The Best Broccoli Salad

From the famed, Aunt Marilyn, this broccoli salad is delicious, even evoking two thumbs up from my broccoli-salad-snob-of-a-husband (who I hope doesn’t get ridiculed for that since broccoli salad isn’t the most masculine food on the planet).

I was ecstatic when my Aunt Marilyn emailed me this recipe and was even more pleased with the result, which was a slight tweak from the original recipe. Personally, I get frightened by raisins in nearly anything (including cinnamon rolls, don’t hate me!) so I left those out, but I left it in the recipe with a clear “optional” since I know many people aren’t weird like me and would like the raisiny contrast. Additionally, I cut down the mayo in the recipe a bit and swapped out the red wine vinegar for balsamic to give the dressing a bit more depth of flavor. The salad ends up being lightly dressed in a subtly but not overpoweringly sweet and tangy dressing. My favorite part? The crunchy sunflower seeds and crisp bacon. Oh yes. Major yum.

This is definitely going straight to the Best Recipes archive. Broccoli salad needs to be part of everyone’s life, don’t you think?

The Best Broccoli Salad

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The Best Broccoli Salad

Yield: Serves 6-8

The Best Broccoli Salad

Note: This salad is extremely versatile. I, personally, omit the raisins, and all of the other ingredients can be upped or diminished according to your preference.

Ingredients

    Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup light or regular mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salad:
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 small shallot or red onion, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the salad ingredients together. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to coat all the ingredients with the sauce. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Right before serving, give the salad another good toss to recombine any dressing that may have settled at the bottom.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/the-best-broccoli-salad/
Recipe Source: adapted from my Aunt Marilyn

50 Responses to Broccoli Salad

  1. Kim in MD says:

    Oh my gosh…when my family was on vacation this summer we were served a broccoli salad for lunch. It was so good and I have been on the hunt for the recipe ever since. I think this may be it! How do you always know the recipe I am looking for, Mel? ;-)

  2. lisa says:

    I love this recipe!!! I also omit the raisins-BUT I do a mix of broccoli and cauliflower-the colors are beautiful!

  3. Jen Bontrager says:

    Raisins in cinnamon rolls? Yuck. The only way I like raisins is straight from the box to my mouth. You are not weird. :) Or maybe I’m weird too.

  4. Michele says:

    I’m not a fan of raisins, either, but I love to add dried cranberries to this salad. Super yum!

  5. Krysta says:

    I personally like the raisins, but if you don’t like raisins, I was going to suggest craisins, also. I have had the salad both ways (with raisins, and with craisins) and they are both delicious!

  6. Laura says:

    This is very similar to a salad my mom makes in the summer – love it so much!

  7. Rebecca says:

    I’m also an anti-raisin person. :) I usually cut purple grapes in half for my broccoli salad. That little sweetness from the grapes really gives it another layer of flavor!

  8. I haven’t made broccoli salad all summer – thanks for the reminder and I still have time to make before summer is officially over in my book next week :-(

    You are not alone I don’t like raisins in anything either….a raisin should be ate alone.

  9. I have a similar broccoli salad recipe that I got from my Aunt! It is one of our family favorites and graces out table at many holidays, Sunday dinners, and bbq’s. Our version doesn’t have cheese though (a great addition I might add!!) and I love the plump sweet golden raisins in this salad. I have made it with and without the raisins and the raisins defiantly add a special touch to this salad (in my humble opinion!)! : )

  10. Dorothy says:

    I also make this salad, but use the dried cranberries instead of raisins. I do add chopped walnuts or pecans, and I blanch the broccoli–I like it cooked just a little. Its a very good salad.

  11. Renee says:

    I LOVE broccoli salad!! It is one of my favorites. I personally love the raisins. :) I have to admit in a pinch I have used ranch dressing as the dressing before. I have never had it with the cheese. That sounds pretty yummy. Thanks so much!!

  12. Lacey says:

    This looks so very yummy! I make one that is similar but I add pomegranate seeds when they are in season. Thanks!

  13. StephenC says:

    Interesting that your comments include all the modifications I would incorporate into this salad. I’ll make it later this week and put it up on my blog – just so there’s something to argue about LOL.

  14. Jennifer G. says:

    I’ve always made it with halved purple grapes as well. I love the salty sweet combo of this type of salad. I will try this version next time I make it.

  15. Wow, this looks yummy!! Is there anything I can use in place of the mayonnaise? I have a picky husband who hates it :)

  16. Angie says:

    YUP! This is definitely going to be in my meal plan this week. I knew I was saving my broccoli for something special……

  17. Carmen says:

    I don’t like raisins in cinnamon rolls either, or most things. I do like golden raisins in this salad, however, lately, I have been using craisins. Yum!

  18. Carly says:

    My husband also loves broccoli salad and hates raisins. He will love this recipe.

  19. Sheila says:

    At our house, raisins are called dead bugs, so I leave them out. I like to put carrots in, though. It’s one of our favorite salads, and my kids expect me to make it for holidays (even though they don’t usually eat broccoli. I have also started to buy the bags of pre-cut broccoli and then I can make a half-batch if we aren’t having lots of people to eat it all!

  20. This sounds wonderful! Iv’e had something similar and could eat my weight in it! I think you’ve stepped it up a notch with your adaptations!

  21. I should not be reading all of these blogs before bedtime. It’s making me hungry! This salad looks absolutely delicious :D

  22. Mel says:

    Ashley – you might try plain Greek yogurt. I haven’t tried that substitution myself in this salad but I know it’s a common substitute for mayo.

