You’ll love this lighter version of the classic Broccoli Salad with Bacon & Cranberries. It’s packed with crunchy broccoli, crispy bacon, tart cranberries, and a creamy homemade dressing.
If you are in need of a festive addition to your holiday table, look no further. How about a big bowl of delicious Broccoli Salad with homemade salad dressing? The vibrant red and green colors make this recipe a pretty choice for all your holiday meals.
But please don’t limit this recipe to the holidays. A dish this delicious shines any time of year.
It’s an easy choice for weeknight meals. I like to make a batch over the weekend so I can serve it with meals throughout the week.
The recipe can also be easily doubled for larger gatherings. Whenever I take this dish to a potluck I come home with an empty bowl. Every. single. time.
Ingredients for Broccoli Bacon Cranberry Salad
Broccoli Florets – use fresh only! See the notes below about frozen broccoli.
Dried Cranberries – I use Craisins from the grocery store.
Bacon – fry your own, or use real bacon bits.
Cheddar cheese – use cubes or shredded, optional
Sunflower seeds – adds a nice crunch, optional
Creamy Dressing Ingredients
Mayo – use light or regular, but I don’t recommend using Miracle Whip. See the tips section below for a way to lighten this broccoli salad even more by using Greek yogurt.
Brown Sugar – you can also use a substitute such as Swerve or Truvia.
Other Ingredients: salt, pepper, paprika, honey, apple cider vinegar.
How to Make Broccoli Salad with Cranberries & Bacon
Step 1 – Combine broccoli, bacon, Craisins, onion, sunflower seeds and cheese in a large bowl.
Step 2 – Combine mayo, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, honey, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended.
Step 3 – Pour dressing over salad and toss until ingredients are evenly coated. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Do you cook the broccoli before adding it to the salad?
I don’t because we like the crunchiness of fresh broccoli. It will soften a little bit while it’s refrigerated, though. But if you prefer softer broccoli you can blanch it.
How to Blanch Broccoli
Place the florets in a pot of boiling water just until they turn bright green. Quickly drain it and put the broccoli into an ice bath for a few minutes to stop the cooking. Drain and dry before adding it to your salad.
Can I Use Frozen Broccoli?
Unfortunately, no. After you thaw the broccoli, it will be too soft and watery. And that’s not what you want in this broccoli salad recipe.
Tips For Making Easy Broccoli Bacon Cranberry Salad
- If you don’t want to cook your own bacon, grab some bacon bits from the salad aisle at the grocery store. But be sure they say REAL bacon, not the imitation ones.
- To make this salad a little lighter you can use Greek yogurt instead of mayo, or make a half and half swap.
How To Store
Broccoli salad is best served after it allowed to chill for a couple hours. To store, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Variations of Broccoli Salad with Craisins
Cold salads like this are great for adding in other “toppings” to jazz it up! Here are some favorites:
- Nuts – walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds all work well.
- Peas and Carrots
- Tomatoes – use whole, grape tomatoes.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs – if you choose to add eggs, try this easy way to make hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot.
- Cheese – firm cheese works best so it doesn’t get soggy. You can purchase store-bought or just shred a block. You can also use cheese cubes.
I’ve made several modifications to the original recipe by tailoring the ingredients to my family’s tastes. And reducing the sugar makes for a slightly healthier salad.
But let’s be honest – it’s not exactly a “healthy” salad. You’re still eating bacon, mayo & dried cranberries!
Keep this recipe in your back pocket. When you’re short on time, 15-20 minutes is all you need to make a delicious side dish.
More Easy Side Dish Recipes:
- Katie’s Cornbread Casserole
- Orange Dreamsicle Salad
- Easy Vegetable Salad
- Fruit Cocktail Salad
- Quinoa Chickpea Salad
This recipe was given to me by a friend many years ago. And it remains a family favorite to this day.
Originally published in 2014, this is one of the first recipes I shared on A Reinvented Mom. A recipe this good deserved an update and new photos. Updated 4/23/22, 9/10/20 and 9/12/17.
**Pin Broccoli Salad with Cranberries for Later**
I’ve linked this recipe at: Meal Plan Monday.
Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Cranberries
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of fresh ground pepper
- Pinch of paprika
- 10 cups broccoli florets, about 3-4 medium sized heads, or 1/2 a Costco-sized bag
- 5 strips bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries, I used Craisins
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, optional
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, optional
- Combine the mayonnaise, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, salt, pepper and paprika in a small bowl. Mix until well blended.
- Combine broccoli, bacon, onion & dried cranberries in a large bowl.
- Add dressing to salad ingredients and gently mix until broccoli is well coated.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to serve.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
- Optional ingredients are not included in nutritional calculation.
Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.