There's no question why easy Broccoli Salad is one of the all time favorite side dishes for summer gatherings. Fresh crunchy ingredients with a sweet tangy creamy dressing make this perfect summer salad recipe simply irresistible. We've slimmed it down, keeping the same ingredients, for a guilt-free delicious healthy salad recipe.
Summer meals just aren't complete without classic salad recipes. This favorite broccoli salad recipe is on the top of the list. Crunchy broccoli, sweet dried cranberries, bacon bits and more all tossed in tangy-sweet broccoli salad dressing; it's a 'can't get enough' type flavor combination that makes this the perfect side dish. No cooking required too.
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Broccoli florets. This salad uses uncooked broccoli florets. They soften slightly when the dressing is added but still have a great crunch. For a preparation shortcut you can buy florets already cut and packaged in the produce section of the grocery store. Cut florets into smaller pieces if they are very large.
Dried cranberries. Use dried sweetened cranberries.
Sunflower seeds. Roasted unsalted sunflower seeds are used. These are the hulls (insides) of the sunflower seeds, no shells. You can substitute salted roasted sunflower seeds if desired.
Light mayonnaise. We used light mayonnaise that is 35 calories per tablespoon (this is what is included in the nutritional information).
Bacon bits. Use real bacon bits. You can purchase these already prepared in resealable packets at the store. Alternatively you can cook bacon, remove any excess fat, drain and finely chop the crisp bacon.
What makes this skinny?
This classic broccoli salad is usually made with full fat mayonnaise, often sour cream, shredded cheese and a larger portion of the non-broccoli ingredients and sugar. Here's what we changed:
- Reduced the portion of dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, red onion and bacon bits still leaving plenty to mix together with the broccoli.
- Swapped in light mayonnaise (35 calories per 1 tablespoon serving) for full fat mayo and left out the sour cream.
- Reduced the sugar in the dressing.
- Did not include shredded cheese.
Our slimmed down version has all the classic ingredients and flavors but only weighs in at 234 calories per serving. By comparison, we looked at a full fat version (all the same ingredients just different amounts) which is 693 calories for the same size serving. That seems like a winning reduction!
How to Make Skinny Broccoli Salad - Step-by-Step
This salad is very easy to make. Combine the salad ingredients with the tangy dressing and toss!
STEP 1. Make the dressing
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: light mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.
STEP 2. Make the salad
In a large mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, red onion, and bacon bits. Toss gently.
Pour the mayonnaise dressing over the broccoli salad and toss gently until the dressing fully coats all the ingredients.
Chill before serving.
Recipe Pro Tips
How to quickly wash broccoli florets. Use your salad spinner! Add the florets, rinse well and spin.
Don't leave this salad out in the heat. Any mayonnaise based salads cannot be left out at room temperature or in the heat for more than 2 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
We haven't tried it but found with our Red Cabbage Slaw that mayonnaise coats the salad ingredients better. Greek yogurt tends to soak into the ingredients. If you want to try it make it half and half with light mayonnaise to start!
It allows the ingredients to mix together and the broccoli to soften slightly.
How to Store
Store the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If serving for a gathering chill before serving and serve on the same day. It will stay good after that but looks it's best and has the most crunch when served after making.
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Skinny Broccoli Salad
For the salad:
- 6 cups broccoli florets
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
- ⅓ cup diced red onions
- ⅓ cup bacon bits
For the dressing:
- ¾ cup light mayonnaise 35 calories per 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- In a small dish, whisk together the light mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, cranberries, sunflower seeds, onions, and bacon bits. Toss gently.
- Pour the mayonnaise dressing over the broccoli salad and toss gently until the dressing is fully incorporated. Serve chilled.