Amongst the turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and more, our family tries to create a little room for something green during our Thanksgiving meal. Typically, we end up making three vegetable-based dishes: green bean casserole for my sister, spinach casserole for my mother and me, and the coveted broccoli salad for our whole large family. Our broccoli salad recipe is a crowd-pleaser during the Thanksgiving dinner and the days following the main event.
Although this salad is sometimes considered a spring food (often because broccoli is available all year round) nothing tastes better than a locally sourced, in-season vegetable. Broccoli’s peak season starts in late October and goes through April. So, broccoli is a winter vegetable! During these cold months, our broccoli salad recipe would be a delicious addition for your holiday meals whether it be for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, or anything in between!
Helpful Note: If you need help with your Thanksgiving turkey, check out our Thanksgiving Turkey Survival Guide. It can help you with how much turkey you need, thawing times, roasting times, and more!
Why Do We Love Our Broccoli Salad Recipe?
Our broccoli salad recipe combines all of the good things. It contains the saltiness from the bacon, sweetness from the sugar, sourness from the vinegar, and fat from the mayonnaise. All are such wonderful flavors that mingle together so well.
On the other hand, we also have textural balance in this delicious side dish! Texturally, we have crunch from the red onions and broccoli, creaminess from the mayonnaise, and crumble from the bacon bits.
In my mind, it is the perfect salad.
So, how do you make our broccoli salad recipe? Before we share our recipe, let me give you some quick tips!
Quick Broccoli Salad Tips:
1. Blanch Your Broccoli
Yes, blanch your broccoli! As Daniel Gritzer said in a Serious Eats article:
Think about it: When is the last time you looked at raw broccoli florets on a crudités platter and got excited? I’d be willing to bet you reached for the carrot, the celery, and the cucumber stick long before you relented and reluctantly dunked a piece of broccoli in the onion dip.
I think he is right!
Even after drenching raw broccoli florets with the salad dressing, they somehow leave your mouth chalky and dry after crumbling to pieces. It is amazing to me how the raw florets do not soak up the dressing and moisten over time.
Instead, take the extra care and quickly blanch your broccoli. While cutting up the stems and florets, simply place a pot of salted water on high heat. When the water is at a rapid boil, blanch your broccoli for approximately half a minute. Never exceed a minute. Then, straight away, pour off the water and throw your broccoli in an ice-cold water bath.
Blanching Does Three Important Things:
- It improves the texture by removing the chalky dryness.
- It brings out that bright, beautiful green of the vegetable. (This is also how food photographers make broccoli look so green and delicious!)
- Finally, blanching slightly softens up the broccoli, allowing the florets to soak in some of that dressing.
As mentioned above, put your broccoli into ice-cold water right after blanching. By doing so, in the end, you maintain that crunchy part of the broccoli texture we all love.
2. Bacon Hack
Cut the bacon into little slices BEFORE cooking it in the skillet. This way, you can cook way more bacon at a single time. I used to spend forever cooking up all the bacon needed for our Thanksgiving dinner recipes. Literally one slice at a time. Finally, my mother checked-in on what I was doing and said, “Why are you doing that? You are making more work for yourself. Just cut the entire pack of bacon into slivers and throw it into the pan all together.”
I tried it her way. I was blown away. Not only can all the slivers fit into our cast-iron skillet, but they cooked evenly and quickly. I just needed to turn it on low and stir once in awhile! Trust me, cut it beforehand. You will spend a lot less time in front of the stove!
3. Let Your Broccoli Salad Sit
My favorite part about this broccoli salad recipe: it is better the next day! Thank goodness! Between the turkey, the pies, mashed potatoes, and everything else, you need a recipe or two that you can make in advance.
Honestly, make-in-advance recipes are the secret to being a good host. All the hosts and hostesses out there know that horrible feeling when you know that you do not have time for a shower before your guests arrive. It is the WORST! So, my biggest tip is that you should gather a handful of delicious and easy recipes that can be made a day in advance. That way, you can look/smell good AND have delicious food. It is a win-win situation in my mind.
Our broccoli salad recipe is good right after it’s made but better the next day. Letting your ingredients marinate together overnight allows the flavors to mingle. For example, we do not add salt to this salad because of the salty bacon. When we marinate the bacon in the dressing, the salt seeps into everything else!
Do You Have a Favorite Thanksgiving Vegetable Side?
We would love to hear about your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes in the comment section below. Let us know how you like this recipe as well! If you want more Thanksgiving-themed articles you can read:
- Thanksgiving Turkey Survival Guide (Helpful Infographics Included!)
- Caramelized, Honey-Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Side-Dish)
- Cheesy Sausage Balls (Appetizer)
- Jalapeno Poppers (Appetizer)
Also, below is our list for Thanksgiving essentials you can find! When cooking your turkey and side dishes, why not try using a skillet, roasting pan, baster, and/or a fat separator? They can make your life so much easier!
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