If you happened to grow up in the Midwest like I did, you’re probably all too familiar with classic mayo-and-bacon-filled broccoli salads. Oh yeah, the ones your family members brought to summer BBQs that, as a kid, you may or may not have been afraid of.
A few years back I made it my mission to create a fresh, delicious, lightened up take on traditional broccoli salad without mayo and all of that extra *glop*. This beautiful healthy broccoli salad was everything I could dream of and more. It’s crunchy, a lil’ sweet, a lil’ savory, and it happens to be vegan (AKA no mayo involved).
Abra and I snacked on this broccoli salad all day long after perfecting it because it was SO flavorful and satisfying. With fiber and healthy fats, this is the perfect lunch to keep you full during the week, and it’s guaranteed to impress friends and family at your next summer BBQ.
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Traditional broccoli salad just got a makeover
That’s right, this healthy broccoli salad takes the mayo-filled one you grew up on and turns it into the super fresh salad of your dreams. Traditional broccoli salad often has bacon, raisins, some sort of nut or seed, and a dressing made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar. We’re skipping the mayo and added sugar and filling this light and easy broccoli salad with fresh blueberries, crunchy nuts, and a creamy, tahini-based dressing. Trust me, you may never go back to the old version!
Ingredients in this healthy broccoli salad
This healthy broccoli salad is loaded with fresh fruits and veggies that make it perfect for summer. It’s tossed in a super light, flavorful dressing that you’ll literally want to drizzle on everything. Seriously, I add it to grain bowls, quinoa salads, wraps, and everything in between. Here are the main ingredients we’re working with:
- For the produce: we’re using broccoli (of course), blueberries, carrots, red onion, cilantro & parsley.
- For the mix-ins: some toasted, sliced almonds, dried apricots and roasted sunflower seeds add crunch, natural sweetness and a little saltiness.
- For the dressing: you’ll need natural, drippy tahini (we love this one — use the code ‘ambitiouskitchen’ for 10% off your order!), garlic, lemon juice, pure maple syrup, a little water and plenty of salt & pepper. Mayo, who?!
Simple ingredient swaps
Out of a few things? Here’s what I can recommend for substituting in this easy broccoli salad recipe:
- Try a new veggie: I think this salad would also be delicious with shredded brussels sprouts or even kale.
- Choose your mix-ins: feel free to swap in any nuts or seeds you’d like, as well as dried cranberries, cherries or chopped Medjool dates for the apricots.
- Adjust the dressing: if you don’t have any tahini, natural cashew butter would be a great swap for keeping the dressing creamy.
Looking to add a boost of protein?
There are tons of delicious ways to add protein to this healthy broccoli salad! Try adding:
- 1 can of chickpeas or 1 cup of cooked quinoa to keep it plant-based
- Grilled chicken
- Grilled shrimp or salmon
- Crispy bacon would also be delicious, just like in traditional broccoli salads!
Do I need to cook the broccoli?
Nope! This healthy broccoli salad uses raw broccoli and is delicious eaten that way as the dressing marinates it nicely. If you’re sensitive to raw veggies like broccoli, feel free to blanch it first.
How to toast almonds for this broccoli salad
- Place sliced almonds in a nonstick pan over medium heat.
- Use a wooden spoon to consistently stir the almonds until they get nice and golden. This should take 3-6 minutes.
- Once done, remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool, then add the almonds to your salad!
A few tips for making this healthy broccoli salad
- Chop your veggies small. Be sure to chop your broccoli and dice your red onion super finely so that you get bursts of flavor in every bite. Having everything finely chopped will also help the dressing to coat every piece.
- Sweeten the dressing as you go. The dressing can be adapted to be as sweet as you’d like. We recommend 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup for this broccoli salad, but taste as you go and adjust as needed.
- Meal prep it or feed a crowd. Feel free to double or even triple this recipe to feed a crowd or to enjoy for lunches all week long!
Store it for later
The best part about this salad is that it gets even better over time as it marinates in the delicious tahini dressing. Store it in an airtight container (or a few meal prep containers like these) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and enjoy it all week long! It’s wonderful for both parties and meal prep, and it’s great for making the night before.
More healthy salads to try
- Avocado Blueberry Quinoa Salad
- Summer Strawberry Spinach Salad with Avocado
- Vegan Curried Broccoli Chickpea Salad
- Cashew Crunch Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Peach Brussels Sprouts Crunch Salad with Creamy Tahini Poppy Seed Dressing
Get all of our delicious salad recipes here!
I hope you love this healthy broccoli salad recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!
Healthy Summer Broccoli Salad
Healthy broccoli salad recipe made with simple ingredients like fresh blueberries, carrots, sweet dried apricots, toasted almonds and crunchy sunflower seeds. This easy, vegan and dairy free broccoli salad is made without mayo, is tossed in a light tahini dressing, and is perfect for summer parties or meal prep!
- For the salad:
- 5-6 cups fresh broccoli florets (from 1 head of broccoli), VERY finely chopped
- 1 ¼ cups fresh blueberries
- 1 cup shredded or matchstick cut carrots
- ½ cup chopped dried turkish apricots (look for no sulfur added) or sub dried cherries/cranberries
- 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup toasted sliced almonds*
- ¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds
- For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons drippy tahini
- ½ lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
- 2-3 tablespoons warm water, to thin dressing
- ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, add finely chopped broccoli, blueberries, carrots, diced apricots, red onion, cilantro, parsley, toasted almonds and sunflower seeds. Set aside.
