Made with grapes, almonds, craisins, and apples, this Healthy Broccoli Salad is fresh and crunchy, with loads of flavor. Cashew cream replaces mayo to turn this into a vegan broccoli salad everyone will love.
Light & Easy Broccoli Salad
This broccoli salad recipe checks all of the healthy boxes – it’s vegan, oil-free, and gluten-free. And if needed, you can easily make it nut-free too. (I’ve included those instructions below.)
Inspired by both my classic broccoli salad and loaded broccoli salad recipes, a homemade cashew dressing replaces the mayonnaise while still keeping the same creamy texture. Apples, almonds, grapes, and craisins add a variety of textures and flavors, while the medjool dates in the dressing add even more nutritious value.
We’re definitely not a vegan family but this healthy broccoli salad was a hit with everyone. I expect we’ll be making it frequently this summer – especially because I can easily make it a day or two in advance!
What You’ll Need
This healthy broccoli salad recipe is made with good-for-you ingredients like grapes, apples, almonds, dates, and cashews. See the recipe card for measurements.
- Broccoli – Cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Seedless grapes – I used red grapes but green grapes would also work.
- Apple – I used Fuji apples but any flavor or tart apple will work.
- Craisins – If you’re not a fan of cranberries, regular raisins are fine too.
- Almonds – Chopped almonds add some crunch to the salad.
- Cashews – Soaked so they can be blended to make the dressing.
- Medjool dates – If your dates are small, use 4 instead of 2.
- Apple cider vinegar – Thins the dressing and adds some tangy.
- Garlic powder – You can also use a glove of fresh garlic.
- Salt & pepper
Do you cook the broccoli in broccoli salad?
Nope, there’s no need to cook the broccoli in this recipe! Raw, crunchy pieces of broccoli are where it’s at. (Note that some people do choose to blanch their broccoli before adding it which is fine if you’d like to do that but personally, I think it’s better to leave it raw.)
Why Do I Need To Soak The Cashews?
The cashews are blended down to a creamy sauce and used in this vegan broccoli salad recipe as a mayonnaise replacement. To blend them, they need to be soft.
You can either soak them in room temperature water for 2 hours or in boiling water for 10 minutes.
How to Make Healthy Broccoli Salad
This broccoli salad recipe is quite easy to make. All you need to do is chop the ingredients, blend the cashews, and combine.
- Soak the cashews. If you haven’t already soaked them, add the cashews to boiling water to soak.
- Chop the ingredients. Chop the broccoli, onion, grapes, and apple into bite-sized pieces. Chop the almonds as well.
- Create the cashew cream. Blend the cashews, dates, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a high-speed blender. Slowly add in the water to achieve a creamy sauce.
- Combine the ingredients. Place the chopped ingredients in a large bowl, then drizzle with the cashew cream. Stir to fully incorporate the cashew cream.
- Enjoy! Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.
Tips and Variations
Here are a few tips for making this broccoli salad without mayo, along with a few additional add-in ideas.
- Can I make this nut-free? Yes, you can easily make this vegan broccoli salad nut-free by subbing the cashews for sunflower seeds or hemp seeds. You may want to add 1 more date as the sunflower and hemp seeds add an earthy flavor and they aren’t as sweet as cashews.
- Cut everything into small, bite-sized pieces. This isn’t just to make it easier to eat – it also makes the salad easier to mix and ensures that each spoonful gets an equal amount of all ingredients.
- Roast the almonds. For extra flavor, quickly roast the almonds before adding them to the recipe.
- Add some bacon. Obviously adding bacon will not make this a vegan or even vegetarian salad but if you’re used to adding bacon to your broccoli salad, you can do so in this recipe and it’ll still stay healthy compared to other versions!
This healthy broccoli salad is a great dish to bring to any type of potluck. It pairs well with all the great foods coming off the grill and offers a healthy alternative to potato salad, macaroni salad, and other popular dishes. (Plus provides an option for any vegan friends!)
In addition to grilled burgers and hot dogs, this makes a great side for chicken dishes like jalapeno popper chicken and melt-in-your-mouth chicken, as well as BBQ pork ribs and more.
Can This Be Prepared In Advance?
Yes, this easy broccoli salad recipe is perfect for making ahead. In fact, I recommend making it several hours or a day in advance, as it gives more time for the flavors to meld.
Just prepare as directed, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
How to Store Leftovers
Leftover broccoli salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Since this recipe doesn’t have mayo, it lasts a bit longer – up to 5 days.
Just be sure to give it a good stir before serving, to make sure everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
More Easy Side Dishes:
Healthy Broccoli Salad
- 4 cups broccoli cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 small red onion chopped into small pieces about ¼ cup
- 1 ½ cups seedless grapes cut in half, I used red grape however, any seedless grape can be used
- 1 apple cut into small pieces about ½ cup. I used Fuji for this recipe any apple will work. A more flavorful/tart apple is best
- ½ cup craisins you can sub for raisins
- ½ cup almonds chopped
- ½ cup cashews soaked for 2 hours or soak in boiling water for 10 minutes
- 2 medjool dates if your dates are small use 4
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp garlic powder you can sub for 1 clove of garlic
- ½ tsp salt and pepper maybe more for taste
- If your cashews haven’t soaked, make sure to put them into some boiling water and allow to soak while you chop your veggies.
- Chop your broccoli, red onion, grapes, and apple into small bite sized pieces. I do recommend cutting your red onion into very small pieces.
- Chop your almonds – optional you can roast your almonds for 5 minutes at 325 degrees F.
- Place your soaked cashews, dates, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and salt and pepper into a high speed blender. Slowly add in water to allow the mixture to become creamy.
- In a large bowl place your chopped broccoli, red onion, grapes, apple, craisins, and almonds. Mix to fully combine them.
- Drizzle the prepared cashew cream over the mixture.
- Stir and mix to fully incorporate the cashew cream throughout the salad.
- Serve in a bowl as a salad or on the side of your favorite main dish!
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