A delicious alternative to a lettuce salad, this Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Dried Cherries is perfect for any gathering!

A twist on the classic Broccoli Raisin Salad, it’s amped up with shredded cheese, dried cherries instead of raisins, and a pop of color from diced red bell pepper. The crunch from nuts and seeds offers another texture for an out-of-this-world side dish.

White ceramic bowl filled with Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Dried Cherries.

Why You Must Make

  • It’s a highly adaptable salad recipe that has been making the rounds for years.
  • With a sweet mayonnaise-based dressing, it’s crunchy and irresistible!
  • Often chock full of raisins, I swapped those out for dried cherries, but dried cranberries can be used, too. The nut of your choice can be added for texture. Bacon gives a saltiness to balance out the sweetness of the dressing and cherries.
  • It’s super popular at summer gatherings, especially pitch-in meals and potlucks.
Broccoli Salad Ingredients with labels on a metal sheet pan.

Ingredient Notes

  • Kitchen Staples – Sugar
  • Thick Bacon – cook and chop
  • Broccoli florets – cut into bite-sized pieces. Blanch if you don’t like raw broccoli
  • Red bell pepper – chop or dice
  • Red onion – soak in vinegar to lessen the sharpness if desired and dice
  • Dried tart cherries – I love the Montmorency cherries from Trader Joe’s
  • Slivered almonds – Toast if you wish to bring out their natural oils. Just warm in a dry skillet, shaking frequently.
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Cheddar cheese shredded or cubed
  • Mayonnaise – I use Hellmann’s or Duke’s
  • Lemon Juice -Freshly squeezed. Don’t use the juice on the grocery shelves.
Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Dried Cherries on a white plate with a bamboo handled fork.

Expert Tips

I couldn’t resist digging into a big bowl of this broccoli salad immediately after tossing and though it was tasty, it was SO much better the next day. The dressing had loosened up a bit and the flavors melded wonderfully. Unlike a next-day soggy lettuce salad, this sturdy gem aged well. So if you’re in need of a little different side for your next gathering, give this one a shot. And plan ahead by making it the night before—it’s worth the wait!

  • This salad is easily customizable. If you don’t like nuts, like my hubby, leave out all the crunchy almonds and sunflower seeds. If you prefer the classic raisins, add those instead of dried cherries. Dried cranberries are a delicious alternative, too.
  • I’ve blanched the broccoli to take off the raw flavor in the past, but I like this salad just as well with fresh broccoli florets.
  • Including shredded cheese was a tasty change from my original recipe and one I’ll keep doing. I used sharp cheddar, but Monterey Jack or another of your favorite cheeses would work well in this easy broccoli salad.
  • I sweetened the simple mayonnaise dressing with granulated sugar, but honey or even a sugar substitute are other options. Try a homemade mayonnaise instead of store bought for an even more wholesome version.
  • My original version didn’t contain onions, but I had pickled onions for my tuna salad and found a couple tablespoons was a delicious addition. You could also use thinly sliced scallions if you like the mild bite from onions. To pickle onions, just chop, add to a small bowl and pour in some champagne or other favorite vinegar to cover. Let sit 5 or more minutes, drain and use.
  • PRO- Tip: You can certainly eat this broccoli salad as soon as it’s tossed, but the flavors meld and develop with an overnight stint in the refrigerator. Just toss again before serving.
  • Store in a covered container and toss again before serving. Do not leave the salad out at room temperature for more than 2 hours as the chance of a food-borne illness increases when any mayonnaise-based salad dressing is left in the heat too long.

How to Make

Frequently Asked Questions

What is in Broccoli Salad?

The ingredients vary depending on the recipe, but the basics include raw broccoli florets, bacon, red onion, sunflower seeds, raisins, and a sweet mayonnaise-based salad dressing. Variations include cheese and slivered almonds for extra crunch.

How do you make Broccoli Salad Dressing?

This is a super easy salad dressing that just requires measuring and whisking together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and a bit of sugar. Other broccoli salads are made with vinaigrettes, but I prefer this creamy dressing.

Do You Cook Broccoli Before Using in a Salad?

It’s up to you. You can blanch the broccoli which means dropping the florets into boiling water just until the color changes to a brighter green. Then the broccoli is quickly removed with a slotted spoon and placed into an ice bath (ice cubes in a large bowl of water) to stop the cooking process.

Blanching helps remove the raw taste of the broccoli and softens it slightly. This salad was made the traditional way with fresh broccoli.

Can You Make Broccoli Salad Ahead of Time?

Yes. In fact, it’s best to let it chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving to let the flavors meld. Making it the day before is OK, but make sure to toss it again before serving.

What Goes with Broccoli Salad?

Since it’s traditionally a summer salad, it goes well with burgers, BBQ chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and other picnic food. If serving it for the holidays, it’s delicious with whatever is on your menu!

Overhead shot of Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Dried Cherries in a white serving bowl.

You May Also Like:

I tend to use a lot of garden tomatoes and fresh basil in my summer salads, but there are so many more options.

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Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Dried Cherries - Perfect for picnics and potlucks!

Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Dried Cherries

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings

A classic picnic salad made with broccoli, bacon and dried cherries. Easily adapted to make it your own!


  • 6 slices thick bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 4 cups of small, bite-sized broccoli florets
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons diced, pickled red onion*
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I recommend Hellmann's)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the bacon, broccoli, bell pepper, onions, cherries, almonds, seeds, and cheese.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice and sugar.
  3. Add to broccoli mixture and toss to combine.
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or two to let flavors meld. Toss again before serving.


*Soak the diced onion in champagne vinegar while prepping other salad ingredients, then drain and add to the salad. This will soften the sharp flavor of the raw onions.

This salad tastes best after refrigerating for a few hours up to overnight.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 425Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 745mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 12g


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Broccoli Salad photo and text collage.