Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad (Mayo-Free!)

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Wooden spoon resting on a plate of Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad made without mayo

When considering what recipes to share this holiday season, I couldn’t shake the idea of a plant-based take on classic broccoli salad.

Have you ever tried it? It’s basically a salad with raw or blanched broccoli, bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and onion tossed in a sweet mayo-based dressing. While indulgent, it satisfies that salty-sweet flavor I’m often looking for in salads.

So I got to work on an easy plant-based version and am super pleased with the results. Let us show you how easy it is to make!

Red onion, broccoli, coconut bacon, sunflower seeds, cashew butter, and other ingredients for making our Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad recipe

This recipe is simple to make, requiring just 20 minutes and 10 ingredients.

It starts with chopped raw broccoli, which gets topped with salted roasted sunflower seeds, red onion (or shallot), dried cranberries (or currants), and coconut bacon!

Mixing bowl filled with ingredients for making our Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad recipe

Next comes the dressing: A creamy, cashew-based sauce made with cashew butter, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and salt!

It’s reminiscent of the mayo dressing typically used in the classic version of this dish, but even better in our opinion. Plus, it’s oil-free, naturally-sweetened, and comes together in minutes!

Using a wooden spoon to add cashew butter dressing to our Broccoli Salad recipe

All that’s left to do is toss! The dressing coats the salad beautifully. It can be served immediately or stored in the refrigerator to marinate up to 2-3 days before serving.

Using a wooden spoon to stir a mixing bowl of Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad

We hope you LOVE this salad! It’s:

  • Crunchy
  • Salty-sweet
  • Quick & easy
  • Flavorful
  • Fiber-rich
  • & Seriously delicious

This would make the perfect side this holiday season and beyond! It pairs especially well with sandwiches (like our Vegan BLT Sandwich or Chickpea Sunflower Sandwich) and our Vegan Lentil Nut “Meatloaf.”

More Broccoli Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Plate filled with Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad made with coconut bacon, cranberries, and a cashew butter dressing

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad (Mayo-Free!)

An EASY, plant-based take on classic broccoli salad with coconut bacon, sunflower seeds, and a simple cashew dressing! Just 10 simple ingredients and 20 minutes required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Plate of Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad made with coconut bacon and a cashew butter dressing
5 from 22 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 9 (1-cup servings)
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Grain-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 4-5 Days

Ingredients

SALAD

  • 3/4 cup coconut bacon
  • 7 cups chopped broccoli (~2 small heads broccoli as recipe is written)
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds (or sub other salted nut of choice)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion or shallot
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or currants (unsweetened // or sub chopped pitted dates)

DRESSING

  • 7 Tbsp cashew butter
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 pinch black pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 3-4 Tbsp water

Instructions

  • If you haven’t made your coconut bacon yet, do so now (see instructions) and let cool.
  • To a large mixing bowl, add coconut bacon, chopped broccoli, sunflower seeds, onion or shallot, and dried fruit of choice.
  • To a separate small mixing bowl, add cashew butter, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and pepper and stir/whisk to combine. Then add water 1 Tbsp (15 ml) at a time and stir/whisk until a pourable, creamy sauce is achieved. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more maple syrup for sweetness, vinegar for tanginess / acidity, or salt to taste.
  • Add the sauce to the broccoli salad and toss to combine. Enjoy immediately or transfer to the refrigerator to chill and allow the flavors to marinate. Leftovers will keep up to 4-5 days in the refrigerator, though best within the first 2-3 days. Not freezer friendly.

Video

Notes

*Prep time does not include making coconut bacon.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 9 servings)

Serving: 1 one-cup servings Calories: 213 Carbohydrates: 19.2 g Protein: 6.3 g Fat: 14.1 g Saturated Fat: 4.7 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.76 g Monounsaturated Fat: 4.79 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 300 mg Potassium: 389 mg Fiber: 4.1 g Sugar: 9.4 g Vitamin A: 477 IU Vitamin C: 63.96 mg Calcium: 55.37 mg Iron: 1.72 mg

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My Rating:




  1. Kate says

    So so good! Better than the traditional broccoli salad with mayo/sugar/vinegar. I used real bacon and almond butter, mix of grapes and dried cranberries. I also blanched my broccoli so it wasn’t as bitter as I often think raw broccoli is.
    I do plan on trying the coconut bacon soon!
    The dressing is just delish!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Kate! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications!

