Vegan macaroni salad is quick, easy to make, and loaded with healthy and fresh vegetables. Dressed with vegan mayonnaise, this salad is creamy, vegan, and tasteful. Thus, a perfect salad for lunch or dinner.
Macaroni salads are always a hit. They are loaded with fresh and colorful vegetables. Plus, they are made with a creamy base. Most people on a vegan diet avoid making macaroni salads because of the obvious “mayonnaise base.”
However, you can happily buy vegan mayonnaise at home that gives you the same texture and creaminess. If you think premade vegan mayonnaise is a bit expensive, you have another amazing alternative for you! Make vegan mayonnaise at home! It is just as creamy, rich, and economical as any other thing. Plus, it is super easy to make, and you can store it for later use.
This vegan macaroni salad ticks all the boxes for us. It is vegan, healthy, tasteful, and very versatile. If you are hosting a grand party at home, this salad must be on your menu. You can easily make it for a large crowd and enjoy it!
The best thing about this vegan macaroni salad is that you can customize it in so many ways. This salad recipe is a must on my holiday feast menu! You can use fresh local produce and add it to your salad. It is an amazing way to celebrate different ingredients, textures, and flavors.
Also see, Vegan Carrot Raisin Salad, Vegan Italian Salad, and Santa Fe Salad
Main components of a vegan macaroni salad
There are two main components of a vegan macaroni salad. These are:
· The salad:
The salad comprises cooked macaroni (which is the main ingredient) and a variety of vegetables. These ingredients are a combination of different flavors, textures, and colors. You can use your favorite vegetables in this salad as well. However, the vegetables I have used offer a perfect balance of textures and flavors.
· The vegan mayonnaise:
No salad is complete without a dressing. There are two main types of salad dressings, i.e., oil-based and cream-based. Oil bakes salad dressing is also known as vinaigrette, whereas cream-based can use cream or mayonnaise. For this particular salad, I have used a vegan mayonnaise dressing. This vegan mayonnaise uses all plant-based ingredients and is super quick to make. It is tasteful and perfectly creamy for this salad.
Is vegan macaroni salad healthy?
Absolutely! This vegan macaroni salad is very healthy. That’s because you have used fresh vegetables. Moreover, unlike regular mayonnaise, this vegan mayonnaise is made without oil.
Thus it also offers several nutrients and thus is a good choice for not just people on a vegan diet but for anyone who wants to opt for a healthy mayonnaise substitute.
This vegan macaroni salad uses fresh vegetables that offer several minerals, nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Moreover, you can use gluten-free macaroni or whole wheat pasta as per your liking.
Making vegan macaroni salad is very straightforward and effortless. You will require simple ingredients which are readily available in the grocery store or vegan kitchen pantry. Here I a list of the ingredients you will need to make this vegan macaroni salad:
- Macaroni: The main ingredient for this recipe is macaroni. I have used elbow macaroni for this recipe. If you are a pro at making homemade pasta, you can make fresh macaroni at home as well. Moreover, I prefer using Dry elbow macaroni as it is very convenient. It is readily available at every store. I used gluten-free elbow macaroni, some of my favorite brands are Ancient Harvest, Barilla, Bionaturae, Ronzoni, and Bonavita. You can purchase them at your local health food store or online on Amazon.
- Moreover, dry elbow macaroni comes in different types. You can choose regular macaroni that is made from all-purpose flour, or whole wheat or is gluten-free as well. So, feel free to choose any brand.
- Celery: Diced celery tastes so good in salad. It has a unique flavor and offers a crunch which is very satisfying. Moreover, celery also provides several health benefits.
- Red bell pepper: Red bell pepper not just adds color to this salad but offers a fruity flavor as well. You can also use yellow bell pepper or use them both to add more flavor and color to this salad.
- Red onion: Red onion has a slightly sweet yet savory flavor. It also offers crunch. Red onion is readily available and is an essential ingredient at home. However, you can also use white onion for this salad. But I strongly recommend you stay with red onion.
- Black olives: Black olives have a strong and prominent flavor. They taste a bit salty. Sometimes black olives taste a bit bitter as well. Moreover, black olives offer a beautiful black color that really pops up.
- Garlic clove: Garlic is an essential ingredient in every savory dish. That’s because it offers an intense depth of flavor. Adding garlic really enhances the taste of this salad and gives it a new dimension.
- Relish: Relish is an amazing product. It is very versatile and offers tons of flavor. A relish is simply pickled and preserved vegetables, mainly cucumber. For the relish, I used Pa’s Pickle Relish, it is vinegar-free and tastes amazing!
- You can easily make it at home, but I prefer using premade as it is convenient and readily available. It offers crunch and a tangy flavor.
- Vegan mayonnaise: No salad is complete without a creamy base which in this case is mayonnaise. For this vegan macaroni salad recipe, you have used homemade vegan mayonnaise. It is very tasteful and creamy. Plus, this vegan mayonnaise is super easy to make. You can also choose premade vegan mayonnaise available in the market. It is a good option when you need a quick fix.
- Vegan cheddar: Vegan cheddar cheese may be made from plant-based milk, but it sure tastes great. It is a good option when you miss a cheesy element in your salad.
