This vibrant, classic Broccoli Apple Salad recipe is a fresh and flavorful side dish great for a party or potluck. It’s packed with nutritious ingredients like sweet apples, crunchy pecans, and fresh broccoli and tossed in a sweet, tangy dressing. Ready or prepped ahead of time in less than 15 minutes!
This Broccoli Apple Salad is a bowl full of goodness! Crisp and crunchy, this superstar is packed with fresh ingredients like apples, broccoli, and red onion, then tossed in a light and creamy dressing. Add it to your list of favorite summer potluck side dishes along with Corn and Black Bean Salad and fan favorite Asian Slaw.
Why make this? Crunchy pecans and plump juicy raisins add layers of texture to the crisp broccoli slaw base. Sweet and tangy ingredients marry beautifully to create a creamy dressing that leaves you clamoring for a second serving. It’s truly an ideal balance of palate pleasing contradictions.
Much like my recipe for Chopped Chickpea Salad, it’s great to meal prep for a light lunch option. I especially enjoy noshing on this during warmer months, although it’s a dish that can be enjoyed year-round.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Below is an overview of the ingredients and notes for substitutions or variations.
Broccoli– Use fresh, raw broccoli and wash well before adding to the salad. This recipe requires 2 cups florets, which is about 1 large head. You can buy pre-cut florets, but for me it was cheaper and not much more difficult to cut myself.
Broccoli Slaw – I first tried this salad with shaved broccoli stems and it was too tough. However, I loved the easy mix of textures, so I recommend using a broccoli slaw. If the store doesn’t have broccoli slaw, a simple cabbage and carrot slaw will work as well.
Apple – I use 1 large apple or 2 small ones. A crisp, sweet apple like Honeycrisp or even Gala is preferred over the tart or sour varieties like Granny Smith. The flavor and the pop of red in the sweet apples is perfect!
Raisins – Raisins add a wonderfully subtle and sweet flavor. You can easily substitute cranberries or dried currants (which taste similar to raisins).
Pecans – Pecans are usually my go to for nuts in salads. I do love to toast them, but it isn’t required for this recipe. You can substitute any nuts you like, although walnuts would probably be the closest.
Dressing – My go to is Hellman’s Mayo (full fat) for a creamy dressing. The addition of the greek yogurt balances out they mayo and makes the dressing a little lighter in calories.
Recipe Tip: I love broccoli, but it is best to cut the florets on the smaller side so you can get a mixture of ingredients and flavors on your fork rather than one giant hunk of broccoli
Broccoli: To Blanch or not to Blanch?
I do rinse my broccoli well, but never blanch it when making broccoli salad, and I’ve never received any complaints. If you prefer to do so, you can. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and then toss in the broccoli florets for no longer than 60 seconds. Immediately drain and rinse in cold water. Dry your broccoli thoroughly before proceeding.
- It’s best to cut the broccoli into smaller pieces than bite sized.
- Because the ingredients contain a good amount of fiber, it won’t wilt with the dressing over it.
- You can make this in the morning and pack it in lunch containers for work, school or picnics. I actually like it better if the dressing is allowed to sit over the salad for a few hours, and then restirred.
- If you don’t have pecans, then walnuts would be a good substitute.
- Go for sweet apples such as gala apples rather than sharp and sour ones.
- Look at all those vibrant colors!
Storage and Make Ahead Suggestions
Serving: Flavors marinate well after sitting for a few hours, and using firm ingredients prevents the “soggy salad” effect.
Make Ahead: The dressing can be made the night before as well as all of the ingredients be prepared (the dressing helps keep the apples from yellowing). I like this salad better if the dressing has sat on the salad for a few hours in the refrigerator, so feel free to pack it all together for potlucks, picnics, or lunches. It can also be served immediately after dressing.
Leftovers: This salad is excellent the next day and the dressing keeps the apples from turning brown. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Lasts 3-4 days.
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Broccoli Apple Salad
- 2 cups Broccoli Slaw
- ¼ cup Red Onion finely diced
- 1.5 cup Diced Apple Honey Crisp or other sweet variety, diced
- 2 cups Broccoli Florets
- ⅓ cup Chopped Pecans
- ¼ cup Raisins or Cranberries or Dried Currants
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
- ⅓ cup Mayo
- ⅓ cup Plain Greek Yogurt
- 2 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 tablespoon Honey
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
For the dressing:
- In a medium mixing bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients including mayo, Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, honey, onion powder, and granulated sugar. Mix until smooth. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
For the salad:
- Toast the pecans, if desired. I like the flavor, but it isn't a huge difference. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until they begin to brown, making sure to toss halfway through, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- Toss the diced apples in the lemon juice to keep them fresher. In a salad bowl toss together broccoli, apples, pecans, broccoli slaw, raisins, and red onion. Pour in dressing and toss until evenly coated.