Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (2024)

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By: The Chunky Chefpublished: 03/09/2020

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The ultimate broccoli salad is made with crunchy almonds, bacon, sunflower seeds, tart cranberries, and a creamy citrus poppyseed dressing! Easy to make ahead (in fact it tastes better that way), it’s great to make for potlucks, bbq’s and other Spring/Summer gatherings!

This Broccoli Salad is one of those recipes we have with so many of our family potlucks and bbq’s. We also love easy side dish recipes like my Fail-Proof Roasted Corn on the CobandBest Potluck Pasta Salad. This is one of mySide DishesI know you’ll want to keep on hand!

Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (1)


Broccoli salad is a very popular Spring/Summer side dish, and everyone usually has their own way of making it.

My version uses dried cranberries, sliced almonds, roasted sunflower seeds (although pumpkin seeds would be yummy as well), sharp cheddar cheese cubes instead of shredded cheese, and is all tossed together in a lightened up creamy citrus poppyseed dressing.

Every bite of this broccoli salad will be full of great flavors and textures, which all compliment one another beautifully!

My Grandma always used to make a fabulous broccoli salad, and it was always one of my favorite side dishes when we’d get together.

This isn’t her recipe, but based off of it, with some added crunch, and a citrusy spin on the dressing!

Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (2)


  1. Briefly blanch broccoli florets, then cool in ice bath and dry off.This helps soften the broccoli just slightly, as well as flavor it a bit. I’ll go into this more below.
  2. While broccoli is drying, add chopped red onion to a bowl of cold water and let sit 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.Soaking the onion in the cold water helps take some of the “bite” out of the raw onion.
  3. Combine mayo, cider vinegar, sugar, citrus zest, citrus juice, poppyseeds and pepper. Set dressing aside.
  4. Add broccoli florets, red onion, crumbled bacon, cranberries, almonds, sunflower seeds and cheese. Toss with dressing.I like to toss the salad with about half of the dressing, and add more if I want it. You can always add more, but can’t take any away! Plus you can save any extra dressing for tossing right before serving.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.This helps all the flavors really combine, and lets the dressing really soak into the salad ingredients.
  6. Toss and serve cold.Right before serving, I like to toss the salad with some of the leftover dressing to freshen it up.

Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (3)


  • BLANCHING THE BROCCOLI – as I mentioned above, it does help soften the crunchy raw broccoli slightly, but it also flavors it from the inside out – like when you boil pasta! Just bring some water to a boil, add the chopped fresh broccoli and boil it for about 20 seconds. Then transfer the broccoli to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the broccoli on paper towels, and allow it to continue to air dry while you make the dressing and chop other ingredients. If the broccoli isn’t dry when you try to toss the salad with the dressing, it’ll slide right off the broccoli and won’t be nearly as flavorful.


  • TOPPINGS – this is your broccoli salad, so feel free to add in whichever toppings sound best to you!
  • DRESSING – a lot of broccoli salad recipes call for more sugar, so feel free to taste the dressing and adjust per your tastes!
  • VEGETARIAN – you can omit the bacon for a vegetarian-friendly version of this recipe.


I love making this broccoli salad ahead of time for parties! It can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time – just keep it refrigerated in an airtight container.


Leftovers should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 5 days.

Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (4)

This broccoli salad is one of those recipes that’s great for parties, potlucks, and even a summer dinner… but also for holidays! Easter is a great time to break out a dish like this one!

Speaking of Easter, some other dishes that would be perfect alongside this salad are:

  • Copycat HoneyBaked Ham
  • Cheesy Brussels sprouts with Bacon
  • Garlic Parmesan Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
  • No-Boil Mashed Potatoes
  • Cheesy Funeral Potatoes
  • My Mom’s Classic Carrot Cake
  • Peach Raspberry Lemonade
  • Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Dip

Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (5)



Recipe originally published in Mar. 2017, and has been updated in Mar. 2020 with additional information.

Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!

Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (6)

Broccoli Salad Recipe

4.34 from 36 votes

Author: The Chunky Chef

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 1 minute minute

Total Time: 16 minutes minutes

Calories: 408

Servings: 8 servings

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The ultimate broccoli salad is made with crunchy almonds, bacon, sunflower seeds, tart cranberries, and a creamy citrus poppyseed dressing!


  • 4 1/2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into small florets about 2 heads of broccoli
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries (reduced sugar would work too)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cut into very small cubes (or shredded if you prefer)


  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • pinch of black pepper


  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Chop broccoli into very small florets and set aside. Fill a large bowl with cold water and a cup of ice cubes.

  • Add a generous pinch of salt to boiling water and add broccoli. Boil for 20 seconds. Drain broccoli and transfer to prepared bowl with ice water. Let broccoli sit in cold water for a few minutes, until cool. Drain and lay broccoli out onto some paper towels to drain. Allow to continue air drying while you prepare other parts of the recipe.

  • Add finely chopped red onion to a small bowl of cold water and let sit 5 minutes, then drain. This takes some of the "bite" out of the raw onion.

  • To a small mixing bowl, add poppyseed dressing ingredients, then whisk together until smooth and combined. Set aside.

  • To a large mixing bowl, add dried broccoli florets, bacon, drained raw onion, cranberries, almonds, sunflower seeds, and cheddar cheese. Toss with citrus poppyseed dressing (start with about half the dressing, and increase to your liking).

  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Toss and serve.

Want to save this recipe for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own recipe box!

Chef Tips

Letting the broccoli salad sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or more allows the flavors to really combine, and will make for a more flavorful salad. Can be made up to 24 hours in advance, which makes it great for a party!


Nutrition Disclaimer

The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (7)

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Hey there! I'm Amanda. Wife, mother, photography nerd, and bacon lover! I believe that delicious meals should be easy to make. Now that you’re here, stay a bit, browse a few recipes, and let’s get cookin’!

