With a creamy dressing, tender cauliflower, bacon, plus cheese, this Loaded Cauliflower Salad is about to become your new summer picnic go-to. The flavors are a mix between a loaded baked potato and classic potato salad, just without the potatoes!
Quick & Easy Potluck Salad
Move over, potato salad, there’s a new salad in town! This Loaded Cauliflower Salad has the flavors of your favorite loaded potato salad, with far fewer carbs! It still features a creamy sour cream and mayo dressing with lots of flavor, but the potatoes are swapped for tender cauliflower florets resulting in a healthy and balanced option.
In fact, considering this salad is loaded with bacon and cheddar cheese, it’s closer to your favorite baked potato than traditional potato salad.
Either way – it’s creamy, cheesy, and oh-so-damn-good!
Like potato salad, this loaded cauliflower salad is made for summer potlucks and barbeques! The next time you were planning to make a potato salad, I challenge you to make this instead. It’s all but a guarantee that you’ll be the only one making it and it’s nice to have a lighter option next to the heavy potato, macaroni, and other pasta salads.
Of course, cauliflower doesn’t have the same texture or flavor of potatoes – I won’t even pretend – but I think it’s a fair swap when you’re still working with a creamy dressing, cheese, and bacon.
What You’ll Need
There’s just a handful of ingredients in both the cauliflower salad and the creamy dressing. All of these ingredients are pretty standard, making this perfect for whipping up something quickly.
For the Cauliflower Salad
- Cauliflower – You’ll want fresh cauliflower, not frozen, cut into bite-sized florets.
- Bacon – Cook your bacon until it’s crisp and crumbles, allowing it to cool first.
- Green onions – These add a pop of flavor and color.
- Cheddar – Freshly shredded cheddar will give the best flavor. You can also substitute cheddar jack or other similar cheese. You can also cube the cheese instead of using shredded.
- Parsley – Parsley is added as a garnish for color and fresh flavor.
For the Dressing
- Sour cream – You can also use plain yogurt.
- Mayonnaise – Just enough to add a light flavor and smooth, creamy texture. If you’re not a fan, just use more sour cream.
- Lemon juice – Thins out the dressing and the flavor balances out the creamy ingredients.
- Dijon mustard – Just a teaspoon for added flavor.
- Salt and pepper – To taste.
How to Make Loaded Cauliflower Salad
The hardest part of this recipe (and most time-consuming) is chopping up the cauliflower! Once you have the florets, it’s just a few easy steps and some chill time before this loaded cauliflower salad is ready to go. Or, just buy a bag of cauliflower florets – problem solved! 🤷♀️
- Cook the cauliflower. Bring the cauliflower to a boil then simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it’s fork-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
- Prepare the dressing. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
- Assemble the salad. Toss the cauliflower florets with the dressing. Add salt to taste, then stir in remaining ingredients. Chill for an hour or more.
- Garnish and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley, then serve.
Tips for Success
This salad is difficult to mess up, as it’s so easy to make! But, if you’re wondering how to make the best cauliflower salad or maybe add some extra spice, follow these tips and suggestions.
- Be sure to drain the cauliflower. It’s very important to drain the cauliflower well after rinsing it with cold water and to dry it with paper towels. The extra moisture will change the texture of the cauliflower and the salad.
- Make it spicy. Add some jalapenos for some heat, or even a splash of hot sauce.
- Make it vegetarian. Just omit the bacon for a vegetarian side.
- Prepare it in advance. To infuse the salad with even more flavor, make this salad several hours ahead or even a night in advance.
Wondering what to serve with a loaded cauliflower salad? I often whip this up for BBQs and potlucks, and let guests serve themselves straight from a big bowl. Like potato salad, it’s important to keep your cauliflower salad cold as it is made with sour cream and mayo. It’s definitely not a salad to keep in the sun all day.
Loaded cauliflower salad also pairs well with almost anything off the grill, like grilled chicken thighs, flank steak or honey soy pork chops. I also love it with this Brown Sugar Grilled Salmon!
How to Store Leftovers
- Any leftover cauliflower salad should be kept in the fridge in an airtight container. Leftovers will last for up to 3 days, as long as they are stored properly and kept cold.
- If you serve this at a potluck and it gets warm, it’s safest to throw it out instead of popping it back in the fridge.
Loaded Cauliflower Salad
- 8 cups cauliflower florets
- 6 slices bacon, cooked to a crisp and crumbled
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- finely chopped parsley, for garnish
- 1/2 cup sour cream, (or plain yogurt)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Place cauliflower florets in a cooking pot and cover with cold water; set over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low; cover the pot and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cauliflower is fork tender, but not mushy.
- Drain the cauliflower and run it under cold water to cool it and stop it from cooking further. DRAIN well and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a large salad bowl combine sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper; whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
- Add the prepared cauliflower florets to the dressing and toss gently.
- Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
- Fold in the bacon, green onions, and shredded cheddar cheese.
- Cover and chill in the fridge for an hour or so.
- Garnish with parsley. Serve.
- NET CARBS: 5 g
- WW POINTS: For those following a WW diet, LOWER your points down to 3 by using turkey bacon, fat free cheddar cheese, and reduced fat sour cream. Omit the mayonnaise and add in more sour cream OR plain yogurt.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.