This Broccoli Apple Salad is the perfect side dish for summer picnics or potlucks. Loaded with bacon, cheese, apples, and a light, creamy homemade dressing, it can be ready to serve in minutes.
Broccoli salad is a classic side dish that is very popular during the spring and summer months. My mother-in-law always brings her cold broccoli salad with bacon to our family picnics. It's the perfect dish to enjoy with pulled pork or grilled chicken.
Most of the time I don't like to eat raw broccoli, but for some reason I absolutely love it in this salad. Everyone has their favorite twist on how to make a crunchy broccoli salad, so I created a version that has my favorite ingredients and a lighter dressing.
Why Make Broccoli Salad with Apples
This easy broccoli salad is one of my favorite side dishes to make for picnics because it goes well with anything and it tastes great.
- Bright and Colorful. Fresh veggies and fruit give the salad a pretty color.
- Delicious crunch. Apples and nuts add a crunch and sweetness to the other ingredients.
- No cooking required. This is the perfect summer salad because you do not have to turn on the oven or stove to make it.
- Healthier summer side dish. Most classic broccoli salads are covered with a heavy dressing. This easy side dish lightens things up by using Greek yogurt in the base.
This broccoli apple salad recipe is made with delicious and healthy ingredients. If you don't like something, leave it out or substitute something else. Well, except the broccoli. It is a broccoli salad, so you kind of have to keep that ingredient!
- Fresh Broccoli - Use 2 large bunches or a bag of already chopped raw broccoli.
- Cheese - Feel free to buy pre-shredded cheese for convenience or grate a block of cheese.
- Bacon - Cooked and crumbled.
- Raisins - Add a chewy burst of sweetness that just works in this recipe.
- Sunflower Seeds - Provides a nice crunch and some healthy fats. You can use any nut or seed that you like.
- Apples - I personally prefer a sweet apple such as Gala or Honeycrisp instead of a sour apple.
- Dressing - A mixture of Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and a small amount of sugar or sweetener creates a creamy topping.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
A bowl of crunchy broccoli salad comes together in minutes. Here are our simple steps.
- Mix together the ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, apples, cheese, raisins, and sunflower seeds.
- Pour in dressing. Whisk together yogurt, mayo, vinegar, and sugar in a separate bowl. Pour over the veggies and toss.
- Add bacon. Gently stir the crispy cooked bacon into the broccoli salad.
- Season and chill. Season to taste with salt and pepper. For best results refrigerate at least one hour to allow the dressing to soak into the veggies.
Dressing for Broccoli Salad
I used the dressing from this cranberry zucchini slaw as my starting point for this salad. Since I'm not a fan of veggies drenched in dressing, I kept it to a minimum. If you like a creamier salad, you may want to double the dressing ingredients.
You can also use a store bought poppy seed dressing, if you prefer that instead.
What to Serve with Cold Broccoli Salad
This crunchy broccoli salad is pretty delicious and can be turned into a full meal by adding cooked chicken. Although, we usually serve it as a side dish with a main course.
Keep the salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. This is a great salad to make ahead of time because it tastes better after it has time to chill for a few hours.
Tips and Tricks
- Chop everything into bite-sized pieces. Smaller pieces are easier to pick up with a fork and also easier to eat.
- Want softer broccoli? Drop the raw broccoli into boiling water for one minutes to blanch the vegetable. Remove and drop into cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Use different vegetables. Try adding cauliflower, onions, carrots, kale, or peppers.
- Add other dried fruits. Use dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries instead of the raisins.
- Choose sweet apples. Gala apples or Honeycrisp apples are the best in the veggie salad.
- Use real bacon. For best flavor and crunch, add crispy cooked bacon. Stir it in right before serving to keep it crunchy.
- Add protein. Make this salad a full meal by adding cooked diced chicken.
No, this crunchy broccoli salad is made with raw vegetables. The dressing tends to soak into the veggies as it sits making them slightly softer.
Yes, this salad tastes best if it has time to chill for at least 2 hours. This is also a great salad to make 24 hours ahead of time if you are serving it for a picnic or potluck.
Yes, you can substitute any other nut or seed that you prefer. Or feel free to leave them out if you need it to be nut free.
More Easy Recipes with Broccoli
- Broccoli Egg Muffins
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups
- Broccoli Egg Bake
- Broccoli Mac and Cheese
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*This post was first posted August 2014. It was updated and republished May 2023.