Whip up a homemade take on a deli favorite with this fast and fresh recipe for The Best Broccoli Salad with Bacon. It has the perfect ratio of veggies to creamy dressing and is loaded with bacon, cheese and grapes. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!
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This fresh take on classic broccoli salad ditches the dried cranberries in favor of juicy red grapes. Just imagine crisp broccoli (no blanching here!), shredded mozzarella cheese, seedless grapes, bacon bits and almonds all tossed in a creamy dressing.
Sounds strange, right? But one taste of this updated take on a deli counter classic and I guarantee you will be hooked on this family favorite recipe for all of your summer barbecue, fall fest, winter potluck and spring shenanigan needs! It’s the ultimate fusion of fresh, sweet, savory, creamy and crunchy in a single bite.
Why It’s a Potluck Favorite: The Perfect Side Dish
- Ready in 25 minutes.
- Incredibly easy and requires minimal cooking. We’re talking crisp bacon, make dressing, dump on ingredients, stir.
- Tastes even better when made ahead.
- Stars the best creamy homemade dressing that’s made with just four ingredients.
- Can be enjoyed as a side dish or even as a light meal on its own.
- Easy to transport, making it ideal for summer potlucks, barbecues and cookouts. Simply transfer it to an airtight container or securely sealed bowl for easy transportation.
- Always a hit! Whenever I’m invited to a potluck, this is the dish I’m asked to bring – everyone loves it.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the ingredients you’ll need to bring this delicious salad to life:
- Broccoli: You’ll need 3 medium heads of broccoli, as they provide the base for the salad. Do not blanch the broccoli! What happens when you blanch the broccoli (either in an attempt to brighten its color or slightly tenderize it), is that you inevitably cannot dry it well enough to avoid any excess water from entering the equation. And water + this super-creamy dressing = not BFFs.
- Scallions: Slice them thinly, both the white and green parts, to distribute their flavor throughout the salad. Scallions add a subtle onion note without overpowering the other ingredients.
- Red onion: With 1 cup of diced red onion, you’ll infuse the salad with a distinct and slightly pungent flavor. The red onion also contributes a vibrant hue to the dish. Dice the onion finely to ensure even distribution and to prevent it from overpowering the other flavors.
- Mozzarella cheese: The mild and creamy flavor of mozzarella pairs well with the other ingredients and adds depth of flavor to the salad.
- Seedless grapes: To bring a burst of natural sweetness, juiciness and refreshing contrast to the salad, you’ll need 4 cups of red or green grapes, halved.
- Sliced almonds: To add crunch and a nutty flavor, include ½ cup of sliced almonds.
- Bacon: Arguably the best part of any dish! Cook the bacon until crispy, then crumble it into small pieces. The bacon adds a smoky, savory element to the salad.
- Swap the red onion for milder, sweeter yellow onion.
- Ditch the grapes and add in dried cranberries or raisins.
- Experiment with different cheeses, including shredded sharp cheddar cheese, crumbled feta or pepperjack.
- Instead of almonds, opt for sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or toasted pine nuts.
- Swap the bacon with grilled chicken for a different protein option.
The creamy dressing brings all the ingredients together. It’s a touch sweet and a touch tangy. Best of all, it’s made with just four simple ingredients:
- Mayonnaise: Miracle whip also works. If you prefer a lighter dressing, you can substitute part of the mayonnaise with plain Greek yogurt.
- Sugar: A sugar substitute, such as honey, maple syrup or Stevia, will work well in this recipe.
- White vinegar: For a slightly milder and fruitier taste, replace the white vinegar with apple cider vinegar.
- Milk: Any variety of milk will work in this recipe.
Whipping up this broccoli salad is incredibly easy and requires minimal effort. With a few simple steps, you can have a vibrant and delicious side dish (or light lunch!) ready in no time.
- Prepare the ingredients. Cut the heads of broccoli into small, bite-sized florets. Submerge them under cold water, drain and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Slice and dice the other ingredients according to the detailed recipe below. Cook the bacon and crumble into pieces.
- Combine the ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, add the broccoli florets, sliced scallions, diced red onion, shredded mozzarella cheese and halved red grapes. Toss the ingredients gently to ensure an even distribution.
- Make the dressing. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, white vinegar, and milk until the sugar is dissolved and the dressing is smooth and creamy. Taste and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
- Dress the salad: Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture. Toss gently to combine.
- Add the finishing touches: Sprinkle the sliced almonds and crumbled bacon over the salad.
- Serve or refrigerate: Serve immediately or store, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge until ready to serve. Before serving, give it a final toss to redistribute the dressing. This salad is best enjoyed chilled.
Pro Tip: It’s best to make this salad a day in advance and store it, covered, in the fridge to allow the flavors to develop.
- Wash Your Broccoli Ahead of Time: I recommend washing your broccoli as far ahead of time as possible to allow it to thoroughly dry.
- Make Ahead for Enhanced Flavor: While this easy broccoli salad can be served immediately, I highly recommend making it ahead of time and letting it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, to really let the flavors blend together and intensify.
- Add Nuts Just Before Serving: To maintain their crunch and texture, add the sliced almonds to the salad just before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Broccoli salad will last 1-2 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Without the dressing, it will last about 3-4 days.
It’s best to avoid cooking or blanching the broccoli as you’ll never be able to dry it thoroughly enough, and excess water won’t mix well with the creamy dressing. So, keep the broccoli raw and crisp for the perfect texture in your salad.
Yes, this salad tastes even better when made ahead! Store it, covered, in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to fully develop. Tip: I like to add the sliced almonds just before serving to prevent them from becoming soggy.
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- 3 medium heads broccoli, cut into florets
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 cups red grapes, halved
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons whole or nonfat milk
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- In a large bowl, stir together the broccoli florets, sliced scallions, diced red onion, shredded mozzarella cheese and grapes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, white vinegar and milk. Taste and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
- Add the dressing to the bowl with the broccoli, tossing to combine, then stir in the sliced almonds and crumbled bacon. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Do not blanch the broccoli. You’ll never be able to dry it thoroughly enough, and excess water won’t mix well with the creamy dressing. So, keep the broccoli raw and crisp for the perfect texture in your salad.
- It’s best to make this salad a day in advance and store it, covered, in the fridge to allow the flavors to develop.
- Broccoli salad will last 1-2 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Without the dressing, it will last about 3-4 days.
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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.