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.
Broccoli salad ingredients
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. For that hint of sweet and sour, you can thank the combination of sweet golden raisins and apple cider vinegar. The raisins give it a subtle sweetness without any added sugar making this salad Whole30 friendly.
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.
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.
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 barbecues (and many pot-lucks 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
- 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.