Crunchy Broccoli Salad

GFGluten FreeGRGrain FreeOFOil FreeSFRefined Sugar FreeVVegan
5 from 5 votes
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This Vegan Broccoli Salad tosses crunchy veggies, sunflower seeds, and chewy dried fruit in a creamy and tangy dressing to give you the best side dish for picnics, potlucks, and warm weather meals! Vegan, Gluten-Free, & Oil-Free.

You don’t have to be vegan to fall for this Crunchy Vegan Broccoli Salad. Made with a colorful blend of crunchy vegetables, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds tossed in a simple yet sweet and creamy dressing, it’s a quick 15-minute side dish that’s always a hit at picnics and potlucks.

Table of Contents
  1. Classic Broccoli Salad with a Ton of Crunch
  2. What You Need for this Crunchy Broccoli Salad
  3. How to Make Vegan Broccoli Salad
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. How to Store Leftover Broccoli Salad
  6. Substitutions and Variations
  7. Recipe FAQs
  8. Crunchy Broccoli Salad Recipe
broccoli salad served in a bowl topped with roasted sunflower seeds

Classic Broccoli Salad with a Ton of Crunch

You’re not ready for barbecue season until you’ve made a bowl of my Crunchy Broccoli Salad. This classic summer side dish is made vegan thanks to a few plant-based substitutions, but no one will be able to tell the difference. It’s just as creamy, refreshing, and crave-worthy! 

If you’re a fan of crunchy things, this salad is definitely for you. A mix of broccoli, red onion, carrot, and sunflower seeds gives it some major CRUNCH, while the tangy-sweet dressing and tart dried cranberries help balance every bite. Toss ‘em all together, and you have a delicious vegan summer side dish to bring to the backyard barbecue, picnic, or potluck.

What You Need for this Crunchy Broccoli Salad

This crunchy vegetable salad requires 3 fresh ingredients plus a few pantry staples. 

ingredients for crunchy broccoli salad laid out on marble kitchen countertop
  • Broccoli: the whole head of broccoli is thrown into this salad, florets, stem, and all. If you’d rather omit the broccoli stems, be sure to save them for this Homemade Vegetable Broth
  • Carrot: grated carrots add a nice splash of color as well as more crunch.
  • Red Onion: diced red onion also brings some crunch to this salad while also lending a sweet tanginess that perfectly compliments the raw broccoli and creamy dressing. 
  • Sunflower Seeds: opt for roasted and salted sunflower seeds for extra flavor. If your seeds aren’t salted, you can add a little more salt to the dressing.
  • Dried Cranberries: I found that dried cranberries plus 1 tablespoon of maple syrup gave the salad just the right amount of sweetness. If you prefer a more tart flavor, use unsweetened dried cranberries. 
  • Dressing: the crunchy veggies are tossed in an easy broccoli salad dressing made from my Easy Vegan Mayo (or store-bought vegan mayo), maple syrup/agave, apple cider vinegar, and simple seasonings. If you’d like the flavor to be slightly sweeter, add an extra 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.

How to Make Vegan Broccoli Salad

side-by-side images of the salad dressing and chopped ingredients
  1. Chop the broccoli, carrot, and red onion. Separate the broccoli florets, then finely dice the stems.
  2. Stir the vegan mayo, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper together in the base of a large bowl.
  3. Toss the broccoli, carrots, and red onion with the dressing until coated. Fold in the sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. 
  4. Chill the salad in the fridge for 10 minutes, then serve in bowls.

Caitlin’s Cooking Tips

  • Chop the broccoli into evenly sized pieces: Small, consistently sized broccoli florets will be easier to eat and get evenly coated in the dressing.
  • Time-saving hack: Make this salad with pre-chopped broccoli florets and grated carrots to save on prep time. 
  • Wait to add the sunflower seeds: If you don’t plan on eating this salad right away, do not add the sunflower seeds. They should be added right before serving the salad so they can stay crisp and crunchy.

Serving Suggestions

Each bite of this broccoli salad is flavorful and refreshing, making it the perfect side dish to pair with warm weather meals. I like it on the side of these Vegan Beet Burgers, these Grilled Pesto Tofu Sliders, and these Rainbow Veggie Sandwiches.

