Easy Cold Broccoli Apple Salad

5 from 10 votes
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This easy broccoli apple salad uses just a handful of fresh ingredients with a tangy honey-mustard dressing for a crunchy, flavorful, and nutritional sweet and savory salad perfect for the Fall months (but also year-round!). This broccoli crunch salad is gluten-free, dairy-free, and optionally vegan and keto with simple ingredient swaps!

A serving of broccoli apple salad

With a combination of tart green apple, crunchy broccoli, fresh bell pepper, crisp cucumber, and a sweet and tangy honey-mustard dressing (easily veganized), this simple broccoli apple salad (aka broccoli crunch salad) is packed with flavor and texture! It’s the perfect addition to your lunch/dinner table, potlucks, picnics, dinner parties, and Thanksgiving… really, almost anywhere you can imagine wanting to serve this easy broccoli salad!

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Sweet, Tangy, Crunchy Broccoli Apple Salad

While I usually eat my broccoli cooked in recipes, there’s something absolutely wonderful about the fresh, crisp crunch of raw broccoli in a salad like this (or Asian broccoli salad). Made all the better when combined with apples and the remaining ingredients that make up this easy broccoli salad. While some would argue that this makes for the perfect fall salad, since all the ingredients are available year-round, I fully support enjoying it whenever you need a fresh and crunchy pick-me-up salad!

This easy broccoli and apple salad is highly nutritious. Not only is it packed with tons of plant-based fiber, but it also contains high levels of Vitamin C, A, K, and several other vitamins and minerals. More so, the pine nuts (or nuts/seeds of your choice) add heart-healthy fats and some protein. You can even enjoy this as a fully raw salad if that’s preferable! And no need to worry about it getting soggy within a couple of hours either!

Best of all, this healthy broccoli cucumber salad is super versatile. Keep reading for a long list of optional add-ins and recipe variations, including vegan and keto options, alternative dressings, the sweet additions of grapes or raisins, and more! So whether you have it at its most basic or dress it up with extras, this salad is full of fresh and crunchy ingredients that taste great hearty enough to keep you satisfied until your next meal!

You might also enjoy other fall-fantastic salads, like this Waldorf apple salad, roasted beet and goat cheese salad, massaged lemon kale salad, pumpkin quinoa kale salad, or quinoa walnut and avocado salad! And if you are a fan of broccoli, you might like this Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli recipe!

The Broccoli Apple Salad Ingredients

  • Broccoli: you’ll need 2 small broccoli heads or one large one.
  • Green apple: I prefer to use a tart green apple like Braeburn or Granny Smith for this crunchy broccoli salad. If you’d prefer something a little sweeter, you could use an option like Gala or Fuji apples.
  • Cucumber: use a whole small cucumber or a portion of a larger one. I recommend using a low-seed variety like Persian or English cucumber. No need to peel.
  • Red bell pepper: I love the added color and crunch from a diced red bell pepper. Orange and yellow bell peppers would also work.
  • Honey mustard dressing: this homemade honey-mustard dressing requires just 4 ingredients (olive oil, vinegar, honey, and mustard PLUS salt & pepper) and a couple of minutes to prepare. You can use dandelion honey or maple syrup for a vegan version.
  • Pine nuts: you can use raw or lightly toasted pine nuts. Alternatively, you can use walnuts, pecans, or seeds like pepitas or sunflower seeds. Use unsalted raw nuts to keep this cold broccoli salad raw, or lightly toast them for an added depth of flavor.
  • Lemon: this will help to keep your chopped apple from browning.
  • Herbs: I added fresh mint leaves. However, you could omit these or experiment with other herbs like green onion (scallions), etc.

Optional Add-ins and Variations

Luckily, the simplicity of this broccoli apple salad means that there are tons of ways to adapt it and experiment with adding extra ingredients. Some of my favorite options include.

  • Broccoli grape salad: to add extra sweetness (and juiciness), you can add a handful of whole or chopped grapes (green or red grapes). I recommend adding between 1-1 ½ cups for a delicious broccoli grape salad.
  • Dried fruit: raisins, craisins, and dried cranberries pair well in this broccoli apple salad. I recommend adding between 1/3-1/2 cup for a delicious broccoli raisin salad (or use the dried fruit of your choice).
  • Red onion: I recommend adding between 1/4-1/3 cup (around ½ small red onion) finely diced red onion. If you don’t like the harsh flavor of raw onion, soak it in ice water for 10 minutes first.
  • Cherry tomatoes: add ½ cup of halved small cherry tomatoes for a sweet-acidic flavor and softer texture compared to the crunchy elements.
  • Creamy dressing: for a creamy dressing, you can combine around ½ cup of Greek yogurt with a couple of tablespoons of mayo, a squeeze or two of lemon juice or vinegar, some maple/honey, and salt and pepper. Adjust all the latter elements to taste.

