This is the best ever healthy Broccoli and Bacon Salad recipe! Tiny bite-sized pieces of broccoli are tossed with bacon, dates, sunflower seeds, red onion, and creamy homemade lemon garlic dressing. Best of all, it’s completely Whole30 and Paleo compatible, and can easily be made Keto and low carb.
This recipe was originally shared 11/2018 and was republished 5/2022 with more pictures and video.
Why We Love It
The simplest recipes are usually the most impressive to me, so easy, healthy, and delicious salads are always on the menu at my house!
And this broccoli bacon salad is a total crowd-pleaser. It works just as well for backyard bbqs and cookouts (it travels great!) as it does for weeknight dinners!
The broccoli is cut into tiny pieces and tossed with sharp red onions, sweet dates, crispy bacon, and crunchy sunflower seeds, then mixed with a creamy homemade lemon garlic dressing.
As an added bonus, the steps to making this recipe are super simple. Once you’re done prepping the ingredients, you just need to toss them together and let your family and guests dig in!
Best of all, this recipe is Whole30, Paleo, Gluten Free, and can be easily made Keto and Low Carb, too.
Broccoli Bacon Salad
- Bacon. I like to use sugar-free bacon.
- Dates. This adds a sweetness to the salad that perfectly balances the salty bacon and savory dressing. You can substitute dried cranberries or apricots if you prefer them.
- Sunflower Seeds. Sunflower seeds add crunch and a lovely nutty flavor! I use roasted and unsalted sunflower seeds so I have more control over the saltiness of the salad.
- Red Onion. Red onion adds a little sharp flavor and more crunch.
👉 Tip: If you prefer a little less harshness to your onions, pour the salad dressing over the sliced onions and wait an hour, then combine with the rest of the salad ingredients. The vinegar in the dressing will begin to mellow the flavor of the onions over time.
🍋 Lemon Garlic Dressing
- Mustard. I prefer to use regular dijon mustard, but any type you enjoy or have on hand will work.
- Lemon Juice
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Salt & Pepper
Dietary Restrictions / Variations
👉 Whole30: Use Whole30 compatible mayo and nitrate-free, sugar-free bacon.
👉 Keto / Low Carb: Use sugar-free bacon and omit the dates. You can substitute fresh or dried blueberries if you’d like or just leave them off the salad completely. Optionally, add 1 cup cubed cheddar cheese.
👉 Vegetarian: Omit the bacon and substitute vegetarian mayo. You can include mushroom or coconut bacon, if you’d like, or just leave it out completely. Either way will be totally delish!
👩🍳 Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Do the prep work.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the bacon is crispy, set it aside on a paper towel lined plate to cool.
Next, grab your cutting board! Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces, then dice the onion, cut the dates into quarters, and roughly chop the cooked, cooled bacon.
Step 2: Make the lemon garlic dressing.
Add the mayo, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, and apple cider vinegar to a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients until it’s a smooth and creamy consistency.
If you want to thin out the dressing a bit more once it’s whisked together, stir in 1/2-1 teaspoon of lemon juice at a time.
Step 3: Assemble and serve.
Add the broccoli, bacon, dates, sunflower seeds, and onion to a large bowl.
Drizzle all the dressing on top of the salad, then toss all the ingredients together until it’s fully and evenly combined.
FAQ & Tips
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, per USDA.
I prefer to use raw broccoli, however, you can decide whether you like blanched or raw broccoli, based on your preferences. Blanching refers to briefly submerging the vegetable in boiling water and then stopping the cooking process quickly, which allows for just a tiny amount of cooking and softening of the vegetable.
To Blanche Broccoli:
1. Boil a large pot of salted water.
2. Gently place the pieces of bite-sized broccoli into the boiling water.
3. Cook for about 1 minute, or just until bright green.
4. Remove the broccoli and transfer it to an ice bath (a large bowl of ice and water) until fully cool.
5. Drain the water and pat the broccoli dry.
Broccoli salad is a fabulous make-ahead dish. I recommend following the recipe as-written, but keep the bacon separate on the side to keep it from getting soft and soggy. Store the salad covered in the refrigerator for up to a day, then add the bacon just before serving.
Toss diced broccoli stems into this salad for extra crunch and texture, or make broccoli ranch slaw. You can also add them to your stir fry or salads.
Are you making this recipe?
Please share your experience by leaving a comment below or tagging me on Instagram @cookathomemom!
Broccoli Bacon Salad
Broccoli & Bacon Salad
- 5 cups broccoli florets about 3 crowns
- 8 ounces bacon, cooked, about 8 slices
- ½ cup diced dates, or use any combination of dried cranberries or apricots.⠀
- ½ cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds⠀
- 1/2 red onion
Lemon Garlic Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayo⠀
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon mustard⠀
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, preferably raw
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice about 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
Do the Prep Work
- Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Set the pieces on a paper towel lined plate to cool. Meanwhile, remove the stems from the broccoli and chop them into bite sized pieces. Thinly slice the red onion. Dice the dates. Once the bacon is cooled, roughly chop it into bite sized pieces.
Make the Dressing
- Grate or finely mince the garlic, then whisk together all the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If needed, add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon more lemon juice to thin to desired consistency.
Broccoli & Bacon Salad
- Add the broccoli, bacon, sunflower seeds, dates, and onion to a bowl. Drizzle all the salad dressing on top. Toss all the ingredients together until fully coated and serve.
- Boil a large pot of salted water
- Gently place the pieces of bite-sized broccoli into the boiling water
- Cook for about 1 minute, or just until bright green.
- Remove the broccoli and set in an ice bath until cooled
- Drain the water and pat the broccoli dry