~ These Vegan Pasta Salads will delight both vegans and non-vegans! Try a traditional flavor combo like Italian, Thai, or ranch. Or dive into some truly creative, uniquely delicious recipes (Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, anyone?!?). Perfect for a potluck or picnic side dish, or choose one of the protein-rich versions as a main course. Psssst … and don’t miss our “Top Tips” for making your own fabulous vegan pasta salad recipes, too! ~
Pasta salads are an easy way to keep both vegans and their meat-a-saurus friends blissfully happy.
In fact, a lot of pasta salads are vegan to begin with – no need to make swaps. And (as we discuss in our “Tips” section below), there are plenty of easy swaps that can actually make your pasta salad MORE delicious, as well as making it vegan!
Whether you’re following a vegan diet, or you’re heading to a picnic where some of the guests are vegan … or you’re just looking for healthy recipes with inventive and delicious new ways of incorporating lots of veggies … you’ll love all these easy Vegan Pasta Salad ideas!
• No doubt, pasta salad is a scrumptious blank canvas for endlessly unique ingredient combinations and flavorful salad dressings.
• And pasta salads are generally a showcase for gorgeous produce. It’s a cinch to make them pretty, because there are so many colorful add-ins to enjoy.
• Plus, there are lots of ways to easily pump up the protein if you want to. (Hello, beans and quinoa and nuts!)
• As an added bonus: it’s usually simple to make vegan pasta salads gluten-free, too, often just by choosing gluten-free pasta.
Drool over all the ideas in our collection below, and then scroll down to check out our “Top Tips” for making great vegan pasta salads, and for converting favorite pasta salads to be vegan.
This beautiful, layered pasta salad is absolutely packed with flavors and textures! It includes both roasted and fresh vegetables, along with a pretty, basil-dill pesto. A gorgeous centerpiece that'll be the crown jewel of any party or buffet table!
A delicious macaroni salad is alllllll about that dressing! This recipe leverages cashews along with vegan mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, mustard, and plenty of spices to create a divinely creamy, flavorful dressing. For sure, nobody's gonna miss that store-bought, deli-counter macaroni salad!
Italian pasta salad is always a crowd favorite at potlucks and BBQs! Studded with classic ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, onion, and black olives, this version throws in extra flavor from sun-dried tomatoes and tosses it all with an Italian-seasoned, red wine vinaigrette dressing.
Loaded with cheese-y, bacon-y, ranch-y flavors! Plus, it's ready in just 20 minutes, and it's a great make-ahead recipe, since it keeps well for up to 7 days (and is actually best prepped a day ahead of time).
With every bite, there’s something to look forward to in this couscous salad! Will you get a spoonful with buttery Castelvetrano olives? Or will you be met with briny marinated artichoke hearts? Plus there are cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh summer basil, garlic ... and the star of the show, Israeli couscous (aka giant or pearl couscous).
Never thought of including fruit in your pasta salad? Think again! This is pure summer bliss, bursting with sweet strawberries, intermingled with creamy avocado, fresh spinach, crunchy little poppy seeds, and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Light and refreshing ... and it's all ready in under 20 minutes!
This crunchy, light twist on orzo salad includes shredded cabbage, a light and tasty citrusy dressing, toasted almonds for crunch, and dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness. Soft and crunchy ... sweet and sour ... so many textures and flavors!
This salad is like a wonderfully fresh taste of Italy, whipped up in your very own kitchen! Roasted eggplant, red onions, tomatoes, and capers are elevated by the complex flavors of figs, pine nuts, pomegranates, basil, and vegan feta.
A refreshing salad that pops with flavorful Asian notes from ginger, mirin, sesame oil, ponzu sauce, and Togarashi spice. (But don't worry if you can't find Togarashi spice in your local grocery's Asian food section or in specialty food markets. The post tells you how to easily make your own!)
This recipe offers a triple-pop of tomato flavor! It uses sun-dried tomatoes in the dressing, and then stirs more of them into the salad itself, alongside sliced, fresh tomatoes. Capers, Kalamata olives, parsley, and vegan feta cheese add even more punch to this easy but showy pasta salad.
This gluten free pasta salad is absolutely bursting with healthy vegetables, along with a homemade Italian dressing and gluten free pasta. Super flavorful, and really quick and easy to make ahead in less than 15 minutes!
This is no "ordinary" vegan pasta salad! The uniquely tangy, rich Italian dressing calls on cashews for vegan-friendly creaminess. And, thanks to chickpea pasta, kidney beans, and edamame, this recipe comes out to almost 20g of protein per serving!
This Greek-style salad recipe includes a super-easy homemade vegan feta, which uses common ingredients and takes just a few minutes to make (hint: you'll find lots more uses for it, I just betcha!). Combine your homemade feta with penne, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion for classic taste that's completely vegan-friendly!
This bright vegan couscous salad features chickpeas, lots of fresh veggies, and a chili-lime vinaigrette. Oh ... and let's not forget the sweet-and-smoky flavor of lightly charred, fresh summer sweet corn!
A clever, homemade vegan tuna salad (make sure to note the base recipe HERE) is the flavorful start for this pasta salad recipe. Celery, green pepper, and red onion add classic flavor and great texture. Serve it up straightaway, or chill for later ... it's great either way!
