Bacon Ranch Broccoli Salad is the ultimate side dish! Packed with fresh broccoli, crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, and plenty of creamy ranch sauce, this recipe gives classic broccoli salad a whole new delicious twist!
Easy Picnic Salad
I have always had a love for picnic salads. Not only are they really delicious, and perfect for everything from a backyard barbecue to a church potluck, but this one is really great for even more important reasons-
- Super easy to prepare
- No cooking required
- Can be prepped ahead
- Tastes even better the next day
- Jam packed with flavor
The combo of these qualities make these picnic salads like Bacon Ranch Broccoli Salad a favorite, and regular on our table.
How to Serve Broccoli Salad
This classic cold salad goes well with many traditional American foods. Pretty much anything you would serve at a barbecue will go wonderfully with this dish.
Additionally, you can serve broccoli salad as a filling lunch, or light dinner, or make it more hearty by adding chopped chicken or steak bites.
Here are some of our favorite entrees to pair this Bacon Ranch Broccoli Salad with:
Recipe Tips + Tricks
This broccoli salad is simple and easy to make. There are a couple of tips I use to get the absolute best results from the recipe that I will share below.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to get the full recipe card, and if you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
This recipe comes together with just a handful of everyday ingredients. I will cover my preferences and some substitutions that can be used with good results.
- Fresh broccoli– fresh is best for this recipe. I often get asked if you can use frozen, the answer is yes, BUT you need to completely thaw it first and understand that it won’t have the same crunchy texture of fresh broccoli. Fresh is much preferred here.
- Mayonnaise– I use regular mayo, but light mayo can be substituted.
- Sour cream– Same as the mayo, I prefer regular, but light can be used.
- Ranch seasoning– You can use Hidden Valley ranch powder, or you can use this homemade ranch seasoning.
- Lemon juice– I prefer fresh lemon juice for the best flavor
- Cheddar Cheese– The recipe calls for block cheese that is cut into small cubes. I like to do it this way because of how it adds little bursts of flavor. You can use shredded cheese instead if you prefer.
- Onion– Red onion is preferred for the flavor, but sweet yellow or white onion can be substituted.
- Bacon– Bacon is a key ingredient so I like to use fresh bacon that has been cooked to crispy, then crumbled. It will give you the most and best flavor in the salad. Buying pre-crumbled bacon or bacon bits never tastes quite as good as the real thing to me. You can however make it in advance and keep it in the fridge or freezer, then recrisp it when ready to use.
This recipe is a simple 3 steps.
- Make the dressing.
- Combine with broccoli
- Stir in cheese and bacon.
The great thing about this recipe is that it can be made up to 2 days ahead with great results!
To make this salad ahead, just do step 1 and 2, then store in the fridge until you are ready to serve. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator, give it a good stir to wake it up, then add the cheese and broccoli, stir again to combine, and serve.
This recipe also makes a great option for meal prep. To make this easy broccoli salad for meal prep, prepare through step 2, then place in your meal prep containers. Add bacon and cheese on the side, and stir or sprinkle when ready to eat.
Some great proteins to pair this salad with for meal prep are:
If you have leftovers of this recipe, they will save well in the fridge to eat throughout the week. I especially like to eat this salad for on-the-go lunch.
Just divide it in meal sized servings and place in containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
This recipe does not freeze well, so I recommend only making as much as your family will eat in 4 days.
Leftover Recipe Ideas
To give the salad some new life, you can try dressing it up with one of these options.
- Broccoli Ranch Chicken Wraps- Add chopped chicken, broccoli salad, and an extra drizzle of ranch to a large tortilla or flatbread. Roll up and serve with chips or fruit.
- Broccoli Ranch Protein Bowl- On a bed or brown rice or quinoa, add Bacon ranch broccoli salad, chopped chicken breast, chopped hard boiled egg and any additional chopped veggies you wish. Drizzle with ranch dressing.
- Broccoli Ranch Veggie Pizza- Spread a roll of crescent rolls flat on a greased baking sheet and bake as directed. Once done, let cool. Spread softened cream cheese over the crescents, then chop the broccoli salad into fine bite sized pieces and sprinkle over the top.
This Broccoli Salad can be friendly for many different dietary needs with no, or slight modifications.
As always, make sure to check all store bought ingredients for compliance to your specific dietary needs.
- Gluten free- This recipe can be made gluten free when using the homemade ranch seasoning.
- Nut Free- This recipe is naturally nut free
- Egg Free- This recipe can be made egg free when using vegan mayo
- Low Carb/Keto- This recipe is naturally low carb with only approx 5g net carbs per serving.
- Vegetarian- You can make this recipe vegetarian by omitting the bacon.
- Vegan- You can make this recipe vegetarian by omitting or using vegan bacon and using vegan mayo.
More EASY Side Dishes
If you enjoyed this broccoli salad, I hope that you will take a moment to browse a few of our other easy side dishes.
You can see all of our side dish recipes here, or find a few of our most popular below!
- Pesto Roasted Veggies
- Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole
- Southern Squash Casserole
- EXTRA Creamy Homemade Mashed Potatoes
- 8 cups fresh broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 tbsp ranch seasoning
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 4 oz cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
- 2 oz crispy crumbled bacon, (about 8 slices)
- Combine the mayo, sour cream, lemon juice and ranch seasoning. Once mixed stir in the red onion.
- Place the broccoli florets in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the top and toss until the broccoli is evenly coated.
- Stir in the cheddar cheese and bacon. Chill for 30 min up to 2 hours. Serve chilled.