low-carb recipes, side dishes, vegetables and salad

Lightened Up Broccoli Salad

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Broccoli salad is by far one of the best fresh, veggie salads on the planet. I don’t where the recipe originated, but who ever thought it up is one amazing individual in my book. It’s one of those classic, simple, and versatile recipes that can be easily tweaked with added ingredients to suit personal tastes. And, it works with all kinds of menus for all kinds of events ranging from simple picnics to big, holiday meals. 

I make this broccoli salad pretty often because Evan and I really like pairing it with barbecue and many of our favorite simple, weeknight meat dishes, like baked chicken. It’s also really satisfying on it’s own as salad and I’ve been known to pack a small bowl to eat for lunch at work. I’m planning to serve it with our upcoming Christmas meal too. It think it will be well-matched with a scrumptious, baked ham and savory, cornbread stuffing. It’ll be a nice change from our usual chilled, macaroni salad that’s been a staple at my family’s Christmas meal for years.

The traditional broccoli salad recipe calls for a dressing made with a whole cup of mayonnaise. When it’s made with a cup of mayo, this salad is extra creamy and delicious, but it’s really, really hard on an occasional calorie counter, like me. (Yes, I’m a selective calorie counter. You see, if we were talking about tres leches cake or any cake for that matter, the word ‘calorie’ won’t come up. Ever! I cut my calories where it counts, in the veggie section of meal planning! Hey, every little bit counts, right?) One cup of regular mayonnaise has around 950 calories. The reduced calorie version of your favorite brand of mayo is definitely a better choice if you are cutting calorie corners. 

This is my recipe for a lightened up version of the traditional, broccoli salad. Here I use healthful Greek yogurt mixed with just a couple of tablespoons of reduced-calorie mayo for the dressing. Greek yogurt helps to cut down on fat and calories and adding in just a bit of reduced-calorie mayo gives this dressing a velvety, smoothness that it just wouldn’t have without it. One cup of Greek yogurt only has around 130 calories, and I don’t even use a full cup in this recipe. There, that’s much better isn’t? 

Now that this rich, broccoli salad can be made with a lighter dressing, all there is to do is focus on how darn delicious it is! This recipe is made with crunchy, fresh broccoli florets, sharp cheddar, smoky bacon bits, dried cranberries, red onion, sliced cherry tomatoes all tossed in a tangy, yogurt-based dressing. You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by omitting the bacon and substituting some salted, crunchy sunflower seeds or some chopped pecans. 

So simple, yet super good. You’ll see! 

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Lightened Up Broccoli Salad

Recipe by Marcelle at A Little Fish in the Kitchen Course: side dishes, vegetables and saladCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Chill time



This Lightened Up Broccoli Salad is a fresh, flavorful side dish that pairs well with any protein! It’s also a popular side dish for family gatherings any time of the year!


  • For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons reduced-calorie mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 3 teaspoons of sugar

  • pinch of salt

  • For the salad:
  • 1 large broccoli crown, cut into florets (cut large florets in half)

  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves

  • 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut in to half-inch cubes

  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

  • 4 slices bacon, crispy fried and chopped into bits


  •  Mix together all ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
  •  Prepare and combine the salad ingredients.  Toss with the dressing. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.
  • Enjoy!


  1. Hi David, it's one of our family favorites! I do what I can with the those little calories! Thank you! 🙂

  2. Hi Amy, thank you and thanks for stopping by!

  3. Marcelle – this sounds terrific and refreshingly different for a veggie salad. I really love your method for calorie counting! Makes perfect sense to me. 🙂

  4. I love broccoli salad – it's so tasty! Greek yogurt in the dressing is a great way to lighten it up a bit.

  5. Marcelle, what a delightful combination of flavors for a fresh and healthy broccoli salad that I am sure my family would love!
    Great recipe!

  6. Hi there! Thank you and no unfortunately my mom's recipe for macaroni salad recipe is not posted here. She's not as eager to share as I am! But, I'll keep trying to get her permission to post it. Maybe one day she'll say yes. 😉 Thanks for asking!

  7. Sounds yummy! Is your recipe for the Chilled Macaroni Salad on your blog? Sure would like to try that as well.

  8. LOVE the addition of greek yogurt! Visible Mayo (VM) grosses me out but this looks awesome.

  9. Broccoli salad is always a great side dish. I love how you've lightened it up!

  10. Really like the idea of using Greek yogurt in the dressing! Makes an already good dish much better, IMO. And then, of course, there's that calorie thing. 🙂 Good stuff — thanks.

  11. greek yogurt is perfect for this! i much prefer it over mayonnaise anyway. i love your addition of dried cranberries most of all!

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