Easy Vegan Macaroni Salad Recipe Fitnessnacks

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    Collage of the parts of a macaroni salad in a bowl, everything mixed and served in a double stacked white bowl with overlay textTwo white bowls with blue rims stacked and filled with a classic creamy macaroni salad on a blue striped napkin.

    Try this easy creamy vegan macaroni salad recipe made with fresh, healthy ingredients. Gluten free and perfect for picnics and barbecues!

    This recipe tastes just like the classic deli style but it’s healthy and made with plant-based ingredients. The homemade dressing is simply the best ever!

    Two white bowls stacked and filled with creamy macaroni salad and a fork getting a bite from it.

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    This post was originally published on April 17, 2017.

    This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of truRoots. The opinions and text are all mine.

    This amazing dairy free creamy dressing is also the base of my vegan potato salad, another amazing side dish made healthy!


    The classic dressing for macaroni salad traditionally uses a mayo type base, so I set out to find a way to make a macaroni salad without mayo, but still have the same tangy creamy flavor that mayo brings.

    I nailed it, and when mixed with everything else it is spot on. I don’t even think it’s a stretch to call this the best vegan macaroni salad recipe ever!

    Salad Base:

    • Macaroni
    • Peppers
    • Onion
    • Celery
    • Pickles
    • Salt
    • Black pepper

    Creamy dressing:

    • Cashews
    • Potatoes
    • White beans
    • Pickle juice
    • Salt
    • Garlic
    • Ground mustard seed
    • Water

    This combo makes a perfect mayo like taste and texture that would fool just about anyone! After mixing the toppings and pasta in the macaroni salad dressing it was pure joy to shovel into my belly!

    Macaroni, vegetables, pickles and spices in jars and spoons on a marbled surface.

    Potato, cashews, white beans, spices and liquids in jars and spoons on a marbled surface.

    What kind of pasta is best?

    The classic pasta shape for macaroni salad is in the name, macaroni! However, you can also use other shapes if you want, and call it vegan creamy pasta salad instead!

    In order to make this a gluten free macaroni salad, all you need to do is choose your favorite gluten free pasta.

    Because this is a cold type of pasta recipe, I needed a macaroni that kept its great texture in the fridge. With gluten-free pasta that isn’t easy to find. There are a few go-to brands I love and TruRoots pastas are one of them!

    The texture is perfect for salads and such that you want to serve later that day or even the next day. Plus they are Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and gluten-free.

    Also awesome, they come in Spaghetti, Penne, Elbow, and Fusilli varieties. Woot woot! Because where there is more pasta, there should always be more pasta.

    Blue bag laying down with macaroni noodles spilling out.

    Hand pouring a blue bag of pasta into a pot of water.

    Ideas for Mix-ins

    You can definitely change this up to make it your own. The ingredients I use here are to capture that spot on deli flavor, but you can add in even more. Load up this vegan macaroni salad with vegetables, herbs, and more for added flavor and nutrition. Here are some ideas:

    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Olives
    • Green onions
    • Mushrooms
    • Zucchini
    • Yellow squash
    • Tomato
    • Peas
    • Fresh dill
    • Fresh parsley
    • Cubed or shredded cheese – plant based or standard
    • Hard boiled eggs (this would make this a recipe for vegetarian macaroni salad)
    • Meat eaters can add in chopped bacon, salami, or ham.

    What to Serve with Macaroni Salad

    There are so many amazing dishes that go with this healthy macaroni salad! I literally can have it with anything but generally, think picnics and barbecues. Here are some of our faves:

    Top side view of two white bowls stacked and filled with creamy macaroni salad surrounded by ingredients in smaller bowls.

    How to Make Vegan Macaroni Salad in Advance

    This macaroni salad without mayo is a great dish to make ahead of time! In fact, letting it rest in the refrigerator allows the ingredients to marinate together longer, which will allow for even more flavorful bites! Which makes this perfect for a vegan picnic.

    • Make the vegan macaroni salad dressing, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
    • Chop the veggies and keep together in the fridge for up to 3 days.
    • Sauté the peppers up to 3 days in advance.
    • The pasta can be boiled up to 2 days ahead of time.
    • Day of serving, mix everything and go!
    • You can also completely make the macaroni salad, but that should only be done a day or so ahead of time since it will start to get soggy.
      • Use a solid pasta brand, some pastas will break down too much as they sit.

