25-Minute Vegan Macaroni Salad

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5 from 4 votes
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This Vegan Macaroni Salad is creamy, flavorful, and packed with fresh summer veggies. Perfect for potlucks, summer gatherings, and picnics! Gluten-free, Oil-free, Nut-free options. 

This Vegan Macaroni Salad is the ultimate crowd pleaser. It’s made with a creamy vegan mayo dressing, al dente macaroni noodles, and a mix of fresh veggies for the best modern take on the summer favorite. Have it prepped and ready in less than 30 minutes with just 8 simple ingredients.

Table of Contents
  1. A Veggie Packed Twist on the American Classic
  2. Ingredients for Vegan Macaroni Salad
  3. How to Make Vegan Macaroni Salad
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. How to Store Vegan Macaroni Salad
  6. Substitutions and Variations
  7. Recipe FAQs
  8. Vegan Macaroni Salad Recipe
macaroni salad served in a white bowl

A Veggie Packed Twist on the American Classic

If you’re like me, you grew up loving macaroni salad at summer potlucks. The creamy, rich mayo dressing hides in every pocket of the elbow macaroni and is a burst of flavor in every bite. Thankfully veganizing the classic side dish is incredibly easy with just a few simple swaps. 

I like to consider this vegan version an “updated” take on the traditional dish. It’s packed with more veggies, is slightly less sweet, and can be made to suit several different types of diets. Bring it to your next cookout and I guarantee non-vegans won’t know the difference or mind the added colorful veggies! 

Save this recipe for your next backyard barbecue, pool party, and summer holidays like 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend and consider making a double batch 🙂

Ingredients for Vegan Macaroni Salad

Creating a classic macaroni salad from scratch requires just 8 ingredients (including salt and black pepper!), plus an array of fresh veggies. Here’s what you’ll need: 

ingredients for vegan macaroni salad laid out on a marble kitchen countertop
  • Macaroni: The classic pasta of choice is elbow macaroni. It has the best nooks and crannies to hold creamy flavor and helps create that nostalgic mouthfeel we know and love about macaroni salad. 
  • Vegan mayonnaise: ​Either store-bought or homemade. Use your favorite. 
  • Sweet gherkins: These pickles are made from small cucumbers that have been pickled in a sweet brine. They’re the go-to pickle in traditional macaroni salad and add a great crunch, subtle sweetness, and tanginess that balances the creaminess in the mayo. For the best sweet gherkin flavor, I recommend chopped pickles, plus gherkin pickle juice. 
  • Vinegar + yellow mustard: Brightens the creamy dressing and adds additional tanginess. 
  • Sugar: Organic, granulated cane sugar adds a tiny bit of sweetness without overpowering the savory, creamy dressing. 
  • Veggies: My version of macaroni salad has slightly more veggies than the classic macaroni salad you likely grew up with. I use a mix of diced red bell pepper, red onion, celery stalks, and grated carrot. Feel free to substitute in your favorites! 

How to Make Vegan Macaroni Salad

side-by-side images of the recipe with the image on the left showing the dressing for the salad and the image in the right showing the chopped-up ingredients
  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta well with cold water until room temperature. 
  2. Whisk the creamy dressing ingredients together in a large serving bowl.
  3. Add the cooled pasta and the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. 
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate until chilled and enjoy the next day.

Caitlin’s Cooking Tips

  • Prepare the night before serving. This gives the flavors in the macaroni salad the opportunity to meld and develop. When you have the time, allow the salad to rest for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight for the best flavor. 
  • Choose the right pasta. The right shaped pasta will hold up well in the creamy dressing and capture the flavors in the macaroni salad in every bite. Everyone will have their own personal preference, but I recommend elbow macaroni, fusilli, or rotini. A different shape of pasta may not make the best creamy vegan macaroni salad.
macaroni salad served in a glass bowl

Serving Suggestions

This vegan macaroni salad makes a great side dish for any and all summertime cookouts. Make it a complete meal and serve with your favorite BBQ dishes such as Pan-Grilled Corn Salsa, Grilled Romaine, and a Crunchy Cucumber Dill Salad for additional veggies. It also pairs well with mains like these Mushroom Veggie Burgers, this Summer Peach and Chickpea Salad and this Triple Tomato Basil Orzo Salad

And don’t miss the dessert! Every summer BBQ needs a Grilled Peach Cobbler or Puff Pastry Peach Galette.

If you’re looking for more pasta salad recipes, you’ll also love this Creamy Dill Pickle Pasta Salad and this Mediterranean Pasta Salad!