- Dill: Dill is an herb with a fresh aroma and grassy flavor. Dill is a good ingredient for adding flavor to your salad.
- Salt: No savory dish is complete without adding salt. So, season this salad generously with salt. You can use flaky salt, sea salt, kosher salt, or pink Himalayan salt for this recipe.
For The Homemade Cashew Mayo
- Cashews: The ingredient that makes this vegan mayonnaise creamy is cashews. It sets the base for this homemade vegan mayonnaise. Cashews are loaded with nutrients. When you soak them, they get soft, and as a result, you get creamy mayonnaise.
- Onion: I use onion in this mayonnaise recipe to add a slightly sweet yet savory flavor.
- Garlic clove: Add garlic to intensify the savory flavor of the mayonnaise.
- Water: You will need water to adjust the consistency of the mayonnaise and to help the ingredients blend easily.
- Plant-based milk: Use any plant-based milk to adjust the consistency of this mayonnaise and to bring in creaminess. I usually use almond milk or soy milk for this recipe, but you can use coconut milk as well. It adds a creamy texture to this vegan mayonnaise.
- Lemon juice: Lemon juice cuts through the creaminess and richness of the ingredients. Moreover, it also adds a citrusy and refreshing flavor to this mayonnaise.
- Cornstarch: Add a bit of cornstarch to thicken up the mayonnaise. You can use arrowroot starch as well.
- Salt: Season the homemade cashew mayonnaise with salt according to your taste.
What Veggies To Add?
This Vegan Macaroni Salad is always a hit at my gatherings. It is my go-to recipe when I’m serving a large group of friends and family. Use your favorite veggies or what you have on hand such as carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, peas, tomatoes, etc.
It is really up to your personal preferences regarding what veggies you put in your macaroni salad, personally, I use what veggies I have on hand.
How to make vegan macaroni salad?
You can easily make vegan macaroni salad at home. Since the salad is made from two essential components, you have to prepare these two separately and combine them to get a tasteful and refreshing vegan macaroni salad. Here are a few simple steps that you have to follow to make this amazing salad:
For The Vegan Mayo
Step 1: Start with making vegan mayonnaise. For that, soak cashews in warm water and soak them for about an hour.
Step 2: Once the cashews are soft, drain them and place them in a high-speed blender jug.
Step 3: Add the rest of the ingredients, i.e., water, plant-based milk, onion, garlic, lemon juice, cornstarch, and salt.
Step 4: Blend at high speed for about a minute or two until all ingredients are unified. If you find the mixture thick, you can add more plant-based milk or water to adjust the consistency.
Step 5: Once you get your desired consistency, pour this vegan mayonnaise in an air-tight jar and refrigerate until used
For The Macaroni Salad.
Step 6: Start by cooking macaroni in boiling water. For that, pour water into a large pot and season it with salt. Place it over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Add dry macaroni and cook it for about 7 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Once done, drain the pasta and run cold water over it. Set it aside to cool down.
Step 7: In a large salad bowl, add vegan mayonnaise, minced garlic, dried dill, relish, and salt. Mix well.
Step 8: Now add elbow macaroni to the mayonnaise mixture along with diced celery, red bell pepper, chopped onion, black olives, and vegan cheese cubes.
Step 9: Mix so that everything is well incorporated. Place the salad in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to chill.
Vegan macaroni salad tastes amazing and is very healthy. Because there are so many amazing ingredients out there, you can customize it according to your liking. Here are a few amazing variation ideas that will help you customize your salad according to your liking:
For The Salad
- Vegetables: You can use whatever vegetable you like in this salad. I sometimes use diced carrots, sweet corn, and peas in this salad. All these vegetables not just add color but also a sweet flavor to this salad.
- Cabbage: Get a coleslaw feel by adding finely shredded green or purple cabbage to this macaroni salad. It not just adds crunch but makes this salad more filling.
- Beans: You also add black beans to this salad and fulfill your need for protein.
- Tofu: Use extra-firm tofu slices instead of vegan cheddar cheese cubes. Tofu not just matches the vegan cheese’s texture but is also loaded with protein and nutrients.
- Apples: Bring a bit of sweetness to your salad by using fresh apples. They add a crunch and a sweet flavor that will make your salad more tasteful.
- Herbs and spices: You can also use fresh or dried herbs like oregano, thyme, etc., and spices like cayenne pepper, paprika powder, or black pepper to get flavor and heat into the salad.
For The Dressing
- Silken tofu: You can also make vegan mayonnaise without using cashews. If you want nut-free vegan mayonnaise, I recommend you skip using cashews and use silken tofu instead. It offers the same creaminess and texture. You can adjust the flavors accordingly.
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup is widely known as an amazing ingredient in your vegan pancakes. However, it is widely used in several other recipes because of its sweet caramel-like flavor. Adding it to your vegan dressing gives it a subtle and sweet flavor that will balance out the saltiness and tart flavor of the other ingredients.
What to serve vegan macaroni salad with?
