A healthy take on the summer classic! This vegan macaroni salad is easy to make and a features a homemade and very creamy cashew based dressing for a mayo-free dish!
This vegan macaroni salad is a summer classic! It’s a vegan take on the classic dish and is perfect for barbecues, trips to the beach and everything in between.
Traditional macaroni salad is made with lots of mayo, which you can still do in a vegan version with something like vegenaise, but I’ve never been the biggest mayo fan so we’re doing this recipe without mayo.
I opted to create a cashew based dressing that’s creamy, tangy and savory and honestly just better than mayo! It’s made with really simple ingredients and the whole salad comes together in about 30 minutes.
You can add fresh or dried herbs like dill, pickles (if that’s your thing!), extra peas or anything else you like. This is a totally versatile recipe.
Serve these with one of my chickpea burgers and a blueberry pie bar or blueberry crisp for dessert and you have truly the best summer spread!
How to make vegan macaroni salad
If you haven’t already, add the cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes to soften.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. When it’s done cooking, rinse under cold water.
Finely chop the onion, celery and bell pepper. Add to a large mixing bowl. Grate the carrot and defrost the peas as needed. Add to the bowl.
When the cashews are done soaking, drain and rinse with cold water. Add to a blender with all remaining dressing ingredients. Blend until completely smooth, about 1 full minute depending on your blender.
Taste and adjust flavors as desired. Feel free to add more water to thin it out as well.
Combine the dressing, veggies and pasta and toss well. Top with fresh black pepper and chives. Enjoy!
Make it herby!
The dressing uses some chopped chives for flavor, but you can also add some chopped parsley or dill to the salad itself or right into the dressing for extra flavor!
Keep in mind the color of the dressing will change slightly if you blend the herbs in there, so my suggestion is to just toss them into the salad!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it keep?
Yes! This vegan macaroni salad will keep for about 3-5 days in an air tight container.
If you’re using gluten free pasta like I did, I suggest overcooking it slightly because they tend to dry out in the fridge and get a bit hard. With regular pasta you’ll have no problems.
What pasta shape is best?
Macaroni salad of course traditionally uses macaroni noodles, but any pasta shape will work! Smaller ones like penne, shells or fusilli are generally best though.
Note about the no-mayo dressing!
The cashew dressing uses a base of cashews to create a simple cashew cream.
The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of water, but depending on how thick you want the dressing, you may want slightly more water. I do not recommend more than 1 cup to ensure the flavor doesn’t dilute.
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Leave a comment and rating below if you try this recipe and let us know how it turns out! Be sure to tag me on instagram and leave a comment below!
Vegan Macaroni Salad
by: claire cary
- 12 ounes macaroni noodles I used gluten free
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 cup peas
- 1 small red onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- ½ cup grated carrot
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
- 3/4-1 cup water start with 3/4 cup, add more as needed
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- If you haven't already, add the cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes to soften.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. When it's done cooking, rinse under cold water.
- Finely chop the onion, celery and bell pepper. Add to a large mixing bowl.
- Grate the carrot and defrost the peas as needed. Add to the bowl.
- When the cashews are done soaking, drain and rinse with cold water. Add to a blender with all remaining dressing ingredients. Blend until completely smooth, about 1 full minute depending on your blender.
- Taste and adjust flavors as desired.
- Combine the dressing, veggies and pasta and toss well. Top with fresh black pepper and chives. Enjoy!
I don’t even like macaroni salad, but my boyfriend mentioned it for this years Fourth of July dinner. I LOVE this one! I’m so glad I gave it a shot – the use of cashews instead of vegan mayo won me over. We will be making this recipe again and again!
Claire Cary says
I’m with you! Not a big mayo fan either so the cashews are key!
I left out the garlic as well because of allergies and I really liked it!
This is as good as the original macaroni salad.
Claire Cary says
the best compliment! Thanks Daniela!
Looks delicious will try it out!