healthier broccoli salad
My Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Cheddar is a Healthy reinvention of the classic my Grandmother used to make. This version is only 170 calories and 4 grams net carbs per serving! It’s super easy to make! Check out the video too to see just how simple it is to make in just 20 minutes.
I originally shared this recipe on January 2, 2013. I have updated the images and some of the text today.
This Broccoli Salad always makes me think of my Grandma Ginger. Saying she was a really great cook is sort of an understatement. My sister and I were lucky enough to go through her recipe files shortly after she passed away. Sitting in her giant kitchen, surrounded by cherry red coordinating Kitchen-Aid appliances and silicone spatulas, I felt like we were paying culinary homage to her. It was so incredible to see, tucked between the recipes, the notes she had taken for dinner parties and fabulously elegant receptions. Lists of guests and menus.
I wanted to know what the heck “Surprise Salad” was. Plus she had files and files of deliciously gourmet recipes. She had a fondness for Julia Child, Gourmet Magazine, anything creamy and all things cheesy. Without a doubt, she is the reason my mom became such a good cook, and my sister and I have moved on to careers in food.
Grandma Ginger lived in west Texas but came up to Vermont in the summertime. She waited all year to make certain recipes here in Vermont that she wouldn’t make in Texas. For example, she didn’t make Macaroni and Cheese in Texas because she couldn’t buy Vermont Cheddar down in West Texas. So she figured she just wouldn’t bother because she knew it wouldn’t taste as good with a more mild cheese. She knew that Vermont Cheddar was in a league of its own when it came to sharp cheesiness, and her Mac and Cheese just wouldn’t be the same.
She also used it for her famous broccoli salad with cheddar and bacon. Her’s was much more indulgent, but I think you all will appreciate my healthier broccoli cheddar salad with bacon. The broccoli is raw and crunchy, the bacon is salty and smoky, and the sharp cheddar is tangy and… well, sharp. The combination is one we come back to every summer, and it always makes me think of Gramma Ginger.
Creamy Greek Yogurt Broccoli Salad Dressing
Use Greek Yogurt: There are broccoli salads without creamy dressing, like this vegan broccoli salad of mine, but in the case of this Healthy Broccoli Salad, I wanted it to be creamy just like the classic! So I used a half cup of Greek Yogurt, and only 1/4 cup mayonnaise for the base of the dressing. Greek yogurt saves you about 700 calories per batch!
Add Vinegar: I like the way the apple cider vinegar really amps up the dressing. It makes the taste a little tart, which makes the broccoli seem sweeter by comparison. It also balances the salty bacon and cheese.
Add Mustard: I added a relatively bold amount of brown deli mustard to this broccoli salad dressing to play off the cheddar cheese. It makes it taste cheesier, that way you can get away with only using 4 ounces of cheese per batch. If you’re not a big mustard fan, or prefer a more mild dressing, drop the mustard to 1 tablespoon. If you’re wondering if you can sub in Dijon instead, that is fine, but it is much stronger than Brown Deli mustard, so only use 2 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon.
How To Make Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Cheddar
Use One Bowl: I like to make the creamy Greek Yogurt dressing directly in the mixing bowl of the salad. That saves an extra bowl to wash!
Add Extra Veggies: I added fresh fennel to this salad. I love the way the flavor is slightly sweet, and it really helps to balance the savory bacon, cheddar and tart Greek yogurt dressing. If you do not care for fennel, use celery instead. Either are great because they add a nice texture and crunch and bulks up the serving size!
Use a Small Amount of Bacon: I am a firm believer in everything in moderation, and I love the way a little bit of bacon makes a bowl of raw broccoli simply irresistible. So the key is to use just enough to give the salad flavor, without adding too many calories, or saturated fat. I found that 4 strips of crispy cooked bacon is just enough to give the broccoli salad that smoky bacon flavor, but keep it on the healthy side.
You can either cook your bacon on the stove, in the microwave (use lots of paper towels!) or here’s how to cook bacon in the oven. Whichever way you choose, make sure to cook it until it is crispy and then drain it well to eliminate excess fat.
Use the Sharpest Available Cheese: To get the most flavor for the calories, choose the sharpest available cheddar. Like my Grandma, I am partial to those from Vermont. Look for Extra Sharp. You’ll find that one cup (4 ounces) is all that’s needed to make this broccoli salad taste great!
Can I Make Broccoli Salad Ahead?
This broccoli salad is a great make ahead recipe because it doesn’t get soggy or loose its appearance at all. You can make it up to two days in advance. The dressing can be made 5 days in advance!
When To Serve Broccoli Salad
Broccoli salad is pretty much perfect for any summertime gathering because it does sit so well. Unlike a tossed green salad, it doesn’t wilt at all. It is also great at room temperature, so it is a really nice recipe to make for a potluck or covered dish.
As far as other side dishes to serve with the Broccoli Salad, I would probably choose vinegar based dressings, as opposed to more creamy sides, so this Vegan Potato Salad would be great with it. Or Sesame Coleslaw is always a favorite.
Thanks so much for reading. Remember, if you make this Healthier Broccoli Salad, please come back and leave a rating and review. I’d love to hear what you think!
You will probably want to make a double batch because everyone will want seconds of this Broccoli Salad Recipe! It’s a healthier version of the classic version my grandmother made with Bacon, Cheddar and creamy dressing, but it is still absolutely delicious!
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, preferable low-fat or non-fat
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons brown mustard
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 shallot, minced
- 5 cups chopped raw broccoli
- 1 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
- 1 cup shredded shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, preferably Vermont (4 ounces)
- Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Add bacon, shallot, broccoli, fennel and cheddar and stir to coat with the dressing.
To Make Ahead: The dressing can be made up to 5 days ahead. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. The salad can be made in its entirely two days ahead. Stir again to redistribute the dressing just before serving.
Note about the Mustard: I added a relatively bold amount of brown deli mustard to this broccoli salad dressing to play off the cheddar cheese. It makes it taste cheesier, that way you can get away with only using 4 ounces of cheese per batch. If you’re not a big mustard fan, or prefer a more mild dressing, drop the mustard to 1 tablespoon. If you’re wondering if you can sub in Dijon instead, that is fine, but it is much stronger than Brown Deli mustard, so only use 2 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon.
- Serving Size: 1 cup each
- Calories: 170 cal
- Fat: 14 g
- Saturated Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 6 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 7 g