The perfect summer side dish for backyard parties and BBQs is this Healthy Broccoli Salad with sweet tahini dressing! It’s a lightened up version with no mayo and is totally oil-free. Ready in just 20 minutes!
Fresh, raw, crunchy, creamy, tangy, with a little hint of sweetness, this salad is everything your backyard summer BBQ needs! All of the ingredients stand up well to the dressing. It won’t get mushy or wilted. It actually gets better as it sits, so make it in advance for optimal flavor and ease!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Broccoli is a popular cruciferous vegetable. It tastes great, it’s versatile (can be eaten raw, steamed, roasted, etc.), and it’s very healthy! Broccoli is high in vitamins K, C, A, E, and several B’s. It also boasts plenty of folate, fiber, potassium, healthy fats, protein, zinc, iron, and more! [source]
In this healthy broccoli salad recipe, the broccoli is raw. If you prefer, you could lightly steam the broccoli. I would suggest steaming it for just a few minutes and then getting it straight into an ice bath to stop the cooking process and preserve the bright green color.
Cucumbers, red onion, and fresh parsley all bring antioxidants and potential disease fighting properties, as well.
Thinly sliced radishes, shredded carrots, diced celery, and/or sliced green onions would all work really well here, either as substitutions or additions. Just make sure if you add these in addition to the original ingredients you cut down on the amount of each or make extra dressing.
Grapes bring a juicy sweetness to this salad.
If you don’t love (or don’t have) red grapes, try green grapes, diced apples, fresh berries, or orange segments.
Sunflower seeds offer a great crunch and a nutty flavor in this recipe and, for convenience, I just throw them in raw. You could toast them up, if preferred. Simply add to a hot dry skillet in one single layer over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, or pine nuts could all be used instead…either toasted or raw.
Extras – As an added flavor boost and additional layer of texture, feel free to add some dried fruit, like cranberries, cherries, apricots, or raisins (brown or golden).
Traditional broccoli salads are made with a mayo-based dressing. While those are seriously yummy, I wanted something a little different here. My Citrus Tahini Dressing works perfectly. It’s creamy and flavorful with a big hit of fresh orange which pairs so well with the ingredients in this dish and makes a healthy broccoli salad you can feel good about! Bonus: it’s totally oil-free!
If you don’t like or want tahini, you can use an equal amount of homemade vegan mayo (or store-bought – Vegenaise or Just Mayo are both great) or unsweetened plain dairy-free yogurt instead, along with the remaining dressing ingredients. You could also swap out fresh lemon juice for the orange if you like.
How to make the recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
Since there is no cooking involved with this broccoli salad, it really couldn’t be easier to make!
Simply chop the broccoli and cucumber into bite size pieces, halve the grapes, slice the red onion, and chop the fresh parsley. (1)
Whisk up the dressing and toss everything together in a mixing bowl along with the sunflower seeds. (2 and 3)
Cover and stick it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors mingle.
Pro tips for success
~ Chop the broccoli florets into small bite size pieces. This will make the salad easier to eat and allow the dressing to cover more of the broccoli.
~ Don’t forget to chop the broccoli stems, too!
~ Be sure to use seedless grapes!
~ Let the salad sit for a few hours or even over-night in a covered container in the fridge before serving. This allows the flavors to mingle and will create a more balanced flavor profile.
~ As always, taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking before serving! Add an extra pinch of salt, fresh cracked black pepper, or a squeeze of fresh orange, if needed.
Yes! They are edible and delicious! They have a more mild flavor than the florets and a wonderfully crisp texture. Buying just the broccoli crowns is usually more expensive than buying the crowns with the stalks still attached, so save yourself some money, buy the whole thing, and use it to bulk up this healthy salad.
Cut off the very bottom, about 1 to 2 inches or so, as that part is tough and woody. Remove any leaves attached to the stems. Cut the stems into long thin strips and then chop crosswise to dice.
Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked. Cooking it may actually reduce the nutritional value of the vegetable, so eating it raw, as in this Vegan Broccoli Salad, is a healthy choice.
This salad will keep covered in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
I do not recommend freezing this salad.
This dish is perfect for potlucks and BBQs. It can be served cold or room temperature and it can sit out without going rancid. Anything you would serve at those events, like these Vegan Side Dishes, would be a delicious accompaniment for this dish. Honestly, almost anything goes with Broccoli Salad though, so you really can’t go wrong!
Try some of these potluck faves:
Vegan Dill Quinoa Salad
Raw Corn Salad
Vegan Potato Salad (mayo free!)
Vegan Mac and Cheese
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Healthy Broccoli Salad
- 2 medium heads broccoli
- 2 cups red seedless grapes halved
- 1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
- ½ of a red onion sliced thin
- ¼ cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1 recipe Citrus Tahini Dressing
- Chop the broccoli florets into small bite size pieces. Chop off the bottom 2 inches of stalk and throw way. Slice the remaining stalk into thin strips, then chop crosswise into bite size pieces. You need about 6 heaping cups.
- Toss the chopped broccoli and stems into a large bowl. Add the halved grapes, chopped cucumber, sliced red onions, sunflower seeds, and fresh parsley.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well to combine.
- Store covered in the fridge until serving.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.