This vegan macaroni salad is a healthier version of a traditional mac salad! Loaded with macaroni, crunchy veggies, and a creamy lightened up sauce (with a secret ingredient!), this recipe tastes decadent and delicious. The perfect addition to summer picnics and barbecues.
A healthy macaroni salad
If you’ve never had macaroni salad before, you have probably never been to a picnic or barbecue because someone always brings this dish. Sometimes two mac salads show up at the same dang party. But it isn’t without reason that mac salad is so popular, because this unavoidable side dish is absolutely delicious.
This cold pasta salad is made with macaroni noodles, crunchy raw vegetables, and a mayonnaise-based dressing. Since mayo has eggs in it, mac salad is usually not vegan. But with all the vegan options we have these days, it is super easy to veganize this essential picnic staple! And plus, we are making it a little healthier in the process.
Get your picnic baskets ready!
Ingredients for a lightened-up vegan macaroni salad
This mac salad requires just 10 simple ingredients to make! Here is what you’ll need.
- Elbow noodles (gluten-free if needed)
- Vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise)
- Silken tofu (the secret ingredient!)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Dried dill
- Sweet pickle relish
- Bell pepper
- Red onion
Use silken tofu for a lightened up dressing
If you’ve never used silken tofu before, now is the time to start! I LOVE silken tofu and use it all the time in cooking. Silken tofu is low in calories, neutral tasting, and super creamy, making it perfect for lightening up dense sauces.
Mac salad dressing is usually made with just mayonnaise, but my recipe substitutes a portion of the mayo with silken tofu to cut down on fat while keeping the creamy texture.
To make this lightened up mac salad dressing, blend 6 tablespoons vegan mayo with 1/2 cup silken tofu together with the apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, dill, and salt. You won’t be able to tell the difference!
If you don’t want to use silken tofu, you can use equal parts vegan mayonnaise instead.
How to make this recipe without mayo
I have not tested this but if you do not want to use the mayonnaise at all, I think you could sub the mayonnaise with equal parts silken tofu + 2 tablespoons of neutral tasting oil (avocado oil, sunflower oil, etc). If you try this out, let me know how it goes in the comments below.
How to customize vegan macaroni salad
If you are not a fan of red onion, celery, or bell peppers, you can use whatever vegetables you would like. You can include green onions, carrots, broccoli, or even cherry tomatoes. People often add peas to their mac salads too. It’s all about getting a variety of texture here!
How to make vegan macaroni salad
This macaroni salad recipe is ready in just 15 minutes! It is the perfect vegan recipe to make for a last minute picnic.
- Cook your noodles. Drain, rinse, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Blend the silken tofu, vegan mayo, and spices together until smooth.
- Add the chopped veggies and sauce to the mixing bowl and stir until incorporated.
- Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve!
How to serve this recipe
Serve at room temperature immediately after making, or let chill in the fridge until you are ready to eat. I think this recipe tastes best chilled.
Macaroni salad is the perfect side to BBQ Black Bean Burgers and Chickpea Salad Sandwiches. Bring it to a picnic, barbecue, or potluck – you can’t go wrong with mac salad!
Frequently asked questions
For how long can macaroni salad sit outside?
You can leave macaroni salad sitting outside the fridge for about an hour or two. After that, you should put it back into the fridge or a cooler so bacteria doesn’t start to grow.
How long does macaroni salad keep in the fridge?
Macaroni salad can keep in the fridge for up to one week stored in an air-tight container.
Can macaroni salad be frozen?
Yes! Let the macaroni salad thaw completely overnight in the fridge before serving. Finish eating it within a day or two after thawing so the noodles don’t start to get mushy.
More vegan picnic and barbecue recipes
If you make this recipe, leave it a rating and a comment! You can also tag me @Daughter_of_Seitan on Instagram so I can see your lovely food creations. XOXOPrint
Lightened Up Vegan Macaroni Salad
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Sides
- Method: Mixing
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
This vegan macaroni salad is a healthier version of a traditional mac salad! Loaded with macaroni, crunchy veggies, and a creamy lightened-up sauce (with a secret ingredient!), this recipe tastes decadent and delicious.
- 8 oz elbow noodles, gluten-free if needed
- 6 tablespoons vegan mayo
- 1/2 cup silken tofu (or sub with more vegan mayo)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- Cook your elbow noodles in salted water according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water and drain, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Blend the vegan mayo, silken tofu, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, dill, and salt until smooth to make a sauce.
- Add the sauce, relish, bell pepper, celery, and red onion to the mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.
- Serve immediately, or store in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
This macaroni salad will keep in the fridge for up to a week and is freezer-friendly. To freeze, let it thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 140cal
- Sugar: 3.4g
- Sodium: 330.14mg
- Fat: 7.63g
- Saturated Fat: 0.89g
- Carbohydrates: 13.35g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 3g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: vegan pasta salad, healthy macaroni salad, lightened up macaroni salad