Lemon Poppyseed Broccoli Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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

Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad

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.

Process shots-- adding all the ingredients to a bowl; making the dressing; and pouring over it the salad

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 donโ€™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 donโ€™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. 

QUICK TIP

What’s the difference between mild and sharp Cheddars? Aging! The longer cheese is naturally aged, the more pronounced and sharper the Cheddar flavor becomes. Extra-sharp Cheddar cheese might be aged as long as a year, whereas mild Cheddar is generally aged for only 2-3 months.

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad

Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad Tips

  • Use good quality mayo. Hellmanโ€™s/Best Foodsยฎ (not sponsored) is my favorite in this broccoli salad โ€” itโ€™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 

FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content.

Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad

5 from 13 votes
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 poppyseed dressing.
Print Recipe

Lemon-Poppy Seed Broccoli Salad

5 from 13 votes
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 poppyseed dressing.
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword Lemon Poppyseed Broccoli Salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 -8 as a side
Calories 800kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $10.12

Ingredients

Salad

  • 4-1/2 to 5 cups (317g) chopped broccoli (~4 florets)
  • 3/4 cup (95g) dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/2 cup (45g) sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup (65g) shelled, roasted and salted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup (123g) sharp Cheddar cheese

Dressing

  • 1 cup (201g) mayonnaise full-fat(we love Hellman's/Best Foods)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2-4 tablespoons white granulated sugar depending on sweetness preference
  • 1 large lemon (1/2 tablespoon zest, 1 tablespoon juice)
  • 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds

Instructions

  • OPTIONAL BLANCH: Remove the stems from the broccoli and cut them into very small pieces. If you want to blanch the broccoli, see Note 1. I like to use a salad spinner and then let it sit out for a while. If it's even a tiny bit wet, the salad becomes too watery.
  • PREP: If not blanching broccoli, cut into very small pieces. If desired, toast the almonds. (See Note 2.) Cut the cheese into tiny cubes.
  • SALAD: Add the completely dry broccoli, cranberries, almonds, sunflower seeds, and sharp Cheddar cheese to a large bowl.
  • DRESSING: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, red wine vinegar, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more sugar (1-2 more tablespoons) or more lemon to personal preference. Whisk in the poppy seeds.
  • DRESS THE SALAD: Toss the dressing with the salad and place in the fridge to marinate for 15-30 minutes. Taste and adjust any flavors to personal preference. Don't shy away from adding more salt and pepper until the flavors sing. Toss once more and enjoy.
  • STORAGE: Salad is best eaten the same day it is made.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Broccoli: Blanch if you don't want any raw broccoli taste and have extra time/desire to do this, but it's not necessary. Here's how to do it: Fill up a bowl with very cold water and a few cupfuls of ice. Bring a pot of water to boiling point. Add in a heaping tablespoon of fine sea salt. Pour the broccoli into the boiling water and count to 30. As soon as you get to 30, drain the broccoli and pour it into your prepared ice water bath. Allow the broccoli to sit in the cold water until completely cooled. Then remove with a slotted spoon to a salad spinner or bowl. Make sure the broccoli is 100% dried before tossing it with anything else (especially the dressing).
Note 2: Almonds: To toast the almonds, place them in a single layer in a heavy skillet (you donโ€™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 donโ€™t have a chance to burn!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 800kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 64g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 668mg | Potassium: 573mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 918IU | Vitamin C: 80mg | Calcium: 412mg | Iron: 3mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

More Recipes You'll Love

Broccoli Salad

55 mins

Broccoli Salad

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Asian Pasta Salad

30 mins

Asian Pasta Salad

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Broccoli Grape Pasta Salad

50 mins

Broccoli Grape Pasta Salad

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole

1 hrs

Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

FREE BONUS

FREE BONUS

EASY MEAL SECRETS:
How to Make Mealtime Hassle Free!

5 secrets to easy, fast and delicious dinners.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




40 Comments

  1. Oh goodness, it’s been freezing here too but that never stops me from enjoying a good salad! This one is gorgeous, Chelsea! I love the broccoli and cranberry combo!

  2. My deliciousness…. GET IN MY MOUTH NOW! This looks so good I can’t even contain myself. Love how colorful and full this salad is. Seriously, I love everything that you put in this and I love their flavors put together. Killing in ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 5 stars
    Wow… what a beautiful and flavourful salad, Chelsea. I also love the dressing. It is super simple to make ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I tried this with pignoli’s and jack cheese which I already had in my refrigerator and it worked great.

  5. Wow this broccoli salad looks AMAZING!!! I love the colours and the flavours sound so delicious! I could totally eat that whole bowl right now!!

  6. 5 stars
    That salad looks like Spring! And I’m sure ready for Spring…this will be on my menu this week, for sure. Thank you.
    P.S. I’m giving it 5 stars even though I have tasted it, yet. I just know it will be worthy.

  7. Oh my word, this looks absolutely delicious! I LOVE traditional broccoli salad, but I definitely need to give this a try! Maybe for Easter dinner? ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Can this be made the night before??
    I’m hoping so, maybe I’ll chop everything and add the dressing in the morning.

    1. Absolutely can be prepped ahead! Just make sure to add the dressing before serving and not too early ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. 5 stars
    Made this for the first time today. Easy and delicious! Definitely a keeper ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. 5 stars
    I am definitely going to try this for my kids, very soon, this looks so yummy and so beautiful!

  11. 5 stars
    I just made this salad for a Father’s Day BBQ. I have to say, I have made a lot of variations of Broccoli Salad and this was by far the best. The lemon gives it such a refreshing flavor! The only change I made was adding about 10 strips of crumbled crispy bacon… because BACON! ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for such a great recipe!

    1. Oh, this makes my day!! I’m so thrilled to hear this one was the best! ๐Ÿ™‚ And YUM on the bacon addition! Thanks Diane!

  12. I absolutely despise mayonnaise, so instead I used plain yogurt for the dressing. Huge hit at my work potluck. I always consider it a successful dish when I don’t get to bring any home!

    1. That’s great!! And so happy that there wasn’t any to bring home ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the comment Nicholas!

  13. 5 stars
    Made this last night for a small family get together, everyone loved it! My husband had thirds! And two people wanted the recipe. Also I was asked to bring it to our big family bbq next month. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Thanks!

    1. Yay! That is so great to hear! I’m thrilled this has been a hit. Thanks Catie! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I made this today and it’s totally a pin(terest) win!

    I made a couple small tweaks…I added 1/2 tsp lemon extract and toasted the almonds. Loved it!!

Never Miss a Recipe

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.