½cupmayonnaise(I used light mayonnaise, but any variety will work)
Place broccoli in a large bowl. Add raisins, cheese, sunflower seed kernels, onion and bacon.
In a small bowl, stir together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Prep Ahead! This make ahead side dish just gets better as it sits! The broccoli softens a bit in the dressing and the flavors all come together. You can prepare the salad up to 3 days in advance and keep it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Leftover broccoli salad will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing this salad.
This recipe yields approximately 9 cups of salad (more or less, depending on the size of your head of broccoli). Assuming it's served as a side along with other dishes, it's safe to assume anywhere from about 3/4 cup - 1 cup of broccoli salad per person, so this big bowl will easily feed a crowd of 8-10 people. If you're cooking for a smaller family, you can cut all of the ingredients in half.
My favorite way to cook the bacon: Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place bacon in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F for about 12 minutes (or until crisp), flipping halfway through. Drain on paper towels before chopping and using in the salad.
For a shortcut, you can purchase pre-cooked bacon or use real bacon bits (often found in the salad dressing section).
Regular raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries (such as Craisins) or halved grapes will all work in this salad.
For a healthier salad, use light mayonnaise or cut half of the mayonnaise and use light sour cream or Greek yogurt in its place. You can also decrease the amount of bacon, cheese, or sunflower seeds that you use.
Swap out the sunflower seeds for roasted, salted almonds, peanuts, walnuts or cashews. That toasty, crunchy, salty contrast is key, though -- so I do not recommend using raw, unsalted nuts.
For another shortcut, you can purchase pre-shredded cheese at the store. If you do this, I recommend using the largest grate of cheese that you can find. Finely shredded cheese just kind of falls apart in the salad.
Instead of grating the cheese, dice the cheddar into cubes.
Other types of cheese will also work. Try Monterey Jack, cubed Swiss cheese, Colby Jack, or even Pepper Jack for a spicy kick.