Looking for a crowd-pleasing salad? This easy recipe for broccoli salad with bacon is different and delicious! Try this salty, savory, sweet and sour dish today. Gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo and Whole30 friendly with a keto option!
I haven't made broccoli salad in years, but I was reminded of it the other day when I saw it on a buffet. I knew it would be easy to create a paleo version. The old classic broccoli salad used to be such a pot-luck staple, but it’s one many people forget about these days. I vote we bring this salty, savory, sour, sweet dish back!
I knew I had a cold broccoli salad recipe somewhere, but I couldn't find it. So I recreated it from memory—and made a few changes along the way. I must admit, it turned out even better than I expected. My new broccoli salad with bacon is one of my family's favorite recipes. It’s a great lunch and the perfect summer side dish. It's also paleo, gluten-free, Whole30, and keto-friendly (and it’s a major crowd-pleaser).
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Getting picky about broccoli
Because this salad is so focused on showcasing this vegetable (which is actually the bud or flower of the plant), it’s important to be choosy about your broccoli. Look for a head with tightly closed buds—avoid any yellowing or browning.
Interestingly, broccoli gives off heat once it’s harvested and it quickly diminishes in both nutrition and flavor. While you can store broccoli for up to a week in the fridge, enjoy it fresh for best results! Once you’ve selected some beautiful fresh broccoli, you’re ready to create this oh-so-satisfying broccoli salad with crispy bacon.
Easy broccoli salad recipe
This salad comes together in no time flat. The contrast between the various components is what takes this salad to the next level. This salad gets its major crunch from the crisp, fresh broccoli florets (of course). And walnuts amp up the crunch-factor and add a nutty flavor that pairs so well with the vibrant “green” flavor of the raw broccoli.
What really makes this salad stand out, is the way it hits all the flavor profiles at once—salty, savory, sour, sweet and smoky. It’s a fantastic combination. The raisins give it a subtle sweetness without any added sugar making this salad Whole30 friendly.
For that hint of sweet and sour, you can thank the combination of sweet golden raisins and apple cider vinegar in the mayonnaise based dressing. The creaminess of the dressing offsets the crunchiness of the broccoli.
The red onion adds a little bite to the salad. If you prefer your salad with a milder onion flavor, try soaking the onions in ice water for ten minutes. The “bite” comes from the sulfuric compounds in the onion (which also causes your eyes to tear up when cutting); giving them a quick cold bath removes the harshness. This technique works well for any type of onion.
It's all about the bacon
Of course, let’s be honest, the bacon in this salad is really what keeps people coming back for more. After all, can you ever go wrong with bacon? And this broccoli bacon salad has lots of smoky goodness! Just be sure to choose a bacon with no sugar or additives so it's Whole30 approved.
I like to cook the bacon crisp and then crumble it into the salad. My favorite bacon-cooking method is in the oven and I typically cook extra strips to use in dishes needing a little flavor punch (store them in the fridge until you need them). The smoky, savory, salty flavor of bacon elevates every vegetable from side dish status to something truly special.
I updated this bacon broccoli salad recipe from the old buffet staple, by using homemade avocado oil mayo (to make it even easier you can get it pre-made) and skipped the sugar that's usually added to the tangy dressing. I also reduced the amount of dressing to let the flavors of the salad shine through. And of course, I had to add a little extra bacon.
Here's what you'll need to make it.
- broccoli florets
- crumbled bacon
- red onion
- apple cider vinegar
- salt & pepper
This salad couldn't be easier to make. Stir together the onions, vinegar, and a pinch of salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in the mayonnaise.
Then combine broccoli, bacon, raisins, and nuts, tossing them in the dressing. Lastly, add salt and pepper to taste.
There are so many ways to change up this salad just by swapping out a few ingredients.
Want to make it keto? Omit the raisins for a more savory, and lower net carbs, keto broccoli salad recipe. If you want to add a hint of sweetness, just add a little of your favorite keto-friendly sweetener to the dressing.
Or try different add-ins? You can easily swap dried cranberries for the raisins and slivered almonds for the walnuts to change it up for a holiday dinner.
Need to make it nut-free? Swap out the walnuts for another crunchy option like sunflower seeds or pepitas.
Or substitute the bacon? You can make it with turkey bacon or vegan bacon. Or substitute sun-dried tomatoes or olives to add extra salty flavor without bacon.
So, if you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing dish to get everyone eager to eat their veggies, this salad is the perfect side dish. It’s a healthy and delicious summer salad. This updated broccoli salad with bacon will definitely be on the menu for our Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day BBQ (and many potluck barbecues in between 🙂 ).
More easy salad recipes
- Antipasto Salad with Easy Italian Dressing
- Avocado Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes
- Easy Tomato Cucumber Salad
- Avocado Tuna Salad
- Chicken Salad with Grapes and Walnuts
- Shrimp and Arugula Salad
- Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Broccoli Salad with Bacon Recipe
- ¼ cup red onion diced
- 2 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 head broccoli cut into small florets or bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)
- 8 slices bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- sea salt to taste
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- Combine onions, vinegar and a good pinch of salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk mayonnaise into the dressing ingredients.
- Add remaining ingredients and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
How can bacon be paleo? Even the organic, nitrate free has dextrose, dextrin and/or maltodextrin in it - both made from.corn, rice, or wheat.
Try a local farm, they will often make bacon without additives. There are also online sources for paleo bacon, like U.S. Wellness Meats. The ingredients in their Whole 30 approved bacon are just pork and salt.
Food to Fitness
Looks absolutely great. Would definitely try this.
Used 1/3 cup onions and waluts. Very tasty!
I also added avocado, fresh basil and baby spinach. Really tastY
I use half cauliflower and half broccoli and put in sunflower seeds instead of walnuts and it is delish! The raisin's add just enough sweetness to make you not miss the sugar in the conventional recipe. I didn't think I could find a paleo version that I would like as much as the rich sugar filled version but I make this one every week to take to work for 'breakfast'! Works great with Tessemae's mayo if you don't make your own. I haven't been able to make mayo that is an acceptable substitute thus far!
Yay! I haven't had it for breakfast yet - I'll have to try that! 🙂
Delish!! Made it just like the recipe says ~ totally yummy. I was dreaming about returning home from my errands the next day and chowing down the leftovers. Unbeknownst to me my hubby beat me to it! I was so sad! Can't wait to remake! Thank you!
I've also added chopped apple to this before. yummy
Does anyone know how many calories are in each serving?
The combination broccoli and bacon is one of my favorite, I'll give it a try next weekend.
Cassidy @ Cassidy's Craveable Creations
I made this yesterday for a get together at our house and everyone loved it, thanks for the recipe!!! I didn't quite cut my broccoli pieces small enough so the broccoli was kind of hard to eat so next time I will know to cut them smaller, lol!! Thanks again the recipe it was great 🙂
Yay! So glad everyone loved it Cassidy!
I come back to this recipe every summer. It's always a hit!
Yay! I'm so glad you love it, Steph 🙂