Asian Broccoli Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing

5 from 12 votes
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This cold Asian broccoli salad combines freshly blanched broccoli with just a few other ingredients and Asian-inspired sesame ginger dressing for a simple yet flavor-packed fresh and crunchy appetizer, side salad, or light lunch! Best of all, this recipe is naturally gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, and can be prepared nut-free too!

A bowl with broccoli salad

I have an admission to make – other than this sweet potato breakfast hash (which technically uses broccolini) and a vegan bechamel pasta bake, I don’t have any broccoli recipes on this blog. It’s not even that I don’t like broccoli – so I don’t know what’s taken so long. Although, I’ll admit that it did take a while to find a broccoli salad I loved enough to want to share. However, this simple cold Asian broccoli salad definitely makes the cut!

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Fresh and crunchy Asian cold broccoli salad

I’ve found that sometimes fully raw broccoli in salads can taste a little “too” healthy. Luckily, that’s solved with a quick blanch – ready to turn that healthy green into a flavor-packed Asian broccoli salad with sesame ginger dressing! I love simple salads like this heirloom tomato salad, cucumber onion salad, and roasted beet and goat cheese salad. Now, this Japanese/Thai fusion broccoli crunch salad is joining the ranks. Even better, I’m sharing it just in time for the cooler months in the year – which is excellent as broccoli is one of the top 20 immune-boosting foods!

A bowl with broccoli salad

This cold broccoli salad is compiled of just a few ingredients: tender-firm blanched broccoli, spinach, cucumber, and green onions provide freshness and flavor, peanuts and sesame seeds for crunch, all topped off with a zesty, zingy Asian-style sesame ginger dressing (that takes just two minutes to make). The result is a simple salad that is wonderfully balanced with flavors and textures, combining inspirations from Thai and Japanese flavors/ingredients for a tangy, spicy, savory, sweet, crunchy fusion dish you’ll love.

Even better, this salad is compiled with easy-to-find ingredients, is budget-friendly, and is packed with vibrant color, flavor, and nutrients. It’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, and other gatherings (along with delicious roasted broccoli and cauliflower)! And if you want more simple Asian-inspired salad dishes, you may also like this Japanese miso-glazed sweet potato salad, Thai green papaya salad (som tam Thai), Japanese cucumber salad (sunomono), or Thai cucumber salad!

The ingredients

Ingredients for Asian Broccoli Salad

The Cold Broccoli Peanut Salad

  • Broccoli: I used regular broccoli for this crunchy broccoli salad, though broccolini would also work.
  • Onions: you could use finely diced red onions OR green onions (scallions).
  • Cucumber: it’s best to use a low-seed variety like English or Persian cucumbers – no need to peel.
  • Spinach: I like to use baby spinach for this simple Asian broccoli salad. Alternatively, you could use kale – but it’s best to massage it lightly with the dressing to tenderize it.
  • Cilantro: if you don’t like cilantro, you could omit it entirely or add more scallions.
  • Sesame seeds: use raw or toasted sesame seeds.
  • Peanuts: or cashews/almonds. For a nut-free version, you could use sunflower seeds. You can add them raw or lightly toasted in a pan until fragrant.

The Sesame Ginger Dressing

  • Ginger: you can freshly grate/mince the ginger or use pre-minced ginger. In a pinch, you can use ground ginger powder.
  • Garlic: likewise, use either freshly minced garlic or pre-minced garlic. In a pinch, you could even use garlic powder.
  • Soy sauce: use reduced-sodium if you prefer. For a gluten-free option, use tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Sesame oil: yhis will add extra flavor and shouldn’t be substituted if you can help it.
  • Rice vinegar: Alternatively, you could use apple cider vinegar or lime juice.
  • Chili: I used a fresh red chili (de-seeded). You could alternatively use red pepper flakes or cayenne powder. Adjust the amount to personal preference.
  • Sugar: (optional) for a sweeter dressing, you could add a little sugar or liquid sweetener like this vegan dandelion honey/honey (not vegan)/ maple. Add enough to taste (before mixing the dressing with the salad).

