Made with fresh broccoli, crisp apples, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and a light and bright citrus dressing, this Healthy Broccoli Salad is crunchy, sweet, tangy, and absolutely delicious!
This lightened-up recipe for Broccoli Salad without mayo makes a wholesome side dish that pairs perfectly with entrees like Classic Burgers, Grilled BBQ Chicken Breasts, Grilled Shrimp, or Black Bean Burgers.
I have never been a fan of Broccoli Salads made with mayonnaise, cheese, and bacon. They are overly heavy, too sweet, and not exactly the healthiest way to enjoy your broccoli.
My recipe swaps out those heavy ingredients to create a Healthy Broccoli Salad that is fresh, bright, tangy, crunchy, and downright irresistible.
This Healthy Broccoli Salad is the perfect dish to bring to a potluck, picnic, or block party. The fresh flavors in this salad are a welcome addition to the typically heavier sides shared at gatherings, making it a unique dish that appeals to the masses.
And because this salad is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free, most everyone will be able to safely enjoy it.
what makes this Broccoli Salad healthy
- No Mayo. Instead of a heavy dressing, this broccoli salad recipe is dressed with a light and fresh citrus vinaigrette that pairs beautifully with the fruit and broccoli in this salad.
- No Cheese or Bacon. Classically, Broccoli Salads are made with cheese and bacon, along with being dressed with a mayonnaise-based dressing. This recipe omits cheese and bacon, lowering the fat, calories, and cholesterol in this recipe.
- Nutrient-Dense. This recipe for broccoli salad is loaded with superfoods. Broccoli, apples, and oranges are all filled with fiber and vitamins.
- Filled with Protein. Thanks to the addition of edamame, this broccoli salad has a hefty dose of protein per serving.
- Naturally-Sweetened. Instead of adding granulated sugar to the dressing, the dressing is instead sweetened with fresh orange juice and a bit of honey or maple syrup.
- Allergy-Friendly. This Healthy Broccoli Salad recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, and egg-free. It can easily be made vegan-friendly by swapping out the honey for maple syrup in the dressing.
Notes On Ingredients & Substitutions
- Broccoli: Be sure to use fresh broccoli and only the florets. Don't discard the stem, grate it and use it to make the filling for Baked Egg Rolls or Vegetable Potstickers.
- Apples: Select sweet apples like a Honey Crisp or Fuji. Granny smith apples are too tart and red delicious break down in the dressing so are not recommended.
- Oranges: Seedless oranges are best, which are much easier to segment than oranges with seeds. In a bind, you can swap the fresh oranges out for one 14-ounce can of mandarin oranges that have been drained.
- Edamame: There is no need to cook the edamame, simply let it defrost before adding it to the salad.
- Dried Cranberries: The cranberries add a sweet and tart bite. If you do not have cranberries, golden raisins are a good substitute.
- Onion: Use a red or sweet onion to add a bit of crunch and balance the sweetness in this salad.
- Sunflower Seeds: Use toasted, salted sunflower seeds to the salad to add crunch, while keeping it nut-free.
- Citrus Dressing:
- Orange Juice: If you have fresh oranges on hand, freshly squeezed juice work best. However, bottled orange juice works as well.
- Honey: Feel free to swap the honey for maple syrup if desired.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar gives the dressing a nice tang and compliments the apples in the salad. The only substitution I would recommend for apple cider vinegar is rice wine vinegar.
How to Prepare Broccoli Salad
- Prepare the dressing by whisking together the orange juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and olive oil together in a small bowl until well incorporated and set aside.
- Cut a head of broccoli into bite-size pieces, using only the florets.
- Segment the oranges by using a sharp knife, to carefully slice the skin away from the flesh of the orange. Trim off any white pith that remains and then cut between the membranes to segment the orange.
- Chop up the apples and onions.
- Toss together the broccoli with the apples, orange segments, onions, cranberries, and edamame in a large bowl.
- Add the dressing to the vegetables and toss well.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the flavors to develop.
- Before serving, add the sunflower seeds to the salad and toss to distribute evenly.
The flavors in this broccoli salad get better after refrigeration, so it is perfect to prepare up to 48 hours in advance.
To make in advance, prepare as directed up to the addition of sunflower seeds. Cover and refrigerate. Right before serving, toss the salad together again and sprinkle with sunflower seeds and serve.
Notes on Serving
This Broccoli Salad is able to be held at room temperature for several hours, without having to worry about food poisoning, even at outdoor gatherings. That also means this salad travels well, which is perfect if you have to transport your dish with you to a gathering.
More Potluck Worthy Side Dish Recipes
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Asian Noodle Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Homemade Baked Beans
- Summer Fruit Salad
This Broccoli Salad is bursting with flavor and is sure to make the perfect addition to any potluck, BBQ, or party!
Healthy Broccoli Salad
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups broccoli florets chopped into bite size pieces
- 2 apples chopped into bite size pieces
- 2 seedless navel oranges segmented and cut into chunks
- ¼ cup red onion minced
- 1 cup defrosted edamame
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds optional
- Whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and olive oil together in a small bowl until well incorporated. Set aside.
- In a large mixing or serving bowl, combine the broccoli, apples, oranges, edamame, cranberries, and onion together.
- Add the dressing to the vegetables and toss well.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Before serving, toss again and then top with sunflower seeds.