This homemade best-ever broccoli salad is so good it will make even the biggest broccoli salad-snobs reconsider!
From the famed, Aunt Marilyn, this broccoli salad is delicious, even evoking two thumbs up from my broccoli-salad-snob-of-a-husband.
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.
A few changes
Personally, I get frightened by raisins in nearly anything (including cinnamon rolls, don’t hate me!) so I left those out.
But because I know many people aren’t weird like me and would like the raisiny contrast, I left them in the ingredients list as a strong optional choice.
You could definitely sub in craisins or regular raisins if that’s your thing.
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 end result is a salad lightly dressed in a subtly sweet and tangy dressing.
Not gloopy or heavy or overpowered by a strong mayo dressing, it’s just the perfect balance of crunchy broccoli with all the other yummy ingredients..
My favorite part? The crunchy sunflower seeds and crisp bacon.
Serious yum factor right there. As you can tell already, the salad is super versatile, as well, so feel free to experiment with salad ingredients that suit your personal taste.
This broccoli salad is definitely going straight to the Best Recipes archive.
Broccoli salad needs to be part of everyone’s life, don’t you think? It makes the perfect dish to bring to potlucks or BBQs or church dinners.
Bring it everywhere! Even your weeknight Tuesday dinner with just your kids. It really is amazing.
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The Best Broccoli Salad
- ¾ cup light or regular mayonnaise
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ pounds fresh broccoli, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup golden raisins, optional
- ¾ 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
- In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Set aside.
- 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.
Recipe Source: adapted from my Aunt Marilyn
123 Comments on “Broccoli Salad”
Just made this as a side for Sunday dinner and it was AMAZING!!!! My 10 year old son said it was incredible!! Everyone should make it!! I practically ate the entire bowl!!! I will definitely make this again!!
Love this simple recipe, I didn’t add the raisins and used the shredded cheese I had. My whole family enjoyed it.
I just made this best broccoli salad and the addition of the balsamic vinegar is a game changer. The dressing looked a bit thick after mixing up so I did add about a Tablespoon of milk. Super lovely and super delicious. Thank you for this recipe. I am looking forward to eating this throughout the summer.
Let me first day Thank You for placing your recipe near the top portion of your blog. Some bloggers go on endlessly with details that aren’t helpful for someone who is looking for a tried & true recipe plus I like to read the feedback from your readers. Great recipe!
I’ve been substituting green grapes for the raisins, and everyone loves this salad. I usually chop the grapes into both halves and quarters for diff texture, and it doesn’t take many.
I just finished making a triple batch of this for a birthday party. This has been a staple since 2014 for our family parties. Everyone loves it! Thanks for being such a trusted source for delicious recipes!
Discovered this gem when my hubby requested broccoli salad recently, and my family is so happy I found it! Delish! I’ve been using homemade mayo (we get fresh eggs from our chickens) and cranberries. It has made an appearance on our dinner table twice in the last couple of weeks. I know this will be a summer staple. Thanks so much, Mel!
This is the BEST salad ever!!!!
This was really good. Thank you.
Made with ketchup instead of mayo and lettuce instead of broccoli. Best meal ever!
I’ve been making Mel’s broccoli salad for years. Everyone loves it. Today is our last child’s grad party and I made it for 6 times the amount! Lots of chopping but so worth it. Thanks for a great recipe!
I want to make this for Easter. Is it 1 1/2 pounds broccoli (including stalks) before you cut it up, or is the weight after you have it chopped? Trying to figure just how much broccoli I’ll need!
That’s the weight after chopped (or you could measure out 1 1/2 pounds florets).
Love this salad, I lost my recipe so I used this one. I do thin the mayo with a few tablespoons of milk as it’s easier to mix evenly. I didn’t have onions so used onion powder in the dressing. I did add some cider vinegar as I like more tang. This salad with bread is a full meal.
This recipe is delicious but my dressing always gets really runny. Any thoughts?
Is it runny before or after you add it to the salad? What brand/type of mayo are you using?
My kitchen has an endless love afair with this salad, Mel! Never forgotten!
Girl, there is no forgetting this recipe around these parts! I think I make it at least once a month and EVERYONE loves it and asks how it is different than every other broccoli salad they’ve ever choked down. I huge hit. Thanks!!
Haha, I can always count on you, Rebecca!
This is definitely the best recipe. I love that the dressing is not just mayo.
Going to prepare this recipe for a church potluck. How many does this serve?
So I discovered this recipe this summer, and have made it many times since. I use dried cranberries instead of the raisins, and lately I’ve been using a combo of mostly plain Greek yogurt and mayo instead of all mayo. I thought you’d enjoy this though. The last times I’ve made it, my older girls have made comments when I ask about what dessert to make for dinner: “are we having the broccoli salad? That’s even better than dessert!” I’ve never had problems with my girls eating their veggies, but I love that they love this salad as much as dessert.
