Everyone needs a recipe for the best Broccoli Salad! This one is stuffed with bacon, cranberry, cheese, sunflower seeds, and tangy homemade dressing. It is easy to make and is a huge crowd pleaser. The perfect side dish to bring to your summer barbecue, or even to serve at Thanksgiving! Originally published September 5, 2020.

close up picture of spoonful of broccoli bacon salad with cranberry

I finally broke down and bought an electric toothbrush. Maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but the sinister whir of an electric toothbrush gives me the heebie jeebies. (They sound EXACTLY like a dentist drill, doesn’t this give flashbacks to anyone else??) The idea of using it twice a day makes me want to die.

Here I am, on my maiden voyage with the blasted thing, trying not to cry about the fact that this is my life now. Eric thought I was being so ridiculous that he took a picture.

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Using electric toothbrush for the first time
He’s not wrong.

The toothbrush I bought came as a set of two, so Eric got the other one. You know, just one of those lovely gifts you get your spouse with a not-so-subtle message. “Clean your teeth, you filthy animal.”

close up picture of broccoli bacon salad with cranberry, cheese, bacon

I saw him using it a couple days later, and he was done in about 30 seconds. I was outraged. “You stopped it before the cycle was even over??”

“What cycle?”

“There’s a cycle. It beeps at you so that you can switch to the next quadrant of your mouth. Then it automatically turns off when you’re done.”

He shrugs. “Meh. I don’t need a toothbrush telling me what to do.”

Maybe I need to be a little more zen about the toothbrush situation.

(Also, I suppose this is the response I should expect after buying him the thing in the first place. Passive aggressive, much?)

broccoli salad recipe with bacon in an orange bowl

Is everybody ready for Labor Day on Monday? It is forecasted to be 109 degrees, so I’m planning to eat copious amounts of this Broccoli Salad while sitting in my cool, air conditioned house.

You’ll love this Broccoli Salad recipe with Bacon

Who loves a good Broccoli Salad? Is it even a broccoli salad without the bacon? I added it to the title just so we’re all on the same page here about what this salad is all about.

Bacon Broccoli Salad Ingredients

The full recipe can be found in the recipe card down below!

  • Bacon (cooked)
  • Broccoli
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Chopped red onion
  • Miracle whip or mayonnaise
  • Lemon zest and lemon juice
  • White wine vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Seasonings (we’re spicing up our dressing with a combination of kosher salt, black pepper, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper)

How to make Broccoli Bacon Salad

It’s super easy to put together. First, fry up some bacon.

raw bacon on a sheet pan, cooked bacon on a paper towel

Except don’t actually fry it, that’s messy. Put it on a pan and bake your bacon in the oven. So much easier! No lava splatters!

While your bacon is cooking, chop up your broccoli. Now, I know you’ve chopped some broccoli in your lifetime, and you might be thinking I’m a total weirdo for including not one, not two, but  SIX process shots (count em up) for how to cut broccoli.

how to make chop broccoli into florets

But stay with me here: just like in my Macaroni Salad, I’m a firm believer that half the success of these types of salads comes from the size of the veggie chop. I like small florets of broccoli, so that I don’t ever have to take a bite of just big ol broccoli. I want a bite of broccoli AND bacon AND dried cranberries. Small florets are the way to go.

broccoli on cutting board, cutting into florets

And don’t leave those stems behind! They are tasty…when they are chopped small. Nobody wants to gnaw on a big ol stem in the middle of their salad experience. Be kind to your guests. Small chop ftw.

chopping broccoli stems to add to broccoli salad

Now that we’ve got all the chopping out of the way, mix up your dressing. It couldn’t be easier. I start with Miracle Whip. Miracle Whip?? Yep. I’ve never been a believer before this, guys. But recently Eric made us a special snack from his childhood:

Pear miracle whip cheese salad

I asked my Instagram followers if they had heard of it. It’s canned pear, topped with miracle whip and cheese, on a bed of lettuce. (SO. WEIRD. Have you had it before?)

Anyway. We had the Miracle Whip on hand and I decided to try it out in the broccoli bacon salad. I thought the only difference between Miracle Whip and mayo is that Miracle Whip had a lot more sugar. But it actually only has a little bit more sugar, and lots more spices. I’m A-ok with spices, so I decided to try it out. Delicious! I think I’m a convert. (A Miracle convert. NOT a Pear Cheese Salad convert.)

spoonful of dressing for bacon broccoli salad in a metal bowl

If you are not a believer, you can totally use mayo in place of Miracle Whip. I tried it both ways!

Anyway, back to the dressing for the broccoli bacon salad. Miracle OR mayo, with lemon, vinegar, sugar, and a little dry mustard and cayenne pepper.

cheddar, sunflower seed, cranberry, broccoli, bacon, and red onion in a metal bowl

Put it all together…

Broccoli and bacon salad in an orange bowl with red onion and a lemon

and voila. The easiest, tastiest Broccoli salad situation of your life!

This would be so fun to bring to a Labor Day BBQ on Monday, if you’re going to one! If you are still in quarantine, then make this salad and eat it as a side dish with your lunches all week. The perfect healthy side dish for any meal!

What to Serve with Broccoli and Bacon Salad

Broccoli salad with bacon is the perfect addition to your next BBQ or potluck, but it also makes an excellent side dish to along with dinner. 

