If you happened to grow up in the Midwest like I did, you’re probably all too familiar with classic mayo-and-bacon-filled broccoli salads. Oh yeah, the ones your family members brought to summer BBQs that, as a kid, you may or may not have been afraid of.
A few years back I made it my mission to create a fresh, delicious, lightened up take on traditional broccoli salad without mayo and all of that extra *glop*. This beautiful healthy broccoli salad was everything I could dream of and more. It’s crunchy, a lil’ sweet, a lil’ savory, and it happens to be vegan (AKA no mayo involved).
Abra and I snacked on this broccoli salad all day long after perfecting it because it was SO flavorful and satisfying. With fiber and healthy fats, this is the perfect lunch to keep you full during the week, and it’s guaranteed to impress friends and family at your next summer BBQ.
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Traditional broccoli salad just got a makeover
That’s right, this healthy broccoli salad takes the mayo-filled one you grew up on and turns it into the super fresh salad of your dreams. Traditional broccoli salad often has bacon, raisins, some sort of nut or seed, and a dressing made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar. We’re skipping the mayo and added sugar and filling this light and easy broccoli salad with fresh blueberries, crunchy nuts, and a creamy, tahini-based dressing. Trust me, you may never go back to the old version!
Ingredients in this healthy broccoli salad
This healthy broccoli salad is loaded with fresh fruits and veggies that make it perfect for summer. It’s tossed in a super light, flavorful dressing that you’ll literally want to drizzle on everything. Seriously, I add it to grain bowls, quinoa salads, wraps, and everything in between. Here are the main ingredients we’re working with:
- For the produce: we’re using broccoli (of course), blueberries, carrots, red onion, cilantro & parsley.
- For the mix-ins: some toasted, sliced almonds, dried apricots and roasted sunflower seeds add crunch, natural sweetness and a little saltiness.
- For the dressing: you’ll need natural, drippy tahini (we love this one — use the code ‘ambitiouskitchen’ for 10% off your order!), garlic, lemon juice, pure maple syrup, a little water and plenty of salt & pepper. Mayo, who?!
Simple ingredient swaps
Out of a few things? Here’s what I can recommend for substituting in this easy broccoli salad recipe:
- Try a new veggie: I think this salad would also be delicious with shredded brussels sprouts or even kale.
- Choose your mix-ins: feel free to swap in any nuts or seeds you’d like, as well as dried cranberries, cherries or chopped Medjool dates for the apricots.
- Adjust the dressing: if you don’t have any tahini, natural cashew butter would be a great swap for keeping the dressing creamy.
Looking to add a boost of protein?
There are tons of delicious ways to add protein to this healthy broccoli salad! Try adding:
- 1 can of chickpeas or 1 cup of cooked quinoa to keep it plant-based
- Grilled chicken
- Grilled shrimp or salmon
- Crispy bacon would also be delicious, just like in traditional broccoli salads!
Do I need to cook the broccoli?
Nope! This healthy broccoli salad uses raw broccoli and is delicious eaten that way as the dressing marinates it nicely. If you’re sensitive to raw veggies like broccoli, feel free to blanch it first.
How to toast almonds for this broccoli salad
- Place sliced almonds in a nonstick pan over medium heat.
- Use a wooden spoon to consistently stir the almonds until they get nice and golden. This should take 3-6 minutes.
- Once done, remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool, then add the almonds to your salad!
A few tips for making this healthy broccoli salad
- Chop your veggies small. Be sure to chop your broccoli and dice your red onion super finely so that you get bursts of flavor in every bite. Having everything finely chopped will also help the dressing to coat every piece.
- Sweeten the dressing as you go. The dressing can be adapted to be as sweet as you’d like. We recommend 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup for this broccoli salad, but taste as you go and adjust as needed.
- Meal prep it or feed a crowd. Feel free to double or even triple this recipe to feed a crowd or to enjoy for lunches all week long!
Store it for later
The best part about this salad is that it gets even better over time as it marinates in the delicious tahini dressing. Store it in an airtight container (or a few meal prep containers like these) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and enjoy it all week long! It’s wonderful for both parties and meal prep, and it’s great for making the night before.
More healthy salads to try
Get all of our delicious salad recipes here!
I hope you love this healthy broccoli salad recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!
Healthy Summer Broccoli Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Healthy broccoli salad recipe made with simple ingredients like fresh blueberries, carrots, sweet dried apricots, toasted almonds and crunchy sunflower seeds. This easy, vegan and dairy free broccoli salad is made without mayo, is tossed in a light tahini dressing, and is perfect for summer parties or meal prep!
- For the salad:
- 5-6 cups fresh broccoli florets (from 1 head of broccoli), VERY finely chopped
- 1 ¼ cups fresh blueberries
- 1 cup shredded or matchstick cut carrots
- ½ cup chopped dried turkish apricots (look for no sulfur added) or sub dried cherries/cranberries
- 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup toasted sliced almonds*
- ¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds
- For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons drippy tahini
- ½ lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
- 2-3 tablespoons warm water, to thin dressing
- ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, add finely chopped broccoli, blueberries, carrots, diced apricots, red onion, cilantro, parsley, toasted almonds and sunflower seeds. Set aside.
Make the dressing by whisking together the following ingredients in a small bowl: tahini, lemon juice, water, maple syrup, garlic and salt and pepper. Immediately drizzle over salad and toss to combine. Garnish with extra toasted almonds and cilantro. Serve immediately or place in the fridge for later. Salad will keep well up to 5 days and is great when made ahead of time.
To toast your own almonds: Place sliced almonds in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to consistently stir the almonds until they get nice and golden. This should take 3-6 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool.
To store: store it in an airtight container (or a few meal prep containers like these) for up to 5 days and enjoy all week long! It’s wonderful for both parties and meal prep, and it’s great for making the night before.
See the full post for tips, tricks, and easy ways to customize this salad.
Servings: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 4)
Saturated fat: 2.1g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on June 18th, 2019, and republished on May 21st, 2023.