Broccoli Salad Lightened Up

A favorite summer salad got a little makeover; presenting Broccoli Salad Lightened Up! All of your favorite goodies, but dressed in a simple, flavorful vinaigrette dressing. No mayo or sugar!

A must in every salad for me is texture, and this broccoli salad certainly does not lack texture! Crunchy firm fresh broccoli, crispy salty bacon, creamy Swiss cheese, chewy dried cranberries, mild scallions, and toasty sunflower seeds. Something tasty in every bite!

The dressing

This dressing is super simple, and is actually the same dressing I use in my Mayo Free Loaded Sweet Potato Salad. It’s a perfect go-to vinaigrette for any salad. It’s just olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon, honey, onion powder, and salt and pepper.

A little tip: don’t throw away all of your broccoli stems, thinly slice them up and add them to the salad! They make these cute little flower shapes as pictured below. Such a fun little surprise that you don’t normally see in broccoli salad!

If you plan to make this ahead of time you certainly can, but I do suggest adding the bacon and dressing just before serving. It’s best with the fresh crispness of the bacon! It works great as leftovers too, I enjoyed it for lunches all week!

Broccoli Salad Lightened up is perfect for picnics, even if it’s in your own backyard! Travels well too.


Broccoli Salad Lightened Up

Course Salad, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6
Author Laura Doerr


  • 1 large bundle (head) broccoli, plus stems 3-4 cups
  • 8 slices crispy bacon cooked, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup scallions sliced

For the dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive or avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • pinch salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper


  1. In a small bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together and set aside.

  2. Chop the broccoli into small florets, but do not discard the stems. Add florets to a large bowl. Thinly slice some of the stems, about 1/2 cup or more, and add to the large bowl.

  3. Add crispy, cooked and crumbled bacon, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, scallions, and Swiss cheese to the large bowl. Toss with desired amount of dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

If you are not serving right away, wait to add the bacon and dressing to the dish. It’s much better with fresh crispy bacon!

The add-ins like cheese and nuts can really be measured however you like it, more or less. I love having just as many salad goodies as greens!

The salad is good leftover, you’ll just lose the crispness of the fresh bacon, but the flavors are still great!

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