This easy Vegan Macaroni Salad is my go-to pasta salad. It tastes just like the classic creamy pasta salad I remember from my childhood, but this one is all vegan. Easily made gluten free and no chopping required! Ready in less than 30 minutes!
Reasons why I love this vegan macaroni salad:
- It tastes like classic creamy pasta salad.
- It’s made with pantry and fridge staples.
- It’s loaded with veggies, but requires no chopping!
- It’s dairy free and gluten free.
- It can be made several days in advance.
- It’s adaptable.
- It’s delicious!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Pasta ~ Macaroni noodles are classic in a recipe like this, but any other small to medium shape noodles will work, like rotini, penne, small shells, or ditalini.
Use gluten free noodles, if you need or want. We like the Tinkyada brand of gluten free noodles.
Veggies ~ I use store bought coleslaw mix and frozen peas so all I have to do is dump it in. No chopping required!
I add the peas to the bottom of a colander and drain the hot pasta right over the top which instantly thaws them. Voila!
Mayo ~ To keep this vegan pasta salad as classic as possible, I use store bought vegan mayo. Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise is my favorite, but there are several brands available these days.
Vinegar ~ White distilled vinegar works great in this recipe. You could also use apple cider vinegar.
Mustard ~ Plain yellow mustard is my choice, but if you like Dijon, go for it.
Sugar ~ I generally use organic cane sugar, but pure maple syrup would provide the same sweetness to balance the flavors.
Herbs ~ Chopped fresh parsley seems to be an herb everyone likes and it brings a nice freshness to the dish. Sometimes I add chopped fresh dill either instead of parsley or in addition to.
If you like cilantro, that will also work.
Extras ~ This vegan macaroni salad is adaptable to whatever veggies you like. You can certainly chop or shred your own cabbage and carrots if you prefer.
Diced bell peppers, chopped celery, sliced radishes, shredded zucchini, diced red onion, or chopped cucumbers would all be great additions. Use what you like!
How to make the recipe
Cook the macaroni in well salted water according to package directions for al dente. Place the peas in the bottom of a large colander (1) and drain the cooked pasta right over the top (2). Drain well and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, dump in the coleslaw mix (3) and then add the cooled pasta and peas (4).
In a small bowl, add the dressing ingredients (5) and whisk until smooth (6).
Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and pasta mixture (7). Stir well to coat thoroughly (8).
Add the fresh chopped parsley, if using, and stir to combine.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Store this vegan macaroni salad in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
Pro tips for success
~ Cook the pasta in well salted water. This the first layer of flavoring.
~ Cook the pasta just until al dente. Do not over cook!
~ Allow the pasta to cool before adding the dressing. Otherwise, the warm pasta will absorb some of the dressing and the salad won’t be as creamy.
~ Allow the finished dish to chill before serving.
~ This vegan macaroni salad can be made several days in advance.
~ This recipe is vegan and nut free.
~ This recipe is easily made gluten free by choosing gluten free noodles.
~ To make this recipe soy free, use a soy-free vegan mayo, like Soy-Free Vegenaise.
Set the cooked noodles aside until they cool completely before adding the dressing.
The obvious answer is because it’s under seasoned. Be sure to cook the pasta in well salted water. And make sure your dressing tastes fairly strong before stirring it into the salad because once it’s incorporated, the flavors will mellow. Taste the finished dish before serving and add another pinch of salt or splash of vinegar, if needed.
Fresh herbs will also give a nice punch of flavor and brighten up the whole dish.
This is a hot topic. I generally do not rinse my pasta, but I do let it cool before adding the dressing. On occasion I have rinsed the pasta in cold water if I was in a hurry and it still turns out delicious. Just make sure to drain the pasta very well of any excess water.
More vegan picnic salads
- Sugar Snap Pea Salad
- Kidney Bean Salad
- Kale Apple Slaw
- Cucumber Chickpea Salad
- Creamy Balsamic Summer Pasta Salad
- Lemon Artichoke Pasta Salad
- Southwest Black Bean Pasta Salad
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Vegan Macaroni Salad
- 16 ounces macaroni noodles or other small to medium shaped pasta (gluten free, if desired)
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 ½ cups vegan mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
- 1 tablespoons yellow mustard
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 14 ounces coleslaw mix
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley optional
- Cook the macaroni noodles in well salted water according to package directions until al dente. Place the frozen peas in the bottom on a large colander and pour the cooked pasta over the top. Drain well and set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vegan mayo, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the coleslaw mix and cooked pasta and peas. Pour in the dressing from step 2 and mix well to incorporate all the ingredients with the dressing.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Stir in fresh chopped parsley, if using.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Storage/Freezing Store this salad in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I do not recommend freezing this pasta salad.