I have to say, this Broccoli Salad Recipe is the best I’ve ever made. An updated twist on a traditional recipe, it’s creamy, light and refreshing. No mayonnaise, bacon or Cheddar cheese here! My version features a tangy, lemon-y Caesar Dressing that complements the broccoli flavors perfectly. Surprise and delight your friends and family at your next BBQ, picnic or potluck with this crisp, fresh, make ahead Broccoli Salad!
I’m always looking for new and fun side dishes to serve at BBQs and picnics, or to take to potlucks – dishes that are familiar, but with a twist. Like my Coleslaw with Lemon-Mayonnaise Dressing, or Curried Pea Salad with Cashews and Bacon. Or this amazing Broccoli Salad with Caesar Dressing.
What’s in this Broccoli Salad
I love broccoli, but the classic broccoli salad recipe is a bit heavy and rich for me. By replacing the mayo, bacon and Cheddar filled dressing in the traditional recipe with a tangy, lemon-y Caesar, I was able to make the salad lighter and more refreshing. (Especially using our Caesar Dressing recipe, which is very thick and flavorful, so you need less!)
Scattering pieces of chopped red bell pepper and slivers of red onion amongst the broccoli florets adds color and crunchy texture. Sliced black olives bring a bit of briny, salty flavor. Lastly, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese finishes it all off.
I think that this Broccoli Salad tastes best if the broccoli is blanched – cooked or steamed for a very short time, then immediately plunged in ice water. Blanching removes the raw taste, and enhances the broccoli’s sweetness, while the ice water bath preserves its vibrant green color.
Yes, it definitely can be made the day before. And, the Caesar Dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead. Both should be stored covered, in the refrigerator.
While I think it’s best to serve this salad within 24 hours of preparing, it will last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. It does lose some of its crunchy texture over time.
What to serve with Broccoli Salad
Here are some main dishes I like to serve with this scrumptious and colorful salad:
- Roasted Salmon Steaks
- Braised Baby Back Ribs with Zesty BBQ Sauce
- Spicy Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
- BBQ Beef Sandwiches
- Grilled Rosemary Dijon Chicken Breasts
- Sundried Tomato Turkey Burgers
- BBQ Chicken with Oklahoma BBQ Sauce
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This make ahead Broccoli Salad is the best! An updated twist on a classic recipe, it’s creamy, light and refreshing, featuring an easy to make tangy, lemon-y Caesar Dressing. Perfect for your next BBQ, picnic or potluck.
Note: the blanched broccoli and other ingredients need to be very dry, so the salad doesn’t get watery after tossing with the dressing.
1 1/4 cups Homemade Caesar Dressing
- 6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 3 large bunches), larger pieces cut in half
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives (2 2.25-ounce cans)
- 1 medium red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced, larger pieces cut in half
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch squares (can also thinly slice)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Prepare Caesar Dressing; cover and refrigerate while blanching and cooling the broccoli.
Blanch Broccoli – Conventional method
- Steam the broccoli just until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Plunge immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the vibrant green color.
- Drain and place on a paper towel to dry.
Blanch Broccoli – Instant Pot method
- Place the steamer basket inside Instant Pot liner. Fill with water to just below the basket (no water in the basket, just under). Fill with broccoli florets. Lock lid in place and set on “Pressure Cook”, high, for 0 minutes, turn off “keep warm” and hit start.
- As soon as it signals that it’s done, quick release the steam. When steam is completely released, remove broccoli and plunge immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the vibrant green color.
- Drain and place on a paper towel to dry.
Broccoli Salad Assembly
- Place cooked broccoli florets in a large serving bowl and gently toss with olives, onion and pepper.
- Gently toss with 1/2 of the Caesar dressing and the Parmesan cheese, if using. (Can also serve Parmesan on the side.) Add additional dressing as needed.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
Make ahead: Salad can be prepared up the day before, and will last up to 3 days covered and refrigerated. The dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Variation: salad can also be served with dressing and Parmesan cheese on the side.
Keywords: broccoli, caesar salad, make ahead salads