You can serve this vegan macaroni salad with almost anything. It is a good side dish or can also be the main course if you love salad. Serve it on a cabbage leaf to make it look fancy. This salad is super versatile. Here are a few ideas on what to serve this vegan salad with:
- Vegan burgers: Serve with vegan macaroni salad alongside your favorite vegan burgers. This salad is a good and wholesome option and goes so well with a burger.
- Cauliflower steak: you can serve it along with jerk-seasoned spicy cauliflower steak. The spices from the steak and the creaminess of the salad are just perfect together.
- Vegan Sausage You can also serve alongside vegan kebabs or patties.
How to store vegan macaroni salad?
You can store the leftover vegan macaroni salad by placing it in an air-tight container and refrigerating it. It will last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Always use a dry and clean spoon to scoop out the salad.
Moreover, you can also make the salad and vegan mayonnaise and store them separately. This way, you won’t have to worry about the salad getting wet or watery. You can keep the vegan mayonnaise separately in an air-tight container or jar, and it will last for up to 5 days.
Why does mayonnaise disappear in macaroni salad?
The mayonnaise is absorbed by the starchy pasta, you can toss your pasta with oil to prevent this from happening.
Mistakes to Avoid When Making Pasta Salad
- Cooking the pasta for too long or too short – It is important to cook the pasta aldente, until is just right. Follow the instructions on the package for the right time.
- Pasta salad is made too far in advance – depending on what you are adding to your pasta salad, it can leave it a watery mess with soggy veggies if made several days in advance. It is best to make your pasta salad the day before or better yet just before serving it. You can prep the ingredients in separate containers and toss the salad closer to serving.
- Pasta salad is too bland – cold pasta salad tend to need more flavor than warm pasta, therefore, make sure to taste and adjust the seasoning before you serve. Also cook the pasta in salted water instead of plain water.
Other Vegan Salads To Prepare
- Heirloom Tomato Salad
- Vegan Jerk Potato Salad
- Jicama Pineapple Salad
- Spinach Artichoke Dip Potato Salad
- Vegan Sweet Potato Salad
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- Categories: Gluten-Free, Vegan
- Course: Salad
- Cuisine: Soul Food
- Energy: 212 kcal / 886 kJ
- Fat: 10 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Carbs: 26 g
- Preparation: 20 min
- Cooking: 10 min
- Ready in: 30 min
- For: 6 Servings
- 2 cups dry elbow macaroni, I used gluten-free
- 1 cup vegan mayonnaise, store bought or see recipe below
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon relish
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced or (pimiento peppers)
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup sliced, black olives (optional)
- Vegan cheddar, cubed (optional)
Homemade Cashew Mayo
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch, or tapioca starch
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
For The Macaroni Salad
- Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- In a large bowl, mayonnaise, garlic, dill, salt, and relish. Stir in macaroni, red bell pepper, celery, onion, black olives and cheddar cheese cubes. Mix well, cover and chill.
For The Vegan Mayo
- Blend water, cashews, milk, starch lemon juice, onion, garlic, and salt until creamy.
- Pour in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, cook stirring until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in refrigerator. Use in place of mayo in your favorite recipes.
Absolutely scrumptious! I made this for dinner for my husband and I. We both loved it. We have been eating whole foods, healthier food and fresh foods. This recipe caught my attention because I already had all the ingredients. I did add tofu for added protein since this was our only dish for dinner. It worked out perfectly for us. I am so pleased I found this site. I am truly enjoying the Healthier Steps recipes.
Tina, I’m so happy you and your husband enjoyed it. Thank you very much for leaving a feedback.
This has become a regular in our lunch/snack/salad rotation! We’re garlic fiends so we add an extra clove, but that might not be to everyone’s tastes. I just love the creamy vegan mayo recipe, too, so I always make extra for other purposes. Thank you once again, Michelle!
Rebecca, thank you so much for sharing your feedback. I’m happy you and your loved ones enjoy it. Yes, the vegan mayo is awesome!
THIS WAS SO FREAKING DELICIOUS!
Sabrina, I’m so happy you enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing your feedback.
Can i use store bought mayo? Or would you recommend sticking with the mayo recipe given?
Absolutely, yes you can use storebought. There are many vegan brands on the market.
This looks like the perfect recipe for my next BBQ! We are always looking for something on the side to go with our burgers. This looks delish!
You macaroni salad looks so good! The cashew mayo looks so creamy and you would never now it’s vegan! I also personally love my macaroni salad loaded with vegetables so this is the right recipe for me!
I adore macaroni salad, and loved finding your recipe! Great tips on how you can swap in whatever veggies you like or have on hand, and about products like your fave gluten-free pastas and Pa’s Pickle Relish (which I’ve never heard of but now totally want to try!). Terrific post!
This looks so good! Since it’s vegan and uses only non-dairy ingredients, can it sit out for longer? Obviously for long term storage it needs to be refrigerated, but say it sits out at a hot picnic for several hours — is it still safe to eat, or should you toss it like you would macaroni salad made with regular mayo?
Thank you Julie, I treat all foods I prepare for the public the same way I would for dairy so yes I would not allow it to sit out at a hot picnic for several hours. It is better to be safe than sorry. Just to let you know that if your mayo contains soy it is in the same category as dairy when it comes to food poisoning.