Traditionally, mayo makes up the base of this creamy dressing. However, Greek yogurt makes it lighter. Feel free to experiment with the ratio of yogurt to mayo, though.

  • Keto broccoli salad: you can use a keto honey/maple alternative in the dressing and optionally reduce the carbs further by omitting half or all of the apple. Optionally add some cheese. If you’d prefer to use the creamy dressing, you could use a sugar-free sweetener like erythritol/xylitol in place of liquid options.
  • Shredded carrot: for even more color and crunch. I recommend adding around ½ cup (or slightly less).
  • Cheese: some cheese can help to get even veggie-wary kids eating this crunchy broccoli salad. Shredded cheddar or crumbled feta/blue cheese would work.
  • Broccoli pasta salad: Add 1.5-2 cups of your pasta of choice to adjust this into a pasta salad. I also like to add red onion (mentioned above) when making it into a pasta salad. You could, similarly, add cooked quinoa for a simple broccoli quinoa salad.
  • Celery: for even more crunch, you can add 1/3-1/2 cup finely sliced celery (almost like a broccoli Waldorf salad if you pair it with grapes and dried cranberries/raisins).

How to Make Broccoli Apple Salad?

Step 1: Prepare the Dressing

If you aren’t using a prep-prepared dressing, you’ll first need to prepare the honey-mustard dressing(or the vinaigrette/dressing of your choice).

Step 2: Chop the Ingredients

Wash and thinly slice the apples (into matchstick-sized pieces or small cubes). Then, transfer to a large bowl and gently toss the slices with the lemon juice to help keep them from browning (or use a produce/ fruit preserver).

To reduce waste, you can save the cores and any other cut-offs from the apples to make the ‘boil’ version of this apple juice.

Next, prepare the broccoli. First, remove the tough end of the stalk and then finely chop or shred the broccoli (with the large holes on a box grater or using a food-processor shredding disk). Once shredded, transfer it to the large bowl with the apples.

If you prefer chunkier bits, you can chop it into small florets. However, as it’s raw, I prefer to use very fine pieces, as it’s very firm in texture.

Finely chop the red bell pepper, removing the stalk and seeds, then chopping it into bite-sized cubes or thin strips. Then, add it to the large bowl.

Finally, finely chop the cucumber. I sliced it in half lengthwise, then sliced each of those pieces in half again before making thin slices (so each piece was a tiny triangle shape). Add to the bowl.

Step 3: Mix and Serve

Add all the remaining ingredients (dressing and pine nuts) and toss to combine. I recommend allowing the broccoli apple salad to sit for at least 2 hours in the fridge to develop flavor—then serve and enjoy!

How Make Ahead and Store?

Make ahead: this broccoli crunch salad actually tastes better after it sits for 2-3 hours, so I recommend preparing it in advance. When you’re ready to serve, just give it a quick toss again and enjoy. The only “wet” ingredient is the cucumber–so feel free to omit this if you plan to make this as a meal-prep salad.

You could also halve the salad to store in separate containers and leave one-half undressed for a couple of days. That way, you can enjoy this salad all week long.

Store: store any leftovers in an airtight container In the fridge for between 3-5 days. Note that the apples will oxidize (and brown), the cucumbers will release liquid, and all the elements will soften over time. For the best flavor/texture, I recommend eating it within a couple of days.

I don’t recommend trying to freeze this cold broccoli apple salad.

Hand holding a serving of apple broccoli salad

FAQs

Can you eat raw broccoli?

Absolutely. In fact, raw broccoli is even more nutritious than cooked. However, if you find you don’t like the “raw edge” of it in this broccoli crunch salad, then blanch the broccoli for just a minute (see my tutorial here). That way, it’s vibrant and crunchy but slightly more tender and without the “raw” flavor.

Should I include the broccoli stems?

Of course! Although I find the stems can have a “toughness” because of the skin (when not cooked). So peel away that layer before chopping if preferred. You can save any scraps to make homemade vegetable stock.

How to serve broccoli salad?

This salad makes for a great addition to potlucks, picnics, and holiday parties. However, it’s also a great versatile salad that pairs will all sorts of meals like sandwiches/wraps, burgers, skewers, etc. If you eat meat/fish, this salad also pairs well with many grilled and baked proteins.

