Broccoli Apple Salad

A dreamy broccoli apple salad made from all-star ingredients. Bright broccoli florets, crisp apples, crunchy fried shallots, candied nuts and slivered red onions are tossed in a honey-kissed, creamy, almond dressing.

Broccoli Apple Salad

All things crunchy and colorful are combined in this broccoli apple salad. And it’s a beauty! Bright broccoli florets, crisp apples, crunchy shallots, candied nuts and slivered red onions are tossed in a barely sweet, creamy almond dressing.

broccoli apple salad drizzled with dressing on a blue plate

This is a hearty and substantial salad with lots of play between the sweet of the apple, the savory shallots, and the crunch of the candied walnuts and crisp, flash-boiled broccoli. It’s the sort of thing that is welcome on just about any table - holiday, picnic, Tuesday night, or desk at work. I if you’re on the look out for feel-good lunch ideas, I also love this broccoli salad as a bento component.

ingredients for broccoli salad including walnuts, chives, apples and red onions arranged on a counter

Make Ahead Plan

With a bit of planning, this recipe comes together quickly. You can make most of components ahead of time, but, pro-tip, don't dress the salad until you are ready to serve it. This preserves the various crunches. Make the almond butter dressing up to a few days in advance. Same goes for the crispy shallots. If you are going to do the version with candied walnuts, those will hold in an air-tight container for weeks. Beyond that you’re simply boiling broccoli and slicing apples.

all the ingredients for broccoli apple salad in a metal bowl readdy to be tossed

Broccoli Salad Variations

  • Make it a Main Dish: Add caramelized tofu, pan-glazed tempeh, or spicy tempeh crumble (on top) to turn this into a main course.

  • Ginger Carrot Broccoli Salad: Swap out the creamy almond butter dressing in the recipe below, and use this ginger carrot dressing instead.

  • Broccoli Apple Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing: Swap out the creamy almond butter in the recipe below and use this spicy ranch dressing in this wedge salad recipe instead.

  • Broccoli Apple Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing: In this version, swap out the almond butter and swap in peanut butter.

broccoli apple salad drizzled with dressing on a blue plate with a large serving spoon

More Broccoli Recipes

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Broccoli Apple Salad

5 from 2 votes

The success of this salad hinges on the broccoli. Buy good-quality, bright green broccoli with tight florets. Now, do your best not to overcook it. You don't want it to stay crisp and bright. As far as substitutions go, if you don’t have almond butter on hand, peanut butter is an easy swap. And if you don’t have time to make candied walnuts, toasted walnuts are just fine! Lastly, if you aren't going to use the apples immediately after chopping, or if you’re going to pack this into a lunch, let the apples sit in a bowl of water plus the juice of a lemon. This will help to prevent browning - drain completely before using.

  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 garlic clove
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 apples, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup candied walnuts or toasted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup pan-fried crunchy shallots*
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt as you would pasta water. Boil the broccoli just long enough to take the raw edge of - 10 or 15 seconds. Drain and immerse it in cold water (or let cold water run over it). At this point, I like to spin the broccoli in a salad spinner to get the water off, but a few good knocks against the sink in a strainer can do the trick pretty well. Set aside.
  2. Make the dressing by sprinkling the salt over the clove of garlic. Smash the clove and chop, smash and chop - turning it into a paste. In a small bowl whisk the salty garlic paste with the almond butter, lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy. Taste, make any adjustments, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl gently toss the broccoli, apples, red onion, most of the shallots and nuts with a generous drizzle of the almond dressing. Turn out onto a platter and finish with the rest of the shallots and chives if you like. Serve family style.

Serves 4-6.

*Thinly slice peeled shallots razor thin, then place in a small saucepan. Add enough oil to coat the shallots well. The shallots should be swimming in oil, but not entirely submerged. Cook slowly, over medium heat, until shallots are deeply browned and fragrant. Use a strainer to remove shallots, transferring to a paper towel to cool. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Keep the shallot oil for another use.

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
3 mins
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Recipe Rating


I can't imagine people not liking broccoli--I truly love it and also eat it frequently (as well as chocolate, cookies, etc. . . . ). This salad looks terrific and is one I will definitely try out! :)


Hm. I am thinking that the people with nut allergies/limited ability to procure almond butter could use silken tofu creamed with a hand blender and a little extra acid, lemon juice or a mild vinegar. That would be sort of like a mayo (bringing us a little closer to my family's church potlucks). It would be important to cream it so it is not lumpy, I have not found electric beaters or food processors to do the trick. I am also very spoiled and can buy just about anything within a mile of my house, so I don't know if silken tofu would be more difficult to find than almond butter.


