A delicious, simple, and quick Lemon Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad combines broccoli, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, sharp Cheddar cheese, and sliced almonds with a delicious creamy lemon-poppy seed dressing.
Next time, try our original Broccoli Salad recipe or this Broccoli-Grape Pasta Salad.
Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad
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Broccoli salads have always been a favorite of mine come summertime. We love them so much, though, that we eat this salad year round at my home!
This salad is a little unique with a refreshing vibrant flavor- thanks to the lemon-poppy seed dressing. Instead of simply adding mayo to coat the broccoli and other ingredients, we add a few extra ingredients to the dressing, and that makes all the difference.
We sweeten the dressing with sugar (2-3 tablespoons of honey can be used instead if desired); it has a bright hit of freshness from the lemon zest and lemon juice and some good acidity from the red wine vinegar. The creaminess comes from high-quality mayo, and we add a fun pop of color and crunch with the poppyseeds. Finally, we add salt and pepper to balance and intensify all the flavors.
Read more: Fruit Salad with Whipped Cream
Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad Ingredients
- Broccoli. Use the freshest broccoli available for this salad. Frozen broccoli won’t work in this recipe!
- Sunflower seeds. Pick roasted and salted shelled sunflower seeds; they have a much better flavor than raw sunflower seeds — they’re roasted and salted, which adds loads of flavor with no extra work on your end.
- Dried cranberries. If you’ve got a bag of leftover dried cranberries lurking in the back of your pantry and the berries have hardened, don’t use them in this recipe. They will be too hard and chewy. Use the softest available dried cranberries. We like sweetened or cherry-juice-infused dried cranberries best in this salad!
- Sliced almonds. If you’ve got an extra minute and want to toast the almonds before adding them in, here’s how to do it: Place the almonds in a single layer in a heavy skillet (you don’t need to add anything else) and stir them around on medium-low heat. It only takes about 2-3 minutes (sometimes less depending on how much heat they are getting) until they are toasted and smelling quite fragrant. Make sure you are stirring them around and watching constantly so they don’t have a chance to burn!
- Cheddar cheese. While mild Cheddar cheese will work, if you’re looking for more flavor, grab extra-sharp or sharp Cheddar cheese instead.
Does the broccoli need to be cooked first?
Raw broccoli is pretty standard in broccoli salads — the dressing and chilling time tones down the “rawness” of the broccoli. You’ll also want to make sure to chop the florets into small pieces for the best possible salad. (Here’s a step-by-step visual on how to chop broccoli.)
If you don’t care for raw broccoli, it can be blanched before adding it to this salad. Add the florets to a pot of salted boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain the cooled broccoli well before using or it will water down the salad. Here’s where a salad spinner can come in handy! 🙂
Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad Tips
- Use good quality mayo. Hellman’s/Best Foods® (not sponsored) is my favorite in this broccoli salad — it’s got a great consistency, texture, and perfect amount of sweetness. Since there is a good amount of mayo in the dressing, we want to use a tasty mayo to ensure the salad is the best it can be!
- A couple of kitchen tools make the dressing preparation easier. Use a microplane (like this one) to zest only the very outside bright yellow part of the lemon. Avoid the white pith below the peel (the pith is very bitter tasting). This citrus juicer makes juicing the lemons a breeze!
- If opting to blanch the broccoli first, make sure it is thoroughly dried out. If the broccoli is at all wet, it affects the taste and texture of this Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli salad.
More potluck salads
- Greek Tortellini Salad with a Greek-inspired vinaigrette
- Corn Salad with a lime vinaigrette
- Macaroni Coleslaw Salad summer potluck mash-up salad!
- Grape Salad dessert “salad” with creamy grapes and pecans
- Orzo Pasta Salad with a lemon vinaigrette
Through this article, we hope to help you understand Broccoli salad with poppy seed dressing