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Broccoli Salad with Bacon, Cheddar & Almonds

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This make-ahead broccoli salad with smoky bacon, sharp Cheddar and crunchy almonds is ideal for a potluck or BBQ.

This broccoli salad recipe was given to me by one of my oldest and dearest friends, Kelly Santoro. I’m not usually a fan of raw broccoli so I was a little skeptical, but Kelly insisted it was delicious, and she was right. The raw broccoli florets soak up the creamy mayo, vinegar, and honey-based dressing – softening a bit but remaining crisp – and are made even tastier with the addition of smoky bacon, shredded sharp Cheddar, and crunchy sliced almonds. One reviewer described it as “one big bowl of crunchy yumminess.” The salad holds up well and is best prepared a few hours ahead of time, making it perfect for a potluck or BBQ.

What You’ll Need To Make Broccoli Salad with Bacon, Cheddar & Almonds

ingredients for broccoli salad

  • Since the broccoli isn’t cooked and plays the starring role in the salad, be sure to get the freshest broccoli possible. Look for bright green, firm crowns with compact clusters of florets. Broccoli crowns are trimmed just under the broccoli head, whereas broccoli bunches have stalks that are about 5 inches in length. If you can only find bunches, be sure to buy a bit extra to account for the weight of the stalk. After washing the broccoli, dry it thoroughly so it doesn’t water down the dressing.
  • Thick-cut bacon is ideal for this salad; it will hold up better in the dressing and not get lost in the salad.
  • For the cheese, I recommend buying a block and shredding it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is treated with an anti-caking agent and is not as high quality. In a salad, this makes a big difference.
  • For the mayonnaise, use a high-quality brand, such as Hellmann’s or Duke’s. (Many brands of mayonnaise, especially organic ones, have “off” flavors that will alter the taste of the salad.)

How to Make Broccoli Salad with Bacon, Cheddar & Almonds

Step 1: Cook the Bacon

frying the baconIn a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

draining bacon for broccoli saladStep 2: Temper the Red Onion

To temper the bite of the raw onion, soak it in ice water for 10 minutes, then drain. This step is optional, but if you’re a raw onion-phobe like me, I recommend it.
soaking red onions in ice water

Step 3: Make the Dressing

In a bowl large enough to hold all of the salad ingredients, combine the mayonnaise, honey, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.

salad dressing ingredients in bowl

Whisk well to combine.

whisked creamy dreamy dressing in mixing bowl

Step 4: Toss the Salad

Add the broccoli florets, Cheddar, and red onions to the dressing.

adding the broccoli, Cheddar and red onions to the dressing

Mix well. This can be done up to 3 hours ahead of time (in fact, all the better to allow the broccoli to soak up the flavor).

tossed broccoli salad

Right before serving, add the bacon and almonds.

adding the bacon and almonds to broccoli salad

Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.

finished broccoli salad

Transfer the salad to a serving platter or bowl and enjoy. Leftover broccoli salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Broccoli Salad with Bacon, Cheddar & Almonds

This make-ahead broccoli salad with smoky bacon, sharp Cheddar and crunchy almonds is ideal for a potluck or BBQ.

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-in pieces
  • ⅓ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey or sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 9 cups broccoli florets, cut into small, bite-sized pieces (you'll need about 2 pounds of broccoli crowns)
  • 1 cup lightly packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese, best quality
  • ½ cup sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Set a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set aside.
  2. Place the onions in a small bowl of ice water for ten minutes. Drain, then blot the onions dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl (big enough to hold all of the salad ingredients), whisk together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, honey (or sugar), salt, and pepper.
  4. Add the broccoli, Cheddar, and red onions to the dressing; toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate the salad until ready to serve. (The salad can be made up to this point up to 3 hours ahead of time.)
  5. Before serving, set aside some of the bacon and almonds to use as a garnish for the salad. Add the remaining bacon and almonds to the salad and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Transfer the salad to a bowl or serving platter and garnish with the reserved bacon and almonds. Serve cold or room temperature. Leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  6. Note: Broccoli crowns are trimmed just under the broccoli head, whereas broccoli bunches have stalks that are about 5 inches in length. If you can only find bunches, be sure to buy a bit extra to account for the weight of the stalk.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 444
  • Fat: 39 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Sodium: 445 mg
  • Cholesterol: 40 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • Once again, you’re a life saver! I made a different broccoli salad that sounded good on paper, but was unbalanced and blech. Panicking (the day before Thanksgiving!), I went to my go-to site, Once Upon a Chef, rebought the ingredients, and made this instead for my cold veggie contribution for the holiday. Delicious as written. Whew, thanks for sharing your expertise!

