In Arizona, when the temperatures start to hit the high 70s, I think BBQ! And when I feel BBQ, I think classic vegan macaroni salad. I thought macaroni salad was my favorite BBQ salad when I was a kid. Even as a kid, I was not too fond of meat, so I would load my plate with salads, fruit, and chips and skip right by the meat dish. But, of course, the macaroni salad I was eating was full of mayo and God only knows what else. So, as with all great recipes, I 'veganized' my mom's classic macaroni salad and made this vegan macaroni salad recipe.
Unlike most recipes, my mom always put peas in her macaroni salad. Now that I think about it, she probably was trying to trick us into eating peas. But it's tradition now, so I always put peas in my vegan macaroni salad.
What is in vegan macaroni salad?
My mom, before becoming plant-based, always made the same macaroni salad. So, I used the same ingredients, changed up her classic mayonnaise dressing, and made my vegan version.
- Elbow macaroni noodles (small or large size)( I used gluten-free elbow macaroni noodles, but any noodles will work)
- Red pepper pepper
- Green Peas (I used cooked frozen)
- White onion
Other macaroni salad variations
- Green pepper
- Red onion
- Or any vegetables you have in the refrigerator that dice well
How to make vegan macaroni salad dressing
As I have said many times, it's all about the dressing. Not only does a great vegan macaroni salad need to be full of veggies, it demands a tangy, creamy dressing. So, all you need is a few ingredients to make a killer macaroni salad dressing that will WOW your guests.
- Raw cashews (or substitute silent tofu or white beans for a nut-free option)
- Distilled white vinegar
- Pure maple syrup
- Yellow mustard
- Black Pepper
Of course, if you don't have a high-speed blender, you should soak your cashews overnight. But, if you have a high-speed blender, you need to blend all the ingredients on high.
How to make vegan macaroni salad
First, this recipe takes 15 minutes to make from start to finish. The first step, however, is to cook the noodles. The gluten-free elbow macaroni noodles I used, for example, took 8 minutes to cook. You need to follow the directions on the package of noodles you have, as times vary depending on the type and size of noodle you choose.
One suggestion is immediately to rinse the noodles in cold water to stop them from cooking. Don't forget to toss the noodles around in the colander, in the cold water, so you rinse all the noodles, not just the top half. Then, transfer the cold noodles to a large bowl.
Next, add your chopped vegetables. I use my favorite vegetable chopper as a time-saver, so my veggies are the same size. Once all the veggies are added, I pour in HALF the vegan dressing and reserve the other half to add right before serving it. For instance, preserving half the dressing adds an extra creamy element right before serving.
Now, cover and store the vegan macaroni salad in the refrigerator. Before serving, add the rest of the dressing and spoon it into bowls. Although I serve vegan macaroni salad as a side dish for burgers, sloppy joes, and BBQ jackfruit sandwiches, it can also be served as an entree.
Do you love pasta salad recipes? Then, check out these vegan pasta salad recipes!
- Greek Veggie Pasta Salad
- Roasted Vegetable Pesto Pasta Salad
- Kale Asian Pasta Salad
- Vegan Kale Pasta Caesar Salad
- Vegan BLT Pasta Salad
- Mediterranean Couscous Salad
- How to Make Greek Pasta Salad With Tofu Feta Cheese
- Vegan Pasta Salad
- Mexican Pasta Salad
- Spinach Pasta Salad
Vegan Macaroni Salad
Vegan Macaroni Salad
- 4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni I used gluten-free noodles or whole grain elbow macaroni
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 large white or yellow onion diced
- 2 cups frozen peas cooked
- 1 cup diced celery
- ½ cup chopped parsley
Macaroni Salad Dressing
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked overnight or substitute silken tofu or white beans for a nut-free option
- ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
- ⅔ cup water
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
COOKING THE MACARONI
- In a large pot, boil water with a teaspoon of salt,
- Once water is boiling, add 4 cups of uncooked noodles
- Cook noodles according to the directions on the package (my gluten-free noodles were cooked for 8 minutes)
- When noodles are cooked, remove them from the stove, and drain them in a colander.
- Then, immediately rinse in cold water, tossing the noodles in the cold water to make sure all the noodles are cooled.
- Then, transfer cooled noodles to a large bowl.
ADDING THE CHOPPED VEGETABLES/DRESSING
- In a small pot, boil water and add frozen peas.
- Cook for 3 minutes, and then drain in a colander, following the same cooling method used with the noodles.
- Then, add cooled peas, red bell pepper, onion, celery, and parsley.
- Next, pour HALF the dressing and stir.
- Cover and place in a refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Right before serving, stir in the remaining dressing.
- Then, serve with your favorite BBQ meal.
- Substitute silken tofu or white beans for cashews for a nut-free option.
- Use gluten-free noodles for a gluten-free option.
- The macaroni salad can be made ahead of time
- The dressing can also be made ahead
- For best results, dress the salad right before serving.
- Vegan macaroni salad will last in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂
I'm already thinking summer and can't wait to try this! I love the use of cashew cream instead of vegan mayo.
Hi Kim, you can use any dressing you love. I posted a chickpea pasta salad today with 7 different dressing options. Check it out. Summer will be here before we know it.