vegan broccoli salad with apples, onions, walnuts, cranberries vegan bacon in a serving bowl

This healthy Vegan Broccoli Salad features crunchy broccoli, apples, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, onions and vegan bacon all dressed in a creamy dairy free dressing. Easy to make and comes together in minutes! Perfect for any party or potluck.

vegan dairy free broccoli salad close up shot

If I had to choose one green vegetable to eat for the rest of my life, it would be broccoli. Roasted, air fried, steamed… I can eat it as is. The only caveat is I kind of don’t like it raw… unless it’s smothered in a creamy dressing.

I think most people associate broccoli salad as a summer time dish but for me, I have memories of eating broccoli salad around the holidays at parties and potlucks. My mom would make this super delicious broccoli salad with crispy apples (sometimes grapes), dried cranberries, bacon bits and candied nuts (pretty sure the candied nuts made it a holiday-vibe) all dressed in a rich creamy mayo dressing.

I haven’t had broccoli salad since going vegan (so like 8 years?!) and I don’t know why but I just had a sudden craving for broccoli salad. I looked in my fridge and (wahoo) I had all the ingredients on hand. I made it on a whim with no measurements and OH MY GOSH you guys it hit the spot.

I even had my raw-broccoli hating boyfriend like it and polish off an entire plate– now thats sayin’ something. I recreated it with measurements so I could share it here on the blog, I really hope you try it and enjoy!

vegan broccoli salad ingredients laid out

Ingredients to Make Vegan Broccoli Salad That Tastes Good

First, let’s talk about the dressing. Classic broccoli salad (as I remember) is made from mayo. It’s super creamy which helps make the raw broccoli actually taste good. Raw broccoli on its own is kind of bitter? Spicy? Strange IMO so a good dressing is key.

How do we go about making a creamy mayo-like dairy free dressing? The answer is cashews. I always have a batch of vegan mayo with either tofu, cashews or a combination of both but I find for this recipe in particular, using cashews is ideal.

However, if you’d like to keep things lighter you can use half cashews and half tofu. I don’t recommend using all tofu for this recipe because it tends to be too light.

In addition for more flavour, in goes lemon juice, maple syrup, dijon mustard, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Jazz it up with some paprika, dill or dried parsley if you fancy that.

For the salad, it’s a base of broccoli (obviously), plus some red onions, apples, dried cranberries and candied walnuts. The candied is optional but it’s the holiday season right now and candied nuts is kinda a mood right now. I also like to add in some vegan bacon for smoky-ness but that’s totally optional.

Need some variation or substitutions? Try swapping:

  • Apples: for grapes, pears or persimmons
  • Candied Walnuts: for almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Dried Cranberries: for dried raisins or dried apricots
step by step shots of how to make vegan broccoli salad with creamy dressing

How to Make Vegan Broccoli Salad with Creamy Dressing

This salad is awesome. Why? Because it’s so easy and quick to make AND it can be made ahead of time. Actually, it’s kinda better made ahead of time because the dressing makes the broccoli and onions a little more tender.

  1. For the Dressing: Just add all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Be sure to use soaked cashews so that its easier to blend! I start with 4 tbsp of water and add just a bit more depending on how long I soaked the cashews and how well I drained it after.
  2. For the Salad: Toss the broccoli, sliced onions, apples and dried cranberries together. Pour over the sauce and toss to coat everything. From here, store it in the fridge covered if making ahead of time. Then before serving, add in the candied walnuts last to keep them crunchy and the vegan bacon last as a final touch.

I do recommend letting the salad sit in the fridge for at least an hour BUT if you’re in a pinch and want to serve immediately, just cut the broccoli smaller than shown in the photos and toss the salad well.

dairy free crunchy broccoli salad with apples, onions, walnuts, cranberries vegan bacon in a serving bowl with spoons

Tips to Making Broccoli Salad Actually Taste Good

  • Size of Broccoli Pieces: The size depends on on how early you want to serve this salad and how crunchy you like your broccoli. I like to let this salad sit overnight in the fridge so I keep it into bite sized pieces. However, if you’re serving it within an hour, cut them slightly smaller than shown in the photos.
  • Soak the Cashews: Makes the dressing much more creamier and easier to blend.
  • Soak the Onions: This helps get rid of the super strong pungent spicy flavour of raw onions.

