add grated or chopped cheese, usually cheddar, to this. I prefer it without, though cheese would increase the protein and calcium.
I like this with nuts, like walnuts or pecans, but sunflower seeds are very commonly used. I prefer the flavor and find that nuts are less likely to wind up in a pool at the bottom of the serving bowl!
For a vegetarian salad, you can use one of the soy bacon bit substitutes that are readily available. And it’s even easy to turn this salad vegan. Besides the bacon substitute, use a vegan mayonnaise and yogurt in the dressing and maple syrup (or sugar or sweetener) instead of honey.
Preparation and Leftovers
Unlike a lettuce salad, this doesn’t turn limp and unappealing once it’s dressed. So leftovers can be kept sealed and refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Broccoli Bacon Salad is not suitable for freezing.
Tips & FAQs
Go organic on the pear or apple if you can. Those consistently make the dirty dozen section of the EWG’s rating system.
Pre-cut broccoli florets, even organic, are easy to find and inexpensive at retailers like Trader Joe’s and Costco.
If your broccoli (pre-cut or otherwise) has a lot of stems, you can use some of these in the salad. Cut the stems into smaller cubes, consider peeling if tough and make sure you don’t use so much that the stems dominate.
I typically use packaged pre-crumbled bacon bits in this. If you aren’t familiar with this, it is shelf stable until opened. After that I keep the resealable package in my freezer for up to a few months until they are used up. You can even find brands without any added nitrates.
If you are frying your own bacon for this, consider purchasing bacon ends at a discount. These aren’t as pretty for serving, but a bargain for making bacon crumbles.
Broccoli Bacon Salad
- 12 ounce broccoli florets 1 package, or about 5 cups
- 1 pear or apple , cored and cubed
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup bacon bits or bacon substitute
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 red onion diced, about ½ c
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt pepper
- Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a large salad bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix with dressing or serve dressing on the side.
Originally posted May, 2019.
Looking for more fun summer salads? Then check out these recipes from some of my blogging friends:
- Broccoli Bacon Salad by Art of Natural Living
- Easy Cucumber Onion Salad by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Fresh Summer Corn Salad by Home Sweet Homestead
- Layered Salad with Green Goddess Dressing by Delaware Girl Eats
- Lephet Thoke (Burmese Fermented Tea Leaf Salad) by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Libyan Bean and Artichoke Salad by Pandemonium Noshery
- Salmon Salad by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Tex-Mex Steak Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Thai Cucumber Salad by Cheese Curd In Paradise
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This Broccoli Bacon Salad recipe looks amazing! I love that it’s easy, healthy, and perfect for casual meals like picnics or potlucks. The addition of apples or pears is a great idea.
I love fresh salads like this one 🙂
I’m so glad I finally figured out how to make this Tandy!
Awesome salad Inger, I am loving all the fruits in it…great for this coming summer. Have a great week!
I love fruits in salads too Juliana! You have a great week also!
This sounds delicious, and a great change of pace for mine and my husband’s daily salads. We love those pre-cooked bacon bits too, it’s so much easier than trying to fry bacon every time.
I was soooo excited to spot those bacon bits April! Then we just had to keep making this delicious salad until they were used up 🙂
This is such a tasty looking salad! Using pear instead of apple is a nice twist. I love the red onion in here. I adds a bit of zing and balances the sweetness so nicely 🙂
Thanks Thao! I use pears more and more now–and totally agree on the red onion. I add it to salads a lot!
Now some people are not friendly with broccoli but I really enjoy it. We do it the Italian way which is called “twice cooked”, first steamed and then sauteed in olive oil
I’ll have to try that Cathy!
I love a good broccoli salad and this one has so many goodies in it!
I think I will try this with my home-cured pancetta. And the pear, for sure!
Oooo, yes, on that pancetta David!
Love broccoli salad. Had never considered adding apples or pears. Thanks for the idea.
The restaurant version that inspired this serves it over lettuce too, which really makes it healthy!