Recipe Top Tips and Notes

  • To blanch the broccoli: if you’d prefer the broccoli not to be entirely raw, you can blanch it. To do so, chop it into small florets while bringing a large pan of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the broccoli and cook for 1 minute (firm texture) or 2 minutes (slightly more tender). Then remove from the plan and plunge into ice water. This will take away the ‘raw edge’ of the raw broccoli while keeping it crunchy and packed with nutrients.
  • Allow it to marinate: this cold broccoli salad tastes even better after you’ve allowed it a couple of hours to sit and ‘marinate’ in the fridge. If you can, I recommend preparing it a day in advance. Leave the pine nuts (or nuts/seeds of your choice) out of the salad until just before serving.
  • Sweet or sour apple? this comes down to personal taste. I prefer to use a tart apple as I love the sour taste with this combination of ingredients. However, use a sweeter variety if preferred.
  • Cut down prep time: fepending on what ingredients you use (and add-ins), you can often buy some pre-shredded/prepared veggies (like chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, etc).
  • Adjust the texture: the way you chop the vegetables is the major element that affects the texture in this broccoli crunch salad. I like to chop everything finely so you can have a little bit of everything in each bite. If you prefer a chunkier broccoli salad, though, feel free to do so.
  • For a raw salad: use raw nuts, plus for the dressing, you’ll need extra-virgin olive oil, raw honey, and raw mustard (or your favorite ‘raw’ vinaigrette/dressing).

More Simple Salad Recipes

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

Easy Cold Broccoli Apple Salad (Vegetarian/Vegan | 5-Minute)

5 from 10 votes
By: Samira
This easy broccoli apple salad uses just a handful of fresh ingredients with a tangy honey-mustard dressing for a crunchy, flavorful, and nutritional sweet and savory salad perfect for the Fall months (but also year-round!). This broccoli crunch salad is gluten-free, dairy-free, and optionally vegan and keto with simple ingredient swaps.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 lb broccoli 2 small heads
  • 5.4 oz green apple 1 big like Granny Smith or Braeburn. For sweeter apple, try Gala or Fuji
  • 4.5 oz cucumber 1 small – use low-seed variety like Persian/English (otherwise you may want to de-seed)
  • 4 oz red pepper 1 average, optional
  • 1 oz pine nuts 2 Tbsp OR walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, or pepitas (raw or lightly toasted)
  • 4 Tbsp honey mustard dressing check notes for a creamy alternative
  • 0.2 oz mint few sprigs, optional

Check the Recipe Notes below for tons of add-ins and variations!

Instructions 

Step 1: Prepare the Dressing

  • If you aren't using a prep-prepared dressing, you’ll first need to prepare the honey-mustard dressing (or the vinaigrette/dressing of your choice).

Step 2: Chop the Ingredients

  • Wash and thinly slice the apples (into matchstick-sized pieces or small cubes). Then, transfer to a large bowl and gently toss the slices with the lemon juice to help keep them from browning (or use a produce/ fruit preserver).
    To reduce waste, you can save the cores and any other cut-offs from the apples to make the "boil" version of this apple juice.
  • Prepare the broccoli. First, remove the tough end of the stalk and then finely chop or shred the broccoli (with the large holes on a box grater or using a food-processor shredding disk). Once shredded, transfer it to the large bowl with the apples.
    If you prefer chunkier bits, you can chop it into small florets. However, as it’s raw, I prefer to use very fine pieces, as it’s very firm in texture.
  • Finely chop the red bell pepper, removing the stalk and seeds, then chopping it into bite-sized cubes or thin strips. Then, add it to the large bowl.
  • Finely chop the cucumber. I sliced it in half lengthwise, then sliced each of those pieces in half again before making thin slices (so each piece was a tiny triangle shape). Add to the bowl.

Step 3: Mix and Serve

  • Add all the remaining ingredients (dressing and pine nuts) and toss to combine. I recommend allowing the broccoli apple salad to sit for at least 2 hours in the fridge to develop flavor – then serve and enjoy!

How Make Ahead and Store?