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  1. Pam Stralow says

    OMG! This is fabulous! I never blanched broccoli before for a salad. What a game changer plus it’s such a pretty green when you do that as well. The dressing is out of this world!!!! It is refreshing and so yummy. I doubled the recipe because it doesn’t make a big amount and I was making it for a party. Thank you for this recipe! It couldn’t be better!


  2. Victoria says

    Delicious! Used Greek yogurt and it worked really well!


  3. Mary DeLuise says

    I made the broccoli citrus salad and instead of using mayo for the dressing I used avocado and added a little sesame oil. The salad was delicious. I will make it again!


  4. Barb D says

    Beautiful salad for Christmas. Substituted pomegranate seeds for cranberries, added some drained mandarin oranges. Used less dressing and refrigerated 1/2 day before serving. Delicious and colorful. Merry Christmas


  5. Krystal says

    I’ve made a broccoli salad many times in the past for holidays but I have never made it with the lemon/orange zest. It is delicious and I will definitely make it again this way. It gives it a lighter taste and a little zing. Loved it! Thanks for sharing the recipe.


  6. Diane says

    Have you ever made this with fat free Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise? My husband and I do not really like mayonnaise and I try to make recipes as healthy as possible.


    • The Chunky Chef says

      I haven’t tested this recipe using Greek yogurt, so I can’t say for certain how well it would work, although I think it would be just fine. If you do some experimenting, I’d love to know how it turns out 🙂


  7. Amy says

    Made this broccoli salad (doubled recipe) for a potluck and it was delicious — received many compliments.

    I added an extra tablespoon of ACV + added extra fresh squeezed lemon and orange juices to thin the dressing which made it very light and fresh.

    I also skipped the cheese (But only because I forgot it! Whoops!)


  8. Jm says

    Made this for potluck, many compliments and now my husbands favorite way to eat broccoli. Thanks


  9. kk says

    delicious! Husbakd made for me! Thanks, kathy k


  10. Jo Melville says

    Yum! I left the broccoli raw. Great combination of flavours and textures. I didn’t have bacon but added some hard boiled egg on the top. Dressing is fabulous. Thank you!


  11. Del says

    Delicious recipe. Skip the sugar in the dressing.


    • Erica Maldonado says

      I was just looking for what to do with my blend of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots and saw this. I could not find the apple cider vinegar so I subbed it with white balsamic and I didn’t have an orange so I used a mandarin for the zest and juiced it. Let’s just say my husband isn’t a veggie guy and he loved it. I was pleasantly surprised with the dressing. I will be making it all the time. Can’t wait to try it with the actual ingredients.


  12. Cara Gamble says

    This salad was amazing! I will be making it again!


  13. Nancy R. says

    This is the BEST Broccoli salad I have ever made!!! I was pressed for time and used bottled Poppyseed dressing. I did add some vinegar and the full amount of citrus. I would double the dressing if you make it. Unfortunately, I had to share!!


  14. Haley D Williams says

    What a great side dish or lunch! I cannot wait to try it!


Older Comments

Broccoli Salad Recipe (make-ahead potluck side!) - The Chunky Chef (2024)


How long does broccoli last in meal prep? ›

CRUCIFEROUS (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) While we tend to consider them relatively hearty, cruciferous vegetables can quickly turn once prepped. Stored the right way, fresh cut broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts will keep for about 4 days.

Can you use poppy seed dressing on broccoli salad? ›

Crunchy Broccoli Salad is a cheerful mix of broccoli, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, cheddar and our fan favorite Poppyseed Dressing. It's a surefire hit for potlucks and family meals.

Can you prep broccoli in advance? ›

Broccoli and Cauliflower: Can be washed and cut into florets 2 to 3 days in advance. Store in a sealed bag or container with an airtight lid in the refrigerator. Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts can dry out, so if you can, slice these as you go.

Can you meal prep broccoli for a week? ›

If you keep it dry, it will keep for a week or more! do- include cooked broccoli in your meal prep lunches in the fridge.

Why do you blanch broccoli for salad? ›

Blanching vegetables is a quick cooking method that retains nutrients. A quick blanch in boiling water also softens the broccoli just a bit, and brightens the green color. While I personally love raw broccoli salads, I know some do not. Blanched broccoli still has a crunchy snap, just a bit softer.

When not to use broccoli? ›

It might look limp, discolored or wrinkled, all signs that broccoli is going bad. You don't want to see off colors, either. Broccoli should be green, so it's a bad sign if the florets turn yellow or brown. If there are any visible mold spots, or if the broccoli looks mushy, it's definitely time to toss the bunch.

How do you keep broccoli fresh for meal prep? ›

If there's no room in the crisper, store it on a shelf near the back of the fridge. Properly wrapped, your broccoli can last up to a week in the fridge and maybe even a few days longer. But if you overbought or just can't use it up in time, you can also freeze broccoli to enjoy whenever you like.

How do you store broccoli for meal prep? ›

Place a paper towel at the bottom of a glass container to absorb excess moisture, and fill it with your chopped broccoli pieces. Cover the container and place the whole thing in the fridge to stay cold. You can also store cut broccoli in an airtight food storage container, such as a mason jar.

Can you meal prep veggies for the week? ›

Can you meal prep vegetables? Absolutely! The kind of meal prep we're talking about here has less to do with cooking the veggies ahead of time and more to do with getting them as ready as possible (think: washed, dried, chopped, etc.)

Is it safe to meal prep for 5 days? ›

However, it's important to meal prep safely and store the food in a proper way. When it comes to batch food storage, you have a few options. You can store meal prep food in the fridge for up to four days. Or, you can store prepped food in the freezer for a longer period of time.


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