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Dairy-Free Macaroni Salad

Delicious, creamy, crunchy, tangy, and healthy, this dairy-free macaroni salad recipe is so easy, and can be prepared in about 35 minutes.

My favorite dairy-free macaroni salad recipe

This dairy-free Macaroni Salad tastes wonderful. It is packed with flavor and texture. It is tangy and ever so slightly sweet, even though it is made without any refined sugar.

Crunchy veggies and soft elbow-shaped macaroni are engulfed in a tasty, creamy sauce that is flavored with garlic, lemon, and a bunch of herbs. I am lactose intolerant, so I have been making variations of the cashew sauce used in this recipe, over the years. You can find variations of this cashew sauce in this sage sauce and this broccoli salad.

This dish packs a hefty nutrition punch as it is loaded with fiber and vitamins from the ingredients used.

My boyfriend loves a classic macaroni salad that is made with a mayo base. So, when I made this for us yesterday, I wasn’t sure what he would think. But, I was so incredibly thrilled that he enjoyed this healthier spin on the classic one. Especially since this one is made without any mayonnaise, not even vegan mayonnaise.

Pasta salad or macaroni salad?

Now, the debate is that a mayo-free salad with any sort of pasta in it is referred to as a pasta salad, while those with mayo are macaroni salads. However, the creamy and thick cashew sauce I used in this recipe tastes like mayo, so I figured I would refer to this as a macaroni salad.

Ingredients-to-make-a-healthy-dairyfree-macaroni-salad

What are the ingredients needed for this dairy-free macaroni salad?

You will need the following 17 ingredients (if 17 ingredients seem like a lot, I have suggestions for variations below) to make this vegan macaroni salad:

  1. Elbow macaroni,
  2. Red bell pepper
  3. Orange bell pepper
  4. Carrots
  5. Celery,
  6. Peas,
  7. Red onion,
  8. Parsley,
  9. Cashews,
  10. Unsweetened almond milk
  11. Pure maple syrup,
  12. Apple cider vinegar,
  13. Lemon,
  14. Garlic,
  15. Basil,
  16. Oregano,
  17. Rosemary.

Not on the list, but crucial to this salad is salt and pepper, though I do not specify an amount as everyone’s preference for salt differs.

Substitutions and Variations:

Other than for the creamy dressing, this macaroni salad is made with ingredients that can be easily substituted.

If you prefer to keep the veggies to a minimum, then just use carrots and celery.

If you don’t like the veggies listed, you could use any combination of veggies you prefer. For example, ditch the carrots, celery, bell peppers, red onion, and peas, for some radishes, broccoli, edamame, and green onion.

However, I wouldn’t recommend substituting the veggies listed for frozen veggies. The main reason for that is once frozen veggies are thawed out, they tend to be less crunchy than fresh ones. And, to me, the crunch is such an inviting part of this salad.

If you happen to be following a gluten-free diet, then use gluten-free noodles instead.

If you want to make this a tad bit more tangy, add in a teaspoon or two of pickle relish.

If you would like to add some plant protein to this dosh, toss in some drained and rinsed chickpeas.

Making a crunchy creamy macaroni salad.

Instructions:

The first thing I do when I make this salad is to prep the cashews. Now, there are two ways to go about doing so:

Method One: This method is for you if you plan to make this recipe tomorrow instead of today. This method involves soaking the cashews overnight. Simply place the cashews in a plastic or glass container, fill it with water, and cover it. Then place the container with the cashews in the fridge and let the cashews soak overnight. The next day drain the cashews and they are ready to use to make the sauce.

Method Two: If you don’t have much time and want to whip this macaroni salad up in a hurry, then you can quick soak the cashews. To follow this method, first place the cashews in a pan, adding water into the pan to cover the cashews. Then squeeze the juice of a lemon into it. After that, place the pan with the cashews and lemon juice on the stove and turn the flame/heat on high. When this mixture comes to a vigorous boil (usually should take about 4-5 minutes), turn off the flame/heat, cover the pan, and leave it covered for 30 minutes. When the time is up, you will drain the cashews and set them aside to use.

Veggie packed macaroni salad

I usually go with Method Two. After the cashews and lemon juice have come to a boil, and I have turned off the stove and covered the pan, I set about boiling the pasta. While the pasta is boiling, I go about rinsing and chopping the veggies and parsley, which I add to a large bowl.

