Bright, fun and delicious! This cranberry broccoli salad is crunchy, rich, a mix of sweet and tart and absolutely drool-worthy. Perfect for the holidays, pool parties, or potlucks.
This recipe was originally published in April 2019. It has been updated for content and photos.
This is NOT your boring salad. I even admit that I’m not the biggest fan of raw broccoli, but I was completely blown away but the delicious combination of flavours and textures here. And I think I’ve found a new love!
PS. If crispy broccoli is totally your thing, be sure to check out my air fried broccoli too! It’s crisp, it’s garlicky, it’s spicy and it’s delish!
Why you’ll love it
- Like I said above, this salad is NOT boring. It’s fun and colourful and would make a fabulous dish for your holiday table.
- Lots of great texture and flavour. From crunchy broccoli and pecans to tart cranberries and apple, with the richness of a creamy poppy seed dressing, this cranberry broccoli salad will have your taste buds celebrating.
- Free from oil and fillers, meaning no empty calories here. It’s heart healthy, nutrient dense and completely wholesome.
- Not only is this dish naturally vegan and vegetarian friendly, but it’s also gluten free and soy free. Plus, with a couple of simple swaps, you can make it nut free too, if needed.
But one of my favourite parts?
Unlike many store bought salad dressings, this one is made using only food items you can pronounce. No preservatives and no long list of ingredients that you need to google before consuming.
Plus, when you can throw a salad dressing together in just a few minutes, there’s no reason not to use homemade.
How to make it
(This is a summary with step-by-step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Gather your salad ingredients. Make sure your broccoli florets are cut into small bite sized pieces.
Dice your apple and place in a bowl with the lemon juice and toss to coat. This will prevent your apple from browning. (photos 1-2)
Then combine the apples with all remaining salad ingredients and mix together. (photos 3-4)
Now gather your poppy seed dressing ingredients.
Then add everything EXCEPT the poppy seeds to your blender and process until smooth. (photos 5-6)
Now add the poppy seeds and blend for 1-2 seconds, just enough to mix them in, without blending them. (photos 7-8)
Pour the dressing over your cranberry broccoli salad and mix well to evenly coat. (photos 9-10)
Refrigerate for 1 hour to chill, or enjoy immediately. Serve with extra cranberries and pecans if desired.
Can it be prepared in advance?
Absolutely. If you’re planning a large feast, you may make your salad a day ahead and refrigerate until serving, saving you time on the day of your event. However, I don’t recommend dressing the salad more than 1 day ahead.
How long does it keep?
Your cranberry broccoli salad tastes best on days one and two. However, it will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Can I make any substitutions?
For nut free, sub the pecans for pumpkin seeds, or omit. For the salad dressing, you may sub the cashews for shelled and raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds, with similar results.
If you don’t have any dried cranberries, you may sub for raisins, or another dried fruit of your choice.
For sugar free, you may omit the maple syrup, but I do feel the small amount used makes a big difference in the overall flavour of this cranberry broccoli salad. You may also sub for date syrup, or your choice of sweetener, if preferred.
You’ll notice that the recipe calls for lemon juice twice. The first instance is to prevent the apples from turning brown, as well as flavour. The second instance is for the poppy seed salad dressing. Both are needed.
Use a tart apple, like granny smith for the best tangy flavour and crunch.
Don’t blend the poppy seeds with your dressing. Make sure to only add them AFTER your dressing has been processed.
For best flavour, chill for 1 hour (or more) before serving. However, if time doesn’t permit, you may enjoy straight away.
If you do not have a powerful blender, like a Vitamix or Blendtec, soak your cashews in boiling hot water for at least 30 minutes, and then drain before blending. This will help soften your cashews enough to blend smooth.
More delicious salad recipes
- Cabbage Quinoa Salad with Oil Free Vinaigrette
- Mexican Corn Salad [Elote Salad]
- Quinoa Pasta Salad [Healthy + Low Cal]
- Vegan Cobb Salad with Tangy Cheesy Dressing
- Coleslaw Salad w/ Oil Free Thai Peanut Dressing
- Vegan Chicken Salad w/ Jackfruit & Chickpeas
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For the Salad
- 6 cups broccoli florets cut into small bite sized pieces
- 15 oz can chickpeas drained & rinsed
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts
- ½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
- ¼ cup red onion finely chopped
- 1 green apple diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Dice your apple and place in a large bowl. Then squeeze fresh lemon juice on top to prevent it from browning and mix well. Add all remaining salad ingredients to the same bowl and mix together.
- Add all the dressing ingredients EXCEPT the poppy seeds to your blender and process until smooth. Then add the poppy seeds and blend for 1-2 seconds, just enough to mix them into your dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix well and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer, before serving.