Summer Broccoli Crunch Salad

If you’re headed out to a picnic our outdoor gathering, you’ll want to whip up this quick, easy and tasty Summer Broccoli Crunch Salad!

Broccoli salad in purple bowl on red wooden table
Broccoli crunch salad tastes better after it’s rested in the fridge for a day!

This healthy salad is loaded with good stuff: broccoli, apples, Craisins™(which are dried cranberries), red onion and nuts! All mixed in a creamy, sweet and tangy mayonnaise-based dressing. This low carb broccoli salad can be made with no bacon easily modified with other simple ingredients as well.

The best thing is, it’s an easy recipe you can make it in advance and it tastes better the next day and it’s a perfect side dish for holidays or summer parties!

There are a million spins on this classic and easy broccoli salad. This version is inspired by Whole Foods Market’s infamous Broccoli Crunch salad with a few variations. 

Broccoli Crunch pairs well with just about everything! Ribs, fried catfish, ham or fried chicken! It’s also good as a side to a sandwich or as a snack!

Here’s what you’ll need

1-2 big crowns of broccoli (I recommend fresh broccoli but you can use frozen broccoli as well), 1 large honeycrisp apple, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. (Bacon is optional)

If you want to add nuts or seeds, consider chopped walnuts, pecans or roasted sunflower seeds. See Variations below.

How to make it

In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and set aside; chop onions and apple; place both in the dressing. (The apple cider vinegar in the dressing keeps the apples from turning brown.)

Blanch the broccoli for a few minutes, submerge it an ice bath; pat dry with a paper towel and add to a large mixing bowl.

After you’ve blanched and chopped the raw broccoli florets into very small pieces, make the creamy dressing, dump all the ingredients into the mixing bowl with the broccoli, drizzle the mayonnaise dressing,  combine well, cover and refrigerate – That’s it!

Yes, this recipe calls for blanching the broccoli, and here’s why:

Ingredients in metal bowl unmixed
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix it up!

What does blanching the broccoli do?

Blanching ensures that the overall color remains bright green and the broccoli is a crunchy texture. 

Blanching also removes any debris or dirt that might be stuck in the florets. It only takes about 5-minutes, but it’s totally worth it. 

To stop the cooking process, immediately submerge the crowns in ice cold water. 

Broccoli in ice cold water

How to blanch broccoli

Bring a large stockpot of water to high heat; place uncut broccoli crowns in water and let sit for 3 minutes; remove and submerge in ice bath. After about 5 minutes, remove broccoli from the ice bath, pat it dry with a paper towel and chop the broccoli crowns into small florets-try to cut them about the same size.

Note: if you use frozen broccoli, skip the blanching step. Frozen broccoli is already blanched.

Yield

One large crown makes about 4 cups of Summer Broccoli Crunch salad. If you’re feeding a crowd or taking this to a potluck or picnic, double the recipe and dressing.

Recipe Tips

  • Choose the darkest green crown; sometimes you’ll see light green areas on the surface; try to avoid these, as they’ve aged and/or been exposed to light.
  • Pick from the back of the broccoli bin; broccoli is light-sensitive, as is cauliflower, so try to get one that hasn’t been exposed to the fluorescent lighting
  • The crowns should be dark green in color and firm; if it feels soft or soggy and is a light lime green color, don’t get that one…look in the back of the vegetable bin for the darkest crowns.
  • I find fresh or prepackaged best because I can actually see how much broccoli I’m getting.
  • The frozen bags don’t seem to have enough and I never know how much to buy, so I buy too much.

Variations

As I mentioned earlier, there are thousands of ways to make this classic Summer Broccoli Crunch salad. Here are some ideas you might want to consider for this tasty vegetable salad:

  • Don’t have dried cranberries? Substitute with raisins or golden raising
  • Don’t have honey? Substitute with a little maple syrup
  • Substitute plain yogurt for mayonnaise
  • Add chopped pecans, walnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts or roasted and salted, crunchy sunflower seeds
  • Chopped carrots, cauliflower, red pepper
  • Season with red pepper flakes for a bit of heat
  • Add diced ham, cooked crispy bacon or small bites of canadian bacon (or top with bacon bits)
  • Add shredded or cubed cheddar cheese

Serving suggestions

If you take this dish to outdoor family gatherings or a summer BBQ, place the serving bowl in a larger bowl full of ice so the mayonnaise won’t turn rancid

Serve in individual ramekins or parfait cups for ease and presentation (by the time the third person has scooped into the salad, it doesn’t look as appetizing)

Serve with a slotted spoon if you accidentally put too much dressing on it

Make ahead and storage

You can make this version of broccoli salad up to three days in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap. Freezing is not recommended.

If you don’t have room in your refrigerator for a big bowl, divide the salad up into large zipper storage bags – they take up less space.

Close up of broccoli salad

This refreshing no bacon Broccoli salad is always a crowd pleaser and a hit at holiday dinners, weeknight dinners, summer BBQ’s or family reunions! 

If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating! I love to hear from you! Thank you!

Broccoli Crunch Salad in purple bowl on red wooden table

Summer Broccoli Crunch Salad (no bacon)

Crunchy broccoli florets nestled in a sweet and tangy mayonnaise dressing with apples, pecans, onions and dried cranberries.
5 from 6 votes
Print Text Recipe Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Refrigerator at least: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 4 cups
Author: Anecia Hero

Ingredients 

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 large broccoli crown
  • 1 large apple , Honeycrisp, Gala or Fuji
  • ¼ cup red onion , chopped finely
  • ¾ cup Craisins , or raisins
  • 1 cup pecans , chopped (optional)
  • 5 strips bacon (optional), fried and crumbled

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of salt and pepper , to taste

Instructions 

Blanch the Broccoli

  • If using fresh broccoli, blanch it first. If using frozen broccoli, rinse and thaw but do not blanch it.
    How to blanch broccoli: Bring large stockpot of water to high heat; place broccoli crown in water for 5-minutes
    1 large broccoli crown
  • Remove crown and submerge in ice water for 5-minutes
  • Once cooled, remove, pat dry with paper towel and cut florets into bite sized pieces; set aside

Make the Salad

  • If you're adding bacon to the salad, fry, drain and chop it; then set aside
    5 strips bacon
  • Mix dressing ingredients in large mixing bowl
    1 cup mayonnaise, 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey
  • Chop onion, pecans and apple into small pieces and add to the dressing
    1 large apple, ¼ cup red onion, 1 cup pecans
  • Add chopped broccoli and dried cranberries to the mixture; combine well
    ¾ cup Craisins
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour
  • When ready to serve, stir salad ingredients; taste for salt and pepper and serve
    pinch of salt and pepper

Notes

Make the dressing first; cut the apple (leave the skin on) while the broccoli is blanching; put the cut apple immediately into the dressing (the apple cider vinegar will keep it from browning)
Bacon is optional; if you don’t want to fry bacon, use real bacon bits
If you’re making this for a crowd, double the recipe: use 2 big crowns and double the dressing
Add whatever else you want to the salad
If you add too much dressing, serve the salad individually or with a slotted spoon

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1cupCalories: 740kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 7gFat: 61gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 408mgPotassium: 686mgFiber: 9gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 1028IUVitamin C: 139mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 2mg
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