Made with raisins, sunflower seeds, and bacon, this really is the BEST broccoli salad recipe! It can be prepped in advance and is perfect for BBQs and potlucks!
wooden bowl full of the best broccoli salad with bacon and cheese

Easy Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Cheese

When I was dating my husband, he surprised me one night with an amazing home cooked meal. He picked me up after I had attended a bridal shower and took me back to his apartment so that we could work on our Anatomy and Physiology lab. When I walked in, he had made steak, rolls, loaded baked potatoes, and Broccoli and Cheese Sauce. I thought, “Oh no!! he has no idea how much I hate broccoli.”

I was so impressed with everything that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I dug in. IT. WAS. DELICIOUS. Oh, I still can taste it. That was the first food he had ever cooked for me and he blew me away. Everything was fantastic, including the broccoli.

This man has changed my life in many ways, but definitely in the food department that night. From that night onwards, I started trying all sorts of new things that Cade loved (but never Sushi. I still don’t eat that even though he loves it and continually tries to convince me).

broccoli salad ingredients in large bowl with dressing

What’s Needed for Cold Broccoli Salad?

To make the broccoli bacon salad itself, you’ll need:

  • Broccoli florets
  • Golden raisins
  • Craisins
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cooked bacon
  • Frozen peas
  • Red onion

And to make the simple broccoli salad dressing, you’ll need:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Granulated sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Shredded Colby Jack cheese

cold broccoli salad with sunflower seeds, bacon, and peas

How to Make Broccoli Salad

This cold broccoli salad comes together quickly! Here are the basic steps to making this recipe:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the broccoli, onion, raisins, craisins, and frozen peas.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the broccoli salad dressing.
  3. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss well to coat.
  4. Just before serving, add the crumbled bacon and sunflower seeds and toss to evenly distribute

Do You Cook Broccoli for Broccoli Salad?

The answer is yes or no. The truth is, it’s entirely up to you! In this broccoli salad recipe, we like the crunch of the raw broccoli and the dressing does help to soften things up a bit.

But if you want to give it a quick blanch, add a little water to a pot with broccoli and place the lid on. Steam for a couple of minutes, just until it turns bright green and then quickly drain and toss in a bowl of ice water. Just be sure you drain it well before tossing it in the bowl with the ingredients.

Can I Use Frozen Broccoli?

No, even if you only thawed the frozen broccoli but didn’t cook it, I’m afraid it’d be far too soft for this broccoli salad recipe. Fresh broccoli florets are the way to go here!

How to Store Broccoli Salad

Store any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days, but make sure you cover it or it will dry out.

homemade broccoli salad with bacon and cheese in large salad bowl

Tips for Making the Best Broccoli Salad

Something I love about this broccoli salad with bacon and cheese is that it’s really easy to add whatever extra additions you like: peas, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, olives, anything goes!

Also note that in a pinch you could actually use coleslaw dressing instead of our homemade broccoli salad dressing.

Lastly, we like to chill our broccoli bacon salad for a bit and then toss in the bacon right before serving, but sometimes life happens and we need to make it and serve it immediately so it all gets stirred together.


Our BEST Broccoli Salad

Our BEST Broccoli Salad

4 from 21 votes
Servings: 10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes


Made with raisins, sunflower seeds, and bacon, this really is the BEST broccoli salad recipe! It can be prepped in advance and is perfect for BBQs and potlucks! 


For the Salad:

  • 4 Heads Broccoli, chopped (8 cups chopped)
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Red Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
  • 1/2 Cup Craisins
  • 1 Cup Roasted Salted Sunflower Seeds
  • 8 Slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked and chopped

For the Dressing:

  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Shredded Colby Jack Cheese


  • In a large salad bowl, mix together the vegetables, raisins, and craisins. Leave the bacon and sunflower seeds for right before serving.
    4 Heads Broccoli, 1/2 Cup Golden Raisins, 1/2 Cup Craisins, 1/2 Cup Frozen Peas, 1/2 Cup Diced Red Onion
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the dressing and pour over the vegetables.
    1 Cup Mayonnaise, 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar, 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 Cup Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
  • Toss well to evenly coat everything.
  • Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  • Right before serving, add the crumbled bacon and sunflower seeds. Toss to evenly distribute.
    8 Slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, 1 Cup Roasted Salted Sunflower Seeds


  • Recipe adapted from The Shills
May be stored in the refrigerator for days.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 359kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 13gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 464mgPotassium: 963mgFiber: 9gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 1594IUVitamin C: 221mgCalcium: 137mgIron: 3mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 200+ Easy Side Dish Recipes Every Mom Needs, America's Best 4th of July Desserts, Recipes and Sides, Over 100 Easter Recipes for Spring
Cuisine: American

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