Italian broccoli salad with lemon and garlic is a simple but tasty make-ahead dish that’s perfect for weeknights and warm-weather gatherings. With just a handful of ingredients, this cold salad comes together in about 15 minutes.
Cold Italian broccoli salad is a dish that we’ve been enjoying in our family for years!
Jim’s grandma would make this for him all the time when he was a kid, and he now makes it all the time for us.
The lemon zest marries perfectly with the broccoli, and the lemon-Dijon-garlic vinaigrette is simple, but so tasty.
Since lemon broccoli salad is best served cold, we’ll often make a large batch of it and eat it all week long.
It’s also great at barbecues alongside pasta salads, like our artichoke heart and sundried tomato pasta salad.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. While you wait for the water, remove and discard the bottom two inches from a head of broccoli.
- Chop the broccoli into small florets. Zest and juice 1 lemon and mince 5 cloves of garlic. Once the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook until almost tender, about 5-6 minutes, then drain, but do not rinse the broccoli.
- In a large bowl whisk together the garlic, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and a 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil until emulsified.
- Add the warm broccoli and the lemon zest to the dressing and toss to combine. Taste test and season with salt to taste. If needed, add more lemon juice or hot pepper flakes. Allow the Italian broccoli salad to sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour, but if possible overnight. Enjoy!
- Cooking the broccoli. We recommend cooking the broccoli for about 5-6 minutes or until almost tender. Be sure to not overcook as you still want the broccoli to retain its integrity. Also, the broccoli should not be rinsed to cool as adding the warm broccoli to the dressing and lemon zest helps to intensify the flavors.
- Ingredients. Since there are really so few ingredients in this cold broccoli salad we recommend using fresh broccoli, fresh lemon juice, fresh garlic, and your best extra virgin olive oil.
- Let it chill. This salad really is so much better when it’s left to chill in the fridge for an hour, and even better if overnight! This makes it a really great and healthy salad to make ahead of time and eat throughout the week or bring to gatherings.
More salad recipes
Here are just a few of our favorite salads. For more, check out all of our salads!
- Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing – with red onion and mushrooms.
- Cauliflower salad – with lemon caper vinaigrette.
- Spinach gorgonzola pasta salad – with the simplest vinaigrette!
If you’ve enjoyed this Italian broccoli salad or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.
Italian Broccoli Salad
- 1 head broccoli bottom 2 inches discarded and rest broken into small florets
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
For the dressing
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add the broccoli and cook until almost tender (about 5-6 minutes) then drain but do not rinse to cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk the dressing ingredients until emulsified.
- Toss the warm broccoli with the dressing and lemon zest until well combined. Taste test and season well with salt. If needed, add more lemon juice or hot pepper flakes. Let the broccoli salad sit in the fridge for 1 hour to adequately absorb the dressing. If possible, refrigerate overnight since the flavors will be stronger. Enjoy!
- Wait a minimum of 1 hour before eating to let the flavors absorb into the broccoli but the salad is best refrigerated and served the next day.
- Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.