Skinny Broccoli Salad

Skinny Broccoli Salad is a healthier version of a potluck favorite, made lighter but just as yummy, with  a homemade Greek yogurt ranch dressing.

Skinny Broccoli Salad, an American classic made healthier!

Skinny is an ambiguous concept if there ever was one, it all sort of depends on your point of view. Like when you’re shopping for jeans…there’s skinny, super skinny, extreme skinny, and shrink wrapped. Same thing here, you can adjust this salad to whatever level of skinny you deem appropriate, see the notes below for details. The salad itself is naturally low in calories, but the mayo heavy dressing isn’t. I lightened it up with Greek yogurt and buttermilk. But then I also added some little cubes of smoked Gruyere cheese — not a lot — but enough to really make this salad irresistible  (you can use low fat cheese if you like.)

I garnished it all with a handful of fried shallots — they stand in for the less healthy bacon in the traditional salad. So you see, this is skinny, but not I gotta get a thigh gap skinny. A nice compromise, if you ask me.

An absolutely irressitable American classic salad, made a little bit lighter and healthier.

This is a classic old time picnic, barbecue, or church supper kind of side. It’s a famous people pleaser, and everybody does it their their own special way. Some add raisins, or tomatoes, and most like bacon, but I think this version is just about perfect. The toasted slivered almonds add a ton of crunch and nutty flavor, balanced out by the juicy tart cranberries. If your cranberries look dry and wizened, soak them in some warm water for about 10 minutes to re-hydrate them. The smoked cheese infuses every bite, the dressing gets all down in between the little broccoli buds, and the fried shallots are to die for. This is so good, you just have to make it for yourself. I could eat it all. day. LONG.

A skinny version of everybody's favorite picnic salad!


  • For a SKINNY SALAD: see recipe above
  • For a SUPER SKINNY SALAD: Leave out the fried shallots, and use reduced fat mayo and cheese. Try to find a cheese with flavor, either smoked or extra sharp.
  • For an EXTREME SKINNY SALAD: In addition to the above, replace the mayo with more Greek yogurt. Don’t omit the buttermilk, it’s low fat and adds a nice creamy tang to the dressing.
  • If calories aren’t your primary concern, definitely replace the Greek yogurt with sour cream in the dressing.
  • Because the broccoli is raw, you want to chop it into quite small pieces so it’s more pleasant to eat. I like to use a little bit of the stems, too, they’re delicious and just as healthy as the rest of the vegetable. I like to pry apart each floret with the tip of my knife rather than just slicing them up, because that preserves the little ‘tree’ shape better.
  • Don’t skip toasting the almonds…there is a HUGE flavor boost to be had.
  • This is one salad that benefits from a little time in the fridge to allow the dressing and veggies to mingle and the flavors to develop. Garnish with the shallots just before serving.


Skinny Broccoli Salad, an American classic made just a little bit healthier!

The dressing is a delicious homemade skinny ranch, you’ll want to use it for other salads, or as a dip for veggies. This was inspired by a recipe in this month’s Cooking Light.

An absolutely irressitable American classic salad, made a little bit lighter and healthier.
3.45 from 9 votes

Skinny Broccoli Salad

Author Sue Moran


  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 6 ounces smoked Gruyere or other smoked cheese cut in tiny cubes
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped

skinny ranch dressing

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • lots of fresh cracked black pepper

fried shallot garnish

  • 2 or 3 shallots peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • Put the almonds in a small skillet and heat, stirring almost constantly, over medium high heat until they are golden brown. Watch them carefully, this will only take a few minutes, and once they start to toast, it goes fast. Set aside to cool.
  • Trim the large stalks off the broccoli and then chop in small pieces. Definitely include the small tender stalks along with the florets. Put in a large salad bowl along with the cheese, cranberries, and onion. Add in the cooled almonds.
  • Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. Taste and make sure you like it, and thin with a little more buttermilk if it is too thick.
  • Toss the salad with enough of the dressing to coat, you may not need all of it. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Garnish with the fried shallots just before serving.
  • To make the fried shallots, heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet. Gently separate the slices into rings. Toss them in the flour and fry until golden. You can test the heat of the oil by dropping one shallot in, it should sizzle on contact. The shallots should turn golden in about 2 minutes. Do this in batches so you don't crowd the shallots, and keep them moving in the oil while they're frying. Drain on paper towels.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


don’t forget to pin this skinny broccoli salad!

Skinny Broccoli Salad is a healthier version of a potluck favorite, made lighter but just as yummy, with  a homemade Greek yogurt ranch dressing. #salad #broccoli #skinny #healthy #homemade #yogurt #ranchdressing #vegetarian #recipe #potluck #sidedish


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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Sydney Knutsen
    July 13, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    4 stars
    Well this recipe turned out quite nice. Didn’t have any buttermilk so had to omit, but I was still pleased with the results. And far fewer calories and cholesterol than the original! Thx Sue for another yummy recipe. You come up with so not run-of-the-mil and very interesting things to eat. You can’t imagine how many times I consult your site when looking for a recipe, either for entertaining or family meals!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    I LOVE this dressing so much! Makes this salad so much more refreshing in my book.

    • Reply
      June 2, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      I have to agree, Kristen, there’s something sacrilegious about slathering mayo all over healthy broccoli!

  • Reply
    Shirley Stann
    November 7, 2017 at 6:59 am

    I made this a couple weeks ago and it was fabulous. I’m not a fan of raw broccoli but this was scrumptious. I’ll probably use less mayo next time and more yogurt but I think it does need that punch of mayo for flavor. 2 days later it was even better. I DID leave out the fried shallots and used shredded cheddar b/c I didn’t have smoked gouda. ANOTHER FABULOUS RECIPE!!! Thanks, Sue. 🙂

    • Reply
      November 7, 2017 at 7:47 am

      You’re so welcome Shirley! You know you can steam the broccoli to take the raw edge off, just don’t take it too far or it will get soft. And I agree, this salad does get better as it sits ~ and next time don’t leave out those shallots 😉 They’re do die for.

