Parmesan Broccoli Salad
This Parmesan Broccoli Salad is the absolute best broccoli salad you can make. Crispy broccoli, red onion, cranberries, pine nuts, bacon, parmesan, and the easiest creamy dressing. You’re going to crave this side all summer long!
I am uber picky when it comes to broccoli salad. I think most are too heavy on the mayo and sugar for my liking. I’m just not into overly sweet and dressing laden broccoli or pasta salads. But this Parmesan Broccoli Salad is a GAME CHANGER. I could eat a vat of this. Maybe lounge in it like it was a ball pit and I was a kid with no fear of germs. You get the idea. (Clearly I’m no good at analogies.)
The only cooking required here is getting that bacon crispy. You can do that however you like – oven, air fryer, or stove top. While the bacon cooks, stir together your dressing ingredients and chop the broccoli and red onion. Then it’s time to assemble everything!
Broccoli, red onion, and pine nuts give us that crunch. Dried cranberries bring a little sweetness and some chewiness to every bite. Then of course there’s the parmesan. It needs to be the grated parmesan you grew up adding to the top of your spaghetti. Those granules cling to every forkful so you can really taste it!
And now the dressing. We start with a little mayo but instead of sugar we’re using maple syrup to sweeten things up. (Trust me, you won’t get any maple flavor in this.) Apple cider vinegar and seasonings round out the dressing. Everything works together to give us the absolute best broccoli salad. It’s dreamy summer perfection. You’ll love it.
For this recipe you’ll need (full list of ingredients and instructions are in the recipe card below):
- Broccoli florets
- Red onion
- Dried cranberries
- Pine nuts
- Parmesan cheese
- Maple syrup
- Apple cider vinegar
Tips for Perfect Broccoli Salad
- Chop the broccoli. If your broccoli florets are too large then some of your bites will end up being just broccoli. That’s not what we want, friends. Let’s chop that broccoli so you can get a bit of everything on your fork.
- Dice the red onion. The onion should add to the finished dish but not dominate it. So dice it up to avoid any large chunks of onion.
- Make the broccoli salad ahead of time. You can serve broccoli salad right away and it will be delicious, but it’s even better after it’s had time to sit. The dressing softens the broccoli some (it’s still crunchy but not quite as crunchy) and the flavors all absorb. I think it’s best after sitting for a few hours.
- Stir before serving. Giving it a stir when you’re ready to enjoy will ensure your broccoli is fully coated with all the good stuff.
Can you make this in advance?
Yes! The flavors get more pronounced as it sits so making this a few hours before you plan to enjoy it is a good idea (but not mandatory). Refrigerate in an airtight container. Stir before serving.
How to serve this
Parmesan Broccoli Salad
- 1 lb broccoli florets
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup dried cranberries, can use raisins
- ½ cup pine nuts, can use sunflower seeds
- ⅓ cup red onion, diced
- 4 strips of cooked bacon, turkey or pork, chopped
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ¾ tsp ground mustard
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Add the mayo, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, ground mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper to a medium bowl and stir until well combined.
- Chop your broccoli florets into smaller pieces. (I like about ¾-inch pieces.) Add to a large bowl. Stir in the parmesan, dried crandberries, pine nuts, diced red onion, and chopped cooked bacon.
- Use a spatula to pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture, scraping any remaining dressing from the sides of the bowl so you don't miss any. Stir to coat the broccoli.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Can be served immediately but it's best if it sits for at least an hour.