Apple Broccoli Salad with Walnuts, dried cranberries, bacon, red onion and a creamy dressing is the perfect broccoli salad recipe for fall! Serve it up at holiday gatherings or make it for meal prep to add veggies to your weekday meals.

Wooden bowl of broccoli salad with a serving spoon, and fresh apples in the background.

During the summer months, The Best Broccoli Salad recipe and my Chickpea Broccoli Salad with Sunflower Seeds are my go-to recipes for warm weather food gatherings.

I love that broccoli salads are all things creamy, tangy, crunchy, with plenty of fresh flavor and that luscious dressing to make vegetables seem much more enticing.

Taking advantage of apple harvest to whip up this apple broccoli salad recipe is a great way of making the most of apple season. Plus, this simple side salad pairs magically with most main dishes.

While I love the concept of enjoying this healthy broccoli apple salad recipe during the fall harvest months, you can just as easily enjoy it no matter the time of year.

Keep this simple recipe stashed away for the upcoming holiday season to use as a healthy vegetable side dish!

Broccoli salad in a wooden bowl with fresh apples and walnuts to the side.

Let’s discuss the nutritious ingredients for apple broccoli salad. 

Ingredients for Apple Broccoli Salad:

Fresh Broccoli Crowns: Pick up two large crowns of broccoli. There is no need for stems unless you like the broccoli stems, so if possible, buy just the heads without the stems attached.

If you’d like, you can use one head of broccoli and part of a head of cauliflower. You will need 6 cups of chopped broccoli or a combination of broccoli and cauliflower.

Bacon: While the bacon is optional, adding crispy cooked bacon brings a meaty essence that adds delicious flavor to the salad. I like using thick-cut bacon. Pick a brand you know you love!

Fresh Apples: Sweet apples bring a crisp texture and lovely sweet flavor to this healthy broccoli salad recipe.

I like using sweeter apples like fuji apples, honeycrisp apples, or gala apples but you can use tart apples like Granny Smith apples too if you prefer.

The sweetness of the apples brings the perfect balance to the savory salad.

Raw Walnuts: Chopped walnuts pair marvelously with apples 

Dried Cranberries: Bringing a pop of sweet, tangy flavor, dried cranberries are marvelous in broccoli salad recipes.

If you prefer a different dried fruit like dried blueberries, raisins, or golden raisins, feel free to make the switch.

Red Onion: A little red onion brings a burst of fresh, zingy flavor. If the bite of raw red onion tastes too strong for you, you can replace it with chopped green onions.

You can also soak red onions in cold water for 15 minutes to soften the flavor.

Soaking red onions in apple cider vinegar also softens them up for a softer texture.

Creamy Dressing Ingredients: The creamy salad dressing is a combination of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt to lower the fat content.

Rice vinegar, pure maple syrup and sea salt are combined with the creamy mayo and yogurt to create a creamy, sweet, tangy dressing that is perfect for classic broccoli salad.

You can use apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar if you prefer it. 

Optional Additions:

  • Mix in ⅓ cup of raw or roasted sunflower seeds. 
  • Add 1 can of drained garbanzo beans for added texture and some plant-based protein.
  • Swap the apples out for fresh pears or any fall fruits.
  • If you’re a cheese lover, add in 6 ounces of feta cheese, gorgonzola cheese, or grated or chopped cheddar cheese. Cheese is a great addition if you do dairy!
  • For a richer, creamier dressing, use all mayonnaise instead of part mayonnaise and part Greek yogurt. 
  • If you aren’t into crunchy broccoli, you can soften it up by blanching it for 30 seconds in boiling water.
  • Mix in some pre-shredded carrots if you like carrots in your broccoli salad.
  • Add a little fresh lemon zest to the dressing for some citrus flavor.
  • Instead of pure maple syrup in the dressing, you can use regular cane sugar or a little honey.
Broccoli apple salad in a wooden serving bowl, ready to eat.

Now that we’re familiar with the healthy ingredient list for broccoli apple salad, let’s make this perfect fall salad!

How to Make Apple Broccoli Salad with Walnuts:

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and place the bacon slices on the hot surface.

Cook, flipping every couple of minutes, until the bacon reaches your desired level of crisp.

Cook the bacon in a pot or skillet until crispy

Transfer bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop the bacon and set aside.

Wash the heads of broccoli well under warm water and chop them into small florets (small pieces). If you aren’t into eating raw broccoli, you can blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water prior to making the recipe.

To do so, bring a full pot of water to a boil, then add the chopped broccoli. Allow the broccoli to sit in the hot water for only 30-60 seconds, or just until the florets turn bright green.

Immediately drain the broccoli into a colander then transfer to a bowl of ice water (an ice bath) to stop the cooking process and to cool broccoli immediately.

If you like a nice crunch of broccoli, skip the blanching step and stick with raw broccoli. 

Regardless of whether or not you blanch the broccoli first, transfer it to a large bowl. Add in the chopped bacon, red onion, walnuts, dried cranberries, and chopped apples to the large mixing bowl. 

Ingredients for apple broccoli salad in a mixing bowl

In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the broccoli salad dressing (mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, pure maple syrup, rice vinegar, and sea salt). 

creamy dressing mixed up in a measuring cup for broccoli salad

Pour the dressing into the bowl with the broccoli salad ingredients and mix well until everything is coated. Taste the broccoli salad for flavor and add sea salt and/or lemon juice to your personal taste.

