How to Make Broccoli Salad

This Broccoli Salad recipe will be your sensational go-to salad for potlucks picnics and cookouts that readers call, “amazing, “wow”, and “must make!” It boasts a modern fresh and crunchy twist including sweet strawberries, tangy feta, salty sunflower seeds and yogurt based Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing!  This broccoli salad recipe is quick and easy to make, make ahead friendly (AKA great for entertaining), stays super fresh, doesn’t wilt, and always disappears in a flash.

Broccoli Salad Recipe Video

top view of easy Broccoli Salad in a wood bowl with creamy dressing


What makes this the Best Broccoli Salad Recipe

  • NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S SALAD!  The combination will make your taste buds giddy! Standard potluck Broccoli Salads typically include mayonnaise, red onion, raisins, cheddar cheese and bacon but my Broccoli Salad swaps the raisins for dried cranberries, the cheddar with feta and the sweet mayo dressing for a Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing. 
  • CROWD FAVORITE!  Everyone loves this recipe – it’s always the first to go at every gathering.
  • BEST BROCCOLI SALAD DRESSING.  The light yet creamy dressing is made with part vanilla yogurt for added tanginess and a healthier spin.
  • QUICK AND EASY. Ready in under 20 minutes!   
  • MAKE AHEAD FRIENDLY.  Make it in advance for zero last-minute stress!  In fact, it tastes even better chilled and won’t wilt, weep or get soggy.
  • VERSATILE.  Tons of variations included!
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Broccoli Salad ingredients

Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to make this ridiculously delicious broccoli salad recipe (measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Broccoli: You will need a heaping 5 cups fresh broccoli florets, about 2-3 heads of broccoli.  Make sure the broccoli is fresh.  It should be firm, never soft or slimy; green, not yellow or even a slight yellow hue; and smell fresh, never bitter or sour.  After you select your fresh broccoli, it should stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days. You can chop the broccoli yourself or pick up some pre-chopped broccoli florets at the grocery store.  The pre-chopped florets will likely need to be chopped smaller for the salad.
  • Strawberries: Use ripe but firm strawberries so they are sweet and juicy but not mushy in any way.
  • Apple: Use a sweet apple such as Fuji or Honeycrisp for their bright, sweet crunchiness. If you prep the salad ahead of time, don’t worry, the apples won’t turn brown due to the dressing.
  • Pear: Select a ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears that gives just a little when squeezed.
  • Avocado: This is optional but the creaminess is fantastic. Select a ripe avocado that just gives slightly so it won’t fall apart in the salad.
  • Dried cranberries:  Also known as craisins, these are plump, sweet, juicy gems in the salad – you will crave them in every bite!  I definitely don’t recommend skipping, they are a key, balancing component.  Dried cranberries are often located next to the salad condiments/toppers at the end of the produce aisle or they’re sold in the bulk bins at Sprouts. 
  • Red onion:  This adds a zippy tangy freshness.  Finely dice the red onions so they aren’t too strong. If you prefer a milder onion flavor, soak the diced onions in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
  • Feta: This is a white cheese made from sheep’s, goat’s milk or a combination of the two.  Feta made from goat’s milk (Greek feta) has the strongest flavor – sharp, salty, tangy, and lemony.  Feta made from sheep’s milk is the richest and creamiest and less tangy.  You can use either type of feta for this recipe. Look for blocks of feta with the specialty cheeses at your grocery store.  You may also substitute with crumbles but blocked feta tends to be more flavorful. 
  • Sunflower seeds:  These are a secret ingredient that I add to every salad.  They are addicting on their own which translates into addictive salad!  Make sure to purchase roasted and salted sunflower seeds for the best flavor.
Best Broccoli Salad tossed in creamy dressing in a wood bowl with avocados and stawberries

broccoli salad variations

Broccoli Salad is extremely flexible and can be made with a variety of ingredients, as long as you maintain the balance of sweet, savory, creamy and crunchy in the form of fruit, dried berries, nuts and seeds.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Cheese: Feta: Use your favorite crumbled cheese such as feta, goat cheese or Gorgonzola for its creamy, sharp, salty bite.  You could also swap in a milder cheese like Gouda, but I think you’ll be missing the tangy bite.
  • Fruit:  Swap the fruit for other sweet fruits such as seedless grapes, blueberries, chopped pineapple, clementine oranges, chopped peaches, etc. 
  • Add Nuts: Choose your favorite nuts such as pecans, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, or macadamia nuts.  In addition, try some toasted coconut possibly with pineapple and cashews or macadamia nuts for a tropical flair.
  • Dried fruit: Try swapping the dried cranberries for about any dried fruit such as raisins, dried apricots or dried cherries.
  • Vegetables: You can add practically any vegetable such as shredded carrots, chopped kale, red bell peppers, cucumbers, etc. 
  • Protein:  Swap some of the broccoli for protein such as shredded rotisserie chicken, grilled shrimp, or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Dressing: You can swap the red wine vinegar with lemon juice for a lemon dressing.
  • Make it vegan/vegetarian:  For vegan or plant-based, omit the cheese or use dairy-free cheese, use vegan mayo and dairy free yogurt. 
Pouring creamy mayonnaise dressing over cold broccoli salad

How to make Broccoli Salad

This broccoli salad recipe is one of the easiest recipes to make! Simply add all of the salad Ingredients to a large bowl except avocados. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the Dressing ingredients. Add desired amount of Dressing to Salad and toss until evenly coated!