Optional Add-ins and Recipe Variations

  • Other vegetables: you could also add shredded carrot, bell pepper, cabbage, edamame, radish, etc.
  • Protein: make a heartier Asian broccoli salad with the addition of marinated tofu, tempeh, or another vegan “chicken.” For a vegetarian crunchy broccoli salad, you could add a boiled egg (jammy or hard-boiled).
  • Chickpeas: for another simple source of plant-based protein, you could add chickpeas.
  • Peanut sauce: in place of the Asian ginger salad dressing, you could use this creamy, tangy, sweet, and spicy peanut sauce (thinned with a little water) for a quick Asian/Thai dressing. Alternatively, you can add a tablespoon or two of peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter to the soy ginger dressing for a quick and creamy alternative.
  • Thai broccoli salad: I recommend following the above tip by adding a creamy nut or seed butter to the ginger chili dressing and make sure to include the cilantro.

How to make Asian broccoli salad

First, blanch the broccoli. To do so, first, give the broccoli a quick rinse. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, carefully add the broccoli and allow it to cook for one minute (for firmer results) or 2 minutes (for slightly more tender results).

If you prefer it even more tender, feel free to cook for longer.

Then, immediately remove the broccoli from the heat and transfer it to an ice bath (bowl filled with ice-cold water and a few ice cubes). This will stop the cooking process, so the broccoli remains firm and fresh. For more tips, check How to Blanch Broccoli (And Freeze It).

Alternatively, you can sauté the broccoli lightly for a few minutes.

Steps for blanching broccoli

Next, prepare the dressing. To do so, grate or mince the ginger and garlic and finely chop the red chili (remove the seeds!). Then combine those ingredients with the remainder of the dressing ingredients and whisk to mix.

Chop the onion and cucumber. Then remove the broccoli from the ice bath and transfer it to a layer of paper towels to remove excess liquid. Then separate the broccoli into florets or cut into smaller bite-sized pieces.

Steps for preparing Asian broccoli salad

Finally, it’s time to assemble the Asian broccoli salad. Transfer the chipped ingredients, the spinach, and the cilantro to a large bowl and pour the dressing over them. Then gently toss to combine. Top with the peanuts and sesame seeds (raw or toasted) and enjoy!

You can enjoy this crunchy Asian broccoli salad warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Serve alone with added protein or a side like noodles, quinoa, rice, or the grain of your choice! You could enjoy this quick salad alongside beef tacos, grilled burgers, and BBQ dishes!

A bowl with broccoli salad

How to make ahead and store

Make ahead: you can prepare this Asian broccoli salad and sesame ginger dressing separately 1-2 days in advance. Store covered in the fridge (the dressing will taste even better on day two after time to meld and develop). Assemble the two 20-30 minutes before serving the salad.

Store: it’s best to consume this fresh salad within 3-4 days, storing it in an airtight container in the fridge to store.

Recipe notes

  • If preferred, use raw broccoli: I like to blanch the broccoli for preserved color, flavor, and texture. However, you can also prepare this as a crunchy raw broccoli salad. Just make sure to wash the broccoli well.
  • Adjust the broccoli size: Based on whether you want an “all-in-one-bite” or chunkier broccoli salad. You could even grate or process the broccoli for “broccoli rice.”
  • For even better flavor, allow the salad to marinate: even just for 30 minutes. This will enable the broccoli to absorb the dressing slightly and for the flavors to meld. The results are wonderful!
  • For best time management: you can prepare the dressing and all remaining ingredients in the time it takes for the water to come to a boil to blanch the broccoli.
  • Steam the broccoli instead: Steam the broccoli for 4-5 minutes until tender yet still crunchy. Once ready, add to an ice bath to cool down and stop the cooking process quickly.
  • Cheat veggie mix: For even more flavor and texture but no additional prep time, you could add a pre-shredded bag of “broccoli slaw” mix.

More simple salad recipes

If you try this Asian broccoli salad recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Asian Broccoli Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing

5 from 12 votes
By: Samira
This cold Asian broccoli salad combines freshly blanched broccoli with just a few other ingredients and Asian-inspired sesame ginger dressing for a simple yet flavor-packed fresh and crunchy appetizer, side salad, or light lunch! Best of all, this recipe is naturally gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, and can be prepared nut-free too.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 sides

Ingredients 
 

Asian broccoli peanut salad

  • 1 head broccoli or broccolini
  • 2 cups spinach baby spinach, or even kale
  • 1 onion red or 3 green (scallions)
  • 1 cucumber small, English or Persian are best
  • 3-5 sprigs cilantro omit if not a fan (or add scallions if you used red onion above)
  • 1 Tbsp peanuts or cashews/almonds, or sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds raw or toasted

Sesame ginger dressing

  • 1 red chili or chili flakes/cayenne pepper; adjust amount to taste
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar or maple/ dandelion honey or honey (not vegan); optional

Check the Recipe Notes below for more optional add-ins and variations!

