Vegan Macaroni Salad is made like a classic Southern style recipe. It's creamy, easy and will only take 15 minutes to make. You'll be reminded of your favorite old fashioned macaroni salad.
It's wonderful how the salads start to come out in warmer weather. Especially the pasta salads.
Have you ever noticed how kids love pasta salads too? The favorites seem to be macaroni without any ingredients that are too out of the ordinary. One like this old fashioned macaroni salad.
As with so many recipes no one can tell this recipe is vegan. That is a great bonus. You can be sure even the pickiest kids will happily eat a second or third plate.
This creamy vegan macaroni salad is made with an easy homemade dressing. It's filled with the best flavors, and is a 15 minute meal.
- Elbow macaroni is the classic pasta of choice. You can use large or small 'elbows'.
- Red onion is diced and adds a lot of zing to the recipe.
- Red bell pepper adds sweetness that is also crunchy.
- Celery has a contrasting depth for flavor and also has crunch.
- Carrots add more color and sweetness. Dice them into a matchstick shape and then chop smaller.
- Peas add a bit of sweetness and contrast so well with the pasta.
🔪 How to make macaroni salad
Start with making the homemade dressing. In a bowl combine apple cider vinegar, vegan mayo, granulated sugar, dijon mustard, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper. Mix with a spatula until well combined, set aside.
And the dressing is perfectly creamy without being overwhelmingly heavy.
You can also use an electric hand mixer for this, but that isn’t necessary to get the right texture. You are absolutely good to mix by hand.
💭 Pasta selection
Elbow macaroni is the most commonly used noodle for vegan macaroni salad. It's curved and hollow which gives a better chance of getting the dressing in more places.
Other small hollowed-out pasta that would work for a macaroni style salad would be ditalini, small shells (conchiglie), the smallest penne you can find, or orecchiette work well too.
⏲️ Cooking the noodles
Cook the pasta al dente. Follow the manufacturer's directions and don't cook longer. You don't want mushy pasta.
Cook it with a lot of salt so that the pasta will get a better chance of being seasoned. Once I saw a chef on television pour salt into the palm of their hand and it was at least 3 tablespoons. I don't use that much 🙂
The sticky starches that release during cooking are a good thing. The dressing will have a better chance to be absorbed by the pasta.
Also, it may seem too soft to you but don't worry. Pasta firms up again after it sits in the fridge.
Above are all of the prepared ingredients in a large bowl - excluding the dressing.
Now pour on all of the dressing.
Use a spatula so that everything can be easily mixed together. The dressing will coat everything.
This Macaroni Salad makes an amazing dinner side dish, lunch, and even a snack, which is also great for meal planning.
It keeps so well in the refrigerator you can make a double batch for the future.
👩🏻🍳 A great make-ahead salad
You can (and should) make macaroni salad ahead of time. It develops a better flavor when it has time to sit in the fridge for a little bit. It's not necessary but you can even make it a day ahead of time to allow the flavors to blend.
It also tastes best served icy cold, straight from the fridge!
This version is actually my go-to favorite! It has a delicious blend of fresh, colorful ingredients such as the celery, red bell peppers, sweet onion and carrot. They all add more flavor and texture to this old fashioned macaroni salad.
This gives just the right amount of crispness without overpowering the recipe. Plus, fresh parsley and chives (or green onion) add a nice herbaceous note to balance the creamy dressing.
Leftovers can be properly stored in a container with a lid on top for around 4 days in the fridge.
📖 Favorite variation add-ins
- pickle juice
- different herbs like, cilantro, mint, parsley or simple some Italian herbs
- chopped black olives
🥗 More summer salads
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad is a favorite by, well, everyone!
- If you're looking for a full meal then this Panzanella Salad is for you.
- Vegan Greek Orzo Salad is different and quick!
- A great side dish for sandwiches is this Fully Loaded Black Bean and Corn Salad.
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Vegan Macaroni Salad
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- ½ cup red onion - finely diced
- ¾ cup red bell pepper - diced, about ½ bell pepper
- ½ cup celery - diced, 2 stalks
- ¾ cup carrot - matchstick shape and chopped
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 1 cup dairy free mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon organic granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard - buy a vegan variety
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley - chopped
- salt and pepper - to taste, start with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. You'll probably need more salt
- Boil pasta according to directions on box to al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, chop and dice the vegetables and add to a large bowl.
- When the pasta is done, rinse thoroughly in cold water and then add the same a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing and mix until smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture and mix to coat well.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator. It will keep for about 4 days.