    • — Lainey H. on November 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Want to make this for a bbq on Saturday….. can I make it a day ahead of time, or should I just make the dressing and keep it refrigerated and toss everything together day of? PS I have made many, many of your recipes and have not had a miss yet!! Brava.

    • — Alison Gilkey on October 11, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Alison, So glad you’re enjoying the recipes! You can make it ahead up to the point of adding the broccoli, Cheddar, and red onions to the dressing. Cover and refrigerate and then proceed with the recipe before serving (just keep the bacon separate in the fridge). Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious!!
    Thank you for this amazing recipe. My broccoli hating family has been converted!

    • — Linda on August 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for a Fourth of July get-together. Followed the recipe. I got many complemints! It was delicious.

    • — Cathy on July 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have been making this salad for 35 years and thought I’d give your recipe a try. It was fabulous…better than mine. The amount of onion is perfect and not overpowering. The dressing recipe is a keeper. As always thanks for sharing your expertise.

    • — Kathy M. on July 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jenn – I’m not one to give reviews, but I’ve made so many of your recipes, and I believe it’s time to own up. This broccoli salad is fabulous. It was made for Father’s Day to rave reviews. Even my son, who doesn’t like broccoli, loved it. If anyone is having doubts about trying it, just do it. We had the leftovers the next day and it was still fabulous. I followed your recipe to a T, but also threw in a handful of dried cranberries for color. You are my go-to for everything, and I’d like to thank you for sharing your knowledge, and for making all of us look good. Thank you.

    • — MaryKathryn Wozniewicz on June 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jenn, You keep doing it, another fab salad. I made a half recipe since only I will eat raw broccoli. It was easy to do and I will certainly make it again. Absolutely delicious.

    • — Susan on May 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • While I have another fantastic broccoli salad recipe, I wanted to try this recipe as it had less sugar. It tasted fantastic and just like my other recipe. I did reverse the mixing, however, opting to add the dressing to the salad until it was wet enough to my liking. Love it!

    • — Lulu on May 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I’m wondering what brand of cheddar you use in this recipe. From the photos, it appears that it’s a white cheddar. Thanks so much!

    • — Glinda on April 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Glinda, I’m not partial to a particular brand, but Cabot cheddar would be a good choice here. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • This broccoli salad is so good! My husband and I both love it. I am hoping to make it often and hopefully too whenever we have something special to eat for our grandchildren. Thanks again Chef Jennifer!

    • — Sarah on April 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for a work potluck and it was a hit! Delicious!

    • — Wendy on March 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • And yeah, this one is a family favorite. I’ve used it for many years. It’s perfect.

    • — SusN on February 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • This has become one of my family’s favorite salads! You can taste each ingredient, and tossed together it is one big bowl of crunchy yumminess! Everyone goes back for seconds. Oh, and it’s still good the next day if you happen to have leftovers.

    • — Coleyn O. on January 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • This has been awesome!

    • — Liz on December 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    I am wondering how long will this keep in the refrigerator?
    Thank you so much!

    • — Melissa on July 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Melissa, this should keep nicely for 2 to 3 days.

      • — Jenn on July 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was delicious!! Four of us ate it all…
    This is so easy and simply to make. I used bacon bits but next time I will definitely take the time to cook bacon! I can only imagine how heavenly it will be then.

    • — Barb from BC on July 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another amazing and perfect recipe from Jenn. I made it exactly as written and it was DELICIOUS. My 70 year old aunt practically licked the bowl. Tastes even better the next day — savory, crunchy and creamy perfection. Make this recipe and you’ll be a hero! The crowd went wild over this one – eaters of all ages, including picky foodies!

    • — S from DC on June 28, 2021
    • Reply

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