  • Reply
    Rosemary Wolbert | Sprigs of Rosemary
    April 19, 2016 at 5:17 am

    It sure doesn’t LOOK like a skinny salad! I’ve made dozens of broccoli salads like this, but yours is a unique combination of interesting things. Fried shallots! And the dressing sounds delightful. Ready for potlick!

    • Reply
      April 19, 2016 at 11:23 am

      Thanks Rosemary!

  • Reply
    Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen
    April 16, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    This looks wonderful, Sue. Love that you have smoked gouda in there – that’s a favorite of mine. I think broccoli in salads is underrated – love how crunchy it is. Looking forward to trying this!

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    April 16, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I NEED this skinny broccoli salad right now Sue! Too many desserts for me lately! This will get me back on track!

    • Reply
      April 16, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      This is soooo good Mary Ann — it will obliterate the memory of all those desserts!

  • Reply
    April 15, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Broccoli salad is one of my guilty pleasures 🙂 So glad to have this recipe so I don’t have to feel guilty anymore! It looks delicious, Sue!

  • Reply
    Jeff @ Make It Like a Man!
    April 14, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    First, this salad looks great. I would definitely like this in my salad rotation. Second, thanks for what you said about “skinny.” I swear that I’ve seen poundcake called “skinny” because it was served with frozen yogurt.

  • Reply
    April 14, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    broccoli is my second favorite veggie. I bet this is delicious with the smoked cheese. Love that you added dill to your ranch dressing. Great way to infuse flavor, another home run Sue!

  • Reply
    Kathryn Grace
    April 14, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I just knew I had to try this recipe when I saw the Gruyere cheese. So many more things to love about it! The dried cranberries. The dill in the dressing. Those fried scallions! Sharing as my pick for Recipe of the Day on my Facebook foodie page, Twitter and elsewhere.

    • Reply
      April 14, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Thanks so much for the shares, Kathryn. I’ve found there’s not much that a little smoked Gruyere won’t make even better 🙂

  • Reply
    April 14, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I love how you lightened up a classic, this looks WAY better than the original. And I definitely need to try the dressing, ranch is a favorite around here!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    This is a really great salad, Sue! I liked that you used raw broccoli- I usually char it a bit-. Is also good with sliced dates as they match very well with the onions (ottolenghi influenced). Lovely pictures!

    • Reply
      April 13, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Alexandra I love your idea of using charred broccoli and dates, I feel another batch coming on 🙂

  • Reply
    April 13, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Broccoli Salad is one of my faves…I am so happy to see a skinny version! That said and knowing that I couldn’t stop eating….well, I guess I need to go on portion control!

    • Reply
      April 13, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Just go with the ‘I want a thigh gap’ version Kathy, and you can eat all you want 😉

  • Reply
    April 13, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to try something new.

  • Reply
    Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners
    April 13, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Love this, Sue, especially because it’s full of wonderful textures! I just MUST have a variety of textures in my meal (weird, I know!, lol) and the delicious flavors along with the crunch in this is going to make me a very happy eater! Sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Becky Hamilton
    April 13, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Hi Sue, thanks so much for your
    funny descriptions, “thigh gap”, Lol ! You always lift my spirits with your humour.
    The salad looks great, maybe I’ll
    throw in some golden raisins when I give it a try.

    • Reply
      April 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Thanks Becky 🙂 The raisins sound great, I think you could load this salad up with several more add-ins and it would be fantastic.

  • Reply
    jacqueline | i sugar coat it!
    April 13, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Love broccoli, even more so in salad. We used to have broccoli salad at just about every family picnic growing up.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2016 at 9:20 am

    You know this is amazing that I am finding this recipe here. I live in Germany and at our local organic store they have started a fresh salad bar yesterday they added the skinny broccoli salad. I was so excited and told my German friend about the memories and pot lucks/picnics this salad has attached to it. I seriously can eat my weight in this! Thank you!

    • Reply
      April 13, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Oh wow, I love when that kind of stuff happens, sounds like perfect timing 🙂

      • Reply
        April 13, 2016 at 9:25 am

        You’ll have to tell me how they do their salad so we can compare!

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    April 13, 2016 at 8:50 am

    I admit when I was growing up I was never a fan of this salad. Probably because it had broccoli in it. 🙂 Love it now, though. And it loves me — too much! So your skinny version is wonderful. Really good job with this — thanks.

    • Reply
      April 13, 2016 at 9:27 am

      Thanks John. I’ve actually never had it before, and although I love broccoli, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the raw part, so I considered blanching it first. I’m glad I resisted that temptation, i love the crunch!

  • Reply
    Debi at Life Currents
    April 13, 2016 at 8:45 am

    This looks super yummy! I love broccoli salad and am looking for a really good one! I think I found it.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Fantastic analogy! This is an absolute classic and love the addition of Greek Yogurt. This is perfect for picnics or pot-lucks or dinner for me! Great shots – love the bowl 🙂

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    April 13, 2016 at 8:36 am

    So happy you reconstructed this Sue. I could eat my weight in the classic broccoli salad but, it’s so true, it’s definitely not low cal! Love all your little flavor poppers too!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2016 at 8:31 am

    This salad looks amazing. Never ever had broccoli in my salad.

    • Reply
      April 13, 2016 at 8:35 am

      I didn’t grow up eating this like so many did either, Renz, but I’m obsessed with it now!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    April 13, 2016 at 8:01 am

    I love broccoli salad and your skinny version looks wonderful! Pinned 🙂

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