March 29, 2016

A Healthier Broccoli Salad (with Lemon-Tahini Dressing)

Fresh and healthy Broccoli Salad with Raisins, Almonds, and a Lemon Tahini Dressing via

A delicious and healthy broccoli salad, with no mayo to be found… can it be so?

Most broccoli salads start out wholesome enough: chopped or shaved broccoli, tossed together with raisins or dried cranberries, minced red onion, and nuts or sunflower seeds… but too often end up drowning under a thick, mayonnaise-heavy, milk-based dressing.

Arguably, there’s a time and a place for such classics, likely next to the equally mayo-slathered potato salad at a Summer potluck (and I’ve been known to hover over big bowls of both), but for everyday eats, I was looking for a healthier spin on the original, that still held up in the flavor department.

Fresh and healthy Broccoli Salad with Raisins, Almonds, and a Lemon Tahini Dressing via

Fresh and healthy Broccoli Salad with Raisins, Almonds, and a Lemon Tahini Dressing via

Originally, Greek yogurt seemed the logical, lighter choice as the dressing base, but I opted to go a step further, looking instead to tahini (ground sesame seed paste) to add flavor and creaminess, without the weight. Olive oil, fresh Meyer lemon juice and a swirl of honey round out the rest of the dressing, which is naturally dairy-free, and as simple as it is light and creamy and sweet and tangy.

The rest of the salad I kept mostly traditional: crunchy, fresh broccoli florets, sliced almonds, sweet, plump raisins (or dried cranberries), and shaved shallots, for a subtle bite. All tossed together in the lemony, sesame dressing, for a super fresh and flavorful, stand-at-the-counter-and-eat-straight-out-of-the-mixing-bowl type of salad.

Fresh and healthy Broccoli Salad with Raisins, Almonds, and a Lemon Tahini Dressing via

A Few Healthy Broccoli Salad Hints

I prefer the freshness of raw broccoli, particularly during warmer seasons, but if you’re adverse, you could certainly blanch the broccoli first. Simply bring a pot of water to a gentle boil, cook the broccoli florets for a minute or two, until just tender (but still vibrantly green), before transferring to a large bowl of ice water to cool.

Try adding some feta or ricotta salata! I purposely wrote the recipe to be dairy-free, but a small handful of salty, Mediterranean cheese is a wonderful addition to the dish.

The recipe is written to allow time for the broccoli to “marinate” a bit in the dressing – an hour or so in the fridge – to soak up more of the lemony-sesame flavors in the tahini dressing, but this isn’t completely necessary. This broccoli salad is delicious eaten immediately after even a quick toss together. Either way, the hands on time is still just about 15-20 minutes.


Healthy Broccoli Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

  • Author: Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 Servings 1x


For the broccoli salad

  • 2 medium heads (3/41 lb) broccoli
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 12 shallots, thinly-sliced
  • 12 tsp white sesame seeds
  • optional: 1/4 cup feta or ricotta salata cheese

Lemon Tahini Dressing

  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • 34 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic, finely-minced
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


Make the lemon-tahini dressing:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, 3 Tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, and honey until combined. Add up to another tablespoon of oil to thin as desired. Stir in the garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Or, if saving for later, transfer to an air-tight jar. I like to reuse old jam jars for this, usually Bonne Maman jars. May be made in advance and kept refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Assemble the broccoli salad:

  1. Chop the broccoli into small bite-sized florets. Save the stems for broccoli stem pesto!
  2. Toss together the broccoli, shallots, and raisins or cranberries with the dressing. Refrigerate for about an hour. Just before serving, add the almonds, sesame seeds, and feta, if using. Serve chilled.


Tahini (ground sesame seed paste) can be found in well-stocked grocery stores (typically in the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean section) and online.

Make it Vegan: Be sure to use pure maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing, and omit the feta.


Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. Making a purchase through one of these links pays me a small referral fee at no added cost to you. These tiny fees add up, and help keep the blog running. Thank you for supporting Fork Knife Swoon!

Make this recipe? Let us know what you think!

Comment Policy: Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! The most helpful comments include recipe feedback and ratings, along with information on ingredients you may have added or substituted, or advice to other commenters. Disrespectful or abusive comments will be deleted. I do my best to respond to each and every comment, but it may take me a day or two to get back to your question. Thank you so much for following along!

Leave a Comment & Review

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Reply
    Carol Papalas
    July 2, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for your healthy recipes. You cook the way I like to cook, and you’re creative. I can’t wait to try your recipes.

  • Reply
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps
    March 31, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I’m a fan of the broccoli salad, I am not a fan of the fat and calories. I’m also a fan of this version! Lovely.

    • Reply
      March 31, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Thank you, Nicole! <3

  • Reply
    March 30, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Yum – thank you for the lovely salad.

    • Reply
      March 31, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks so much, Liz!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    We just bought tahini last weekend for falafel. I can’t wait to try it with broccoli. And that dash of fresh lemon juice should really send the flavors in a nice direction.

    • Reply
      March 31, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Hope you enjoy it with the tahini! Thanks, Joan!!