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Broccoli Grape Salad

The retro Broccoli Grape Salad is becoming popular again for a reason — it’s amazing, especially my Mom’s, which was the hit of every summer party. This picnic salad is an unlikely combination of crisp broccoli, juicy grapes, savory bacon, and crunchy almonds. Tossed in a creamy, sweet, and tangy balsamic dressing, this salad is the perfect side dish to bring a touch of nostalgia and a whole lot of deliciousness to your summer cookouts and potlucks.

Broccoli Grape Salad on a white serving platter with a serving spoon.

A Retro Salad, or How Gen X Used to Do Cookouts

My mom was born on the 4th of July, and even though she’s long passed, that holiday still means one thing — and she’d want it this way — outdoor party time!

The 4th of July parties of my childhood were the best. My older brothers would get a hold of those crazy fireworks that are probably now illegal in all 50 states, and when dusk fell, after the yummiest cookout of the year and a serious game or two of Jarts (also now illegal) or badminton, we’d take our positions behind trees, in the shed, or faaaar away on the porch, while they lit the questionably safe fuses and dove for cover.

My favorites were the airplanes, which took off from the ground immediately spinning in crazy, sizzling circles, darting all over the place, above you, beside you, and most often, at you — basically being the poster children for why those things are illegal.

Great memories, super fun times.

Photo of a handwritten recipe for broccoli grape salad

But this is a food blog, and we’re all interested in the food, right?

Recently, I was thumbing through my old recipe notebook (with hand-written recipes, gasp), when I came across this gem from my mom, written in her own hand (photo above): broccoli grape salad.

I remember this so well from those summer parties that I can actually conjure the flavor of it from nowhere, and seeing her handwriting, which never changed during her lifetime (unlike my own that’s now illegible, thanks to the constant presence of a keyboard), brought back such happy memories.

This was also the first time I noticed that she misspelled “brocolli,” which happens to be a word I have to double-check with the Googs about 50% of the time: “two c’s? does that look right? idk” lol.

I couldn’t resist making her broccoli grape salad immediately after finding the long-forgotten recipe. Oh, the memories those flavors brought back! Picnics and blue gingham table cloths and lazily buzzing bees. Isn’t it just amazing, the taste memory power of food?

The ingredients for the salad spread out on a board.

Main Ingredients, Prep Notes, and Substitutions

One thing to note about my mom’s recipe, if you plan on following her version above, is that it’s really just a few servings. Like dinner-size rather than enough for a whole cookout crowd. So, I had to up the amounts a bit for a cookout quantity.

Broccoli — You’ll need about 3 loosely packed cups of broccoli florets, which is about 8 to 10 ounces. I usually buy a 12-ounce bag of trimmed florets, but a 1-pound broccoli head will probably get you there, once you trim off the big stem.

Cut the florets small, so they fit on a fork with another ingredient. Such as scooping up a floret, a chunk of grape and some bacon bits all at once. You don’t want anyone shoving a big broccoli tree in their gob. (They probably won’t want to either!)

Grapes — People sometimes have strong feelings about grapes, green vs. red. I do, too — red all the way! — but here I use both. Fortunately, my grocery store still sells grapes in by-the-pound zipper bags, so I grab a small produce bag or two and pull out a branch from one of the ginormous, way-overstuffed-and-expensive, store packages. And no, I don’t feel the least bit guilty, and I will continue to do it until I get in trouble. So, there. Lol.

I strongly recommend slicing the grapes in halves or quarters. I know it’s extra prep work, but I hate salads with little globe fruits and veggies — grapes, olives, cherry tomatoes — where you’re trying to stab these things with your fork as they roll around, mocking you. Be a thoughtful salad maker and slice these things in half to expose a flat, pokeable surface.

Celery — A finely diced rib or two of celery is such a fresh addition to this salad, I love it. If you really don’t, however, just leave it out.

Bacon — I had to laugh when I first read this recipe, because it reminded me how people always add bacon to Brussels sprouts to mask the flavor (even if they won’t admit that’s the reason). Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are close botanical relatives, so it wasn’t such a leap to make that assumption.

But, this Broccoli Grape Salad is not at all stinky and nothing needs masking. Instead, the bacon adds a nice, savory saltiness that rounds out the other flavors. I’ve used turkey bacon many times, if you’re wanting to lighten things up a little.

Almonds — I love the nutty crunch of sliced almonds here. I almost always have a bag of honey roasted almonds on hand for my green salads (found in the produce aisle), and they worked perfectly here.

Green onions — My mom wisely calls for green onions here. Her generation, though, was strangely obsessed with cutting off the green parts of the onion (which, by the way, is the majority of the onion). I grew up assuming they were inedible, but when I began cooking on my own, I soon realized that the entire stalk is edible (cut off the roots because they’re stringy). So, the whole thing goes into this salad, from white tip to light green to dark green stalk.

