Chock full of crispy bacon, sweet golden raisins, and toasted pecans, this classic Broccoli Bacon Salad recipe is always a favorite at potluck dinners and family picnics. Best served cold, this salad gets even more delicious the next day.
The creamy dressing is made with just three ingredients — mayonnaise, sugar, and apple cider vinegar for a little tanginess — and is the perfect contrast to the crunchy broccoli and chewy raisins. This dish is a nice accompaniment for barbecue chicken, pork chops, or even meatloaf.
Broccoli Bacon Salad
There are a lot of variations on the original broccoli salad recipe, but the basics are still the same. Chopped, raw broccoli tossed with a mayo-based dressing is combined with crunchy nuts or seeds and chewy raisins or dried cranberries.
I personally like the combination in my own recipe, but there are a lot of tasty substitutions you can make based on what you have available in your refrigerator or pantry.
- Mayonnaise > Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Sugar > honey or maple syrup
- Golden raisins > dried cranberries or chopped dried figs
- Pecans > slivered almonds or toasted walnuts
- Apple cider vinegar > red wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- Fried and crumbled bacon > packaged bacon bits
Here are my tips for making the BEST EVER broccoli salad:
- Cut the broccoli into uniform, bite-size pieces. Smaller pieces are easier to get on your fork and are easier to chew. You can also use the stalk in the salad if you first peel it and cut it into small pieces.
- Toast the pecans before adding them to the salad so they retain their crunch and don’t get soggy. Toasting the pecans also enhances the flavor. Also, here’s a little secret —I toast my pecans before adding them to my quick bread recipes for the very same reasons.
- Chill the salad for at least an hour before serving so that the flavors can meld and the dressing soaks into the ingredients. Like coleslaw, this salad tastes even better the next day!
- Plump the raisins! If you haven’t done this before, it’s a great way to enhance their flavor and chewiness. See how below.
How to plump raisins
Although golden raisins are naturally high in sugar and calories, raisins are packed with energy and are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plumping golden raisins makes them expand and become even juicier and adds even more flavor to the already tasty morsels.
The usual way to plump raisins is covering the raisins with boiling water and allowing them to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then draining off the extra liquid.
In today’s recipe, however, the raisins are simply soaked in a little rice wine vinegar. After a few minutes, both the raisins and the leftover vinegar are added to the salad with delicious results.
According to the USDA, rinsing broccoli under clean, running water and rubbing it briskly with your hands is an easy way to remove dirt and surface microorganisms.
Another cleaning method is soaking broccoli florets in a bowl of cool water with a tablespoon of vinegar for a few minutes. Dirt and any little hiding bugs will be loosened from the florets. After soaking, thoroughly rinse the broccoli in clean water.
- Fresh Herb Potato Salad — The flavor of this classic, creamy potato salad is enhanced by using fresh herbs—tarragon and parsley—in the dressing.
- Grilled Asparagus Panzanella Salad — This easy salad starts with day-old country-style bread and the star ingredient, grilled asparagus, of course!
- Corn and Avocado Salad — Toss together corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and a light vinaigrette for a fresh and easy summer side dish.
- Poppy Seed Kale Salad — Sweet and crunchy, Poppy Seed Kale Salad is a delicious “almost homemade” side salad.
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- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 large head of broccoli
- 3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 8 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
- Add the golden raisins to a small bowl with 1 tablespoon rife wine vinegar. Allow the raisins to soak, or plump, in the vinegar for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare the broccoli florets.
- .Remove the florets from the head of broccoli and rinse thoroughly. Cut the florets into small bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, and apple cider vinegar until smooth.
- Add the crumbled bacon, pecans, and golden raisins (do not drain) to the bowl with the broccoli and toss gently to combine.
- Pour the mayonnaise dressing over the broccoli mixture and stir until all the ingredients are coated. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
Save the stalk
Peel the broccoli stalk and save for later to make soups or shred for broccoli slaw. The stalk may also be chopped into small pieces and added to this broccoli salad if you like.
How to toast pecans
Add chopped pecans to a non-stick frying pan over medium low heat. Cook and stir occasionally until they become fragrant and have turned just a bit darker, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool before using.
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Serving Size:1 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 201Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 413mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 5g
Sheila Thigpen, author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook, is a recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer. She spent 20+ years as a business manager in the publishing industry before she retired in 2018 to focus on her passions — cooking, photography, and writing. Living near the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Sheila and her husband have two adult daughters and two fine sons-in-law, are active in their church, love to travel, and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. Follow Sheila on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!