    Storage Tips

    • Keep this macaroni salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
    • It will be best to eat within 2-3 days, but safe to eat for up to 5.
    • It will keep out of the refrigerator longer than the traditional mayo filled kind, but you’re not going to want it to sit out for more than a few hours. Let’s be honest, chilled macaroni salad always tastes better than room temperature!

    Common Questions

    Is macaroni salad healthy?

    Usually macaroni salad is made with mayo and sometimes even sugar, making it not very healthy. This healthy macaroni salad recipe, however, uses all plant based ingredients to make a healthier version!

    What’s the difference between macaroni salad and pasta salad?

    Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, and technically both are in the pasta salad category. However, macaroni salad has a creamy base, whereas pasta salad the dish is dressed with a vinaigrette.

    How long is macaroni salad good for?

    Typically macaroni salad can be safely refrigerated for up to 3-5 days. See above for more storage tips.

    Can you freeze macaroni salad?

    Technically yes, however it won’t be quite as good once defrosted since the texture might change. Your best bet is to mix up the dressing and freeze that separately. When you are ready to serve simply defrost the dressing, give it another blend if it separated, then mix with the pasta!

    More Vegan Salad Recipes

    This macaroni salad without mayo goes to show you can transform all kinds of classic dishes to a plant based version without sacrificing flavor. Whether it’s a family cookout at home or a big potluck, these plant based recipes will have everyone coming back for seconds!

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    A fork getting a bite of creamy macaroni salad from a stack of two white bowls with blue rims.

    Easy Vegan Macaroni Salad Recipe

    Sophia DeSantis

    Try this easy creamy vegan macaroni salad recipe made with fresh, healthy ingredients. Gluten free and perfect for picnics and barbecues!


    Prep Time 15 mins

    Cook Time 15 mins

    Total Time 30 mins

    Course 30 Minutes or Less, Main Course, Side Dish

    Cuisine American

    Servings 6

    Calories 446 kcal


    US CustomaryMetric



    • 16 ounces elbow macaroni pasta , or other preferred shape
    • 2 cups chopped sweet red/orange/yellow pepper , one kind or a mix
    • your favorite oil to sauté , or broth if oil free
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • ¾ cup chopped celery
    • ¾ cup chopped dill pickles
    • ¼ cup dill pickle juice , from the jar
    • ¾ cup chopped red onion , soaked in cold water for a few minutes and drained (see note)
    • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

    Creamy dressing

    • 1 cup raw cashews , see note
    • ¼ cup cooked potato , see note
    • ½ cup cooked white beans , rinsed and drained
    • ¾ cup water
    • 2 tablespoons dill pickle juice , from the jar
    • 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons sea salt , adjust for your preference
    • 1 clove garlic
    • ¼ teaspoon ground mustard seed


    • Cook pasta according to package directions.

    • Once pasta is done, rinse in cold water then add it to the bowl with the veggies below.

    • Saute chopped sweet pepper over medium heat using veggie broth or oil and a dash of salt. Cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

    • Meanwhile, put celery, red onion, dill pickles, pickle juice and black pepper in a large bowl.

    • Next, make the creamy dressing by putting the ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy and smooth.

    • Add the creamy dressing to the bowl and mix. Taste and adjust salt as necessary. I needed an extra ½ teaspoon.

    • Place in the fridge while you clean up to allow it to get cold and so the flavors can marinate completely.

    • Once ready, garnish with ingredients of choice and devour!


    • Any sweet pepper variety works, or a combo of all.
    • Soaking the onion helps takes the bite out of it. This step is optional but it helps reduce the strong onion flavor.
    • I like putting the extra pickle juice in the bowl with the veggies to help them marinate in the flavor while you prepare the rest of the dish.
    • If you don’t have a high speed blender, soak the cashews overnight to soften them. You can also boil them for 20-25 minutes if you forget. Another method is using a coffee or spice grinder to grind them dry (not soaking) into a very fine powder.
    • I used red potatoes but any starchy potato will work, just don’t use sweet. It also won’t work to substitute with something that is not an actual potato (such as another root vegetable). 

    Tips to prep ahead:

    • Chop veggies. Saute red pepper. Soak or grind cashews if not using a high speed blender. Cook potato. Make creamy dressing.

    Baby/toddler food idea:

    • Make sure pasta is well cooked and veggies are finely chopped.

    Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.


    Calories: 446kcalCarbohydrates: 72gProtein: 15gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 954mgPotassium: 560mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 190IUVitamin C: 93.6mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 3mg

    Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.

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