Vegan Broccoli Salad
This vegan broccoli salad features sunflower seeds, cranberries, red onion and a sweet, creamy and tangy mayonnaise dressing.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
Broccoli salad is a classic side dish that’s perfect for sharing. Whether it’s a BBQ, potluck or family get-together, this vegan broccoli salad is sure to be a crowd-pleaser!
This recipe is super easy to make with no cooking required and is sweet, creamy, tangy, and crunchy for a delicious combination of flavours and texture.
The raw broccoli softens up once it’s marinated in the creamy dressing, so there’s no need to cook it, making this a low-fuss recipe.
To make the traditional broccoli salad recipe vegan, this version is made without bacon or cheese and uses vegan mayo with just a few other everyday ingredients.
Whether you make it for meal prep, in advance for your next gathering or for a healthy addition to a weeknight meal, you’ll love this simple but tasty vegan twist on classic broccoli salad.
- Vegetarian, vegan (dairy-free and egg-free), nut-free and gluten-free.
- Super easy to make with just a few ingredients!
- Can be made with tofu for an oil-free and low-fat alternative to mayo.
- Amazing for potlucks, BBQs and picnics.
- Even better when made in advance.
- It’s always a hit!
- It’s versatile and a great way to use up extra fruits and veggies.
Ingredients & Substitutions
A complete list of ingredients with amounts and full instructions is located in the printable recipe card below. This section covers ingredient and substitution considerations.
- Broccoli: You’ll need fresh, crisp broccoli. No need to cook it!
- Shallot: Shallot or red onion both work great or you can do a mixture of the two.
- Sunflower Seeds: Use sunflower seeds, chopped raw, slivered or dry-roasted almonds. Other nuts and seeds that work well are pecans, walnuts or pepitas.
- Cranberries: Use dried cranberries or raisins. I like the tanginess of cranberries but raisins are delicious too. Dried cherries are good too!
- Mayonnaise: Use your favourite vegan mayonnaise. This can be substituted with soft tofu, plain dairy-free yogurt, tahini or homemade cashew-based mayo.
- Vinegar: You can use white vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Maple Syrup: This can be substituted with another liquid sweetener like honey or agave syrup. If you don’t have a liquid sweetener available, you can use light brown sugar or cane sugar.
- Garlic: You can use 2 cloves of garlic or substitute 1 tsp ground garlic powder.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
Step 1: Assemble the salad.
Chop the broccoli into florets and give it a good wash. Shake it well or use a salad spinner to remove any excess water.
Add the chopped broccoli to a large bowl with the cranberries, sunflower seeds and red onion or shallot.
Quick Tip: Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets so it’s easy to eat. It’s also important to dry the broccoli so the dressing doesn’t get watered down.
It doesn’t have to be completely dry, just make sure you shake or spin to remove excess moisture. You can also pat it down with a dishcloth.
Step 2: Make the dressing.
Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or container until completely smooth and combined.
Quick Tip: If you’re using granulated sugar instead of a liquid sweetener like maple syrup, you may want to add 1-2 tbsp of water to adjust the consistency. It should be thick and creamy but pourable.
Step 3: Mix salad and refrigerate.
Mix everything up until all the broccoli is coated in the dressing. Place the salad in the fridge for at least 1 hour up to overnight to marinate and soften the broccoli.
After chilling the salad, serve and enjoy!
- Pairs well with a veggie burger like these beet burgers or chickpea burgers.
- Serve with a wrap like buffalo cauliflower wraps or chickpea wraps.
- Serve with baked marinated tempeh or tofu nuggets.
- Great as a side salad for BBQ’s, summer gatherings, grilling, etc.
- Serve as a side salad with any entree or protein.
Broccoli Salad No Mayo
There are a few options for making broccoli salad without mayo. The original version of this recipe was made with soft tofu as follows:
- 300 g package of soft tofu
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 T white wine vinegar
- 2 T maple syrup or sweetened to taste with stevia for sugar-free dressing
- pinch of salt
To make this version, blend everything until smooth. You could also use cashew butter, plain yogurt, soaked raw cashews or tahini.
To use cashews, soak 2/3 cup raw cashews in just boiled water for 30 minutes. After soaking, drain well then blend with 1/2 cup of water until completely smooth and creamy. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and blend to combine.
Variations & Additions
- Use this tahini maple dressing instead of the mayo dressing.
- Broccoli Salad with Grapes: Omit or reduce the cranberries to 1/2 cup and add up to 1 cup of seedless halved red grapes.
- Broccoli Apple Salad: Omit or reduce the cranberries to 1/2 cup and add 1 large or 2 small crunchy diced apples. You can also use apples and grapes by doing 1/2 cup of each.
- Broccoli Carrot Salad: Add up to 1 cup of grated or matchstick carrots.
- Sunflower seeds can be replaced with walnuts, almonds, pecans or pepitas.
- You can use packaged broccoli slaw instead of broccoli for convenience. You can also use half broccoli slaw and half broccoli florets.
- Use salted and roasted nuts or seeds for more crunch and flavour.
- Chickpeas make a good addition. Add up to 2 cups drained and rinsed or roasted chickpeas.
- Add crumbled tempeh bacon or serve with a sprinkle of coconut bacon on top. I wouldn’t suggest putting the coconut bacon in the salad because it will get soggy. Sun-dried tomatoes could also work as a tangy replacement for bacon or if there’re store-bought vegan bacon bits you like, you can use that.
You don’t have to cook broccoli for broccoli salad. The broccoli softens once it marinates in the dressing.