Bringing it with you to a picnic lunch? Enjoy it with even more summer sides, like this Creamy Dill Pickle Salad, this Pesto Orzo Salad, or this Crunchy Cucumber Salad. All four of these sides travel well, do not get soggy, and even taste great at room temperature.

If you’re looking for more exciting and flavorful vegan broccoli recipes, you’ll also love this Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad, this Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole, and this Roasted Garlic Sesame Broccoli!

a zoomed in image of the salad showing its texture

How to Store Leftover Broccoli Salad

The leftover dressed broccoli salad will keep for up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. The vegetables will soften slightly as they sit, but the flavors will only continue to develop and get better! I don’t recommend freezing this salad.

Enjoy the leftover broccoli salad straight from the fridge or set it on the kitchen counter for 15 to 30 minutes if you’d rather serve it at room temperature.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Add More Vegetables: Shaved brussels sprouts, cauliflower florets, or finely chopped kale would all taste great here.
  • Add Vegan Bacon: You can crumble some of my Smoky Tempeh and toss it in the salad if you’re missing the salty-smoky flavors of real bacon (a classic broccoli salad ingredient).
  • For Extra Protein: Toss 1 can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans in the salad for a protein and fiber boost!
  • Sunflower Seed Substitution: Use pumpkin seeds or chopped almonds instead so you don’t miss out on the crunch.
  • Mix and Match the Dried Fruit: Instead of or in addition to the cranberries, feel free to add raisins, cherries, or chopped dates to the salad.
broccoli salad served in a bowl with two spoons stirring the salad

Recipe FAQs

Is broccoli eaten raw in broccoli salad?

You bet! Raw broccoli is super crunchy and travels well, making it ideal for broccoli salad recipes.

Should I blanch the broccoli?

It’s optional, but you can blanch the broccoli in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute if you prefer a softer texture. Drain and dry the cooked broccoli really well to prevent the salad from becoming soft, soggy, and watery.

Can I use frozen broccoli to make this salad?

No, frozen broccoli will not work because it will be too soggy and watery after thawing. Instead, save the frozen broccoli for soups or stir fries.

Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊

Crunchy Broccoli Salad

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
This Vegan Broccoli Salad tosses crunchy veggies, sunflower seeds, and chewy dried fruit in a creamy and tangy dressing to give you the best side dish for picnics, potlucks, and warm weather meals! Vegan, Gluten-Free, & Oil-Free.


For the Dressing:

For the Salad:

  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 cup carrot grated
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 2/3 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries*


  • Wash and chop the broccoli, carrot, and red onion. Separate the broccoli florets from the stems. Chop the heads into small, bite-sized pieces, then peel the stems and finely dice them.
  • Add the vegan mayo, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to the base of a large bowl, then mix well until combined. Toss in the broccoli, carrots, and red onion, then mix until all pieces are evenly coated in the dressing. Fold in the sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, then add any additional salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to combine. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Dried cranberries can be substituted for another dried fruit, such as raisins, cherries, or chopped dates.
  • Protein Boost: Add 1 can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans to this recipe for a protein and fiber boost!


Calories: 336kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 6gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.02gSodium: 400mgPotassium: 418mgFiber: 5gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 4078IUVitamin C: 70mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: broccoli salad dairy free, healthy broccoli salad, raw broccoli salad, salad with broccoli, vegan broccoli recipes, vegan broccoli salad, Vegan Picnic Recipes
Course: Salad
Method: No-Bake
Cuisine: American

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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  1. 5 stars
    This is something I make on the regular now as a salad on the side, or I bulk it up for a complete lunch by adding chickpeas and extra veggies. I think it would also be amazing bulked up with baked tofu or tempeh (trying this next!). I’ve already reviewed this salad, but I love it so much I had to come back and review it again. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Excellent! I made with storebought mayo this time because I didn’t have ingredients to make the homemade mayo, but I plan to try that next time–happy to heave the healthier alternative. Also used ready-shredded coleslaw mix bc I didn’t have fresh carrots, and it turned out great! I can’t wait for a potluck to take this to. 🙂

  3. Thank you for this great recipe 🙂
    While dicing the onion I added mushrooms and garlic to it with a little bit of olive oil – it was delicious.

  4. 5 stars
    This is SO Delicious! And so easy to make. I use a quick mayo dressing from cashews which adds more delicious nutrition. Adults & kids alike love this recipe. Thank you!