When the pasta is al dente, I drain it and add it to the bowl with the veggies and parsley too.

Tangy sweet savory dairy-free dressing

By this time, the timer is going off on the soaking cashews. So, I drain them and then add them to a blender. I also add in some unsweetened almond milk, the zest of a lemon, rosemary, oregano, basil, apple cider vinegar, and some pure maple syrup. This is blended until it is smooth and then I pour it over the pasta and veggies in the bowl.

The best dairy free macaroni salad dressing that tastes like mayo

After a quick toss, I wrap the bowl in plastic and place it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.

This dairy-free macaroni salad is a delicious and healthy side dish that is a wonderful addition to a picnic, potluck, or gathering.

Adding dressing to macaroni and veggies

How do you serve this dairy-free macaroni salad?

This side dish is best served chilled, and it is a tasty addition to chicken, steak, pork chops, burgers, or hot dogs.

It also pairs well with some air-fried tofu or veggie fritters.

How do you store leftovers of this dairy-free macaroni salad?

Leftovers of this salad can be stored in an airtight container, in the fridge, for 5–7 days.

Easy delicious dairy-free macaroni salad recipe

Thanks so much for stopping by. If you make this recipe, please let me know in the comments below what you think of it, or tag your creation on social media with @savoryspin or #savoryspin. For more fusion, spice-filled, recipe ideas, please subscribe and follow me on FacebookInstagram, and/or Pinterest!

Easy delicious dairy-free macaroni salad recipe

Dairy-Free Macaroni Salad

5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Cost: $7 a serving
Author: Shashi
Delicious, creamy, crunchy, tangy, and healthy, this dairy-free macaroni salad recipe is so easy, and can be prepared in about 35 minutes.

Ingredients

For the Macaroni Salad

  • 1 cup Uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 Red bell pepper
  • 1/2 Orange bell pepper
  • 3 Carrots
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 1 cup Frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1/4 Red Onion
  • 3 tbsp Fresh parsley

For the Dairy-free Sauce

  • 1 cup Raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp Pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • First, soak the cashews. There are two methods to go about doing so, and details on both methods are in the note section. For this recipe, I used method 2 which involves soaking the cashews for 30 minutes in water and the juice of a lemon (zest the lemon and save the zest to use in the sauce later).
  • While the cashews are soaking, add the macaroni to a pan with water and bring it to a boil. Cook it according to package directions.
  • While the cashews are soaking and the pasta is boiling, rinse and chop the red and orange bell pepper, the celery, the carrots, the red onion, and parsley, and add them to a large bowl.
  • Thaw out the frozen peas by running them under warm water and add them to the bowl with the veggies.
  • When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the large bowl with the veggies.
  • Remove the skins from the garlic cloves.
  • By this time, the cashews should be done soaking. Drain the cashews, discarding the liquid.
  • Then add the drained cashews to the blender, along with the almond milk, lemon zest, pure maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, basil, rosemary, garlic cloves, and oregano, and blend on high until this mixture is creamy.
  • Pour the entire dressing over the macaroni and the vegetables in the bowl. Toss well to coat all the veggies, parsley, and macaroni.
  • Chill for about 2 hours and enjoy this dairy-free macaroni salad cold.

Notes

Method One: This method is for you if you plan to make this recipe tomorrow instead of today. This method involves soaking the cashews overnight. Simply place the cashews in a plastic or glass container, fill it with water, and cover it. Then place the container with the cashews in the fridge and let the cashews soak overnight. The next day drain the cashews and they are ready to use to make the sauce.
Method Two: If you don’t have much time and want to whip this macaroni salad up in a hurry, then you can quick soak the cashews. To follow this method, first place the cashews in a pan, adding water into the pan to cover the cashews. Then squeeze the juice of a lemon in to it. After that, place the pan with the cashews and lemon juice on the stove and turn the flame/heat onto high. When this mixture comes to a vigorous boil (usually should take about 4-5 minutes), turn off the flame/heat and cover the pan and leave it covered for 30 minutes. When the time is up, you will drain the cashews and set them aside to use.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 497mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 6.14IU | Vitamin C: 50mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 3mg
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5 Comments

  1. I recently made this dairy-free macaroni salad and it was a hit! The combination of creamy, crunchy, and tangy flavors is just perfect. Thanks!

5 from 5 votes

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