This delicious vegan broccoli salad is the perfect side dish for any summer party or just any warm summer evening. It has a little sweetness and a lot of crunch, it’s completely customizable to your taste, and it is so easy to make. You don’t even need to turn on your stove!
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There are very few mayonnaise-based chilled salads I like. But this veganized classic broccoli salad is definitely the exception to that! I think of it as a summer salad, but it is actually so good all year long. And it’s actually a surprisingly popular holiday side dish!
It is also the perfect compromise between B and me, and one of the only times I can get her to eat raw vegetables. Fresh broccoli florets, shredded carrots, and red onion meet vegan mayo, Bacos, and shredded vegan cheese to create the best broccoli salad.
If you have never had traditional broccoli salad before, you are in for quite a treat. It’s a great addition for potlucks, parties, or poolside gatherings. Everyone will love this vegan broccoli salad. It even got B to eat raw veggies. So that’s saying something!
Why do we think this is the best vegan broccoli salad?
- So darn delicious. It’s an amazing combination of flavors that will completely tantalize your taste buds
- Easy to make. This broccoli salad is so very easy and simple to put together.
- A great summer meal prep option. Serve it with chickpeas for a main meal or as the perfect side dish to add a healthy burst of flavor and nutrition to any meal.
Ingredients for this Vegetarian Broccoli Salad Recipe
This tasty salad uses fresh simple ingredients, most of which you may already have in your kitchen!
For the vegan salad, you’ll need:
- Raw broccoli florets – rinsed under cold water and cut small
- Vegan-friendly bacon bits – We usually use those Bac’n Bits from McCormick. Yes, they are vegan! They’re actually made of soy, as are a lot of bacon bits sold in almost every major grocery store.
- Red onion – smaller, thin-sliced julienne
- Shredded carrots – you can shred your own or purchase a bag of shredded carrots. Also, feel free to use a variety of colored heirloom carrots for an extra burst of color.
- Shredded vegan cheddar cheese
- Dried cranberries – for a touch of sweet that you will love in this salad
- Sunflower seeds – for extra crunch
For the tangy creamy dressing, you’ll need:
- Vegan mayonnaise – We usually like to use either Vegannaise or Hellman’s Vegan Mayonnaise
- Rice wine vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Spice Cabinet: onion powder, ground mustard, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, celery salt
Substitution Options for our Vegan Broccoli Salad Recipe
For the fresh broccoli: You really want to use fresh broccoli and not frozen. Trust me. If you want a little variety you can use broccoflower or romanesco broccoli. You can even try cauliflower, but I don’t think you’ll get the same effect as the fresh, crisp broccoli.
For the vegan bacon bits: You can skip this altogether, or you can use some sun-dried tomatoes. Leave them dehydrated for a nice chewy texture, or rehydrate them in warm water and add some smoked paprika for a pop of flavor.
For the red onions: Sub shallots or green onions for the red onion. You can also use a vidalia sweet onion. If you don’t like onion at all, try a red bell pepper.
Vegan Cheese Options: Honestly, you can probably use any vegan shredded cheese and it would taste good.
For the sunflower seeds: You can use pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds, etc.
For the dried cranberries: You can substitute green or red raisins for the craisins. You could also try out other dried fruit like blueberries, apricot or papaya.
For the vegan mayo: You can make this without mayonnaise, but you need something to bind it together. I recommend either plain vegan yogurt or a blend of the vegan mayo and yogurt to cut the amount of oil but keep the mixture creamy.
How to Make Broccoli Salad with Sunflower Seeds and Cranberries
This loaded broccoli salad is such an easy recipe. It’s perfect for summer because you don’t even need to turn on the stove!
Step 1: Make the broccoli salad dressing.
Step 2: Assemble the raw broccoli salad.
Add the chopped broccoli along with the rest of the salad ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir.
Drizzle half the dressing over salad and mix well, folding the dressing in with a rubber spatula. Add the other half of the dressing and mix again to fully coat.
Step 3: Let the healthy salad sit in the fridge.
Allow salad to sit in the fridge in a large bowl – covered – for at least an hour or overnight for optimal flavor.
What to do with Your Leftover Broccoli Stems
There are a variety of ways you can use your leftover broccoli stems. Sometimes I find the easiest thing is just to chop them into very small pieces and toss them in my Envirocycle composter.
The Envirocycle is a tumbler composter that is completely self-contained, and the smaller 17 gallon size is great for my small city garden. I absolutely love it! If you’re into gardening or composting, you should definitely check them out! And it comes in black or hot pink!
But it should be noted the stems are a nutritional powerhouse all their own. Yes, it’s a hard sell to get people to eat broccoli stalks, but they can be downright tasty!
As a matter of fact, when I was a kid the stem was the only part of the broccoli plant I would eat. The florets freaked me out. And my grandmothers always saved the stems and made them for me. So before you throw them in the garbage or the composter, here are a few other options.
First, remove the outer layer from the stalk with a vegetable peeler. Then you can use your broccoli stems to make broccoli slaw, you can roast them with some olive oil or boil them to make soup.
You can chop them up and add them to stews or stir fries, or simply chop the stem into sticks and serve it with some vegan buttermilk ranch. Honestly, the options are almost limitless. If you plan to freeze them, you should blanch them first.
What to Serve with Broccoli Salad
This broccoli salad is the perfect side dish for just about anything! It’s also a great light lunch all on its own.
We like to serve it alongside:
How to Store Easy Vegan Broccoli Salad
Refrigerate leftover broccoli salad in a sealed, airtight container.
How long does broccoli salad last in the fridge? Salad will stay good, refrigerated in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. I don’t recommend freezing this salad.
When you make this easy broccoli salad, we’d love to hear what you think!
Leave a comment and star rating in the comments section below. That will help more people find these great vegan recipes. Enjoy!
For the Salad:
- 4 cups small-cut broccoli florets (I usually start with 2 heads of fresh broccoli, about 1 - 1.5 lb total)
- 1/2 cup vegan-friendly bacon bits
- 1/2 cup red onion - smaller, thin-sliced julienne
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
For the Dressing:
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or white wine or red wine)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (½ lemon)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp ground mustard
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp fine ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp celery salt
- Chop all your broccoli, place in a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the chopped broccoli and stir.
- Drizzle half the dressing over salad and mix well, folding the dressing in with a rubber spatula. Add the other half of the dressing and mix again to fully coat.
- Allow salad to sit in the fridge - covered - for at least an hour or overnight for optimal flavor.
- Salad will stay good, refrigerated in a sealed container, for 3-4 days.
Serving Size:1/10 the recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 475mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 6g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and may not always be accurate.