I love this!!!!
I made this for a recent pot-luck and it was delicious. I doubled the recipe and there were no leftovers.
I make this for every occasion. It’s hands down the best. I omit the raisins, as most don’t like them and add dried cranberries instead. Plus I toast the sunflower seeds and throw in pumpkin seeds and flax too. So amazing. I’m asked to bring this salad everywhere. Thank you. Love it
My boyfriend is my taste tester and he loved this dish! I felt something was missing and he suggested black pepper and POW!!! Perfect Christmas eve side dish. I see this dish appearing at more family gatherings in the future. Thanks for the recipe. (Left seeds and raisins out)
All comments for this recipe love it, so I’m making it this weekend
and not even waiting for a holiday. And, it seems to have endless
possible variations. Winner winner!
I do not like broccoli at all. I LOVE this salad! I have prayed for years that I would be able to enjoy broccoli, everyone I know does and I know how good for you it is, and my prayers have been answered! Thank you, Mel, for this wonderful recipe!
I can’t get enough of this. Anytime I make it, people who don’t like broccoli salad find that they DO like this!
The best broccoli salad–easy to tweak & delicious. Everyone who tastes it wants the recipe!
About how many cups is 1.5lbs of broccoli for this recipe? Does the 1.5lbs include the stalks or just the bunch of the broccoli? Thanks
It’s probably right around 4-6 cups or so. I weigh the whole amount of broccoli (including the stalk) but discard that part when cutting for the recipe.
Is there a maximum length of time that you would recommend for the dressing and the salad to be mixed together before serving? I have an 8 hour drive to make for a family camping trip, and wasn’t sure whether to mix beforehand or when I arrive (risking it being mixed with the dressing for less than 2 hours). Thanks!
I’d mix before. I think it actually tastes best if the dressing has time to hang out with the ingredients for a few hours.
I absolutely hate any salad with mayo in it. This is the only exception. Thank you!
Truly the best broccoli salad I’ve ever made, and I’ve made quite a few over the years. I like the balance of the balsamic vinegar with just the right amount of sweetness. I honestly didn’t think I would like the cheese, but it fit right in. This recipe is definitely a keeper!
I added TOASTED slivered almonds. I think anytime nuts are used in a recipe they should be TOASTED. Even when baking. Toasting causes the nut flavor to “bloom.” Toasting can be done in the oven at 350 for 3 to 5 mins, on top of stove in a pan.
Craisins instead of raisins makes this salad a bit more special.
Just delicious! And oh so pretty! I was short of broccoli so added in some red cabbage too. Delicious dressing, wonderful texture, and good for you too?!!! Doesn’t get better than that. 🙂
Hi, I love your site and your recipes. Our family makes this salad except we put in grapes, cut in half instead of the raisins and we use red vinegar. But I’m anxious to try it with the balsamic. I actually have some 25 yr old balsamic. It may be too sweet. I wanted to tell you about another broccoli salad we make and like just as much. It calls for a layer of broccoli, layer of cauliflower, layer of red cabbage, layer of green onions. Then you top it with a layer of the dressing, which consists of– 1 cup mayo, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, I usually mix this up ahead of time, then the cheese kind of melts into the mayo. ( This simple dressing is so good I put it on other salads sometimes ) Then lastly you top the dressing with fried and crumbled bacon. Best to chill overnight. Its a really pretty salad with the green, white and purple cabbage. Give it a try. Ginger
Would like the amounts/recipe for this layered salad
I didn’t happen to have sunflower seeds on hand, but I’ve made versions of this salad before, but I like this very much. Thank you!
I made this for a memorial service at church and it was gone in a flash! Thanks for the great (and easy) recipe!
Fabulous! Better than my recipe, which I think diluted the dressing too much and left it with less flavor than this recipe. My children wanted it in their school lunches the next day!
Where’s the recipe? Could not find it. Help !!!!!
This was so good. I made it tonight as a side to lamb, and it worked really well. Honestly, it’s so good, I felt the lamb was the side to this salad! Husband loved it too. Another winner.
can I use miracle whip instead of hellmans mayo?
You could definitely try that variation if you prefer the taste of miracle whip.
I was looking up this salad because I just had a similar one at a fancy brunch. The one ingredient I couldn’t get enough of. Candied walnuts! I will use this recipe, but add the candied walnuts. I don’t eat vegetables, but loved yhis.
We all love this salad at our house. Ran out of raisens and cranberries so I used an unpeeled Apple instead. Very good!
Sorry! Last name is Berry
Try raisins or dried cranberries really they are delicious
I make a similar salad only I omit the raisins, add cranberries, red grapes (cut in half) and about 3/4 cup of cashews. It’s great!
I love broccoli salad. This sounds like the one they have at Ryan’s. I know it will be delicious. Have you ever tried it with lemon juice a stead of balsamic vinegar?
Nope, I haven’t.
