Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Cheese

This easy Broccoli Salad is loaded up with bacon, cheese, and a sweet and tangy 3-ingredient salad dressing. We call it Piggly Wiggly salad in the Midwest, and it’s the ultimate year-round party side dish.

Broccoli salad with bacon and cheese in a green bowl with a spoon.

Families throughout the Heartland have been making this recipe for potlucks, cook-outs, and tailgates for decades. Why? Because everyone gobbles it up as soon as it hits the table. We will always be grateful to Piggly Wiggly, the grocery store chain that made this salad famous!

Recipe ingredients:

Ingredients for broccoli salad with bacon and cheese in various clear bowls on a gray counter.

Ingredient notes:

  • Broccoli and cauliflower. Sure, you can use only broccoli, or both broccoli and cauliflower. And to make it even easier on yourself, buy a 2-pound bag of florets at the grocery store (you might have to chop them a little bit more).
  • Bacon. Instead of cooking your own bacon, you can also use the pre-cooked, pre-crumbled bacon, as long as it’s REAL bacon. Once, I made the salad with half the amount called for (8 ounces) and the salad still had plenty of bacon. But if you want more bacon? Add more bacon.
  • Mayonnaise. Pick the mayo that you’re used to eating. If you love Hellman’s or Best Foods, go with that. If you’re a Miracle Whip family, use that. Some calorie conscious cooks switch out half the mayo for plain Greek yogurt and absolutely love it.
  • Vinegar. Old-fashioned white vinegar is just fine, but you can use cider vinegar or lemon juice, too.

Step-by-step instructions:

Dig out your biggest salad bowl! Once you knock out the prep, this recipe flies by.

  1. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar all together.
  2. Mix all the vegetables, bacon, and cheese together together in the big bowl, and drizzle about half of the salad dressing over the top. Gently toss until combined, and see if the salad needs more dressing. Add 1/4 cup at a time, tossing between additions, until your perfect dressing-to-salad ratio is achieved. Cover the bowl and chill until serving time.

Dressing for broccoli salad with bacon and cheese being poured over the salad in a clear bowl.

Recipe notes:

  • Lots of dressing: This recipe makes A LOT of dressing, probably more than you need. But this is how we do it! If calories or sugar or fat has ever crossed your mind, you can easily get away with making just half the dressing. You’ll still have plenty.
  • Make ahead: In my opinion, broccoli salad is best when you cover it and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Just like the deli at Piggly Wiggly!
  • Leftovers: Leftover Piggly Wiggly is just the best, maybe even better than the first day. Store leftover salad in an airtight container and use it within 4 days.

Broccoli salad with bacon and cheese in a green bowl with two spoons.

FAQs:

  • Should I blanch the broccoli and cauliflower? No, please don’t. It completely changes the texture and flavor of the salad.
  • Can I substitute frozen vegetables? This isn’t going to work either. I think thawed-out frozen veggies change the consistency too much, just like blanching.
  • Can I use a food processor to speed up my prep? I tried this a few years ago, and it turned my broccoli and cauliflower into a sloppy mess. Zero stars, do not recommend.
  • Can I freeze it? This salad does not freeze well.

Recipe variations:

  • Low-sugar dressing: If you’re familiar with low-calorie sweeteners, you should be able to switch out the sugar for a comparable amount of your favorite product: monk fruit, Swerve, or Splenda.
  • Vegetarian: Now I know I emphasized using real bacon in the notes above, but if you’re eating a plant-based diet or cooking for a vegetarian, go ahead and make broccoli salad with smart/impossible/fake bacon.
  • Yogurt dressing: Some folks make the dressing with less mayo, mixing in some Greek yogurt or light sour cream to make it creamier. That’s up to you!
  • Optional ingredients: sunflower seeds, raisins, almonds, dried cranberries, grapes, cherry tomatoes

If anything sounds good, add it in! (Remember, the recipe makes a LOT of dressing, so you can go a little crazy with ingredients, if you’re feeling inspired.)

More delicious salads:

Broccoli salad with bacon and cheese in a green bowl with a spoon.

Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Cheese

This easy Broccoli Salad is loaded up with bacon, cheese, and a 3-ingredient sweet-and-tangy salad dressing. We call it Piggly Wiggly salad in the Midwest, and it's the ultimate year-round party side dish.
5 from 21 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 232kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 4 cups bite-sized broccoli florets from 2 bunches
  • 4 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets from 1 head
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound bacon fried and crumbled (see notes)
  • 1 cup red onion diced
  • 2 cups mayonnaise (see notes)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

Instructions

  • To make the dressing, In a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, cauliflower, onion, cheese, and bacon.
  • Pour dressing mixture to taste over the salad ingredients and toss well until evenly coated.

Video

Notes

  1. Lots of dressing: This recipe makes A LOT of dressing, probably more than you need. If you are worried about calories, make half the dressing. You'll still have plenty.
  2. Make ahead. In my opinion, broccoli salad is best when you cover it and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Just like the deli at Piggly Wiggly!
  3. Leftovers: Leftover Piggly Wiggly is just the best, maybe even better than the first day. Store leftover salad in an airtight container and use it within 4 days.
  4. Should I blanch the broccoli and cauliflower? No, please don't. It completely changes the texture and flavor of the salad.
  5. Can I substitute frozen vegetables?: This isn't going to work either. I think thawed-out frozen veggies change the consistency too much, just like blanching.
  6. Can I use a food processor to speed up my prep? I tried this a few years ago, and it turned my broccoli and cauliflower into a sloppy mess. Zero stars, do not recommend.
  7. Can I freeze it? This salad does not freeze well.

Nutrition

Calories: 232kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 269mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 201IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. Alice

    This is absolutely delish. Similar (but better!) to something my aunt used to make for parties! 5 stars

  2. Sherry

    I make this with two pounds of broccoli, no cauliflower and omit the onions…just for my family’s preference. I get requests to make it for every cookout!5 stars

  3. Desiree hake

    Can you use frozen veggies ?

    1. meggan

      Hi Desiree, excellent question. I have never tried it with frozen veggies but I really want to. That would be SUCH a time saver I’d it worked! My next testing day is January 25th so I’ll put this on the list. Sorry I don’t ave a chance to find out sooner and let you know. Thanks! -Meggan

  4. Merilu O'Dell

    A west! I have been trying to find the right recipe for a long time!!5 stars

  5. Kelley J Spruce

    Can i make this a day ahead

    1. meggan

      Hi Kelley, yes! If you have any reservations at all, prep all the ingredients and keep them in the fridge, and mix up the sauce and store in separately. And you can throw it all together at the last minute. But I’ve made it a day ahead many times… not to mention eaten leftovers days after… without issue. Everything holds up really well. Good luck! -Meggan

  6. carol

    what about sugar exchanges…Diabetes…for the sugar…

    1. meggan

      Hi Carol, I am not a registered dietitian so I don’t really have any expertise around sugar exchanges for diabetics. I am so sorry about that! My initial thought, which is probably horrible, is that you could maybe substitute something like Splenda so you don’t even have to worry about the sugar exchanges. I don’t know how much you need, but I think it’s sweeter than sugar so you could just try 1/4 cup at a time and see what you like. I am sorry I can’t help more, this is probably a terrible answer, but thanks for your question and best of luck. -Meggan

  7. Paula

    This has become a family and extended family favorite. We have it at every family get together! Thank you for sharing!5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Hi Paula, I’m so glad that it’s a family favorite with you! Thank you! :D -Meggan

  8. vicki kmiecik

    Love this, I also add dried cranberries5 stars

  9. Sara

    I substituted Zevia for the sugar to make it low carb. Was fabulous.5 stars

  10. Catherine

    Awesome and easy recipe! I added roasted and salted sunflower seeds to the salad, didn’t tweak the dressing because it’s the perfect blend of tangy sweet. Thanks for sharing!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Yes, salted sunflower seeds are SO GOOD here. Well I feel like, generally the recipe is either bacon + cheese or sunflower seeds + raisins. Everything else is the same. The raisins might be weird with cheese and bacon, but sunflower seeds certainly are not. Glad you enjoyed it! Thank you Catherine!

