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.

Spoon on a plate of broccoli salad with bacon, cheddar, and almonds.

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 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 the salad 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. Make it in advance and check it off your to-do list!

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.

Spoon on a plate of broccoli salad with bacon, cheddar, and almonds.

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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


  • 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


  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

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  • 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, 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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  • This continues to be my go-to for BBQ potluck events! So tasty, really quick to put together and holds really well!

    • — Carissa L on June 22, 2024
    • Reply
  • After I made this for my 8 year old daughter she went online and ordered a book called “My Family Recipes” and asked that I put this recipe in it so she would have it for her family someday. Fast forward to her birthday this past weekend. When I asked her what she would like for her birthday dinner she asked for this broccoli salad. I of course was happy to hear it, and knowing it makes a lot I said “You can even take leftovers to school.” She said okay, but can you put it in a container that isn’t see thru? I looked at her confused. She said she would love to take it to school but will need to find a secret place to eat it so the other kids don’t make fun of her for eating broccoli. lol. So we are dubbing this double secret birthday broccoli salad. Our daughter started eating your recipes from a very young age and I believe it has shaped her into a really open eater. She shies away from nothing and I think it is because your recipes established trust in me as a cook. Most other kids her age only eat kid food and not much of it. When the topic of how to get our kids to eat better comes up with other moms I just feel so fortunate I’ve never had to think about it thanks to the work you put into your craft. Thank you and I’ll be sure to give you a shout out in my daughter’s recipe book for this double secret birthday broccoli salad.

    • — Shannon C on May 28, 2024
    • Reply
    • Lol — that is SO cute! Glad the double secret birthday broccoli salad is a keeper for your daughter! 💜

      • — Jenn on May 28, 2024
      • Reply
  • Perfect, and not too sweet!

    • — Christine on May 16, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    If I leave out the bacon, will it be bland? We don’t eat pork. Add something in its place?
    As always, so appreciate your expertise!

    • — Sandra Haskin on April 30, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Sandra, I’d use turkey bacon in place of the pork bacon. It will still be good. 😊

      • — Jenn on April 30, 2024
      • Reply
  • I made this for Easter to go with brisket and it was delicious. Everyone raved. Had a tiny bit left-over for lunch today and was even better. I think I will make day before from now on! I made as written except I rough chopped almonds because I had a big bag from Sam’s Club and didn’t want to buy more just to have sliced. It worked fine.

    • — Cindy on April 1, 2024
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  • Everyone love the Broccoli salad. Great flavor and crunch. I brought it to an Easter buffet lunch and it went well with ham and so many other heavy dishes. Your instructions and tips, as with the onions are so helpful. This is a keeper.
    I first go to your site first when I need a good recipe.
    Thanks ,

    • — Mary E R Brown on March 31, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Sarah I follow all the time ,I just made this delicious salad to bring to a potluck tonight,but I’ve taste this before my daughter and daughter in law makes it often and i find it very good ,so I’ve decided to make yours I’m sure it will be delicious 😋 thank you ♥️☀️

    • — Lady Di on November 5, 2023
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  • Great Salad! My husband loves the ones in the grocery store so I decided to make my own (yours) Lol
    I added Craisons and Roasted Sunflower Seeds
    Another hit from you 😉

    • — Dale on July 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • I have made this salad in the past but with a different recipe and wanted to try this recipe instead and I am glad I did because the ratios are perfect, thank you!

    This is a delicious salad that makes broccoli haters, or avoiders, love broccoli.

    • — Dianna Bear on June 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, not a huge chedar cheese fan. Which of these do you think would work best with this delicious looking salad… Gruyere or Jarlsberg?
    Thanks, Ally in NJ

    • — Ally on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Either would work, but I’d probably go with Gruyere. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is very similar to a salad I used to get in the supermarket. Loved it until it became unaffordable. I’ve been wanting to try making it myself, but till now, haven’t found a recipe that would inspire me. This sounds like a good way to try.
    I would leave out the cheddar cheese and the almonds, though. I don’t think this is a good venue for cheese, and I’m not crazy about it anyway. I don’t like nuts at all, and that goes for all kinds, so those would definitely get left out. IMHO, Jenn uses nuts in way too many things. That may not bother some, but it aggravates me no end.
    But I digress…………As someone else mentioned, I would add raisins, in addition to dried cranberries — this is the way the supermarkets make it, and I absolutely love raisins, so when I can find a way to use them, I will. The raisins and cranberries give it a sweet/tart flavor that mixes well with the veggies and tames down the bite of the onions a little. The supermarket version also has pepitas (a type of pumpkin seed) in it. I’m not a big fan of seeds, either, but I was able to tolerate those because they’re so hidden among the veggies. I might even add some to this version in place of the almonds.
    Everything is better with bacon, so that’s a good addition. I believe the supermarket version also has shaved brussel sprouts and some sort of cabbage. I would use these as well, just to get more veggies in.
    Instead of the dresssing recommended here, I would use poppyseed dressing.
    So I guess my version would be much different than this one, but this is definitely a good jumping off point, as other of Jenn’s recipes have been.

    • — Ann Marie on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Made as written except I missed the note on buying more if the stalks are attached. This is such a keeper! I was nervous about honey working but it was great and I feel less guilty feeding it to my daughter than I would if I used refined sugar. My 8 year old pushed it away at first but then gave it a try and asked for seconds. She got up early the next morning and packed the leftovers for lunch (she never packs her own lunch- so I’m dubbing this lunch box broccoli)! It really does hold up well, so I bought 3 lbs of bunches and am washing my extra large Pyrex bowl so we can nosh on this through the weekend. Thank you Jenn!