  • Make ahead: this broccoli crunch salad actually tastes better after it sits for 2-3 hours, so I recommend preparing it in advance. When you’re ready to serve, just give it a quick toss again and enjoy. The only "wet" ingredient is the cucumber–so feel free to omit this if you plan to make this as a meal-prep salad.
    You could also halve the salad to store in separate containers and leave one-half undressed for a couple of days. That way, you can enjoy this salad all week long.
    Store: store any leftovers in an airtight container In the fridge for between 3-5 days. Note that the apples will oxidize (and brown), the cucumbers will release liquid, and all the elements will soften over time. For the best flavor/texture, I recommend eating it within a couple of days.
    I don't recommend trying to freeze this cold broccoli apple salad.

Notes

  • To blanch the broccoli: if you’d prefer the broccoli not to be entirely raw, you can blanch it. To do so, chop it into small florets while bringing a large pan of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the broccoli and cook for 1 minute (firm texture) or 2 minutes (slightly more tender). Then remove from the plan and plunge into ice water. This will take away the ‘raw edge’ of the raw broccoli while keeping it crunchy and packed with nutrients.
  • Allow it to marinate: this cold broccoli salad tastes even better after you’ve allowed it a couple of hours to sit and ‘marinate’ in the fridge. If you can, I recommend preparing it a day in advance. Leave the pine nuts (or nuts/seeds of your choice) out of the salad until just before serving.
  • Sweet or sour apple? This comes down to personal taste. I prefer to use a tart apple as I love the sour taste of this combination of ingredients. However, use a sweeter variety if preferred.
  • Cut down prep time: depending on what ingredients you use (and add-ins), you can often buy some pre-shredded/prepared veggies (like chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, etc).
  • Adjust the texture: the way you chop the vegetables is the major element that affects the texture in this broccoli crunch salad. I like to chop everything finely so you can have a little bit of everything in each bite. If you prefer a chunkier broccoli salad, though, feel free to do so.
  • For a raw salad: use raw nuts, plus for the dressing, you’ll need extra-virgin olive oil, raw honey, and raw mustard (or your favorite “raw” vinaigrette/dressing).
Optional Add-ins and Variations:
Luckily, the simplicity of this broccoli apple salad means that there are tons of ways to adapt it and experiment with adding extra ingredients. Some of my favorite options include.
  • Broccoli grape salad: to add extra sweetness (and juiciness), you can add a handful of whole or chopped grapes (green or red grapes). I recommend adding between 1-1 ½ cups for a delicious broccoli grape salad.
  • Dried fruit: Raisins, craisins, and dried cranberries pair well in this broccoli apple salad. I recommend adding between 1/3-1/2 cup for a delicious broccoli raisin salad (or use the dried fruit of your choice).
  • Red onion: I recommend adding between 1/4-1/3 cup (around ½ small red onion) finely diced red onion. If you don’t like the harsh flavor of raw onion, soak it in ice water for 10 minutes first.
  • Cherry tomatoes: add ½ cup of halved small cherry tomatoes for a sweet-acidic flavor and softer texture compared to the crunchy elements.
  • Creamy dressing: for a creamy dressing, you can combine around ½ cup of Greek yogurt with a couple of tablespoons of mayo, a squeeze or two of lemon juice or vinegar, some maple/honey, and salt and pepper. Adjust all the latter elements to taste.
Traditionally, mayo makes up the base of this creamy dressing. However, Greek yogurt makes it lighter. Feel free to experiment with the ratio of yogurt to mayo, though.
  • Keto broccoli salad: you can use a keto honey/maple alternative in the dressing and optionally reduce the carbs further by omitting half or all of the apple. Optionally add some cheese. If you’d prefer to use the creamy dressing, you could use a sugar-free sweetener like erythritol/xylitol in place of liquid options.
  • Shredded carrot: for even more color and crunch. I recommend adding around ½ cup (or slightly less).
  • Cheese: some cheese can help to get even veggie-wary kids eating this crunchy broccoli salad. Shredded cheddar or crumbled feta/ blue cheese would work.
  • Broccoli pasta salad: add 1.5-2 cups of your pasta of choice to adjust this into a pasta salad. I also like to add red onion (mentioned above) when making it into a pasta salad. You could, similarly, add cooked quinoa for a simple broccoli quinoa salad.
  • Celery: for even more crunch, you can add 1/3- 1/2 cup finely sliced celery (almost like a broccoli Waldorf salad if you pair it with grapes and dried cranberries/raisins).
 
Check the blog post for more notes and answers to top FAQs!
Course: Appetizer, Main, Salad
Cuisine: American, Southern
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: 4-5 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 210kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Sodium: 193mg, Potassium: 556mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 1701IU, Vitamin C: 142mg, Calcium: 68mg, Iron: 3mg

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

5 from 10 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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