This vegan broccoli salad features sunflower seeds, cranberries, red onion and a sweet, creamy and tangy mayonnaise dressing.

Close up of vegan broccoli salad with mayo dressing and cranberries and sunflower seeds in a small ceramic serving bowl.

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.

Recipe Highlights

  • 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

All the ingredients for a vegan broccoli salad recipe gathered in bowls and labelled with text.

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.

Diced red onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and broccoli in a large glass mixing bowl.

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.

A creamy broccoli salad dressing made with mayo in a small bowl. A small wooden spoon rests in the bowl.

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.

Hands using salad tongs to mix vegan broccoli salad in a large glass mixing bowl on a marble surface.

After chilling the salad, serve and enjoy!

Serving Suggestions

Wooden spoon scooping a serving of vegan broccoli salad with cranberries, red onion and sunflower seeds from a large glass mixing bowl into a small bowl.

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.

Overhead view of a large bowl of creamy vegan broccoli salad with cranberries, red onion and sunflower seeds

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.

FAQs

Do you cook broccoli for broccoli salad?

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.

Is broccoli salad gluten-free?

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.

Do you really have to refrigerate for 1 hour?

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.

Close up of vegan broccoli salad with mayo dressing and cranberries and sunflower seeds in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon resting in the bowl.

Storing

  • 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.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Wooden spoon scooping a serving of vegan broccoli salad with cranberries, red onion and sunflower seeds from a large glass mixing bowl into a small bowl.

Easy Vegan Broccoli Salad

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

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.


Ingredients

Scale

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

Instructions

  1. Prepare Salad: Add the salad ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix Dressing: Add the dressing ingredients to a bowl or container and whisk until completely smooth and creamy.
  3. Mix Salad: Add the dressing to the salad and mix well to coat all the broccoli and distribute the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Marinate: Refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour to marinate.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

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.


Nutrition

  • 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.