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Sweet and Crunchy Broccoli Salad

This crunchy broccoli salad with sweet dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and red onion is a staple in our family. A creamy homemade dressing gives it tang and moisture without weighing it down.

A bowl of crunchy broccoli salad with sweet dried cranberries.

Broccoli salad is a staple at our holiday gatherings and an excellent, easy side dish year round! It looks especially pretty at Christmastime with its festive red and green presentation.

There are so many ways to put together a broccoli salad. This sweet and crunchy version is my favorite. It combines bite-size broccoli florets, red onions, sweet chewy cranberries, and sunflower seeds. Then, everything gets tossed in a simple tangy dressing.

This makes enough dressing to give the veggies a nice coating without being too sweet or heavy. There is just a touch of sugar to balance it out, but the pops of sweetness come from the dried cranberries! 

As is, this crunchy broccoli salad is vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free. You can easily make it vegan by swapping the mayonnaise for a vegan mayo substitute.

Ingredients

Heads of broccoli, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, onion, sugar, dried cranberries, salt, and pepper on a cutting board.

Fresh, raw broccoli. I like to buy a couple of medium-sized heads of broccoli for this salad. Remove the florets from the fibrous stalks and chop them into bite-sized pieces. You can use a bag of raw, pre-chopped broccoli florets to save time.

Pro-tip:  You can save the stalks to make broccoli soup! 

Dried cranberries are tart, sweet, and chewy. They provide a nice contrast to the crunchy broccoli florets. And they make this salad sweet without adding too much sugar to the dressing. They’re like shiny red gems that pop next to the green broccoli.

Red onion brings a ton of flavor to liven up this salad and balance the flavor profile. It also adds another element of crispy texture to the salad to give it extra crunch.

Sunflower seeds add a subtle nutty flavor and more crunch to this salad.

Mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper make a simple and flavorful dressing. The recipe makes enough dressing to give the salad a light coating. It adds moisture without weighing it down.

It’s perfect as is, but if you’re feeling extra, you can add some of the following:

Variations

Make it vegan by swapping the mayonnaise with a veganaise / a vegan mayo substitute.

How to make crunchy broccoli salad

First, chop your broccoli into bite-sized florets. Then, dice the onion.

Now, time to make the dressing. Add all the dressing ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Then, whisk until a smooth dressing forms.

Add everything else to the bowl of dressing. Stir and toss until everything is coated with dressing.

Storage

Make this crunchy broccoli salad at least an hour before serving. Then, refrigerate to let the flavors combine.

Refrigerate it in a covered container for 3-5 days. 

A bowl of crunchy broccoli salad with sweet dried cranberries.

How to serve broccoli salad

  • I love serving this broccoli salad at holiday dinners. It’s an excellent way to add crunch and acidity to a heavy Thanksgiving dinner.
  • It makes a perfect Christmas side dish with its red and green colors.
  • This salad gets better after sitting for a while. It makes a perfect take-a-long dish for potlucks and BBQs. Bring a cooler to keep it cold until ready to serve.

Looking for more deli-style salads?

Check out my other deli salad recipes!

Close up of summer vegetable pasta salad with basil garnish.
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Sweet and Crunchy Broccoli Salad

A bowl of crunchy broccoli salad with sweet dried cranberries.

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5 from 1 review

A sweet and crunchy broccoli salad that is perfect for holidays, potlucks, and BBQs.

  • Author: Mandi
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: about 6 cups 1x
  • Category: Deli Salad
  • Method: Toss
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the salad

  • 5 cups chopped broccoli florets (from 2 medium-sized heads)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seed kernels
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins)

Instructions

  1. Add all the dressing ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Then whisk them until a smooth dressing forms. 
  2. Add the broccoli, red onion, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries to the bowl. Then, stir to coat everything with dressing. 
  3. It’s best if refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes

Make it ahead: Make it up to 1 day ahead and refrigerate. The flavors improve after sitting. 

Make it vegan: Swap the mayonnaise with a vegan mayo substitute.

Optional add-ins

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 136
  • Sugar: 6.2 g
  • Sodium: 168.8 mg
  • Fat: 10.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10.3 g
  • Fiber: 2.1 g
  • Protein: 2.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 3.9 mg

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