This easy vegan broccoli salad creates a creamy, crunchy salad that’s great for barbecues, potlucks, and more. This summer salad is a perfect low-carb keto recipe full of energizing ingredients, like broccoli and sunflower seeds. See tips for substituting vegan sour cream or vegan ranch dressing for mayo, and tips to serve this raw or lightly-cooked salad cold.
Do you prefer a raw broccoli salad? That’s how I was first introduced to this salad, and I find it a bit too crunchy for my taste. I’ll provide tips for making it both ways, but however you serve it, your body will thank you for it.
I love veggie-focused recipes such as these Spicy Sesame Zoodles (aka, zucchini noodles) or Vegan Banana Green Smoothie for a refreshing start to the day. Incorporating plant-based dishes into your everyday diet is the way to go!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Lightly steaming broccoli florets maintains the crispy flavor of fresh, while delivering a slightly softer chew
- Green onions have a milder flavor, making them perfect for this healthy vegan broccoli salad
- Adding veggie bacon immediately before serving helps maintain a crispy texture that can get soft if left in the sauce too long
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Broccoli florets
- Green onions
- Frozen peas
- Seeds — You can use either pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
- Raisins — Use either raisins, golden raisins, or dried cranberries.
- Vegan mayo — I used Hellman’s Vegan Mayo for this recipe.
- Vinegar — I prefer mild vinegar such as apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, but you can substitute white vinegar.
- Sweetener — You can use agave nectar, maple syrup, or a zero-calorie sweetener such as stevia or monkfruit.
- Chia seeds — Adding chia seeds will help thicken the sauce. You can substitute an equal amount of ground flax seeds.
- Veggie Bacon — This is optional, but adding vegan bacon is a great topping for this salad. See veggie bacon ideas below.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
Is it possible to make your next broccoli salad vegetarian? I say yes! And, the fact that this is an easy vegan broccoli salad is an added bonus. Here is a synopsis of the steps involved:
- Lightly steam the broccoli.
- Make the creamy sauce by stirring together the ingredients in a small bowl.
- Toss together the broccoli, veggies, seeds, and raisins.
- Stir in the sauce and toss to coat the broccoli.
- Cover and refrigerate for an hour, up to overnight.
- To serve, add veggie bacon crumbles.
Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions:
Step One: Steam the Broccoli
Most broccoli salad recipes call for raw broccoli. I prefer using lightly steamed broccoli. Here’s how to do it:
- Microwave Directions: Rinse broccoli florets and place them in a microwave-safe bowl with a lid.
- Stovetop Directions: Add a steamer basket to a saucepan and fill it with enough water so it’s just below the basket, not touching it. Bring the water to a boil and add the florets to the steamer basket.
- Steam broccoli florets for 2 to 3 minutes, to make the vibrant green color of the broccoli stand out and to soften the bite just a bit.
- Immediately remove broccoli from heat and pour the broccoli into a strainer and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process.
To make a raw vegan broccoli salad: make sure to cut the florets into smaller pieces, and allow the broccoli to marinate in the sauce for several hours (or even overnight) before serving.
Step Two: Create the Sauce
We’ll be making this vegan broccoli salad with vegan mayo for the ultimate in creamy flavor. To make the sauce, stir together the vegan mayo, vinegar, sweetener, and chia seeds in a bowl. The sauce may seem a little runny at first, but the chia seeds will thicken it in time.
For a no-mayo sauce, here are some options to substitute for the vegan mayo:
- Vegan sour cream
- Vegan plain yogurt
- Cashew cream makes a broccoli cashew salad that’s very tasty.
Step Three: Assemble The Salad
In a serving bowl, toss together the broccoli, chopped green onions, frozen peas, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and raisins. Pour the sauce over the top and stir to make sure the entire salad is coated.
Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least an hour or up to overnight before serving.
Optional Step Four: Add Veggie Bacon to Serve
I use vegan bacon with this plant-based broccoli salad, but I add it right before serving it. This keeps the bacon crunchy and flavorful. Here are some options for vegan bacon:
- Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon (available at Sprouts and many health food stores)
- Lightlife Smart Bacon (available at Sprouts and many health food stores)
- Homemade Almond Bacon Slivers works here, too
- These vegan tempeh bacon strips can be crumbled over this salad
- You can even use Better Crocker Bac-os Bits which are accidentally vegan
Cook the bacon according to the instructions, let it cool, and then sprinkle it over the top of the salad immediately before serving.
Broccoli Salad with Cranberries
You can add dried cranberries in place of the raisins to make a vegan broccoli salad with cranberries. I love colorful food, and the added color from the dried cranberries in contrast with the green broccoli is bold and beautiful.
You don’t have to wait for a family party to make this best vegan broccoli salad. It’s good for a Tuesday night home dinner as well.
This was so good!! Even my husband, a non vegan, kept saying how great it was! Thank you!
How many cups are in a head of broccoli?
The size of each head of broccoli varies. However, a typical head of broccoli will yield between 3 to 4 cups of florets. That means a standard broccoli salad recipe will require 2 heads of broccoli.
What main dish goes well with broccoli salad?
How many calories and carbs are in broccoli salad?
Every recipe varies, but the estimated nutritional information for vegan broccoli salad is 162 calories, 10 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 8 net carbs. That makes it a low-calorie, low-carbsalad, meaning you can serve this salad as part of a vegan keto diet.
More Salad Recipes
If you love vegan salads, be sure and check out these:
Vegan Broccoli Recipes
Vegan Broccoli Salad
- Use your favorite steaming method (microwave or stove-top) to lightly steam the broccoli. I steamed mine for maybe 2 to 3 minutes. Once you've achieved the desired tenderness, remove the broccoli from heat, pour it into a strainer, and run with cold water to stop the cooking process. (Be careful when handling hot broccoli!) I like to put the chopped onion on top of the still warm broccoli. I think it helps to tenderize the onion a bit for the salad.
- In a small bowl combine the vegan mayo, vinegar, agave nectar, and chia seeds. If the dressing appears a little runny, don't worry. The chia seeds will cause the dressing to thicken quite nicely (besides adding some healthy Omega-3s to the nutrient mix).
Assembling the Vegan Broccoli Salad:
- Place broccoli, sunflowers, chopped onion, sunflower seeds, raisins, and peas in a large serving bowl. Add the dressing to the salad and toss all the ingredients together to thoroughly spread the dressing throughout.
- Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.
- When you're ready to serve, prepare the Bacon Almond Slivers (or vegan bacon product…see note below) according to the recipe instructions.
- Immediately before serving add the bacon almond slivers (or crumbled vegan bacon product) over the salad and serve.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2019 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.