This Broccoli Cranberry Salad features crisp broccoli, crunchy roasted cashews, chewy cranberries and red onion, all tossed in a creamy homemade dressing. Ready in under 15 minutes, it is made without bacon and makes a quick side dish or a great summer salad and is sure to covert any broccoli hater!
Broccoli cranberry salad is a classic for summer barbecues like the carrot raisin salad! It is a simple and refreshing salad to take for potlucks or holiday tables and it's always a crowd-pleaser.
It is also one of my favorite side dishes for weeknight dinner since kids will adore broccoli if it's in the form of this salad. It also makes a tasty lunch option. Broccoli haters will devour this too!
This recipe is similar to a coleslaw, since it has raw vegetable tossed in a creamy mayo based dressing. If you’re a broccoli lover and looking for more broccoli side dish ideas, try this cheesy broccoli recipe or air fryer broccoli.
It is quick and easy, can be thrown together in under fifteen minutes, because there's no cooking required and is a perfect pairing with grilled boneless chicken thighs when you are grilling next time.
Made with crunchy roasted cashews, chewy dried cranberries, a bite from raw red onion and crisp raw broccoli florets, this broccoli cranberry salad recipe features contrasting textures and flavors, is simply irresistible with the creamy dressing.
The creamy broccoli cranberry salad dressing takes the classic route with mayonnaise, sugar and tangy apple cider vinegar. The acid in the apple cider vinegar and the oil in the mayo helps to slightly tenderize the floret upon refrigeration.
Why this recipe works?
The combination of crisp raw florets, crunchy roasted cashews, chewy cranberries, red onion make a simple, easy and delicious. There are no fancy ingredients. The creamy dressing is irresistible!
- Super easy to make because there's no cooking involved. Just chop, stir and toss!
- Since it's best made ahead of time, it's perfect for BBQs, potlucks or picnics. Just toss the roasted cashews before serving to maintain crunch. It's also perfect for dinner or lunches.
- The creamy salad dressing is super simple to make, using 3 ingredients.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Broccoli - Use a fresh head of broccoli and chop it yourself for the best flavor. My favorite part is that there's no need to blanch the broccoli before adding into the salad. Just wash and drain well (a salad spinner can help ensure it’s dry).
- Cashews - Use roasted cashews for the best flavor and crunch. Swap other nuts and seeds to make this broccoli cranberry salad recipe your own.
- Cranberries - It's sweet, chewy with a hint of tartness. You can swap raisins or dried cherries instead.
- Red onion - The pink color makes it appealing and also adds a spicy pepperiness. Feel free to swap any onion you have around.
We love this super simple creamy dressing made with just 3 ingredients. It gets the creaminess from mayonnaise, tanginess and fruitiness from apple cider vinegar, and a touch of sweetness from white sugar.
Substitutions & Variations
One of my favorite things about this broccoli cranberry salad is that you can customize it with any combination of ingredients you like. Although this is not a health food, there are a few modifications you can make to make it lighter. However, this is meant to be an indulgent side dish. Some of my favorite things to add include:
- Swap dried cranberries with raisins or dried cherries.
- Toss in chopped fresh apple.
- Use toasted chopped almonds, slivered almonds, pecans or sun flower seeds instead of cashews.
- Toss in shredded carrots.
- We kept this broccoli cranberry salad vegetarian, however you can add crumbled cooked bacon if you'd like.
- Add shredded cheddar cheese
- Use plain yogurt instead of mayo and increase the amount of sugar.
- Use fresh lemon juice instead of apple cider vinegar and toss in some chopped apples to add a sweet crunch.
How to make?
1 & 2. Wash the broccoli and dry it well. You want it to be dry without any moisture to make sure that the dressing doesn't get watered down. Chop a head of broccoli into small bite size florets. This gives more surface area for the dressing! Discard any large stems and just use the florets.
Tip: How much broccoli should you buy? This recipe calls for four cups of florets. That comes out to about two small crowns (or heads) or one pound of untrimmed broccoli (including the stalk).
3. Make dressing by combining mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and a dash of pepper in a large bowl. Make sure to stir until the sugar is dissolved completely.
4 & 5. Add chopped floret pieces and dried cranberries into the bowl.
6 & 7. Add roasted cashews and chopped red onion.
8. Toss everything together until thoroughly combined. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
Tip: Don't skip chilling! It gives the broccoli to soak up the sweet, creamy dressing like a sponge and tastes even better.
How to serve?
I love this broccoli cranberry salad recipe! Although it a summer salad, It is amazing served anytime from picnics, backyard cookouts to pool parties. Also, it's a great way to make picky eaters eat their veggie. You might also like to try this chicken broccoli alfredo pasta or shrimp and broccoli stir fry.
- Serve as a side dish for weeknight dinner with chicken burger or baked chicken cutlet.
- Makes a great lunch because it's filling and satisfying.
- Since this recipe is better if made ahead, it makes a perfect dish to take to a BBQ, pot luck, picnic or holiday gathering like this chicken broccoli pasta bake.
Make ahead instructions
Broccoli cranberry salad is best if made in advance and kept in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. It helps the flavors mingle and the florets soak up the delicious dressing.
Full assembled salad will last for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. If you are planning to store longer, then store the dressing separately and toss together on the day of serving.
TIP: Stir in cashews just before serving to maintain the wonderful crunch.
- Wash and dry well - Wash your crown and pat dry thoroughly, to make sure that it doesn't have any moisture.
- Let it chill - Although this broccoli cranberry salad can be served right away, i prefer to let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour, It helps the florets soak up the dressing, soften and makes it even more tasty and flavorful. Broccoli salad can be prepared up to 3 days in advance of serving.
- Cut your broccoli small - Since the broccoli is raw, it is best if chopped small bite sized pieces, so they can fully coat in the dressing and soften a touch, making it easier to eat.
- Reserve cashews for the last minute - To make sure that the cashew doesn't soften and maintains the crunch, toss in right before serving.
- Toss before serving - Some of the dressing tends to settle in the bottom. So, make sure to toss your broccoli cranberry salad a couple of times before serving.
This broccoli salad tastes best with crisp raw broccoli. But, if you are not into the idea of eating raw broccoli or have any picky eaters around, then you could give them a quick blanch for not more than a minute.
To blanch, add your chopped florets into a pot of boiling water and cook for about a minute. Using a slotted spoon, drain the florets into ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
It can be eaten raw, however you need to make sure to clean the head thoroughly under cold running water, making sure to remove any dirty spots. I like to use organic broccoli whenever possible.
Frozen broccoli might not have the same crunch as fresh florets. However, if you want to use frozen ones, then cook them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, drain and make sure to pat dry completely.
About one cup of broccoli cranberry salad will be a good estimate when you are planning a dinner party. This recipe, will make about 5 servings.
Oven: Toast them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Stovetop: Cook in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and fragrant for about 3 to 5 minutes.
More salad recipes to try
Broccoli Cranberry Salad
- Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, until sugar is dissolved.
- Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and give a toss, before serving. TIP: Stir in cashews just before serving to maintain the wonderful crunch.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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