  23. Anna says:

    This salad was delicious! I left out the cheese (to make it dairy free), red onions (don’t like to eat raw onions) and bacon (didn’t have any) and used almonds instead of sunflower seeds and added in some dried cranberries. Yum! Thanks for the great recipe!

  24. Megan says:

    My Uncle Mark has a very similar recipe that I grew up on. I think he’s vegetarian so used fake bacon bits, and his secret ingredient which is totally necessary to making it his signature salad is sesame sticks. Here’s a picture of the kind he uses: http://bit.ly/NZbH2E

    I’m not sure who sells them, probably Whole Foods and health food stores. They add great crunch and flavour. If anyone wants to try it, go for it!

  25. Harriet says:

    I made this last night….excellent. I’ve used many of your recipes and thank you because they are all great.

  26. Kathy F. says:

    MMM – swiss cheese works great too!

  27. karen says:

    It is fun to see something I already make on your site. Your recipes are fabulous and this one is too! I usually use bacon bits in a jar for this salad. Makes it nice and quick. The Hormel bacon bits are good. I am also getting a kick out of reading how many people are funny about their raisins! I never knew.

  28. Mmm I looove me some broccoli salad! YUM!

  29. Ciara says:

    Yum! I had some broccoli in the fridge that needed to be used up. I whipped this up last night and had it with lunch today. It was delish! The recipe I had been using was a bit too tangy for my taste. This was perfect. As always, Mel to the rescue!

  30. Cammee says:

    I never thought to try balsalmic vinegar in broccoli salad. See, that’s why you’re the expert! I like raisins, but usually just alone or in oatmeal raisin cookies. We use craisins in broccoli salad. I can’t wait to give this version a try.

  31. Rebecca says:

    Fantastic recipe…not too tangy or sweet. I didn’t use all the dressing on it, as I don’t like over mayo-ish salads. I made it just according to the recipe, just reserved some dressing for a salad another day. Everyone at dinner said, “I don’t like broccoli, but I love this salad!”

  32. Maria says:

    Yum. Mel, I love broccoli salad and when this caught my eye on pintrest, I had to come see if it was like my trustee recipe. I use redwine vinegar, but will have to give it a try with basalmic. My husband won’t eat raisins (what a snob) :) but I can occasionally sneak in some craisin without too much complaint. I love your site. Your pictures are all great.

  33. Melanie says:

    I made this a few days ago and it was fantastic! Thank you!!!!

  34. Valerie says:

    I just made this – now it’s chilling in the fridge – looks great!

  35. Michelle says:

    This really is the BEST broccoli salad! I made this last night and couldn’t stop myself from eating it right out of the bowl immediately after I mixed it up. I did add the raisins (just because I had some left over from another recipe), but left out the onions (my fiance hates them). I love that I didn’t really need to measure anything for this salad, other than the sauce, to which I ended up adding a bit extra balsalmic vinegar. Since I’m really, really lazy, I picked up a 2 lb bag of broccoli that was already cut up from Sam’s Club, which made the recipe so much easier to make. I’ll be making this salad over and over again – thank you for sharing!

  36. Anna says:

    I made this last night, leaving out the onion but definitely leaving in the golden raisins because I love them. Our gracious neighbor gave us a huge bag of broccoli from his garden, so I knew immediately that I had to try this recipe. It was superb! Thanks!

  37. Susan Papierski says:

    Broccoli salad

  38. Dianne Palmer says:

    Has anyone tried chilling the salad overnight?

  39. Sarah says:

    for those who don’t do mayo…sesame ginger dressing (in the produce isle) does the trick.

  40. Pauline says:

    I have made this salad several times and YES! It is “The Best Broccoli Salad!” I don’t like raisins, AT ALL, but did substitute craisins for the added sweetness. I also crumbled up some (uncooked) ramen noodles for added crunch. Since there are only two of us, I still make the entire recipe because it makes a great leftover snack….healthy, too.

  41. erika campbell says:

    this may sound strange, but instead of raisins I used some fresh pineapple (not a lot) and is was really tasty! Love the blog!

  42. Logan says:

    I have been using this recipe all summer! I can’t get enough! Everywhere I take it people demand the recipe!!!

  43. Gail SR says:

    This wonderful broccoli salad is full of surprises. I lightened mine by using light mayo and cutting down on anything with weight watcher points such as the mayo, sugar, cheese, raisins, sunflower seeds and bacon bits. I used 2% cheese. There were no golden raisins in the house, so I dumped in the last of my dried cranberries. So, so yummy even the next day!

  44. this is hands-down the best broccoli salad I’ve ever made. I kept getting bugged by my boyfriend to make one, and tried a couple but the dressing just wasn’t right… Until I found this one!

    So good.

  45. Lisa says:

    I have a similar recipe to this one that we just love. I sometimes substitute cashews instead of the sunflower seeds. People who say they don’t even like broccoli have loved it! For you bacon lovers out there: about 6-8 slices of crispy, crumbled bacon is also a fantastic addition!

  46. Kay says:

    I was going to make this for thanksgiving….can I make this salad Wednesday night and refrigerate until Thursday at noon? THANKS!

  47. Mel says:

    Kay – yes, that should be great! You might reserve a bit of the dressing to stir in right before serving in case refrigerating makes the salad a bit dry.

  48. […] this broccoli salad is perfect for spring time. […]

  49. Kelly says:

    This was very delicious and pretty easy. I don’t keep mayo around anymore so I used Greek yogurt instead–very delicious and an extra protein hit! I’ll try dried cranberries next time as well. Thanks for sharing this.

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