How to Store this Vegan Broccoli Salad & Cashew Dressing

Store in the fridge covered for 3-4 days. Be sure to give it a mix before serving.

Helpful Equipment to Broccoli Salad & Cashew Dressing

vegan crunchy broccoli salad with dairy free dressing on a serving plate

Did I convince you to make this Vegan Broccoli Salad yet? It’s super crunchy, creamy and flavourful– I think it would make the perfect side dish for any holiday parties coming up! Also great for meal prep for all my meal prep lovers 😉

vegan crunchy broccoli salad with dairy free dressing on a serving plate close up shot

More Vegan Salads to Try!

vegan crunchy broccoli salad with dairy free dressing in a shallow bowl close up shot

If you recreate this Vegan Broccoli Salad with Creamy Dressing recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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Vegan Broccoli Salad with Creamy Dressing


  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

This healthy Vegan Broccoli Salad features crunchy broccoli, apples, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, onions and vegan bacon all dressed in a creamy dairy free dressing. Easy to make and comes together in minutes! Perfect for any party or potluck.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Dressing:

Salad:

  • 5 cups broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces (1lb // 455g // 1 large crown)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in water for 10 minutes (55g)
  • 1 medium apple, chopped (170g)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (60g)
  • 1/2 cup candied walnuts (80g // store bought or homemade*)
  • 1/2 cup vegan bacon, optional (60g)


Instructions

Dressing: 

  1. Add all the dressing ingredients into a high speed blender, starting with 4 tbsp of water. Blend until smooth. Add extra tbsp of water if it looks or tastes too thick. Set dressing aside.

Salad: 

  1. Drain onions from the water. Into a large bowl combine the broccoli, onions, apples and cranberries. Give it rough toss. Pour in the sauce and toss until all pieces are coated evenly. If serving later, cover the salad and place in refrigerator. Add in the vegan bacon and candied walnuts before serving. 

Notes

  • For nut free, use the same amount of hemp seeds. 3/4 cup For a lighter version, use 1/2 cup cashews (75g) + 2 tbsp water (30g) and half tofu (70g). 
  • Depending on your blender and how well you drained your cashews, you may want to add 1-2 tbsp more water to thin out the dressing. 
  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer) without the vegan bacon. 
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, salads

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 portion
  • Calories: 297
  • Sugar: 20g
  • Sodium: 432mg
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.3g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 13.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 33.6g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Cholesterol: 0

Keywords: broccoli salad, cashew mayo, winter salad, holiday recipes

SAVE IT FOR LATER! ↓

vegan crunchy broccoli salad with dairy free creamy dressing pinterest graphic

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Konnichiwa

About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.


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8 Comments

  1. Just made this and it is AMAZING! I used smoked paprika instead of bacon for the smokey flavor and it worked wonders!

  2. this is how you make salads the right way

    the sweetness from the apples and cranberries + the nuttiness of the walnuts paired with this creamy, rich dressing works so well together
    i don’t really like raw broccoli but with this dressing, i can eat a whole head of it

    next time i’ll add less red onion because it was kind of pungent for me and too much for my taste

  3. All that s left to do is toss! The dressing coats the salad beautifully. It can be served immediately

  4. made this for meal prep and I am soooooooo happy! That dressing it absolutely delicious, and I will definitely make it a staple dressing. I added shredded kale, pumpkin seeds, and some penne to make it more like more like a pasta broccoli salad? NO REGRETS! Delicious recipe. THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Jen!
      So happy to hear you loved the dressing! Adding pasta is such a good idea, I’ll def have to give that a try 😉