I added to this salad red and yellow bell peppers, celery, water
chestnuts(one can sliced) .If one dislikes raisens I substituted
chopped dried apricots or dates. any dried fruit will give this salad a bit of a punch as wee as a great texture. Also I have used many different dressings. All were good . Enjoy
I hope my brothers don’t get mad at me if I make such a feminine salad, they’re very masculine. Hopefully they don’t get teased for eating it.
“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).”
Now eating vegetables is effeminate too? Can we please stop perpetuating this bullshit stereotype of what a man is. Should we only be eating animals we killed with our bare hands, cooked over a fire using a tree we chopped down with an ax we forged ourselves? Anything less and you’re a little bit “gay”? I thought the majority of us decided that using that as in “insult” wasn’t acceptable anymore.
I’m not a lover of raisins, I substitute with either cherry tomatoes or chopped up sundries tomatoes. Doing this salad for my daughters birthday tonight, it’s making my mouth water already!
For those who do not care for diced raw onion, try adding onion powder (to taste) to the dressing. Works for me. Another hint = when I use bacon bits, they tend to ‘wilt’ broccoli down unless I add them just before serving but not so with crumbled bacon strips.
We love a variant of this salad. The raisins are omitted, and we use 1 pound each of broccoli and cauliflower. Instead of red onion, we use 1/2 to 2/3 cup sliced scallions. I start with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and tweak from there. Sometimes that seems enough, other times a bit more is needed. Yum, yum, this never lasts a full 24 hours after preparation in out family.
I have made this for 20 years I use Marzetti cole slaw dressing on mine. Sometimes I make my own cole slaw dressing. This is so good, try it.
Love this recipe! Served it at a baby shower thinking that since it was a vegetable dish it would go untouched. How wrong I was. It was the hit of the party! I too am finicky about raisins. I don’t like them in cinnamon rolls and most breads, but I like them in this salad. I omit the onions, because a lot of people I know don’t do raw onions. Thanks for the awesome recipe. Gonna make it for another party tomorrow.
If you will soak your chopped onions in ice water, it will take the ‘bite’ out of the onions. Or you could choose to use shallots or green onions.
Can I substitute red wine vinegar for the balsamic vinigar?
Jensven – It will change the flavor a bit but certainly worth a try!
Wonderful Salad! Thank you Mel, yet again! I trust your recipes so much I don’t even try them before I take them to pass at a party 🙂 You are a blessing to me and my family! Every time I sit down to a “new” meal, my husband’s first question is “Is it Mel?” 🙂
Thanks, Lisa – that was so sweet!
I am not using clear balsamic or white vinegar, therefore my mayo mixture is a light tan. Will this effect the overall look of the salad? Thanks!
Nancy – Not totally sure since I haven’t made it that way but I think it should be just fine.
Thanks – I had to make it before receiving your reply and it was just fine / it didn’t change the color of the salad.
This was sooo good! Definitely will be a go to recipe for me!
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.
I was going to make this for thanksgiving….can I make this salad Wednesday night and refrigerate until Thursday at noon? THANKS!
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.
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!
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!
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!
I have been using this recipe all summer! I can’t get enough! Everywhere I take it people demand the recipe!!!
this may sound strange, but instead of raisins I used some fresh pineapple (not a lot) and is was really tasty! Love the blog!
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.
for those who don’t do mayo…sesame ginger dressing (in the produce isle) does the trick.
Has anyone tried chilling the salad overnight?
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!
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!
I just made this – now it’s chilling in the fridge – looks great!
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.
I made this a few days ago and it was fantastic! Thank you!!!!
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!”
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.
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!
Mmm I looove me some broccoli salad! YUM!
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.
MMM – swiss cheese works great too!
I made this last night….excellent. I’ve used many of your recipes and thank you because they are all great.
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!
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!
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.
I should not be reading all of these blogs before bedtime. It’s making me hungry! This salad looks absolutely delicious 😀
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!
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!
My husband also loves broccoli salad and hates raisins. He will love this recipe.
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!
YUP! This is definitely going to be in my meal plan this week. I knew I was saving my broccoli for something special……
Wow, this looks yummy!! Is there anything I can use in place of the mayonnaise? I have a picky husband who hates it 🙂
You could use non-fat plain yogurt, low fat sour cream or crème fraiche in place of the mayonnaise. Pine nuts could be used instead of sunflower seeds and dried cranberries for the raisins.
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.
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.
This looks so very yummy! I make one that is similar but I add pomegranate seeds when they are in season. Thanks!
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!!
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.
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.
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!)! : )
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!
This is very similar to a salad my mom makes in the summer – love it so much!
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!
I’m not a fan of raisins, either, but I love to add dried cranberries to this salad. Super yum!
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.
I love this recipe!!! I also omit the raisins-BUT I do a mix of broccoli and cauliflower-the colors are beautiful!
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? 😉