Vegan broccoli salad is super creamy, crunchy, and delicious! It's loaded with crisp broccoli florets, sweet grapes, red onions, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and tangy dried cherries in a cashew cream sauce. Complete your summer cookouts or party with this easy to make gluten-free and vegan side dish!
Have you tried the classic broccoli salad at Sweet Tomatoes? I used to love it before I went vegan, so I made a vegan version without mayo that tastes just as delicious! This version is crunchy, creamy, and loaded with flavor along with being free of refined sugar, oil, and bacon.
The refreshing raw salad features crisp broccoli florets, red onion, tangy dried cherries, sweet red grapes, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and it's all tossed in a creamy cashew-based sauce! It's incredibly tasty!
It's the perfect cold vegan side dish to bring to a summer picnic, potluck, or BBQ! Believe me, this is the best vegan creamy broccoli salad and it always gets rave reviews from everyone who tastes it!
Ingredients & Substitutions
The recipe calls for some fresh ingredients along with some pantry items. Let's go over any substitutions you might need.
- Cashews - Raw cashews are used to make the sauce taste super creamy. Sunflower seeds can be used 1:1 instead if necessary.
- Almond Milk - You can use any type of plant milk you want to make this recipe, but make sure that it's unsweetened and not vanilla-flavored. I've also made the recipe with coconut milk (from a carton, not canned) and it worked perfectly.
- Lemon Juice - This brightens the flavor and cuts through the creamines.
- ACV - This gives the sauce a tangy flavor. You could also sub ½ the amount of white vinegar.
- Maple Syrup - You need something sweet to balance the acidity from the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. You could also use agave or date syrup.
- Broccoli - You only need the florets for this salad, but you could finely dice the stems and add them to the salad too. Or freeze them and add to vegetable soup in the future.
- Grapes - Instead of grapes, you can use mandarin orange slices (fresh or canned) or chopped and pitted Medjool dates.
- Red Onion - I like to use red onion in this salad for a pop of color. Green onions or chives can be used instead of red onion.
- Dried Cherries - I used the Fruit Bliss brand of dried cherries because it's the only option I could find that doesn't have any added oil or sugar. You could also use raisins, golden raisins, chopped Medjool dates, or dried cranberries.
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - You could use roasted sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, or pecans.
How to Make It
First, you need to boil the cashews in water for 10 minutes to soften them.
Next, add the cashews, unsweetened almond milk, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a blender and blend the sauce until smooth and creamy.
Next, cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces and put the florets into a large mixing bowl. Add the dried cherries, roasted pumpkin seeds, diced red onion, halved grapes, and creamy dressing to the bowl.
Use a large spoon to mix it well so everything is coated in the creamy sauce. You can eat it right away or put it in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
- Add Plant-Based Protein - Top the salad with crispy baked tofu or stir in cooked chickpeas to make it a more substantial meal.
- Add Pasta - You could mix the broccoli, grapes, seeds, dried cherries, and cashew cream sauce with 8 ounces of cooked pasta and make a creamy broccoli pasta salad! If you do this, I recommend that you double the cashew cream sauce so the pasta salad is extra saucy.
What Goes With it?
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Quesadillas
- Vegan BBQ Mini Jackfruit Burgers
- Lentil Sloppy Joes
- Vegan Zucchini Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
How To Store It
Store the creamy broccoli salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
I don't recommend freezing the salad because the texture of the broccoli changes once it has been defrosted. Also, the creamy sauce becomes a little watery once it's defrosted. This salad is best enjoyed fresh or made the day before if you need to.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cut the broccoli into small, bite-sized pieces so it's easy to eat. Bigger pieces are harder to eat.
It's most likely because the broccoli is wet. Make sure to dry it fully before adding it to the salad.
This salad is usually made with just the broccoli florets so you will have the stem leftover. If you don't want to add the broccoli stems to the salad, don't discard them! You could dice and freeze the broccoli stems and then add it to vegetable barley soup or vegan curry
Yes, you can make this salad the day before and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will be just as delicious and fresh the next day!
- Don't use frozen broccoli because it was already blanched before it was frozen so it won't have the same crispy texture as fresh broccoli does.
- Make sure to dry the broccoli really well before mixing it with the sauce. If it's not completely dry it will make the salad watery.
- Cut the broccoli into small, uniform, bite-sized pieces so it's easier to eat.
- Halve all of the grapes at the same time by putting them on a large plate and then put another large plate on top of the grapes. Then slide a long thin serrated knife in between the plates and slice all the grapes at once!
- I think the salad tastes best chilled, so I like to refrigerate it for one hour before serving.
Want More Vegan Broccoli Recipes?
- Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes with Vegan Cheese Sauce
- Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Vegan Lasagna with Roasted Broccoli
Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Boil the cashews in water for 10 minutes. Drain any excess water and set them aside to cool.
- Add the cashews, ½ cup unsweetened almond milk, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp black pepper to a blender. Blend on high until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
- Trim the stems off the broccoli and cut the florets into bite-sized pieces. Put the broccoli into a large mixing bowl along with 1 ½ cups halved grapes, ¾ cup diced red onion, ½ cup dried cherries, ½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds, and all of the cashew sauce.
- Use a large spoon to toss the salad together until everything is coated with the cashew sauce. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
- You can enjoy the salad immediately or put it into the fridge to chill for one hour before serving.
- Store the leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.