How to Store Vegan Macaroni Salad

Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container or mixing bowl covered with reusable wrap for up to 5 days. If the macaroni salad dressing separates during refrigeration, mix well before serving. 

Freezing macaroni salad is not recommended.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Gluten-free option: Replace the wheat-based pasta with your favorite gluten-free pasta. For the most classic flavor and texture, use a rice or corn-based pasta. 
  • Oil-free option: Use my Homemade Vegan Mayo Recipe using whole, raw cashews. 
  • Nut-free option: Use the silken tofu version of my Homemade Vegan Mayo Recipe or if you are not allergic to tree nuts, use an unsweetened, thick coconut yogurt (like Cocojune or Culina) or a coconut based vegan sour cream.
  • Less sweet variation: Classic macaroni salad is made with sweet gherkins, but if you are not a fan of sweet pickles use dill pickles and reduce the white vinegar to only 1 tablespoon. 
  • Add herbs: ​Fresh herbs like fresh dill or fresh parsley would be delicious.
a zoomed in image of macaroni pasta salad with a plastic spoon scooping up a portion

Recipe FAQs

Can you freeze macaroni salad?

Freezing macaroni salad is not recommended. The texture of the pasta will change, the mayonnaise dressing will likely separate, and the vegetables will become soggy. Making macaroni salad fresh is so simple – it’s not worth freezing!

What can I use for protein in vegan macaroni salad?

If you’re looking to make this creamy macaroni salad more filling, add a can of drained chickpeas or white beans, or serve with a side of Smoky Marinated Tofu or Vegan Beet Burgers.

Can I make macaroni salad ahead of time?

Yes. This macaroni salad can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. Prepare according to instructions as usual then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Give it another quick mix right before serving, then enjoy!

Why is mayonnaise not vegan?

Traditional mayonnaise is egg-based and is not vegan. Vegan mayo is a very simple, easy swap that is widely available in most grocery stores.

Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊

Vegan Macaroni Salad

5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
This Vegan Macaroni Salad is creamy, flavorful, and packed with fresh summer veggies. Perfect for potlucks, summer gatherings, and picnics! Gluten-free, Oil-free, Nut-free options.


For the Macaroni Salad:

  • 8 ounces dry macaroni noodles
  • 1 red or green bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced (about 1 cup; 135g)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup sweet gherkins (pickles)* diced

For the Dressing:


  • Cook the Pasta: Generously salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package instructions, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and rinse well with cold water until the pasta comes to room temperature.
  • Make the Dressing: Add the mayo to a large bowl with the mustard, pickle brine, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, and black pepper, to taste. Whisk well, until combined.
  • Combine: Add the cooled pasta to the bowl with the bell pepper, onion, celery, carrot, and pickles. Mix well, until everything is evenly coated in dressing.
  • Serve & Store: Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Pickles: Macaroni salad is traditionally made with sweet gherkins, but if you’re not a a fan of sweet pickles you can use dill pickles instead! If using dill pickles, reduce the amount of white vinegar to only 1 tablespoon.
  • Mayo Swaps: You can replace the mayo with an unsweetened thick coconut yogurt (like cocojune or culina) for a healthy swap, or make my homemade cashew-based mayo instead
  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free pasta instead of wheat-based pasta to make this recipe gluten-free.


Calories: 401kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 5gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 435mgPotassium: 189mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2422IUVitamin C: 27mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: Macaroni Salad, Salad, Summer Pasta Salad, vegan pasta salad, Vegan Picnic Recipes
Course: Main
Method: Stovetop
Cuisine: American

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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  1. 5 stars
    This is the best macaroni salad recipe I’ve ever tried. Each recipe I’ve made from this blog is a home run. Easy and quick to make and soooo good!!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this with added chickpeas and it was so good! The big batch didn’t even last 24 hours in our household haha

  3. 5 stars
    I made this last weekend and it was awesome! My husband needs gluten free so I used Rice noodles and it worked very well.

  4. For some reason I can’t leave a rating, but I wanted to share how much I loved this recipe! To make it more of a meal than a side, I ended up making this into a big salad with salad greens in addition to the pasta. I didn’t have agave nectar at home, so I ended up using coconut sugar and a little more water to make up for replacing a wet ingredient with a dry one. It worked out wonderfully. To make it a bit more tangy, I poured in about two teaspoons of dill pickle brine, too. WOW. So good! Thanks for such a creative, easy, and tasty recipe!