Looking for a delicious summer salad that will be devoured at your next backyard BBQ? Try our broccoli salad with bacon recipe; it's quick, savory, and healthy.
Why This Recipe Works
- It uses fresh raw broccoli florets cut bite size instead of blanched for added crunch.
- It uses a homemade mayo based dressing which softens the broccoli just enough during a chilling time to achieve the right texture.
- Savory flavors dominate with the smoked Gouda, bacon and toasted slivered almonds.
- Fresh grape tomatoes are added at the end for a bit of sweetness and added color.
Our easy broccoli salad with bacon takes pantry staple ingredients that are easy to find. Let's talk about the key ingredients.
- Vegetables: We used fresh broccoli florets and grape tomatoes.
- Aromatics: We used a sweet onion.
- Dairy: We used butter and smoked Gouda.
- Meat: We used crumbled bacon.
- Nuts: We used toasted slivered almonds.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Sweet Version: Increase the sugar and switch out the tomatoes for dried cranberries, dried tart cherries, raisins, or green grapes.
- Cooked Broccoli: Blanch the broccoli and shock it in ice water to halt the cooking.
- Nut Substitutions: Try cashews, pecans, pepitas, or sunflowers.
- Vegan: Omit the bacon and cheese, and swap the sugar for maple syrup.
- Extra Protein: Add slices of grilled chicken.
- Extra Veggies: Add shredded carrots, finely chopped kale, or fresh corn kernels.
- Healthy: Swap the regular mayo for mayo made with olive oil or use Greek yogurt instead.
- Sugar Free: Use a quick and easy sugar substitute such as honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for our broccoli salad with bacon. Cook and crumble the bacon. Cut up the broccoli florets, half the tomatoes, cube the Gouda, and finely chop the sweet onion.
- Melt the butter in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add the slivered almonds and stir to coat in the butter. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the almonds are light brown, then transfer them to a small bowl.
- Mix the broccoli and sweet onion together.
3. Whisk the mayo, sugar, and vinegar together to make the easy dressing. Taste the dressing.
4. Pour the dressing onto the mixture.
5. Toss well to combine. Make sure every piece of broccoli is coated in the dressing.
If you are making this salad more than one hour in advance, hold off on adding the tomatoes. This will keep the tomatoes from going to mushy. Cover the other ingredients and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours in advance.
6. Add most of the tomatoes, but leave some for garnish. Cover and chill in the fridge for one hour.
7. Just before serving, add most of the bacon, almond, and cheese. Mix well with tongs. If you made this salad more than one hour in advance, add the tomatoes at this step.
8. Transfer the broccoli salad with bacon to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining tomatoes, bacon, almond, and cheese. Serve up this easy to make dish immediately, and enjoy!
Maybe you've never eaten this kind of salad, and you're curious about the typical ingredients. Besides raw florets, most salads have onion, either red or sweet.
If you want a savory version, add bacon, cherry tomatoes, and cheese. If you want a sweet salad, add fruit. Raisins or dried cranberries are the most common, but dried tart cherries, green grapes, or diced apples would also be an easy and tasty choice.
Nuts are also usually thrown in at the end to provide extra crunch and protein. Almonds, cashews, and pecans are popular, but if you have a nut allergy, use sunflower seeds.
Here are some chef tips to make it easy to cut broccoli. Start by removing any leaves and cutting off the bottom of the stem. Then shave off the tough outer skin on the stalk with a sharp knife or veggie peeler. Cut the stalk off from the head and then cut off the florets. Slice large florets down the middle, then pull them apart.
Yes, don't throw the stalks away! Use the stems in slaw, soups, stir-fries, or smoothies. Cut them into a variety of shapes depending on how you want to use them. They're easy to slice into coins or julienne cuts or you can spiralize them or shred them with a food processor.
For this recipe, there is no need to cook the broccoli. This broccoli salad with bacon recipe is made with raw broccoli because the dressing softens it the longer it sits. Make sure to cut the florets small for the best texture.
On the other hand, if you don't like the taste of raw broccoli, or you need it to be softer because of recent dental work, blanching the broccoli is the easy way to go. Just blanch it for 1 minute in boiling water, then transfer it to an ice bath. Drain and cool before using in the salad.
- Make Ahead: Prep everything the night before, but hold off on adding the bacon, cheese, almonds and tomatoes until ready to serve.
- Leftovers: Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, but the tomatoes are best the same day they are added into the salad.
- Want maximum freshness? Add tomatoes one hour before eating and consume the whole dish within 24 hours.
- In a hurry? It's easy to simply skip the chill time.
- Tempted to use frozen broccoli? Don't--it won't taste the same and the texture would be too different.
- Don't throw out the broccoli stalk. Freeze it for soup, slaw, stir-fries, stem it, or eat it raw.
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Broccoli Salad with Bacon
For the Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
For the Salad
- ½ cup crumbled bacon, roughly 6 slices
- ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 6 cups broccoli florets, roughly 3 heads
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
- ⅓ cup smoked Gouda, cubed
- ⅓ cup sweet onion, finely chopped
Making the Dressing
- Whisk together the mayo, sugar and vinegar in a small bowl. Adjust the amounts of sugar or vinegar to taste. If necessary, add a bit of salt and black pepper. If you want it spicy, add crushed red pepper flakes.
Making the Salad
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until done, turning once with a fork. Drain on paper towels. Let cool, then chop or tear into smaller pieces. Set aside.
- Place a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced almonds, stirring frequently for a few minutes, until they are light brown. Remove from heat and put into a bowl.
- Rinse the broccoli heads and remove any leaves, then cut off the stems and save them for another use. Cut the heads into small florets.
- Mix the broccoli and onion together, then add the dressing and toss to combine. Add most of the tomatoes, leaving some for garnish, then toss again.
- Cover and refrigerate for one hour or up to overnight. Place the small bowls of bacon, almonds, and cheese in the fridge until the salad is ready to serve.
- Before serving, add most of the bacon, almonds, and cheese. Stir to combine.
- Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, then sprinkle the remaining bacon, almonds, cheese, and tomatoes as garnish. Serve the broccoli salad immediately.
- Add tomatoes one hour before eating and consume the whole salad within 24 hours for maximum freshness.
- Skip the chill time if you're in a hurry.
- Don't use frozen broccoli; it won't taste the same and the texture would be very different.
- Freeze the broccoli stalks for soup, slaw, or stir fries, or eat it raw.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.