Looking for the perfect potluck dish? This vegetarian broccoli salad will be key to brightening up the table. Filled with healthy ingredients plus smoky almonds, it’ll leave your guests raving!
Everyone loves a good, classic, cold broccoli salad. Your grandma likely has a secret recipe that’s been passed down. Often this is filled with a heavy mayo-based dressing, loads of bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese. That can have its place for sure, especially when hanging out with family. But what about making it just a bit healthier and removing the bacon? This healthy broccoli salad is perfect for vegetarians that way!
We still use some mayo to get the right tang to the dressing, but yogurt helps keep things saucy while lightening them up. I’ve also perfected a smoky marinade reminiscent of bacon and I’ve baked it into almonds to give them that crunch you’ll be craving. Finally, dried cranberries help add some sweetness and the perfect finishing touch to this summer sunshine in a bowl.
Ingredients for Healthy Broccoli Salad
These are mainly ingredients you likely already have on hand in the pantry. You’ll just need to pick up some broccoli and red onions! I love that with this recipe I can select fun, healthy ingredients and still whip up with a classic recipe everyone will be asking for.
- Almonds: toasted together with liquid smoke and soy sauce to make a faux bacon-flavored crunch.
- Broccoli: Yup, we use the whole healthy broccoli here, stems and all.
- Dried Cranberries: This little pop of sweetness is the perfect finishing touch. It’s also a great chewy texture to add.
- Red Onion: Lots of bite here, and color. I love how it shines through the dressing!
- Dressing: Wrapped up in dressing made with mayo and yogurt, it gets the perfect balance of tang and sweetness from vinegar and sugar.
Bunches of whole broccoli are the cheapest option at the store. There’s no need to pay for crowns or to only use the florets. Just chop the stems smaller than the florets to make them easy to munch. You can even peel off some of the outer part of the stem if you desire.
How to make Broccoli Salad Without Bacon
There’s a decent amount of chopping to be done here, but you can easily work on it while the oven preheats and the almonds bake and cool.
Step 1: Almonds
Let’s make bacon-inspired almonds! Everyone will love this smoky marinade so that you can make a classic broccoli salad without bacon. The combo of smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and soy sauce all add up to delicious almonds.
Preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment. Stir up the marinade and then pour it over plain almonds and toss. Spread out and bake for just 5 minutes. You’re really just looking to toast them and make the marinade tacky. Set aside to cool.
Step 2: Dressing
Next up, the star – dressing! it may seem like a lot, but the creamy tang can’t be beat and we want it to thoroughly coat every piece of the salad. Some simple seasonings are added to yogurt and mayo to achieve the perfect flavor balance.
Step 3: Salad
Next up – the chopping! You can see how I made the stem pieces quite small compared to the florets. This makes them easier to chew and lets you use up all parts of the plant. No waste here.
Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl. Make sure it’s quite large so you can easily combine everything.
Toss with the dressing until everything is evenly coated. You can serve right away or set it back in the fridge to chill until party time.
Make Ahead: I find this will last up to 5 days in the fridge. It does lose a little bit of crispness towards the end there, so I’d still try and make it day of or one day ahead of a party.
Tough It Out: Some people find broccoli stems too tough to enjoy. You can always use a veggie peeler to take off some of the outermost parts before chopping. Also make sure and chop the stems quite small so they are easier to eat.
Creamy and Dreamy: Use plain, unsweetened yogurt here, and not Greek. Because it is thinner it will mix up into a dressing that coats every piece.
Best Summer Dishes
This vegetarian broccoli salad is so easy to make ahead, leaving you lots of time to fire up the grill when guests arrive so you can enjoy some hot dishes.
- Grilled Peach Caprese is a wonderful hot appetizer to serve in contrast to the cold broccoli salad.
- Portobello Mushroom Burgers are an amazing and hearty main dish that will look beautiful next to a large scoop!
- Watermelon Berry Fruit Salad will offer your fruit next to the veg and perfectly round out your party spread.
- 1 cup almonds 143 g
- 1 Tbsp liquid smoke 15 mL
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup 15 mL
- 1 tsp soy sauce 5 mL
- 1 tsp olive oil 5 mL
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup plain yogurt 220 g
- 1 cup mayonnaise 220 g
- 2 Tbsp sugar 30 g
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 30 mL
- ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
- 2 lbs broccoli stems and crowns cut into bite sizes, 907 g
- ½ cup diced red onion about ½ medium onion
- ½ cup dried cranberries 75 g
- Almonds: Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Stir together all "Bacon" Almonds ingredients, then spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until toasted and coating is tacky.
- Dressing: Meanwhile, stir together all Dressing ingredients.
- Salad: In a large bowl, stir together chopped broccoli, red onion, cranberries, and roasted almonds. Toss with dressing and serve.