Instructions 

  • Give the broccoli a quick rinse. Then, bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Once it's boiling, carefully add the broccoli and allow it to cook for one minute (for firmer results) or 2 minutes (for slightly more tender results).
    If you prefer it even more tender, feel free to cook for longer.
  • Immediately remove the broccoli from the heat and transfer it to an ice bath (bowl filled with ice-cold water and a few ice cubes). This will stop the cooking process, so the broccoli remains firm and fresh.
    Alternatively, you can sauté the broccoli lightly for a few minutes.
  • Prepare the dressing – grate or mince the ginger and garlic and finely chop the red chili (remove the seeds!).
    Then combine those ingredients with the remainder of the dressing ingredients and whisk to mix.
  • Chop the onion and cucumber. Then remove the broccoli from the ice bath and transfer it to a layer of paper towels to remove excess liquid. Then separate the broccoli into florets or cut into smaller bite-sized pieces.
  • Assemble the Asian broccoli salad – transfer the chopped ingredients, the spinach, and cilantro into a large bowl and pour the dressing over them.
    Gently toss to combine. Top with the peanuts and sesame seeds (raw or toasted) and enjoy!

How to Make Ahead and Store?

  • Make ahead: you can prepare this Asian broccoli salad and sesame ginger dressing separately 1-2 days in advance. Store covered in the fridge (the dressing will taste even better on day two after time to meld and develop). Assemble the two 20-30 minutes before serving the salad.
    Store: it's best to consume this fresh salad within 3-4 days, storing it in an airtight container in the fridge to store.

Notes

  • If preferred, use raw broccoli: I like to blanch the broccoli for preserved color, flavor, and texture. However, you can also prepare this as a crunchy raw broccoli salad. Just make sure to wash the broccoli well.
  • Adjust the broccoli size: based on whether you want an “all-in-one-bite” or chunkier broccoli salad. You could even grate or process the broccoli for “broccoli rice.”
  • For even better flavor, allow the salad to marinate: even just for 30 minutes. This will enable the broccoli to absorb the dressing slightly and for the flavors to meld. The results are wonderful!
  • For best time management: you can prepare the dressing and all remaining ingredients in the time it takes for the water to come to a boil to blanch the broccoli.
  • Steam the broccoli instead: steam the broccoli for 4-5 minutes until tender yet still crunchy. Once ready, add to an ice bath to cool down and stop the cooking process quickly.
  • Cheat veggie mix: for even more flavor and texture but no additional prep time, you could add a pre-shredded bag of “broccoli slaw” mix.
 
Optional Add-ins and Recipe Variations:
  • Other vegetables: you could also add shredded carrot, bell pepper, cabbage, edamame, radish, etc.
  • Protein: make a heartier Asian broccoli salad with the addition of marinated tofu, tempeh, or another vegan “chicken.” For a vegetarian crunchy broccoli salad, you could add a boiled egg (jammy or hard-boiled).
  • Chickpeas: make for another simple source of plant-based protein.
  • Sugar: for a sweeter dressing, you could add a little sugar or liquid sweetener like this vegan dandelion honey/maple. Add enough to taste (before mixing the dressing with the salad).
  • Peanut sauce: in place of the Asian ginger salad dressing, you could use this creamy, tangy, sweet, and spicy peanut sauce for a quick Asian/Thai dressing. Alternatively, you can add a tablespoon or two of peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter to the soy ginger dressing for a quick and creamy alternative.
  • Thai broccoli salad: I recommend following the above tip by adding a creamy nut or seed butter to the ginger chili dressing and make sure to include the cilantro.
Check the blog post for more tips!
Course: Appetizer, Main, Side
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese, Thai
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: 3-4 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 116kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 193mg, Potassium: 783mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 2628IU, Vitamin C: 161mg, Calcium: 115mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 12 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. Rana says:

    5 stars
    Just made this! Perfect blend

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Glad you liked it, Rana!

  2. TPlatt says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe, thank you.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you so much!