Skip to Content

Loaded Broccoli Salad

With its vibrant colors, bold flavors, and satisfying textures, this broccoli salad is not just a feast for the taste buds, but also a feast for the eyes. It’s a celebration of nature’s bounty, crafted into a culinary masterpiece that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.

Welcome to my kitchen, foodies! Today, we’re diving into a culinary delight that’s as colorful and flavorful as it is easy to make: Loaded Broccoli Salad.

Broccoli, apples, bacon, and cheddar cheese mixed together into a salad. Everything is arranged in a white bowl.

Picture this: crunchy broccoli florets, crispy bacon, tangy cranberries, sweet apples, and creamy cheese, and I like to toss in some candied pecans, all coming together in a harmonious medley of flavors and textures.

And to top it all off? A luscious sweet and tangy dressing that will have your taste buds singing with joy.

This Broccoli Salad is one of my favorites, I make it all the time I’ve taken pictures a few different times and finally getting around to sharing. If you’ve never made broccoli salad you just have to try it, this one is amazing!

A white bowl with a broccoli salad. The salad is made up of broccoli, bacon, diced apples, and shredded cheddar cheese. A metal spoon is resting in the bowl, with a blue cloth on the right edge of the image.

Let’s break down this masterpiece of a salad and explore why it deserves a spot on your table:

1. Broccoli Brilliance: Broccoli is the star of this salad, bringing not only its vibrant green color but also a wealth of health benefits. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, broccoli adds a nutritious punch to this dish while maintaining its satisfying crunch.

2. Bacon Bliss: What’s a salad without a little indulgence? Crispy bacon adds a savory, smoky flavor that perfectly complements the freshness of the broccoli. Its irresistible crunch takes this salad to the next level, making each bite a delight for your taste buds.

3. Cheese Charm: A sprinkle of cheese ties everything together in this salad, adding a creamy richness that balances out the other flavors. Whether you prefer sharp cheddar, tangy feta, or creamy goat cheese, the choice is yours. Just be prepared for your taste buds to thank you.

4. Apple Appeal: Sweet and crisp apples add a delightful contrast to the savory elements of this salad. Their natural sweetness enhances the overall flavor profile while providing a refreshing burst of juiciness with every bite. Plus, the hint of tartness adds a lovely complexity to the dish. 

5. Cranberry Craze: Tart cranberries add a pop of color and a burst of tangy flavor to this salad, elevating it to holiday-worthy status. Their vibrant red hue adds festive flair to your table, while their tartness cuts through the richness of the other ingredients, creating a harmonious balance of flavors.

6. Dressing Delight: Last but certainly not least, the sweet and tangy dressing brings all the elements of this salad together in perfect harmony. A blend of mayo, sour cream, vinegar, and a hint of lemon juice creates a dressing that’s both bright and flavorful, complementing the ingredients without overpowering them.

Broccoli, bacon, apples, and cheddar cheese mixed together into a salad. Everything is arranged in a white bowl. A metal spoon can be seen coming out of the bowl.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But won’t this salad be heavy?” Fear not, dear reader! While loaded with delicious ingredients, this salad is surprisingly light and refreshing, making it the perfect accompaniment to any feast. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make, allowing you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of your loved ones.

So there you have it, folks: Loaded Broccoli Salad, the ultimate side dish that’s sure to impress even the pickiest of eaters. With its irresistible combination of flavors and textures, this salad is guaranteed to be a hit at your next gathering.

So go ahead, give it a try, and watch as your guests reach for seconds (and maybe even thirds!). Cheers to good food and good company!

A white bowl containing a prepared broccoli salad. The salad is made up of broccoli, bacon, diced apples, and cheddar cheese.

What can you serve with this Loaded Broccoli Salad?

Notes and Tips:

  • No cooking or blanching the broccoli. This recipe is full of fresh ingredients, just chop mix and chill!
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the apples to keep fresh and prevent them from turning brown when cutting.
  • Feel free to customize this salad based on your preferences. You can add nuts (such as toasted almonds or sun flower seeds) for extra crunch, or swap out the dried cranberries for raisins or chopped dried apricots.
  • If you’re making this salad ahead of time, wait to add the dressing until just before serving to prevent the broccoli from becoming too soggy.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Keep in mind that the broccoli may soften slightly over time, but the flavors will still be delicious.
  • For a lighter version of this salad, you can use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise in the dressing. It will still be creamy and flavorful, with a slight tanginess.
  • If you’re serving this salad at a potluck or holiday gathering, consider doubling the recipe as it tends to disappear quickly!