Pouring creamy dressing into the bowl with the broccoli salad ingredients.

Serve broccoli salad immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days. I find broccoli salad tastes best a couple of hours after preparation and the next day, as it gives the salad time to develop flavors.

Broccoli salad saves well for a few days following preparation, so don’t be afraid to make it ahead of time if you’re preparing it for a holiday, family function, or special event. 

Broccoli apple salad mixed up in a mixing bowl.

The best part of this great side dish is it involves simple ingredients that all your family members love.

Add it to your holiday table or any weeknight dinner the next time you’re craving an easy broccoli salad. 

Wooden bowl full of apple broccoli salad with apples and a napkin to the side.

If you’re looking for more healthy side dishes, also try out these reader favorites!

More Healthy Side Dish Recipes:

Enjoy this delicious broccoli apple salad throughout apple season and beyond!

Wooden bowl of broccoli salad with a serving spoon, and fresh apples in the background.

Apple Broccoli Salad with Walnuts

4.58 from 63 votes
An easy, healthy broccoli salad recipe with fresh chopped apples, bacon, walnuts, dried cranberries, red onion and a creamy dressing for a delicious side dish! Make it any time of year and serve it at family gatherings!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings

Ingredients

Broccoli Salad:

  • 4 to 8 strips thick cut bacon cooked and chopped*
  • 6 cups broccoli florets 2 large heads, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup raw walnuts chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 2 apples peeled, cored, and chopped (about 3-4 cups)**

Broccoli Salad Dressing:

Instructions

  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and place the bacon slices on the hot surface. Cook, flipping every couple of minutes, until the bacon reaches your desired level of crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop the bacon and set aside.
  • Wash the heads of broccoli well under warm water and chop them into small florets (small pieces). If you aren’t into eating raw broccoli, you can blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water prior to making the recipe. To do so, bring a full pot of water to a boil, then add the chopped broccoli. Allow the broccoli to sit in the hot water for only 30-60 seconds, or just until the florets turn bright green. Immediately drain the broccoli into a colander then transfer to a bowl of ice water (an ice bath) to stop the cooking process and to cool broccoli immediately. If you like a nice crunch of broccoli, skip the blanching step and stick with raw broccoli.
  • Regardless of whether or not you blanch the broccoli first, transfer it to a large bowl. Add in the chopped bacon, red onion, walnuts, dried cranberries, and chopped apples to the large mixing bowl.
  • In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the broccoli salad dressing (mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, pure maple syrup, rice vinegar, and sea salt).
  • Pour the dressing into the bowl with the broccoli salad ingredients and mix well until everything is coated. Taste the broccoli salad for flavor and add sea salt and/or lemon juice to your personal taste.
  • Serve broccoli salad immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.

Video

Notes

*Adjust the amount of bacon to your personal taste. You can also omit the bacon for a vegetarian version of the recipe.
**Use any type of apple you like! I like using Gala apples or Fuji apples because they are nice and crisp and very sweet with the perfect amount of tang. I typically don’t use Granny Smith apples in a recipe like this because I find them too tart for this application. 
***Replace the Greek yogurt with more mayonnaise if you prefer. 
****Use cane sugar instead of pure maple syrup as a substitution.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving (of 10) · Calories: 282kcal · Carbohydrates: 24g · Protein: 6g · Fat: 18g · Saturated Fat: 3g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g · Monounsaturated Fat: 2g · Fiber: 3g · Sugar: 17g
Author: Julia Mueller
Course: Salads, Side Dishes & Snacks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple broccoli salad, broccoli salad, healthy broccoli salad recipe, healthy side dish recipe, healthy vegetable side dish, vegetable side dish
Did You Make This Recipe?I want to see it! Tag @the.roasted.root on social media!

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Julia Mueller
Meet the Author

Julia Mueller

Julia Mueller is a recipe developer, cookbook author, and founder of The Roasted Root. She has authored three bestselling cookbooks, – Paleo Power Powers, Delicious Probiotic Drinks, and The Quintessential Kale Cookbook. Her recipes have been featured in several national publications such as BuzzFeed, Self, Tasty, Country Living, Brit.co, etc.

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4.58 from 63 votes (63 ratings without comment)

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Questions and Reviews

  1. This recipe sounds great and I can’t wait to make it. But I am not a fan of plain Greek yogurt. Can a flavored yogurt be an acceptable substitute instead? Also, can white salad dressing be used instead of mayonnaise?

    1. Hi Beverly! I haven’t tested the recipe using a white salad dressing, but I assume it would work great so long as you enjoy the flavor of the dressing you’re using. If you do decide to make the dressing in this recipe, I would stick with all mayo instead of yogurt rather than using a flavored version. Hope you enjoy!

  2. Made this last night my family loved it.Had it with roasted chicken was hardly any leftovers will definitely be making this again maybe even for thanksgiving or Christmas thank you so much for the recipe.

    1. You’re very welcome, Judy! I’m so happy to hear your family enjoyed it and that you’re planning on making it for Thanksgiving too…that warms my heart! Thanks so much for sharing your experience! xo

    1. Hi Cathy! Pears are a great replacement for apples! I would just be sure the pear you use isn’t too ripe so that it doesn’t get mushy too quickly. Otherwise, I think pear will taste so great in this recipe! xo