Quick & Easy Vegan Macaroni Salad

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This easy Vegan Macaroni Salad is loaded with healthy ingredients including lots of fresh crunchy veggies, a creamy dairy-free dressing, and tender elbow pasta. It’s oil-free, dairy-free, and completely vegan.

large stainless steel bowl filled with vegan macaroni salad and red spoon.

Talk about a perfect side dish to take to picnics, family reunions, and cookouts! This classic cold pasta salad recipe will be such a hit that no one will ever know that it’s actually healthy. Another delicious option is this Vegan Pasta Salad.

2 blue bowls full of healthy macaroni salad

Ingredients needed

Thankfully, there are not a lot of ingredients needed for this simple recipe. You may likely already have everything needed in your kitchen. And, it’s versatile enough to substitute a few items to make it fit perfectly with your family’s preferences.

  • Pasta- Elbow pasta is what I use, but you really can substitute your favorite, even gluten-free varieties.
  • Vegetables- Red or green bell peppers, celery, and fresh parsley are the regular, but other options include green peas, carrots, and sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Onions- I like to use green onions or red onions, but any type you have on hand will be great.
  • Relish- Pickel relish is a must to give that sweet crunch we all love.
  • Dressing- Creamy dressing for this recipe is a mixture of tangy and sweet. It can also be used with other pasta salads or even on a garden salad.

The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.

How to make vegan macaroni salad

This really is one of the easiest side dishes to make, and everyone is going to absolutely love it.

Begin by cooking the elbow pasta according to the package directions. It’s just a matter of boiling the noodles in water on the stovetop. I do like to add a dash of salt while they are cooking.

elbow macaroni cooking in stainless pot

The cooking time usually suggests 7-10 minutes. For this pasta salad recipe, you’ll want to go for a shorter cooking time to make sure they are al dente and not mushy.

Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it by pouring it into a colander and running cold water over the top to stop the cooking process and remove the starchy film.

While the pasta is cooking is the perfect time to make the dressing and chop the veggies.

green onions, celery, bell pepper, and parsley chopped on cutting board

To make the dressing, place all the dressing ingredients into a small mixing bowl, whisk together well, and then set to the side. One of the ingredients is vegan mayonnaise, and my Homemade Low-Fat Vegan Mayo is perfect and only takes about 5 minutes to make.

macaroni dressing in glass bowl with whisk

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, diced veggies, and dressing. Mix well, making sure the dressing is covering all of it. Taste and add additional salt, pepper, or seasonings to suit your preferences.

large mixing bowl with cooked elbow macaroni, diced onions, red bell pepper, relish

It can be served immediately at room temperature, but we really like it after it has chilled in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or even overnight.

white bowl with macaroni salad and wooden spoon

Optional add-ins

To me, the recipe is perfect as is, but if you want to spice it up a little more, consider adding in one or more of these ingredients.

Storing leftovers

Leftovers are even better because refrigerating them helps the flavors have time to marry up. In an airtight container, leftovers should keep for up to 5-6 days which means this is also a great meal prep recipe to eat throughout the week.

If you are planning to keep it for a few days, reserve some of the dressing to add just before serving to give it a pop of fresh flavor.

blue small bowls filled with macaroni salad

Substitutions & variations

  • Pasta- Other great pasta options include bowtie, penne, and spiral.
  • Gluten free- There are plenty of gluten-free pasta varieties available. Brown rice pasta is a great option.
  • Spiral veggie noodles- Use spiral zucchini or squash noodles to replace the pasta if desired.
  • Meal prep recipe- If you are planning to keep this pasta salad for a few days and eat on it throughout the week, reserve some of the dressing to add just before serving to give it a pop of fresh flavor.

Serving suggestions for macaroni salad

This dish pairs well with most summer picnic foods, and these are some of my favorites.

For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!

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overhead shot of large mixing bowl full of vegan macaroni salad with red spoon
4.50 from 6 votes

Macaroni Salad

This easy Vegan Macaroni Salad is loaded with healthy ingredients including lots of fresh crunchy veggies, a creamy dairy-free dressing, and tender elbow pasta. It's oil-free, dairy-free, and completely vegan.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 7 minutes
Total: 17 minutes
Servings: 5 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1.5 cups elbow pasta
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper diced (other colors work great too)
  • 1/2 cup green onion diced (or another type onion)
  • 3/4 celery diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped

Dressing

  • 3/4 cup vegan mayo try my Homemade Mayo in link
  • 1/3 cup pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Begin by cooking the elbow pasta according to package directions. It’s just a matter of boiling the noodles in water on the stovetop. I do like to add a dash of salt while they are cooking. The cooking time usually suggests 7-10 minutes. For this pasta salad recipe, you’ll want to go for the shorter cook time to make sure they are al dente and not mushy.
  • Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it by pouring it into a colander and running cold water over the top to stop the cooking process and remove the starchy film.
  • While the pasta is cooking is the perfect time to make the dressing and chop the veggies.
  • To make the dressing, place all of the dressing ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk together well then set to the side. One of the ingredients is vegan mayonnaise, and my Homemade Mayo is perfect and only takes about 5-minutes to make.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, diced veggies, and dressing. Mix well, making sure the dressing is covering all of it. Taste and add additional salt, pepper, or seasonings to suit your preferences.
  • It can be served immediately at room temperature, but we really like it after it has chilled in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or even overnight.

Video

Notes

Optional add-ins
To me, the recipe is perfect as is, but if you want to spice it up a little more, consider adding in one or more of these ingredients.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 5.5g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 305mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8.3g

Disclaimer

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy.  I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

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