This Broccoli Salad is a quick and easy salad recipe, featuring cranberries, crunchy sunflower seeds, and a creamy tahini dressing. It’s the perfect option to take to a potluck or holiday party, and it can be made ahead of time for convenience. I think it tastes even better as it marinates in the fridge!
How to Make the Best Broccoli Salad
The key to making a good broccoli salad is to first chop the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces. Most people don’t want to have to bite into a huge piece of broccoli on their forks, so taking the time to slice huge florets into smaller pieces will be greatly appreciated later.
The smaller you chop everything, the better chance you’ll have of getting a little bite of everything on your fork. The combination of red onion, cranberries, and sunflower seeds are addictive!
Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies on the planet. Whether you eat it raw or cooked, it’s loaded with vitamin C (more than an orange!) and is a great source of fiber and nutrients.
Here are a few more broccoli benefits:
- Cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, may help to protect against certain types of cancers, like breast, prostate, and stomach. (source)
- Broccoli contains compounds, including a flavanoid called Kaempferol, that may help to lower inflammation in the body. (source)
- Broccoli is loaded with antioxidants, including one called sulphoraphane, which may help to lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, and lower oxidative stress. (source)
- Eating broccoli may help to decrease insulin resistance in people with Type 2 diabetes. (source) One study suggests this blood sugar control may be due to the antioxidants found in broccoli.
Many of these benefits can be found in raw or cooked broccoli, so you can enjoy this salad with quickly blanched broccoli (meaning you drop it in boiling water for 60 seconds or less, then drain and rinse with cold water to STOP the cooking process), or with raw broccoli.
I tend to prefer using raw broccoli because it makes the preparation a lot faster, and I think the salad lasts longer for leftovers this way.
Broccoli Salad Dressing without Mayo
This salad dressing is made with tahini, instead of mayo, which offers creaminess without the added oil and calories. Tahini is simply a paste made ground sesame seeds, just like peanut butter is made from ground peanuts. If you don’t have tahini on hand, you can use almond butter instead.
Paired with red wine vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, and salt, this dressing comes together in just minutes and brings the whole salad together. Once you’re done chopping the broccoli, the rest can be assembled with less than 10 minutes of effort.
Be sure you add the sunflower seeds to this salad right before serving, so that they retain their crunch. The leftovers can get a little softer when the seeds are marinated in the fridge overnight, so I make sure they are freshly added when I’m serving this for company.
Broccoli Salad Recipe (No Mayo!)
- 1 pound broccoli florets (about 2 1/2 heads of broccoli)
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I like to use roasted & salted ones for this recipe)
- 1/4 cup raw tahini
- 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces, and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add in the red onion and cranberries.
- In a small bowl, combine the tahini, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, garlic, and several grinds of black pepper, and stir well to combine. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, as needed to thin out the dressing. You want it to be thick, but pourable, to coat the broccoli. Taste the dressing and adjust any seasoning to taste. Keep in mind that the flavor will be diluted once it is poured over a pound of vegetables.
- Pour the dressing over the broccoli, onions, and cranberries, and toss well to coat. Cover and let the salad marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Just before serving, stir in the sunflower seeds to retain their crunch.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Broccoli Salad Nutrition (per heaping 1/2 cup): Calories: 206, Fat: 11g, Carbohydrates: 24g, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 6g
- For a non-creamy dressing, try tossing this broccoli salad in my Apple Cider Vinaigrette or my Honey Dijon Dressing instead. Both options are delicious!
- Need ideas for using your leftover broccoli stems? Try processing them into rice, similar to Cauliflower Rice, or shred the stems to make a broccoli slaw. You can use that as a swap for cabbage in my Vegan Coleslaw recipe.
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it! And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from your experience!
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite make-ahead salad? My Quinoa Black Bean Salad is my other go-to. I make it nearly every other week!