This looks so good! I love broccoli! I just have to try this! Beautiful photos!


There are people who don't like broccoli? Isn't broccoli the only vegetable many kids will eat?? :) Thanks for the salad recipe!


This sound yummy! And my healthier than the traditional broccoli salad that I have made (read: tons of mayo!). I can't wait to try it. For those looking for Almond butter, I know they sell it at Trader Joes.


I love broccoli, and may try this recipe for my bring-to-work lunched. Unfortunately, my boyfriend broccoli not for the taste, but because of the texture of the little bits in the florets. Raw, steamed, boiled, stir-fried... he just won't eat the florets, and this means I eat much less broccoli than I used to. Any thoughts on recipes that use broccoli stalks or have broccoli pureed in them?


As Jennifer stated, this will make a great alternative to the tired broccoli-slaw-potluck-salad-that-never-dies! I would probably add a bit of red pepper to the homemade candied nuts - I love the kick of pepper with my greens. Does anyone know if sunflower seeds/pepitas take well to candying??


Now sadly I am not a friend of the little tree, but this looks delish! My two bundles of joy (aged 9 and 6) and HUGE broccoli fans and would love this. I may make this for Thanksgiving :) ~Jenny ps....Heidi, I made your sweet potato mousse with the delish oil last year, it was scrumptious!!!!


I love broccolis! I discovered recently that a lot of people dislike broccoli becasue they have had it boiled, or in a bad context anyway. Get people to try a steam floret, maybe sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, and they soon change their mind! (well, obviously we won't have a 100% success rate there!) Aha, soon, we will convince the world that broccolis are gorgeous!!


i'm going to the grocery store right, now!


Any suggestions for a substitution for the almond butter? Not sure that I can find it at my local big box grocery store.


I doubt it was your original objective, but thank you for providing a natural and healthier alternative to the popular potluck staple. I love broccoli salad, but often find those versions too sweet. I look forward to trying this recipe.


Where would one fine almond butter? I cook broccoli (steamed) as a staple veggie, since my extremely picky 6 year old eats it willingly. I'm always looking for ways to prepare it (for the rest of the family who WILL eat things "all mixed up") so we won't get too bored!


I am so making this tonight. I bet it would be equally yummy with Brussel sprouts, which I hate. I'm going to try it both ways.


I love broccoli, and am always looking for new recipes. This sounds delicious. I am allergic to nuts...what do you recommend as a substitute for the almond butter?


To Tiffany— Candied walnuts are really easy. Just take some walnut halves and put them in a small skillet. Add a few tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt (sorry I don't have it measured, but you want to have enough sugar that your nuts will be reasonably coated.. usually mine are about halfway coated and that is sweet enough for me) You can add seasonings too if you like (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc) but I usually just make them plain. Stir the nuts and sugar over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and coats the walnuts. Be sure to use a heat resistant stirring device (a silicone spatula works well) and resist any urge you have to touch the nuts with your finger (trust me on this one). Once the sugar has caramelized, dump them onto wax paper and allow them to cool completely. Then (now you can touch) break the nuts apart with your hands. Store them somewhere dry and cool. Make extra. Candied walnuts are great to have on hand for salads. I make one with spinach, dried cranberries, goat cheese, candied walnuts and poppy seed dressing that everyone loves.


I have never really liked broccoli. When I was a little kid my parents would serve me the same plate of broccoli night after night. I would never eat it and it would eventually be thrown away. Now that I'm older, I will tolerate it if it is pureed or chopped into unidentifiable oblivion and then covered in cheese sauce or mayonnaise. It's not that I don't want to like it. Each time I eat it, I try to like it. I am actually very annoyed by the fact that it is just about the only (real) food that I don't like. But THIS looks and sounds really good and I don't know that I have ever said that about a healthy preparation of broccoli. So, I'm going to try it and I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that this is the recipe that changes my life... or at least my dinner. If it works you'll be my hero. I'll keep you posted.


Thank you for this recipe! I can't wait to try it out. I have one question though... Do you have a recipe for making candied walnuts? Thanks!


I already love broccoli, but there is no doubt this would make me love it even more. What a perfect salad for Fall!


This is the kind of salad I really love! And the photos are beautiful as always. Thank you Heidi!


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