This lovely paleo broccoli salad is a healthy and super tasty version of the classic. It's made without mayo which is replaced with a homemade creamy avocado dressing that is slightly sweet and tangy. It's then topped off with red onions, bacon, apples, raisins, and a few other ingredients for a very fresh-tasting salad.
It's so easy, quick, healthy, and completely AIP compliant, dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, soy-free, etc. It can be made vegan by simply omitting the bacon.
This is the perfect type of dish for a crowd. You can take it to potlucks and barbecues in the summer and everyone will love it. It’s got a couple of extra veggies making it a little different than the classic broccoli salad but I think they work perfectly with it and add some color.
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How to Make a Broccoli Salad Without Mayonnaise
There are quite a few ways to make a mayo-free broccoli salad dressing but a lot of them aren't dairy-free nut/seed-free, or AIP compliant.
For example, if you search "no mayo broccoli salad" on Google, many of the recipes use some sort of yogurt base, some use mustard (made from a seed, so not compliant), and others use tahini (made from seeds, so also not compliant).
The key to making this salad AIP compliant is finding a sauce base that is thick and creamy. It also needs to have a neutral enough flavor that you can add most of the typical broccoli salad dressing ingredients and get a comparable end result.
I thought about using coconut milk or coconut cream but I was worried it would be too thin. Enter the avocado. This makes a perfect creamy base for this dressing while keeping it dairy-free and nut/seed-free.
Paleo Broccoli Salad Ingredients
- Broccoli Florets- Make sure these are fairly small and bite-sized.
- Bacon- Make sure your bacon is chopped/crumbled. See other notes about the bacon below.
- Red Onion- Chop this really small so it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the dish.
- Purple Cabbage- Slice this really thinly so you don't have huge pieces of cabbage taking over your salad. This adds some great color.
- Brussels Sprouts- slice these thinly, again so they don’t overwhelm the salad.
- Apple- I used a Gala apple but pretty much any apple works.
- Raisins- Use regular or golden raisins. If you prefer not to use raisins, you can omit them or replace them with dried cranberries or craisins. Just be sure to choose a product without added sugar or oils (for AIP in particular).
- Avocados- These will be mashed for the dressing. Mash the avocados first, then add the other dressing ingredients.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - If you don't have apple cider vinegar, you could sub in red wine or white wine vinegar instead (these are both AIP compliant). Lemon juice is an option as well. You could even try balsamic vinegar for a slight twist (though I haven't tested this version). It is sweeter than apple cider vinegar so use a 1:1 ratio (or slightly less) and you may want to decrease the maple syrup a little bit.
- Garlic Powder
- Sea Salt
- Maple Syrup- or use honey
How to Choose an AIP Compliant Bacon
Bacon is tricky when it comes to the AIP diet. Try to find nitrate-free, uncured/naturally cured bacon, with no spices other than salt.
ButcherBox sells AIP-compliant bacon among many other wonderful things.
If you'd like to learn more about what to look for in AIP-compliant bacon, you can check my Guide to Paleo/AIP and Whole30 Bacon. I also include a bunch more product options with images.
This will say good in the fridge for 2-3 days in a tightly sealed container. It technically lasts longer but it starts to get brown after a day or so. The apple cider vinegar in the avocado dressing seems to delay browning a bit though. You could squeeze a little lemon juice on top of the salad before storing it to slow the process down further.
- Serve Cold- This is for mostly for food safety reasons but it also just tastes better.
- If you’re making this for a potluck or BBQ or just want to make it ahead of time in general: You can make most of it ahead of time but wait to add the apples and make the sauce, since avocados and apples brown pretty quickly. As mentioned above, squeeze a tiny bit of lemon juice just on top of the salad to slow down the browning.
- Make sure the avocados are ripe so they are easy to mash when you make the dressing.
- Cut Everything in a Similar Size- Make sure everything is bite-sized so the avocado dressing coats the salad evenly.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe. If you made this paleo broccoli salad, leave a comment below and let me know what you thought. I'd love to hear from you!
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Paleo Bacon Broccoli Salad with Avocado Dressing (AIP)
- Cook bacon according to package instructions, drain off extra grease, and dice or crumble. Allow the bacon to cool.
- Add the bacon along with broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, red onion, apple, and raisins to a large bowl.
- Make the dressing- In a small bowl, mash the avocados first then add the other sauce ingredients.
- Add the dressing to the salad and stir until well combined. Serve.