      • — Shannon C on June 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I’ve been making a variation of this recipe for many years and it’s always a winner! Curious as to the purpose of soaking the onions prior to mixing? I’ve never seen that before.’

    Thanks for all of your amazing recipes. You are my “go to” for recipes!

    Beth P.

    • — Beth Powers on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! 🙂
      Soaking the onions for a bit just tames their bite a little. You can skip it if you don’t mind raw onions.

      • — Jenn on June 8, 2023
      • Reply
      • I never heard this either. Are you soaking them before or after chopping?

        • — Lynne on July 3, 2023
        • Reply
        • After 🙂

          • — Jenn on July 3, 2023
          • Reply
    • I just made this a couple days ago and it’s now one of my favorite meals. I added brown rice tonight and it was delicious!!! Can this recipe be frozen? I will have no waste if it can be!

      • — Sandy on July 28, 2023
      • Reply
      • So glad you’ve enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would be the best candidate for freezing — sorry!

        • — Jenn on July 29, 2023
        • Reply
  • Hi Jen. Do you think substituting plain fat free Greek yogurt for the mayo would work for a lighter version of this salad?

    • — Karen Hoveland on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Karen, Sure, but I’d suggest using whole-milk Greek yogurt. Also, cut back on the vinegar since the yogurt is already tangy. You can add more if necessary.

      • — Jenn on June 8, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Not a broccoli fan (especially raw broccoli) but love your recipes so want to try this. I’m wondering if it would be okay to blanch the broccoli–in and out of the boiling water as fast as I possibly can.

    Many thanks for all you do!

    • — Leslie on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Leslie, that should be fine. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on June 8, 2023
      • Reply
  • I didn’t have bacon or slivered almonds and used crushed Smokehouse Almonds instead. It was a crowd pleaser with absolutely no leftovers. A definite addition to my recipe collection. Thanks, Jenn

    • — Oliver Parker on June 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this before, and fantastic. Could it be made the night before? Trying to destress a very busy Easter morning. Thank you!

    • — Rita on April 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yes, it can be made the night before (and so glad you like it)!

      • — Jenn on April 7, 2023
      • Reply
  • This salad is so good. I have made it many times!! I added golden raisins to it and it was delish.

    • — Samantha on April 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I made your broccoli salad with bacon and sharp cheddar today. It’s chilling in the
    fridge. Instead of using honey in the dressing, I substituted Stonewall Kitchens’
    pure maple syrup from Maine. I’m looking forward to having a serving for dinner tonight. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes. You’re fantastic!

    • — Susan Stellmacher on March 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi!

    I absolutely love your recipes! I’ve made dozens of your recipes and have absolutely loved everything. Always delicious, well balanced, and so flavorful. So thank you! random question, would you consider this broccoli salad to be keto friendly? I’m new to the diet and trying to learn 🙂

    • — Sarah on March 1, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sarah, Thanks for your very kind words about the recipes — so glad you like them! I don’t know enough about the requirements of a keto diet to say confidently whether or not this would be keto-friendly. Hopefully someone else can weigh in with an answer.🤞🏻

      • — Jenn on March 2, 2023
      • Reply
    • Not keto friendly with the honey. I found this site for a keto version, but a search on “keto broccoli salad” will reveal many more.

      • — MRS on July 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hey Jen:

    Absolutely loved this salad, even tasted better the 2nd and 3rd day as there was a little more dressing at the bottom to moisten the salad. I toasted the almonds and used beef bacon bought it at Farmboy (as I don’t eat pork) this made it crunchy and nutty which I love.



    • — Cynthia on February 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is my go-to salad for pot luck dinners. Keeps well and travels easily. Always a crowd pleaser.

    • — Nadine Cuccaro on January 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn..I have a question,and I hope this reaches you in time to answer before tonight’s dinner 😬

    The broccoli I have on hand is from COSTCO-and it’s FROZEN. If I thaw it, will that work for this recipe? I’m worried about it possibly being too watery….. I reread the recipe to see if using frozen broccoli was addressed so if you did talk about it and I overlooked it,I apologize ahead of time😊

    Thanks Jenn!
    BTW,I’ve made this a lot during spring & summer and it’s OUTSTANDING (as usual!!!💕).

    Thank you again for all your inspiration!


    • — Lisa on January 11, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa! I agree that frozen broccoli will be too watery – sorry!!

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you
        Thank you 💕!!!

        I’ve said this before,but it’s true…have no idea how you manage all you do (answering all of our questions for ex.), but I’m grateful you do😊!!!

        Thanks again …I opted for your Wedge tonight instead ❤️❤️❤️ Broccoli salad tomorrow night 😊


        • — on January 11, 2023
        • Reply
  • We don’t eat pork. Can we substitute turkey bacon?

    • — Mary L. on December 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • 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
    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

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

  • 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!

  • I made this for a work potluck and it was a hit! Delicious!

  • And yeah, this one is a family favorite. I’ve used it for many years. It’s perfect.

  • 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.

  • This has been awesome!

  • Hi Jenn
    I am wondering how long will this keep in the refrigerator?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Melissa, this should keep nicely for 2 to 3 days.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Licking the bowl. Always a good sign. 😊

      • — MRS on July 20, 2023
      • Reply

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