The salad is best if chilled for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. Toss with avocados just before serving.

top view of best Broccoli Salad in a wood bowl on a wood platter with pears, apples, craisins, avocados, strawberries and creamy dressing
combining best broccoli salad in a wood bowl with wood tongs with creamy dressing

What to Serve with Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad is wonderfully versatile – it goes with practically everything!  The more appropriate question is, what doesn’t broccoli salad go with?  It’s fabulous at potlucks, picnics and barbecues alongside all of your favorite cookout foods but it’s equally delicious alongside comforting dinner dishes and it holds its own as part of your holiday spread.  Here are just a few recipes Broccoli Salad recipe goes with, but the possibilities are endless!

Sweet Broccoli Salad Recipe FAQs

Do you have to cook the broccoli for broccoli salad?

Nope!  Raw broccoli is the standard for broccoli salads and gives the broccoli salad its wonderful signature texture. If you’ve never had broccoli salad before, the fresh texture is swoon worthy – and it stays crunchy for days!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tossed a salad (because I have to add dressing to my salads for photo shoots) and can’t eat all of it because it gets soggy – but not this broccoli salad – it is a texture lover’s dream plus we’re cutting the broccoli into small pieces so it’s not a crunch overload.

Is broccoli salad good for you?

Your body loooooves broccoli!   Broccoli is low in calories but a great source of vitamins B, K and C, a good source of folic acid, beta-carotene.   It also  provides  B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, fiber, potassium, and zinc.  Another fun fact, one cup of broccoli contains as much vitamin C as an orange!   Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which offer potent anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer health benefits. All the other ingredients in this Salad are healthy for you too from the strawberries to the avocados to the pears.

Should broccoli be washed for broccoli salad?

Yes, especially if eaten raw like in this Broccoli Salad. Broccoli needs to be washed to remove dirt, pesticides, and even bugs.

How do you wash broccoli for broccoli salad?

To enjoy raw broccoli, first clean the head of broccoli by running it under cold water. Use your fingers to rub clean any noticeably dirty spots.  You can also immerse the head of broccoli into water and rinse or into a water/vinegar bath.  Gently but thoroughly pat the broccoli with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels until it’s completely dry. Wet broccoli will result in a watery Broccoli Salad.

How do you cut broccoli for Broccoli Salad?

Lay a head of broccoli on its side on a cutting board.  Slice off the head of broccoli, close to the crown to cut the broccoli florets away from the main stem. Slice each floret into pieces, about ½-inch wide, cutting off any excess stem as needed.

Can I eat broccoli raw?

Yes, please do! Broccoli is a delicious, nutrient-packed vegetable that can be eaten safely raw or cooked.  Both the florets and stems are completely safe to eat, however, the stems may be stringy and tougher to chew. If you’re looking for the healthiest way to consume broccoli, however, raw is the way to go. Different cooking methods i.e., sautéing, steaming, boiling, or roasting can affect its nutritional value.  For example, broccoli is rich in vitamin C and chlorophyll, which is highly heat sensitive, and can be depleted based on the cooking method. Stir frying broccoli can reduce the Vitamin C as much as 38%. Broccoli is also rich in the natural plant compound sulforaphane which has been linked to various health benefits and may help protect against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and digestive issues.  Recent research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that cooking broccoli locks sulforaphane in, making it unavailable to your body. Or in other words, it’s easier for your body to absorb sulforaphane from raw broccoli than cooked broccoli.

up close of broccoli tossed with creamy dressing with mayonnaise in a wood bowl being scooped by a wood spoon

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combining best broccoli salad in a wood bowl with wood tongs with creamy dressing

Best Broccoli Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Broccoli Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing will be one of the best salads you ever make – guaranteed! This Broccoli Salad is one of my favorite salads – ever.  It’s the perfect easy, make ahead, texture packed side dish or potluck favorite!   It’s packed with fresh strawberries, creamy avocado, crunchy pears, apples, salty sunflower seeds, sweet dried cranberries and tangy feta! The textures and flavors of this Broccoli Salad are out of this world!  And the dressing!!!
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Total Time: 15 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes

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Strawberry Broccoli Salad

  • 5 heaping cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries (a little less than 1 lb)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1 sweet apple, like Fuji, chopped
  • 1 large avocado, chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta

Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)
  • 1/2 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar (2 for sweeter)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper


  • Add all of the Salad Ingredients to a large bowl except avocados.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the Dressing ingredients. Add desired amount of Dressing to Salad and toss until evenly coated. Best if chilled for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. Toss with avocados just before serving.



Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!
*The dried cranberries make the salad in my opinion, so I wouldn’t skip them!

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  1. Margaret says

    I’m planning on making this for our Easter family meal and was wondering if using bottled Poppy Seed dressing works?

    • Jen says

      Yes! As long as you love the dressing, it should be great. It won’t be as creamy, so just expect that. Enjoy!

  2. Margaret says

    Just to let you know, the bottled dressing didn’t work. We didn’t care for the whole salad, so I made the dressing as stated in
    your recipe and WOW, that is a must!! It was a huge hit with everyone, even the littles!!

    • Jen says

      Good to know, sorry about the dressing mishap. I’m so glad you love the recipe as written, thanks Margaret!

  3. Cathy says

    I made this salad for the first time tonight to go with our Easter dinner.
    It was delicious. My family loved it.
    Every recipe I have tried of yours has been a hit!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I’m so glad that you’ve found so many recipes you enjoy! Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

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