Green onions (a.k.a. scallions) are mild and lovely and add the perfect hint of onion seasoning to the mix. Some people use red onions in their broccoli grape salads, but I think they’re too strong (although I can understand how onion lovers would go in that direction).

Dressing — I love the simplicity of this dressing: it’s just mayo, vinegar, and sugar. I made one swap from my mom’s recipe. Instead of using plain white vinegar, I use balsamic. It has a deep umami note to it, plus a surprising sweetness, which complements the astringency of the broccoli and celery (and gives the dressing a slightly peachy hue, in case you’re wondering about its color in the photos).

Be sure to taste the dressing. If you use balsamic vinegar and are missing the sharp tang of apple cider vinegar, use both! Depending on the brand of mayo I use, I sometimes add about a 1/2 tablespoon of ACV, too.

I also handle the finished dressing a little bit differently than mom: I mince half of one of the bacon strips and add it to the dressing, along with a little bit of minced green onions. Both infuse the dressing nicely and disburse extra flavor throughout the salad. This part is entirely optional, though.

How to Make Broccoli Grape Salad with Step-by-Step Photos

Ready to make the recipe? Skip to the recipe card now to get the full ingredient list, quantities, prep/cooking times, and detailed instructions. Or, keep scrolling for a visual walk-through of making this salad.

Step 1: Make the dressing

Mixing the dressing for the salad.

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Make sure the dressing is nice and loose: when you lift your whisk from the bowl, the dressing should drip from it in a stream.

Step 2: Assemble the salad

Combining the salad ingredients and the dressing.

Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl except for the green onions — you’ll add those later. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat everything thoroughly, or to your liking (if you have dressing leftover, keep in the fridge in case you want to add another drizzle just before serving).

Sprinkle a nice finger-tips pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper over the salad and toss again.

Step 3: Refrigerate

Prepping the salad and the dressing for refrigeration: bowls covered in plastic wrap.

Broccoli Grape Salad reaches peak flavor after it’s been in the fridge for several hours. Overnight is good, too, making it a great make-ahead side dish.

Cover with a lid or foil or cling wrap and let it rest in the chill.

Step 4: Finish the salad

The finished salad in a white bowl with black trim.

When ready to serve, uncover the salad and give everything a good stir. If the salad seems a little dry or stiff, spoon the leftover dressing a little at a time. Mix in the green onions.

Transfer to a serving bowl or platter.

Side angled view of Broccoli Grape Salad in a white bowl.

If you want to try my mom’s lovely version of broccoli grape salad, it’s shown above. I’ve made a few tweaks to fit my preferences, which are reflected in the recipe card below. Happy picnicking!

Karen xo
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Broccoli Grape Salad Recipe

This Broccoli Grape Salad is a modern take on a retro classic. Fresh broccoli, grapes, bacon, almonds, and celery are tossed in a creamy, sweet, and tangy balsamic dressing for a delicious and refreshing salad.
Prep Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: broccoli grape salad
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 240kcal
Author: Karen Gibson


for the dressing

  • 1 cup mayo (I use Duke’s; Mom always loved Hellman’s)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch of salt

for the salad

  • 1 cup broccoli trimmed florets
  • 1 cup green and red grapes, cut in halves or quarters
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 4 strips crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 green onion, very thinly sliced


prepare the dressing

  • Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, and set aside.

prepare the salad

  • Toss the broccoli, grapes, celery, almonds, and crumbled bacon together in a medium bowl.
  • Fold in the dressing a little at a time until the salad is coated (you might not use all of it; if not, save it, too).
  • Refrigerate the salad for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. (Refrigerate the green onions and any extra dressing, too.)
  • Before serving, toss to recoat the salad. Add the extra dressing, if you had any leftover and the salad seems dry. Sprinkle the green onions over the top.


Calories: 240kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
Recipe Rating

Rocky Mountain Woman

Wednesday 6th of July 2016

I love finding recipes in my mom's and grandmother's handwriting. Their handwriting is always so neat and it makes me wonder where my chicken scratch comes from. This looks like a perfect summer salad and I can't wait to try it!


Wednesday 29th of June 2016

Food, smells, sounds, our mother's handwriting; they all bring us back somewhere and I love when that happens. It's so great that you have some of her recipes.

I've been eating this salad in various incarnations ever since a friend introduced me ("hello, broccoli salad") and although I forgot the grapes this morning, I'm convinced blueberries will work. Thanks for the post and watch out for those fireworks.

Phyllis Curtis Ryan

Wednesday 29th of June 2016

I remember Jarts, great game when played correctly. Same with fireworks. I have a similar recipe but I add califlower. Great way to eat vegies.