Pasta salads are just top tier side, or even main, dishes for me with a macaroni salad being the main go-to. To be really honest with you, I often just make this and eat it as a main. There, I said it.
My vegan mac salad is my favorite and I know that may seem a little bias, but what if I told you my omnivore husband also loves it? Did that convince you? Well I hope it does, and I hope you give it a try!
I never appreciated macaroni salad growing up. I always preferred mac and cheese! But if it had been made this way I think I would have liked it a whole lot more, I'm just saying.
Macaroni - You can use any type of pasta you want to use, truly! I just use plain elbows, sometimes if all I have is penne, then I'll use that. For gluten-free just use a GF pasta!
Bell Peppers - Another "use what you want" type of deal. Really, whatever veggies you have available. Classics include: celery, carrots, and onions. To keep this simple, I just like the noodles and some crunch, however I can't have onions, so I opted for bell peppers and I love it.
Mustard - I use plain yellow mustard, but you can substitute Dijon mustard if you want.
Vegan Mayo - I mean, you can't really have macaroni salad without mayo so just go with what you have access to. I personally used Hellman's vegan mayo.
Dill Relish - While vinegar is a classic ingredient in macaroni salad, I like the added crunch and tang from dill relish so I replace the vinegar with it, however, you are welcome to use vinegar!
Dill - You can never have too much dill, in my opinion. Optional ingredient alert! Feel free to use fresh or dried.
Smoked Paprika - Another optional ingredient alert! I just like the added smokiness in my mac salad, maybe you will too?
Sugar - I would say this is optional, but what kind of monster likes sour macaroni salad? Just kidding please don't leave just yet, you can go sugar-free if you want, I won't tell anyone.
Salt & Pepper - And of course (not pictured), because I constantly forget, always add in some salt and pepper to taste, and also while cooking your noodles (but don't put pepper in there).
🥄Making the sauce
- Add the mayo, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, and dill relish to a medium-size bowl and mix well until well combined and sugar has dissolved.
- Taste for accuracy and add any extra you may think it needs, sometimes I find myself needing to add a little more salt or sugar so create to your tastes!
- Place into refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine even more.
🍴Cooking & Finishing
- Cook your macaroni to al dente, usually following the cooking instructions on the pasta packaging will achieve these results, however if you're like me and place your dry pasta in a container and throw the packaging away, around 7-8 minutes. This will depend on the pasta.
- Once cooked, drain your pasta immediately and run cold water over it. This will stop the cooking process to keep your pasta al dente. Then, set aside to drain for a bit, as you do not want any water to be left.
- After your macaroni has drained well, add it into the sauce and mix well.
- Then add in your bell peppers as well as any other additions. If following this recipe exactly, then also add the smoked paprika and dill.
- Mix everything well and enjoy!
❗Tips For Success
- Make sure you salt your noodles during the cooking process, this will add a layer of flavor to your macaroni salad
- Don't feel like cutting veggies? Make it really simple and use a pre-cut coleslaw mix for crunch as well as frozen peas for another layer of veggie goodness.
- Want to add extra protein? Switch it up and make it a faux tuna macaroni salad by adding your favorite vegan tuna!
- I recommend leaving your macaroni salad to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, to overnight for an even better flavor profile!
- Should be eaten within 4 to 5 days, but really 4 days because food typically starts to lose flavor after the 3rd day. By day 5 you're eating flavorless mush, eugh!
- I would not recommend freezing this recipe.
- Top this delicious mac salad with my amazing vegan bacon!
❓Frequently Asked Questions
Around 4-5 days. Most food starts to lose flavor after day 3, and it is not recommended that you freeze macaroni salad.
Your noodles need to be nearly dry before you place them into the sauce, if the noodles are still wet, water will mix with the sauce and make it too runny. Also make sure you're not over cooking your noodles.
Vegan Macaroni Salad
- medium bowl
- medium sauce pan
- knife *optional*
- 2 cups macaroni noodles
- 1 cup vegan mayo
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons dill relish
- ½ cup diced bell peppers any colors
- pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- Start by cooking your pasta according to package directions.2 cups macaroni noodles
- While the pasta is cooking, grab a medium-size bowl and start making the sauce.
- To the bowl add: mayo, mustard, dill relish, sugar, salt & pepper and mix well and until sugar is dissolved, then place into fridge for at least 30 minutes.1 cup vegan mayo, 2 tablespoons mustard, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 tablespoons dill relish, pinch of salt and pepper
- Once the pasta is cooked, remove from the heat immediately and drain. Then run cold water over the noodles to stop the cooking process and cool them down. Set aside to drain well.2 cups macaroni noodles
- While the pasta is set aside, go ahead and finely dice your bell peppers and get those ready.½ cup diced bell peppers
- When the noodles are well drained go ahead and add them to your sauce and mix well. Then, add in the bell peppers as well as the dill and smoked paprika and mix well again.½ cup diced bell peppers
- Top with more dill, paprika, or whatever you choose and enjoy!2 teaspoons dried dill, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Make sure you salt the noodles while cooking to add to your flavors.
- If you don't feel like cutting any veggies, use a pre-mix coleslaw and frozen peas for crunch and veg, alternatively, get any pre-cut veggies for convenience.
- Want to add some extra proteins? Add your favorite faux tuna!
- I recommend leaving your macaroni salad to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours to the next day.
- Eat within 4-5 days.
- Do not freeze.