Crunchy, tangy, and packed with salty and sweet flavors, this broccoli salad recipe is about to win you over big time. Monica Nedeff, who blogs at The Traveling Dietitian, told Mashed about her inspiration for her vibrant and nutritious dish: "I love the bright color of all the ingredients and the texture they bring out mixed together." She shared that this is the perfect holiday side dish with the cranberries but adds, "I also enjoy serving it year-round. If it’s the summer, I might swap the cranberries for raisins." Nedeff also advised, "In the summer, it works great as a picnic side or cookout dish, and in the winter, it works great alongside holiday food like a ham."
Bottom line: No matter what time of year you come across this winning dish, your taste buds will thank you. Complemented by a unique dressing you may just steal for other salads, we promise you’ll go back for seconds.
Gather the ingredients for your broccoli salad
The ingredients for this simple broccoli salad are far from intimidating. You probably already have several of them in your kitchen right now, like broccoli, dried cranberries, apple, carrots, red onion, salted peanuts, mayo, apple cider vinegar, and honey. But here’s an important note about your main ingredient: broccoli. "I would only use fresh broccoli so that the texture stays crisp and crunchy," Nedeff told us when we asked if frozen broccoli works here. Okay, got it! After all, who wants a soggy salad?
Next, Nedeff, who encourages people to find joy and love for food through her recipes, shared with Mashed how she selected each of the other ingredients in this unique, year-round crowd pleaser.
Prep the veggies and fruit for your broccoli salad
Your first step will be to chop the broccoli, apple, and onion, and add in your carrot and cranberries. When you go shopping, Nedeff noted, "I use sweet apples like Gala or Fuji apples for this recipe." As far as the choice of onion, we wanted to know why she decided upon red onion versus, say, white. "Mostly for their color," she answered, adding, "I also find their mild flavor good for using in salads."
And when it comes to the carrot, why not make things easy on yourself? Nedeff confessed to Mashed, "I used pre-shredded to save time." She adds, "But you can definitely buy whole carrots and use a large grater or finely slice them thin like a matchstick."
At this point of the prep, you will already see those gorgeous colors of your broccoli salad coming together! On to layering in more flavor.
Add the peanuts to the broccoli salad
Let’s add more crunch to the vibrant broccoli salad bowl you’re creating. Time to add in your peanuts — and we couldn’t help but wonder why Nedeff chose the salted variety for her dish. "The salt helps enhance the other flavors of the salad," she noted, adding, "since there isn’t salt added to the dressing, the peanuts add just enough." Of course, if you want to cut down on the sodium here, you can always opt for unsalted. Either way, the peanuts make a nice foil to the sweet flavor of the apple and cranberries and add an irresistible crunch to the healthy mix of veggies and fruits.
Make the yummy dressing for your broccoli salad
We are loving Nedeff’s salad dressing ingredient combo. We had to know how it tastes, so we asked the recipe’s creator to describe it. Her response made our mouths water. "It’s a creamy and tangy dressing with a hint of sweetness," she said, adding, "If you like your dressing sweeter, add a touch more honey!"
Beyond the taste, let’s talk about how easy the dressing is to make, with just three ingredients: mayo, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Just whisk the proportions together in a bowl, and that’s it. You are ready to dress your broccoli salad, and better yet, you’re almost ready to taste this delicious dish.
Dress your broccoli salad
Once you pour the creamy and sweet dressing over the broccoli salad, you can go ahead and just dig right in. But as Nedeff told us, "I think it tastes best after chilling for an hour." You can also prep the salad ahead of time, which is always helpful if you are hosting a get-together and making a lot of food. But don’t make this dish too far in advance. "The first day it’s made, I find it to taste the best, and the texture is optimal," Nedeff cautions, adding, "The longer it sits, the broccoli becomes soft and wilts."
That said, this salad makes great leftovers. It’s best eaten within three to five days for optimal texture, according to Nedeff.
How to serve this broccoli salad
Whether eaten ASAP or hours after you fix the broccoli salad, Nedeff told Mashed this dish makes a great side for hamburgers, wraps, or sandwiches. She also noted, "I don’t think it’s filling enough to eat as a stand-alone meal." However, you can add a protein to make it into a main course — chicken, beans, or tofu work well. "Then, I’d say it’s definitely hearty enough for a meal," Nedeff said.
So, ready to try your hand at this dish? You’ll certainly appreciate how quickly it comes together, and hey, we won’t blame you for sneaking a few bites once your ingredients are combined, even if you are preparing it for a crowd!
Crunchy, tangy, and packed with salty and sweet flavors, this broccoli salad recipe is about to win you over big time. Monica Nedeff, who blogs at The Traveling Dietitian, told Mashed about her inspiration for her vibrant and nutritious dish: "I love the bright color of all the ingredients."
- 6 cups broccoli florets cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup chopped apples
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ⅔ cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup salted peanuts
- 1 cup mayo
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Add the broccoli, cranberries, apples, carrots, red onion, and peanuts to a large serving bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, apple cider vinegar, and honey.
- Pour the mayo apple cider dressing over the bowl of chopped veggies and mix well.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.