  2. Camilla Buenting says

    Yes yes yes!
    This salad is delicious, i had a couple of broccoli heads yellowing in the fridge and wanted to find a nice meal for them, not just them “toss in anything else you’re making” and I knew minimalist baker would be the place to come!
    Feedback for other users:
    I swapped the maple syrup for honey and halved the amount. It still delivers enough sweetness for my taste (and I love sweet!).
    I also used only half the amount of nut butter for cost efficiency.

    I can’t believe I had never tried that coconut bacon before, what a treat that brings the whole meal to another level!

    Thanks Dana, vegetarianism without you would have been a lot blander for me!!

  3. Amy says

    This is so good! Probably my new favorite salad and I didn’t even have the coconut bacon (excited to try another time!). Thanks for another great recipe.

  4. Allison says

    I’m going to make this tomorrow. Do you think tahini would work in place of the cashew butter? If not, I do have plain cashews I could maybe blend up?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      It would be a little different flavor profile and may require adjusting the sweetness, but yes, we think tahini would work! Let us know if you try it!

  5. Ellen says

    I was looking for a way to jazz up a serving of broccoli, and am so glad I found this recipe! I love the dressing. I blanched the broccoli florets in a tiny bit of water with a scant teaspoon of baking soda to help them retain their color. I was out of dried cranberries (it’s all about making do these covid quarantine days), and so used a mix of raisins and goji berries, with lightly salted sunflower seeds and pepitas. Skipped the coconut bacon this time, but I’ll give that a try, too. Served this warm with a butternut squash soup and bread. The cold leftovers were delicious, too. Thank you!

  6. Elizabeth says

    Hi, I’m super excited to try this recipe, but only have peanut butter in my pantry. Is that pretty much the same as cashew butter, or will it affect the taste?
    I love so many of your recipes and can’t wait to try this one next!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      HI Elizabeth, unfortunately we don’t think that would work because the flavor is much stronger.

      • Elizabeth says

        Thanks for replying! I got some cashew butter and made it today-it was fantastic! Dang those little coconut bacon pieces are to die for! I can’t wait to make it for a summer picnic someday!

  7. Tahlia shafar says

    I’ve made about 20 of the recipes on this website in the last 2 weeks (the lockdown has some benefits!), most have been 7* and are already on the “must make again” list, this one sits in the top 3. It’s so easy to make and so rich in flavour. The coconut bacon is now a staple in the pantry and I sprinkle some on top of everything!

    Delicious, thank you!

  8. Jessica says

    I love this recipe! Love this broccoli salad from the deli counter at the grocery store and was happy to see a vegan version. So good, plan to big batches often to eat for lunch during the week.

  9. kathy says

    Made the coconut bacon. Got the broccoli out. Debating steaming it for a minute..Decided to try your way (raw)first. Used currants, shallots and toasted and salted my (raw) sunflower seeds. My cashew butter was so thick that I got out my immersion blender when fork and whisk were useless. And then, put it everything together and…wanted to eat ALL OF IT IMMEDIATELY. This combination is SOOOOOOOOOOO AMAZING. Thank you. Thank you!

  10. Patty Eilers says

    I made this with store-bought vegan bacon, minced shallot, currants and almond butter (because I didn’t have cashew butter). Yummy! Hubby says, “It’s a keeper.” :O)

  11. Sherri says

    Sorry I didn’t rate the recipe before – I’m not used to commenting on recipes! But this one turned out so well that I had to share what I thought of the dish. This is definitely a keeper!

  12. Beth says

    Perfection! I enjoy this waaaaay more than the mayo version (and that was just from tasting it without letting the flavors marinate). Made my own cashew butter because I couldn’t find it at the store and it turned out great.

  13. Jen says

    This was unbelievably delicious and even better than the traditional mayo-based broccoli salad yet still captured all the flavors! I wasn’t entirely convinced when I tasted the dressing on its own, but once mixed with all the other components, it was perfection. And the coconut bacon totally blew my mind – it seriously tastes like bacon. Everyone went back for seconds and thirds, including the carnivores! Only thing I did differently was to steam the florets for three minutes and then shock and drain well. So good, can’t wait to eat it again.

  14. Annie Robison says

    This is literally one of the best salads I have ever eaten! And the coconut bacon…highly addictive and wildly authentic! CRAZY delicious!

  15. Emily says

    I liked this a lot. And wow, how have I not discovered coconut bacon before now?! I accidentally just put it all together instead of making the dressing separate – oops! Will try it again.
    I used pickled onions instead of raw. Do raw onions usually soften some if you leave this to marinate awhile? I just didn’t find there to be enough moisture, and I detest raw onions!

