This vegan macaroni salad is just like the classic and the ultimate crowd-pleaser. It’s made with a simple creamy dressing, colorful veggies, and al dente elbow pasta. Bring this side to your next cookout and impress your family and friends!
Since I was such a fan of traditional macaroni salad as a kid, I thought it was the perfect summer picnic recipe to veganize. As you may expect, it’s pretty easy to make this dish vegan. With a simple swap of mayo for vegenaise, you’re well on your way to enjoying a vegan version of this summer favorite!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Vegan mayo: Mayonnaise is a staple in classic macaroni salad recipes. Vegan mayonnaise is the perfect swap – it tastes exactly like traditional mayo, yet is completely egg-free.
Vegan yogurt: Adds a nice tanginess and additional creaminess. Make sure to use a plain, unsweetened yogurt. Sweetened brands will negatively impact the flavor. Or, replace the yogurt with vegan sour cream or additional mayonnaise.
Relish: Our favorite to use is sweet pickle relish, but feel free to opt for any chopped sweet pickles or dill pickles. You can even add a splash of pickle juice if you love relish!
Vinegar: Both apple cider vinegar and white wine vinegar work well in this macaroni salad. White wine vinegar or red wine vinegar may also work, but we have not tested it.
Mustard: We love the tangy, sharpness of dijon mustard, but if you prefer a milder mustard flavor, opt for yellow mustard.
Garlic + Onion: These aromatics add a mild bite and brightness to the dish. Both red onion or green onion work well!
Macaroni: We opted for a gluten-free pasta variety, but any noodles of choice will work. If you don’t have elbow pasta, you can replace it with another short cut pasta such as ditalini, bow tie, or shells.
Veggies: We stuck to the classics and used carrot, bell pepper, celery, and fresh dill and parsley. Feel free to swap any of these veggies with your family’s personal favorites and make this macaroni salad your own!
Cook the macaroni. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add in the macaroni. Cook according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool completely to room temperature.
Make the creamy macaroni salad dressing. In a large salad bowl, whisk together the vegan mayonnaise, plain vegan yogurt, sweet pickle relish, vinegar, dijon mustard, minced garlic and sea salt, and black pepper to taste.
Add in the remaining ingredients. Into the same bowl with the creamy dressing, add the carrot, red bell pepper, celery, onion, fresh herbs, and cooked macaroni. Fold everything together until well combined and uniform.
Serve. This vegan macaroni salad can be served room temperature or placed in the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve.
This vegan macaroni salad is the perfect side dish to serve for summer gatherings, pool days, pot lucks, or your next BBQ!
If you’re looking for main dish ideas to pair this salad with, here are a few of our favorite party and vegan grill recipes:
Store leftover macaroni salad in the serving bowl tightly covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight, covered container. When tightly sealed, this vegan macaroni salad should keep for 4-5 days.
Freezing this macaroni salad is not recommended. This will change the consistency of the creamy dressing and make the vegetables watery.
Should I let the pasta cool before adding the mayo?
Yes! Vegan mayonnaise is oil-based, so if you fold the mayo in with hot pasta, it will melt and become oily, not creamy. To keep this macaroni salad creamy, it’s important to allow the pasta to cool completely before folding it with the dressing.
Should you rinse macaroni when making macaroni salad?
Rinsing the macaroni when making macaroni salad can be helpful, but it is not necessary. If you are in a rush, feel free to rinse it under cool water to help speed up the cool-down process.
What causes macaroni salad to get watery?
Not draining the macaroni thoroughly can cause excess water to be added to the macaroni salad and result in a watery dressing.
This vegan macaroni salad is just like the classic and the ultimate crowd pleaser. It’s made with a simple creamy dressing, colorful veggies, and al dente elbow pasta. Bring this side to your next cookout and impress your family and friends!
3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain vegan yogurt (or you can use more mayo)
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Black pepper, as desired
8 oz. gluten-free macaroni noodles (or noodles of choice)
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
1/3 cup finely diced red (or green) onion
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Add in the carrot, red bell pepper, celery, onion, parsley, dill and the cooled macaroni noodles. Fold everything together until well combined and uniform.
Serve immediately or place it into the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Store the macaroni in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Feel free to customize this recipe and add/omit vegetables and herbs of your choice! This woul be great with peas, olives and even diced vegan cheddar cheese.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!
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