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Loaded Broccoli Salad

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Loaded broccoli salad is so easy to make, full of broccoli, red onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, cheddar cheese, and of course bacon. It is a classic, simple side dish perfect for any family dinner or potluck party.

salad made with small pieces of broccoli, bacon, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries
Broccoli Salad Image by Sarah Alvord

Why Adding Broccoli Salad to Your Recipe Box is a Good Idea!!

This broccoli salad with craisins and bacon is a classic, this recipe has probably been around for 100 years, and for good reason. It is one of those salad recipes that your grandmother, then your mother and now you make because it has nostalgia and it is just plain delicious!!

You are going to love this salad, if you don’t already because it is so easy to make, is loaded with so many complimentary flavors, and has a sweet and tangy apple cider vinegar dressing that just ties all these ingredients together beautifully.


6 ingredients for the salad and just 5 ingredients for the dressing are all you will need to make this salad come to life. Here is what you will need to make this simple loaded broccoli salad recipe:

  • Broccoli: you can buy the pre-chopped broccoli, or buy the heads of broccoli and chop it yourself. The pieces should be fairly small and bite-sized for simple serving.
  • Red Onion: there is no substitute for a red onion in this salad, slice it nice and thin so that the flavor isn’t overpowering.
  • Dried Cranberries: these tart-sweet, fruit pieces add so much flavor to this salad recipe
  • Bacon: need I say more? Cook and crumble your own bacon pieces, or use bacon bits from the store, either way, don’t forget the bacon.
  • Sunflower Seeds: these add an extra crunch and salty flavor to each bite of this broccoli salad
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese: the sharp cheddar just has an extra cheesy flavor that goes perfectly here. Try shredding the cheese yourself for extra flavor.

For the Dressing:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Salt and Black Pepper
ingredients for a broccoli salad in a large glass bowl

Steps to make Broccoli Crunch Salad

This truly is such a crunchy salad from the broccoli, bacon, sunflower seeds, and red onions. Making this salad is really simple and it all comes together in just a few minutes.

  1. Prep, Slice, and Dice: wash the broccoli and chop into small bite-sized pieces. Slice the red onion into thin 1/4-inch slices. Dice up the cooked bacon and shred the cheddar cheese.
  2. Combine the Salad Ingredients: In a large salad or serving bowl, combine the broccoli, red onion, dried cranberries, bacon, sunflower seeds, and shredded cheddar cheese
  3. Make the Dressing: whisk together the dressing ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved and the dressing is well combined.

Quick Tip

If you would like to parboil the broccoli before adding it to the salad, place the chopped broccoli into boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove it to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking and cool it before adding it to the salad.

Variations and Storage

Want to add a little more to this Broccoli Salad Recipe? Here are a few additional items that would be delicious in this salad:

  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Chicken
  • Cooked Pasta
  • Green Onions
  • Shredded Carrots

This salad can be made a day ahead of when you will be serving it and will stay fresh stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It is usually only good for a day or two after you make it.

small pieces of broccoli, with red onions, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries

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broccoli salad in a white bowl
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Loaded Broccoli Salad

Loaded broccoli salad is so easy to make, full of broccoli, red onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and of course cheddar cheese.
Prep Time10 minutes
20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 187kcal


  • 8 cups broccoli chopped to bite sized pieces
  • ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 5 slices bacon crumbled
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • Combine the chopped broccoli, red onions, dried cranberries, bacon and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to combine and coat with the dressing.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • Nutrition facts are just an estimate and are provided as a courtesy to the reader.
  • If you want to parboil the broccoli, place it in boiling water for 5 minutes, then straight into a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking.  
  • Store any leftovers covered in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 


Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 245mg | Potassium: 179mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 322IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Dinner, Salad, Vegetable Side Dish
Keyword: Loaded Broccoli Salad
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