Make the dressing by whisking together the following ingredients in a small bowl: tahini, lemon juice, water, maple syrup, garlic and salt and pepper. Immediately drizzle over salad and toss to combine. Garnish with extra toasted almonds and cilantro. Serve immediately or place in the fridge for later. Salad will keep well up to 5 days and is great when made ahead of time.
To toast your own almonds: Place sliced almonds in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to consistently stir the almonds until they get nice and golden. This should take 3-6 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool.
To store: store it in an airtight container (or a few meal prep containers like these) for up to 5 days and enjoy all week long! It's wonderful for both parties and meal prep, and it's great for making the night before.
See the full post for tips, tricks, and easy ways to customize this salad.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on June 18th, 2019, and republished on May 21st, 2023.
Is there any way of making this Whole 30 friendly by eliminating the maple syrup and adding something to sweeten the dressing…maybe coconut aminos?
coconut aminos really isn’t that sweet but you can certainly sub that for the soy sauce and leave the maple syrup out, or perhaps process dates instead? or use date syrup?
I’m sure it must be challenging to face pregnancy aversions and cravings when food is so central to one’s job! Abra, I’m glad Monique has you for a partner as she navigates this. 🙂
It’s definitely a new challenge! Abra’s taste-testing skills are being put to good use 🙂
Love this salad, except i’m Not sure we like the tahini flavor. Is something else I can use instead.
Perhaps try greek yogurt! I haven’t tried it though so can’t be much help in testing out different variations.
If I don’t have tahini I sub creamy almond butter.
Another winner!! Love it- can’t wait to pack it for lunch tomorrow!!
So happy to hear that! Perfect weekday lunch.
So good! Although, I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand for the salad part so I used what I had. Made a version with quinoa, blanched broccoli, pumpkin seeds, cashews, raisins and had everything for the dressing so I kept that the same 🙂 Can’t wait to have this for a quick lunch this week!
Sounds delicious! This one’s perfect for customizing. Glad you enjoyed!
When I hit ‘print’ a printable screen opens then a print dialog but only for a mere couple of seconds then it vanishes! Too fast for me to catch it! IPad, Safari. Help!
Hi Mary! We’re working on a fix for this – thanks for the heads up!
This salad is wonderful! I made this for my vegan daughter when visiting her In San Diego, and we both love this salad. I am not a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but I love tasty healthy food. I think this recipe will appeal to everyone, (except people who hate broccoli.). I did add chickpeas for extra protein. We both found this salad to be satisfying and filling as a meal on its own. We each have a leftover portion for our lunch tomorrow. Yum!
Perfect! I’m so glad you found this recipe. Such a great lunch option 🙂
All I have to say is I Love this And YOU! Thank you for all you do so I can eat amazing healthy meals!
So happy you’re loving the recipes here, Angie!
5 stars because I can’t wait to try this plus I’m so excited I stumbled upon your site.
Question: What is drippy tahini? TIA.
It’s just all natural tahini that’s just made from sesame seeds (and no other add-ins) so it has a drippy texture 🙂 hope you get a chance to try this one!
Delicious and healthy! I prefer something a little softer as the salad base, so I finely chopped brussel sprouts for the base and used a smaller amount of chopped broccoli. It kept great in the fridge, as promised!
Perfect! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
I’ve made this a few times now. I love all the crunch! One thing I’ve found is that I need to add more zing to the dressing – I’ve used lots more curry and Garam masala and added some honey. My taste buds – I’m not a big fan of raw broccoli. I often blanch my broccoli for salads as I think it tastes less bitter. If I did that with this salad I might not need to add more to the dressing.
Either way it’s a satisfying guilt free lunch or side dish! Colorful, too
This one’s great for customizing! Feel free to blanch the broccoli if you’d like 🙂 I’m glad you’ve found some flavors that you like, too!
This is another one of my go to salads for work lunches. I have made it without the blueberries as well and it’s still amazing &very filling.
Your recipes are not only delicious and fairly easy to recreate but they are beautiful to look at too❤️
Amazing! So glad you’re finding recipes here that you love 🙂
This salad is divine! I have been craving a lot of vegetables in my second trimester and this hit the mark perfectly. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out so tasty. Adding the warm water helped the dressing become the right consistency. This will be a regular in our kitchen!
Yay!! SO happy you loved it, mama 🙂
Added great northern beans, made 1.5x the dressing, and subbed pumpkin seeds. It was perfect for a fresh summer dish!!
I have made this salad a few times now. Once in the summer we paired this with grilled brats and again this week after my mother gave me heads of broccoli that she did not roast for Thanksgiving. Both times I have made it ahead which made planning meals way easier. This tastes amazing and saves great in the fridge! It is creamy, has sour/tart punches and touches of sweetness. This is one of those recipes that I will make over and over again all year round. What a healthy and delightful salad!
So happy to hear you’re a fan of this salad!! Thanks for leaving a review 🙂
This salad is so good! I don’t typically like raw broccoli but all the other yummy things combined to made it delicious. I did leave out the red onion and used all cilantro instead of cilantro + parsley, but that’s just a personal preference. I made the dressing exactly according to the recipe and loved it. I made it for a party so I doubled the recipe and it got gobbled up.
That all sounds fabulous! Happy you and your party guests loved it 🙂
Super fresh and crisp!
Love that crunch!!
It was absolutaley delicious, Thanks for sharing
Glad you enjoyed!