    Thank you for another great recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Emily! Yes, raw onions will soften if left to marinate. Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  16. mary beth barlow says

    You my dear are a wizard! And you don’t know how much I love your style and your recipes! Happy new year–to my absolute favorite blog. Would add more stars******** if I could*

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Mary Beth. We’re so glad you enjoy our recipes! Happy New Year! Xo

  17. Sherri Cartee Horency says

    I’m wondering if this would work with lightly steamed broccoli instead of just plain raw broccoli? If so, do you think it would hold for a day in the refrigerator?

    Thanks for all your amazing work! You are my go-to for any new recipe or food idea. May your 2020 be the best year yet!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I think that would be OK! It won’t last as long in the fridge. But it should work! Let us know if you give it a try.

  18. Beth Ann says

    I made this to the tee except substituted with almond butter as what was in frig and Loved it!
    Also only had regular size Trader Joe’s organic coconut flakes, which is a little bigger than most flakes and pretty substantial. Blended in beautifully and look forward to using this “bacon” in Mac and Cheeze ! ?

  19. Libby says

    This is delicious! Thank you so much for this recipe. I used to love the mayo-based broccoli salad that was a family tradition but had never found a good vegan substitute. This will be going in our regular rotation now. It’s fabulous!

  20. Leah says

    Hello,

    I saw awhile back that you had an online food photography course for purchase and I’m wondering if its still available to purchase? I believe it was for iphone users to learn how to post more effectively on instagram and I’d love to purchase and learn if its still available. couldn’t find it in the archives of the blog so wanted to be in touch directly.

    Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Leah, sorry for the confusion. We’ve closed enrollment on those courses and don’t plan to re-open them.

  21. Debbie says

    I just made this and it is delicious. I did not have cashew butter so I put raw cashews in my Bullet with a touch of olive oil. I subbed pumpkin seeds for the sunflower seeds. I loved the sweet and tangy flavor of the dressing and the crunch from the seeds and the coconut bacon. This is a great dish to take to a potluck.

  22. Kelly says

    Merry Christmas to me! I haven’t had much time to make dishes from scratch lately, but had the time today and made this for our Christmas Eve dinner. It is delicious! I made it as written (used raisins for the dried fruit) and I believe it is going to be a hit tonight.
    Decades ago I worked for an organization who served the traditional version of this–packed with mayo and bacon and I always went “ham” on it. (This is long before I considered eating a plant-based diet.) :) Thanks for bringing back good memories and for introducing me to a healthier dish.
    Merry Christmas Dana and team!

  23. Sam Stine says

    Fabulous recipe!!! i used unsweetened salted sunflower seed butter instead of cashew butter because of the difference in price point and it ended up being a wonderful substitution!!! probably a bit nuttier than it would have been with cashew butter. fun and flavorful vegan holiday dish- cant wait to share it with the omnivores in my family!

  24. Celia says

    My boyfriend said this is the best salad he’s ever eaten hahaha It was incredible! I skipped the coconut bacon and only added 1tbsp of maple syrup and it was still amazing.

  25. SFerd says

    Have you tried making this with almond butter instead of cashew butter? I wonder how that would affect the flavor profile….?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      It would definitely affect the flavor, but perhaps in a good way! Let us know if you give it a try!

      • Sherri Cartee Horency says

        I tried it for a party and it was a big hit – even with those who normally make the salad with mayo. I steamed the broccoli for 3 minutes, immediately ran it under cold water to stop the cooking, then put the dish together as stated above. I made it one day ahead, and it was still crunchy and delicious! I waited to add the coconut bacon until right before I served it. I also had roasted pecans that I used instead of seeds. I really don’t like the dryness and texture of raw broccoli, and with this method and this dish, I could eat it every day!

        Thanks for the great recipe, and thanks for the encouragement to try my tweak. It worked better than I could have imagined!

        • Sherri Cartee Horency says

          Oops! I posted this comment in the wrong place! I had asked if it might work to steam the broccoli, and you encouraged me to give it a try and let you know the results. I hope I wasn’t too confusing!

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

          Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modification, Sherri. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

    • Betty says

      I just made a double batch of this with almond butter instead of cashew butter and it was AMAZING!! My friends all loved it, and I was thrilled to eat the leftovers for days after the party. Can’t wait to make it again!

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Thanks so much for the lovely review, Betty. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo