This healthy Broccoli Salad is crunchy, fresh, and full of flavor! It has just a touch of creaminess and lots of texture.
One of the things that has worked best for me when trying to eat healthier is simply having healthy food ready to eat in the fridge.
Salads like this are perfect for this, as they are meant to be eaten cold, and a batch will keep for several days.
I’ve tried a few variations of broccoli salad (my 2nd favorite being this Asian broccoli salad), but this way is the most classic.
It gets a little bit of creaminess from a simple mayonnaise-based dressing, but as you can see from the photos, it’s not overdressed.
Add a few flavorful and nicely textured ingredients like crispy bacon, toasted walnuts, and chewy raisins to the mix, and you’ve got a delicious and healthy side that’s Whole 30 friendly and low carb.
How to Make Broccoli Salad:
First we need to cook the broccoli perfectly so that the raw edge has been taken away, but it’s still crunchy.
The best way to achieve this is to blanch the broccoli florets.
This means we’ll drop the broccoli into a big pot of boiling water for no more than 60 seconds:
When blanching the broccoli florets, season the water heavily with salt, just like you would season a pasta water.
Since the broccoli is in the water for such a short time, it’s important the water is generously salty. I recommend at least a few tablespoons dissolved into the water, but tasting it is the best way to go. It should taste about as salty as ocean water.
Then quickly drain and rinse with cold water for 2 minutes, to stop the cooking process:
The blanched broccoli will be gorgeously bright green, with a crisp and crunchy texture, but none of the harshness of raw broccoli.
Next, dry the broccoli well, otherwise the salad will be watery.
First I spin the broccoli in a salad spinner, then blot dry further with a kitchen towel.
Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl with toasted walnuts, raisins, crispy cooked bacon, thinly sliced red onion, mayonnaise, a touch of vinegar, salt, and pepper:
Feel free to riff on the ingredients you chose to mix in. I have also seen people add sunflower seeds, grated cheddar cheese, and pecans.
For the dressing, it is so important to use a great-tasting mayonnaise.
And honestly, that is why I always make my own mayonnaise from scratch (even though I’d love the convenience of buying it, I’m too stubborn about the taste. Many of the storebought ones taste strongly of old eggs to me).
Whatever route you choose, make sure you’re using a mayonnaise that you enjoy since it will be coating all of the ingredients.
Mix everything together to combine:
Ideally, let the broccoli salad chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes before serving. This allows the flavor to meld together.
- 2 lbs broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/2 cup jumbo mixed raisins
- 8 strips bacon cooked and crumbled
- 1/2 red onion* thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp good quality vinegar (such as white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar)
- freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a big pot of water to a boil and season it heavily with salt, like you would a pasta water. If you taste a spoonful, it should taste like the ocean.
- Add the broccoli florets to the water and cook for 60 seconds, until bright green in color.
- Immediately drain the broccoli florets, then rinse with cold water for 2 minutes, until the broccoli has cooled down.
- Transfer the broccoli to a salad spinner, and spin the broccoli dry. Then blot dry further with a kitchen towel, to prevent any excess water from diluting the dressing.
- Combine the broccoli with the toasted walnuts, raisins, bacon, onion, mayonnaise, vinegar, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and black pepper (or to taste). Stir well.
- Let the broccoli salad chill for at least 30-60 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to meld. Enjoy!
Post updated in January 2019. Originally published January 2014.