  11. Breeze

    This is really good =) We make it with swiss cheese as well as cheddar. And do a dressing with mayo, half & half or cream, apple cider vinegar & sugar. You can buy cauliflower pre-diced up now (“riced”) since people are so into using it in replacement recipes!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you so much Breeze! And yes to the cauliflower rice, that is basically the most useful thing ever. I love the idea of a creamier dressing with the half and half too. Thanks and I’m glad you like it!

  12. Mary Parent

    We have a dairy sensitive family member, so I substituted halved grapes for the cheese, and Apple cider vinegar was all we had…but wow, your recipe is yummy!  I bet even better with the cheese… thank you so much!5 stars

  13. Ellie Kovell

    Hi Meggan , Hmmm sunflower seeds sound really good. A little nutty salty flavor with added crunch! I will give that a try, thanks have a great weekend. Easter dinners at 3, LOL!

  14. Ellie

    This is a really good recipe. I love all the flavors together and sometimes I put in white raisins ,maybe about three quarter cup. Some people don’t like raisins but I find it a very nice variation to use. This will be a perfect little salad on a few leaves of lettuce for my Easter dinner! Yum🦆🐣🌷🌷5 stars

    1. meggan

      I agree with you on raisins! Well, normally I either do the bacon/cheese combination OR raisins and sunflower seeds (the shelled ones). But yes. So good. I’m glad you like the recipe, and what time should I report for Easter dinner? LOL Just kidding! Have a great weekend Ellie.

  15. Gloria

    Can I substitute poppyseed dressing for the mayo/vinegar/sugar concoction?

    1. meggan

      Hi Gloria, yes of course! You probably have a recipe in mind, but I have a great poppyseed dressing on my blog too if you need ideas. But yes, update the recipe however you see fit! Thanks.

  16. Pamela Ray

    Just finished making this w/o cauliflower. Used small container of plain Greek yogurt instead of all the mayo (only used about 2 Tbsp mayo), red wine vinegar, & about 1/4c spicy brown mustard, with a scant 1/2c white sugar. This turned out amazing!!!! Best broccoli salad ever! BTW, this is also a staple in the low country of South Carolina where I grew up!5 stars

    1. Laura E

      Loved your idea of substituting the yogurt for the mayo! My son has an egg allergy and cannot enjoy any salads with mayo and misses out on so much.   I personally love mayo but make a separate salad for him to enjoy.  😊5 stars

  17. Dave

    I can hardly wait for lunch to make this.  One note Per one reader, on salads getting watery after dressing them. If you add salt it will pull moisture out of the veggies and make it watery.

    Personally I believe it’s foolproof if you dress the salad upon serving. 

    I grew up with my mom and grandmother making a similar dressing for slaw and new leaf lettuce from the garden.  And a bacon, white gravy for wilted endive and fresh dandelion greens.5 stars

    1. meggan

      I love your family’s version. That sounds so great! And I appreciate your tips on avoiding a watery dressing. My mom always made it with Miracle Whip which I hadn’t had in years… and then tried again on my recent trip home. :)

  18. Joni

    This salad sounds amazing! My question is can you substitute apple cider vinegar for the white? I’ve never made this so i was just curious if it would make a difference. 

  19. Joni

    This salad is amazing! My question is can you substitute apple cider vinegar for the white? I’ve never made this so i was just curious if it would make a difference. 

    1. Krysten

      I always use red wine vinegar and that turns out amazing as well5 stars

    2. meggan

      Hi Joni! Yes you can. It might even taste a little better, that hint of apple sweetness. I think any vinegar works great! Thanks for your question. :)

  20. Angela

    We always add 1 red,green,yellow pepper to it.  Mozzerella&sharp cheddar.  Lots of bacon.  Yummy! Making it today actually!  
    Love the name! 5 stars

    1. meggan

      Your tweaks sound AMAZING Angela! That’s basically how my favorite macaroni salad is made (with noodles too of course). I should definitely try adding all that stuff. So good. I’m salivating. Happy New Year!

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