A few of my favorites are BBQ smoked pulled pork, saucy pork chops, grilled flank steak, and lemon tarragon grilled chicken

broccoli salad recipe with bacon in a bowl from overhead

Storing Broccoli Salad with Bacon

Broccoli bacon salad is best after the flavors have had a chance to mingle, so it’s excellent stored in the fridge. Leftovers will last in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days. Keeping the bacon separate and stirring it in right before serving means it won’t get soggy in the fridge.

It can’t be frozen, because the textures of the broccoli and mayo won’t hold up when thawed.

spoonful of broccoli salad recipe with bacon

Broccoli Bacon Salad FAQs

Do bacon and broccoli go together?

Heck yes they do! The crunchy umami flavor of the bacon paired with the crispness of the broccoli is so good smothered in the creamy, tangy dressing. Bacon and broccoli make an excellent pairing! 

Is broccoli salad served cold or at room temperature?

Either way! Broccoli salad is great cold from the fridge, but also tastes delicious at room temperature when freshly made. Don’t let it sit out for too long, 2-3 hours is okay, but any longer than that and your mayo might start getting funky on you. (Don’t tell the food safety police but I’m actually pretty lax about this sort of thing…keeps immunity up, right?? Or something?)As usual, follow your nose and don’t be dumb. 😉

Does the bacon stay crispy?

Once the bacon is added to the broccoli bacon salad recipe, it will start to lose its crispiness. I recommend keeping it separate and adding it just before you’re ready to serve! 

best broccoli salad recipe in an orange bowl

More delicious summer salads you are going to love!

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Broccoli Salad with Bacon

4.87 from 142 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 8
Everyone needs a recipe for the best Broccoli Salad! This one is stuffed with bacon, cranberry, cheese, sunflower seeds, and tangy homemade dressing. It is easy to make and is a huge crowd pleaser. The perfect side dish to bring to your summer barbecue, or even to serve at Thanksgiving! 


For the salad

  • 10-11 strips bacon, cooked
  • 2 heads broccoli, about 1 and 1/2 pounds or 5-6 cups
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion, or more to taste

For the dressing

  • 1 & 1/4 cups Miracle Whip OR mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Start by making the bacon. I highly recommend baking it in the oven! So mush easier, and no splatter. However you want to do it, cook 10-11 slices of bacon to your desired level of crispness, then set aside on paper towels to cool. Once cool, chop into bite size pieces.
  • While the bacon cooks, mix together the ingredients for the dressing. In a large bowl add 1 and 1/4 cups Miracle Whip OR Mayonnaise, the zest from 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. (the cayenne adds flavor but not heat. Don’t be scared of it! Just careful :) Whisk all the dressing ingredients together.
  • Add the ingredients for the salad to the bowl with the dressing. Start by chopping your broccoli using a chef’s knife. I like really small florets, so you don’t get any bites that are just giant broccoli. See photos. I also like to save the stems, chop them up, and add them into the salad, but you can leave them out if you prefer.
  • Add all the broccoli to the large bowl. Add 1 cup dried cranberries, 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and 1/3 cup chopped red onion. Add in most of the bacon, reserving some to sprinkle on top for serving.* (Actually, any of the ingredients besides broccoli would look pretty sprinkled on top right before serving.)
  • Stir it all together. This salad can be served room temperature or chilled. If you chill it first, let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes before serving.
  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge! This salad will keep for about 5 days.



*If you are not serving your salad for a while, you can leave the bacon out and stir it in last minute so that it doesn’t get soggy. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 570kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 907mg | Potassium: 615mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 1139IU | Vitamin C: 138mg | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Calories: 570
Keyword: bacon, broccoli, easy, Salad
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. 5 stars
    Made this for Easter Dinner. It was a big hit. Everyone was asking, who mad the broccoli salad? It all went too.

  2. Didn’t want to add the sugar so I substituted it for honey. Taste great! Might cut down on the zest next time, just a tad. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    This is the only recipe you need for broccoli salad, my family was licking the bowl clean on Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing this recipe

  4. 5 stars
    Not sure why I haven’t left a review before now lol I’ve made this probably 6 times since I found the recipe. This is soo amazing. The sauce alone is so light and fresh, I’ve made it to top salads to he honest. This recipe has become a regular in my household, everyone loves it!

    1. I’m so happy to hear it’s been hit angela!! That’s amazing! I definitely need to try this dressing on some other salads. Thanks so much for reviewing and chiming in! 💕

  5. 5 stars
    I doubled this recipe for a group of 15 adults and there were leftovers, but probably wouldn’t have been leftovers if I didn’t double it.

    I had several compliments. I wasn’t sure about the cheese and planned to omit it, but my husband convinced me to put it in. I am really glad I did. Will absolutely make again!

    1. This should be our new mantra, “when in doubt, add the cheese” 😂 so happy you all enjoyed the salad Kari! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  6. So delicious. My son in law had three helpings of it last time I made it and he doesn’t like red onion or vegs.

  7. 5 stars
    First time I’ve made a broccoli salad and I have to say this was delicious. I had company for dinner and the guy said I don’t even like broccoli but this is really good. For sure this will be added to my favorites. 

  8. 5 stars
    This is hands down the best broccoli salad recipe I have ever made. The white wine vinegar really makes the dressing. First time I made this my husband couldn’t get enough of it. Wanted what was left in his lunch the next day. I have passed this recipe around to others who asked for it.

  9. 5 stars
    Second time making this salad. It does not disappoint!! Dressing is delicious and agree the smaller florets really help. I used thick cut cheddar this time and added extra. Also had tart cherries cause no cranberries were in the house. 

    Excellent and gets better as it sits. U gotta give it a go!

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