This crunchy, colorful, and super delicious broccoli apple salad comes together in under 20 minutes using simple ingredients. Make this sweet and savory salad for your fall or holiday table. It’s great for picnics and potlucks too. It’s paleo, gluten-free, and can be easily made vegan.
If you are someone who loves a good salad, then here are some more delicious salad options for you: Cranberry Chicken Salad, Watermelon Feta Salad, Traditional Greek Salad, Ramen Noodle Salad, Kale Mango Salad, and Cucumber Avocado Salad.
About This Recipe
Broccoli Apple Salad is a delicious and super-healthy salad with sweet and savory flavors. It’s crunchy, colorful, and comes together in under 20 minutes. This salad is one of the best ways to enjoy broccoli!
The classic Southern Broccoli and Apple Salad has a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing, but to give my salad a healthy twist, I made a light apple cider vinegar dressing which pairs very well with it.
I have shared the creamy mayonnaise-based dressing in this post too. So choose which one you want to go for.
This salad is great for your fall or holiday table. And since it can be made ahead as the ingredients that go into it do not become soggy for quite some time, it’s great for box lunches, potlucks, and picnics.
Broccoli Apple Salad is super healthy and nutritious. The sweetness of the apples and honey perfectly balances the bitterness of the broccoli.
Make this nutritious broccoli salad any time for any meal, and you are sure to feel wholesome. It is paleo, gluten-free, and very diet-friendly, and can be easily made vegan. Mark it up on your menu then? Here’s my recipe for making this salad at home:
Apples – Use red sweet apples like Gala, Honeycrisp, or Fuji as they are sweet and juicy and taste great in this salad. You can also use green apples if you like their sour taste. You don’t have to peel the apples for this salad.
Broccoli – Cut the broccoli into small, bite-sized florets. Buy pre-cut broccoli florets to save time.
Carrots – I diced the carrots, but you can use shredded carrots too. Buy pre-shredded carrots to save time.
Dried Cranberries – These add a nice, chewy texture along with a sweet, tangy taste. You can use raisins or craisins in place of cranberries.
Toasted Pecans – Pecans add a nice crunch or bite to the salad. You can replace pecans with almonds, cashew nuts, or walnuts.
For Dressing – To enhance the flavor of this simple salad, you will need a light dressing that will instantly oomph up the taste. I made a light dressing using extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
You can replace lemon juice and zest with orange juice and orange zest. Honey adds a nice sweetness. But if you are looking for a vegan version, go for maple syrup instead.
Others – You can add cheese like blue cheese or feta to the salad as they pair beautifully with the other ingredients.
How to Make Broccoli Apple Salad
Toast the pecans in a pan over medium heat until crisp (3-4 minutes). Chop and set them aside.
Wash a medium head of broccoli and cut it into small, bite-size florets. Bring a medium-size pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt and broccoli florets to the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat. Do not overcook or the broccoli will become mushy.
While the broccoli is cooking, keep a large bowl full of ice-cold water ready. Drain the broccoli and transfer it to the bowl so the ice-cold water can stop the cooking. Let the broccoli rest in ice-cold water for 2 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
Mix the dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl: 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoon honey (maple syrup for vegan), ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper.
Add the cooked broccoli, 2 cups of cored and diced apples, ¼ cup dried cranberries, ¼ cup chopped onions, ½ cup diced carrots, and ½ cup chopped roasted pecans to the bowl and toss everything well.
Chill the salad for 1-2 hours and serve cold.
Frequently Asked Questions
Stir together ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt, ¼ cup full-fat mayonnaise, 1-½ tbsp apple cider vinegar, 3 tbsp honey, and salt (to taste) in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until evenly coated.
Trade some of the mayonnaise with yogurt to make it healthier without compromising on taste.
The ingredients in this salad are mostly raw and will not wilt even after a few hours of making it. However, I suggest packing the dressing in a separate bottle and mixing it with the salad once you are ready to eat.
If you are making a creamy yogurt or mayonnaise dressing, then you can mix it in advance too.
I prefer sweet and juicy apples like Red Delicious, Gala, or Fuji over sour ones like Granny Smith to make this salad.
You can try a mix of sweet red apples and sour green apples if you wish. Be sure to choose fresh and firm apples. Their crunch is what makes this salad extra special.
All the ingredients in this broccoli and apple salad are vegan, except for the honey. So to add some sweetness to the dressing, you can substitute honey with maple syrup.
- Greek Yogurt – Use ¼ cup for dressing. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and lemon juice for a great healthy creamy dressing.
- Mayonnaise – The classic Southern Broccoli Apple Salad uses mayonnaise in the dressing. I am not a big mayonnaise fan, but if you like mayo, go ahead and use it in the salad.
- Sour Cream – Sour Cream is a great replacement for Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. You can even use a mix of these creamy ingredients.
- Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing – This is my fav all-purpose salad dressing. It goes well on all salads.
- Tahini Dressing – Looking for something different and earthy in this salad? Then Tahini Dressing is your thing.
- Crispy Bacon – Crispy Bacon on anything is good, right?
- Roasted Walnuts or Pecans – I like some crunch in my salad and what better than some roasted crunchy pecans or walnuts. You can even use cashews, walnuts, or sunflower seeds for the crunch.
- Cheese – A fresh grating of parmesan cheese works great in this salad. Blue cheese and Feta cheese also pair well with the other salad ingredients.
- Lettuce – I haven’t added lettuce or any other salad greens in this recipe, but you can totally do so. Cabbage is a great option, too.
- Fruits – Feel free to add fruits other than apples to this recipe. Mangoes, avocados, strawberries are what’s coming to mind right now. But be creative and choose fruits you like.
- Beetroot – Boiled or roasted beetroot will work great along with broccoli and apples. Give it a try.
- And do try roasting the broccoli instead of blanching it. It will be a very new taste profile and a very tasty one, I’ll bet.
Broccoli Apple Salad tastes best chilled.
Serve this salad on its own for a light dinner or snack whenever hunger strikes. You can also pack it for a box lunch or bring it to a picnic or a potluck.
This salad needs to be refrigerated for at least 1-2 hours for the flavors to marry each other. It also keeps good for 18-24 hours in the refrigerator. After that, it will start to wilt, and the taste will change.
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Broccoli Apple Salad Recipe
- 1 medium head broccoli
- 2 cups cored and diced apples
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped onions
- ½ cup diced carrots
- ½ cup chopped roasted pecans
For the dressing
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey (use maple syrup for vegan)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon feshly cracked black pepper
- Bring a medium-size pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt and broccoli florets to the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat. Do not overcook or the broccoli will become mushy.
- While the broccoli is cooking, keep a large bowl of ice-cold water ready. Drain the broccoli and transfer it to the bowl of water to stop the cooking. Let the broccoli rest in ice-cold water for 2 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the cooked broccoli, apples, dried cranberries, onions, carrots, and toasted pecans to the bowl and toss everything well.
- Chill the salad for 1-2 hours and serve cold.