If you’re not a fan of raw broccoli or have a hard time digesting it, you can blanch the broccoli before using in the salad. Cook it for 2 minutes in boiling water then drain and rinse well under cold water or place in a bowl of iced water for 2-3 minutes.
This broccoli salad is naturally gluten-free without any substitutions. If you add anything other than additional fruits, vegetables, nuts or seeds (such as bacon bits) be sure to check the label before using.
It’s highly recommended, yes. You could eat the salad right away but it’s much better after the broccoli softens and the flavours have time to mix.
- The salad is best if it marinates for at least 1 hour so this is a great salad to make ahead.
- Make it up to 24 hours before serving.
- Leftovers store well in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
- This salad is not suitable for freezing.
- The broccoli can be chopped a day ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
Did you try this recipe?
I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review and be sure to tag me @runningonrealfood if you post it on social media.
Easy Vegan Broccoli Salad
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
This simple, vegan broccoli salad is a healthy twist on classic broccoli salad. It’s creamy, crunchy, sweet, and tangy, and perfect for potlucks. Try the classic mayo dressing or use soft tofu for an oil-free alternative.
For the Broccoli Salad
- 8 cups broccoli chopped into small florets (500 g)
- 1 cup dried cranberries (150 g)
- 1 cup diced red onion or shallot (140 g)
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or chopped or slivered almonds (70 g)
For the Dressing
- 2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise (150 g)
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (45 mL)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (30 g)
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- Prepare Salad: Add the salad ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
- Mix Dressing: Add the dressing ingredients to a bowl or container and whisk until completely smooth and creamy.
- Mix Salad: Add the dressing to the salad and mix well to coat all the broccoli and distribute the rest of the ingredients.
- Marinate: Refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour to marinate.
- Serve and enjoy!
No Mayo Dressing: Originally this recipe was made with tofu as follows: 300 g package of soft tofu, 4 cloves garlic, 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, 2-3 tbsp maple syrup or sweeten to taste with stevia, a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Updated July 2022 to the mayo-based dressing.
Can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days in a sealed container.
See the post above for substitutions for cranberries, sunflower seeds, etc. as well as additions and variations of this recipe.
- Serving Size: 1/6th of recipe
- Calories: 280
- Sugar: 21 g
- Sodium: 412 mg
- Fat: 15 g
- Carbohydrates: 35 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 6 g
Keywords: vegan broccoli salad, vegan broccoli salad with cranberries
Originally published May 16, 2017.
I don’t know how much to buy seeing this: 1 x 300 g package soft tofu, can you help? Thanks!
Yes, one 300 gram-sized package of soft tofu. I’m not sure what sizes will be sold where you are but you’ll need 300 grams total. Enjoy!
Surprisingly yummy! Even my tofu-aversive bf loves this recipe. Used dried cranberries instead of raisins. I am very thankful for your recipe as I have multiple food sensitivities and this one agrees with me 🙂
So happy you guys liked it. Sounds perfect with cranberries!
can I substitute firm tofu for soft? Believe it or not I can’t find soft anywhere ????
I wouldn’t suggest firm tofu for this one but medium would probably be ok! Or maybe use plain non-dairy yogurt in place of firm tofu?
WOW !! A quick and easy salad that tastes wonderful. I used less garlic and splurged by substituting 2 tablespoons of maple syrup for the stevia. Added some dried cranberries for a touch of tartness. This salad will be part of my weekly meal rotation. Thank You
Yum, nice choice on the maple syrup! So glad you enjoyed it.
Raisins are my favorite! When you make a salad with it I can not ignore it! I am gonna make this salad and let you know! Thanks, Deryn!
This looks incredible! Definitely will try this!
If using maple syrup as the sweetener, how much would you recommend? This looks delicious!
I’d start with 1 tbsp, mix it up, taste and add more if needed. I’d say 1-3 tbsp should be good depending on how sweet you like it. 🙂
Thanks, Deryn! I’ll let you know how it turns out. 🙂
I subbed cranberries made the full recipe Saturday. Just finished today! Have to do again. So good and works for a perfect snack!
This is a terrific idea! A very simple healthy recipe that is easy to make and follow. I tried adding carrots and peas to the dish which really compliments it well too. I also used a Whale Shaped Colander which makes prepping the vegetables much easier
Oh yum, peas would be great in there! Nice additions. Glad you enjoyed it!
This is going to be my lunch this week – can’t wait!
Yay! Let me know how you like it.
Delicious! This one is definitely a keeper, a great healthy alternative to the old school version. Thanks for posting!
Thanks! I hope you enjoy it.
Looks like a wonderful Summer-type dish now that the weather’s warm and it’s fresh vegetable season. Lots of farmer’s markets showing up around home, too.
I’d like to feature this recipe on a future blog post. Would you mind?
Sure, go ahead, just please link back to my site for the full recipe. Thanks!
The Vegan Broccoli Salad recipe is featured in Our Pampered Home’s latest blog post for Summertime recipes! I made sure to credit you and your site.
Before I wrote the blog, I decided to try it out at home for myself. Sooooo delish! Thanks so much!
Thank you so much, Amanda! I appreciate the feature and I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. 🙂
Just added to this long seekend ‘s meal plan !
Looks like a perfect treat to enjoy out on the deck as weather is going to be perfect Saturday!
Hope you enjoy it!
This looks so good and easy to make! I will be making this soon! I have been looking for good recipe with quinoa…think I found it! Thanks!