Near over head view of a white bowl with a salad prepared using broccoli, apples, cheddar cheese, and bacon.
Storage Ideas:

  • Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Make sure to give it a good stir before serving to redistribute the dressing and flavors.
  • To freshen up any leftovers, you can add a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper before serving.
  • If you’re meal prepping for the week, you can portion out individual servings of the salad into small containers for easy grab-and-go lunches or snacks.
  • If you’re planning a picnic or outdoor gathering, pack the salad in a cooler with plenty of ice packs to keep it chilled and fresh until serving time.

Broccoli, apples, cheddar cheese and bacon in a white bowl. The image is zoomed in to highlight the texture of the broccoli and dressing.
Shopping for Fresh Broccoli 

When shopping for fresh broccoli, there are several key factors to keep in mind to ensure you select the best quality produce:

  1. Color: Look for broccoli with deep green florets and firm, sturdy stems. Avoid broccoli with yellowing or browning florets, as this indicates aging or spoilage.
  2. Texture: The florets should be tightly closed and compact, with no signs of wilting or shriveling. The stems should feel firm and crisp, not rubbery or mushy.
  3. Size: While broccoli comes in various sizes, smaller heads tend to be more tender and flavorful. However, regardless of size, choose broccoli with evenly sized florets for more consistent cooking.
  4. Stalk: Check the cut end of the stalk for any signs of decay or discoloration. It should be firm and moist, without any soft spots or sliminess.
  5. Leaves: If the broccoli comes with leaves attached, they should be vibrant green and fresh-looking, without any signs of wilting or yellowing.
  6. Smell: Fresh broccoli should have a clean, slightly sweet aroma. Avoid broccoli with a strong or unpleasant odor, as this could indicate decay.
  7. Organic Options: If possible, consider choosing organic broccoli to minimize exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. Look for the USDA Organic label to ensure the broccoli meets organic standards.

By paying attention to these factors while shopping, you can select the freshest and highest quality broccoli to enjoy in your favorite recipes.

Enjoy this Loaded Broccoli Salad as a delicious and nutritious side dish that’s perfect for any occasion, from holiday feasts to weekday lunches. With its vibrant colors, bold flavors, and satisfying textures, it’s sure to become a new favorite in your recipe repertoire. Happy cooking!

If you LOVE this Loaded Broccoli Salad recipe, try this Cuban Avocado Citrus Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing OR this Crunchy Watermelon Jicama & Cucumber Salad!

A very close up image of broccoli covered in a white dressing. Diced apples, bacon, and cheddar cheese are also visible.


Feel free to join the Sparkles of Yum Recipe Swap Facebook group! A fun place to find and share all of your favorite recipes.

You can save recipes online and access them on ANY device! Just click the "Save" button on the recipe or the small heart to the right.

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

Yield: About 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

With its vibrant colors, bold flavors, and satisfying textures, this broccoli salad is not just a feast for the taste buds, but also a feast for the eyes.


  • 5-6 cups broccoli florets
  • 6 slices crispy bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup candied pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plan yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Fry up the bacon and set on paper towels to cool, then slice in 1/2 pieces.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the broccoli florets, crispy bacon, shredded cheese, diced apple, dried cranberries, candied pecans and chopped red onion (if using).
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until smooth and well combined.
  4. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss until everything is evenly coated.
  5. Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  6. Before serving, give the salad a final toss and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve chilled and enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 748Total Fat 38gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 25gCholesterol 49mgSodium 897mgCarbohydrates 87gFiber 28gSugar 37gProtein 29g

Nutrition data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix, and should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate.

Love this recipe?

Follow me on Pinterest for even more, and don't forget to pin it for everyone that you know!

© 2024 Sparkles of Yum. All rights reserved. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to share this recipe, please provide a link back to this post for the original recipe.

Sparkles of Yum is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Overhead image of broccoli florets in a clear glass bowl.

Ingredients used to make a broccoli salad. They include: cheddar cheese, raisins, diced apples, red onion, and bacon.

With its vibrant colors, bold flavors, and satisfying textures, this broccoli salad is not just a feast for the taste buds, but also a feast for the eyes.

Loaded Broccoli Salad
Skip to Recipe