Sautéed asparagus and creamy white beans are nestled between curly fusilli pasta, then seasoned with fresh dill and parsley and tossed in a lemon tahini dressing. This vegan pasta salad is a healthy, no mayo option that's perfect for spring or summer menus!
Fresh bell peppers, cucumbers, and sweet onions are elevated by a simple dressing with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Toss on some toasted sesame seeds, cilantro, and fresh basil for a pretty and flavorful garnish.
A pineapple-spiked version of classic macaroni salad, with a creamy, sweet-and-tangy tropical dressing, plus crunchy bits of carrot and pickle. No wonder it's quickly become this food blogger's most popular summer potluck recipe!
This easy salad showcases tomatoes, cucumber, and orzo with fresh basil, an alluring hint of fresh mint, and a light, lemony dressing. For even more creative inspiration, there's a long list of vegan (and non-vegan) ingredients to swap in, any way you please!
An oil-free homemade southwest ranch dressing adds layer upon layer of flavor to this salad, and three kinds of peppers add great crunch! Using lentil pasta offers an extra protein boost while adding texture.
Don't stop making pasta salad just because summer's over! This pretty version embraces autumn's seasonal flavors with ingredients like broccoli, pecans, and cranberries, all tossed with pasta in a yummy homemade vinaigrette. Great tips about avoiding dried-out pasta salads, too!
Raise your hand if you looooove avocados. I mean really, really, REALLY love 'em! I hear ya ... and this one's for you! With both avocado chunks, plus avocados blended into the dressing, this salad is super creamy and loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and a slew of vitamins and minerals.
Corn and tomatoes give this salad a summery feel, although you'll happily enjoy it any time of year! Napa cabbage adds crunch, and quinoa gives it all a protein boost. You can use any color of quinoa you happen to have, but red looks extra-nice!
The curried dressing begins with creamy coconut milk, plus aromatic spices, to build a delectable curry flavor. It's fabulous with an array of veggies, including baby corn, edamame, and red cabbage. Bonus: the dressing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a week in an air-tight glass container.
This recipe's unique pesto combines parsley, mint, baby spinach, pine nuts, and marjoram with blanched spring onions (which offer a subtle, oniony flavor without overpowering the other flavors the way raw garlic can). Sprinkling edible flowers on top adds a wow factor that’s bound to impress your friends – but, of course, you can make it without the flowers if you can't find them.
Can't decide between a green tossed salad and a pasta salad? Hey hey – now you can have both! Combine some mixed greens with cooked pasta, dollop on the scrumptious dressing, and garnish with crunchy peanuts and maybe some cilantro and juicy lime wedges. Delightful ... and ready in just 15 minutes!
How to Make Vegan Pasta Salads (Top Tips)
Is Pasta Vegan?
Most dry pasta is inherently vegan. One exception to this is dried egg noodles, which (as the name suggests) include eggs.
On the other hand, fresh pasta is typically NOT vegan, because it often includes eggs and sometimes milk.
Of course, if you’re following a vegan diet, you should read the package carefully to be sure the ingredient list is completely vegan. Living My Veg Life has a terrific list of vegan-friendly ingredients typically found in pasta, as well as a list of vegan-friendly pasta brands.
Vegan Pasta Salad Dressing Swaps
“Traditional” creamy pasta salad dressings often rely on mayo, sour cream, Greek yogurt and other non-vegan ingredients to get that creamy texture.
With so many plant-based alternatives on the market today, it’s pretty easy to swap vegan versions of these ingredients.
As you’ll see in our recipe collection above, though, there are lots of other creative solutions to concocting a satisfyingly creamy dressing without dairy. A couple common options are soaked cashews or coconut milk, both of which give that creamy-dreamy vibe, and also add their own yummy layers of flavor to the final salad.
Another option is to ditch the creamy dressing in favor of a vinaigrette. Vinaigrette ingredients such as vinegars, olive oil, and spices are more likely to be inherently vegan.
One caution: if your vinaigrette includes a pinch of sweetness, remember to keep that vegan by reaching for a vegan sweetener like maple syrup instead of honey or sugars filtered with bone char.
Vegan Pasta Salad Mix-Ins
As I mentioned before, lots of pasta salads are “accidentally” vegan, without even trying.
In part, that’s because they often includes loads of veggies, and don’t often focus on meat.
But, what if you’re trying to convert a favorite recipe that does include meat – maybe pepperoni in an Italian Pasta Salad, or ham in a “picnic” salad?
You could, of course, look for a plant-based meat-substitute option.
But honestly, the easiest thing to do might simply be to leave out the meat. You probably won’t even miss it!
If you do feel a little something is missing, try adding a bit more dry herbs and spices, or adding in a tasty veggie. For example, tangy pepperoncini peppers can be a big flavor pop in Italian salads. So can super-flavorful Kalamata olives, and also sun-dried tomatoes.
How to Make Vegan Pasta Salads More Filling
It’s easy to add protein to your pasta salad, without adding meat – especially perfect if you want to enjoy your salad as a satisfying main course.
One option is to add protein-rich ingredients like:
Beans (think kidney beans in a Mexican-inspired salad)
Chickpeas (especially great in Mediterranean salads)
Edamame (mmmmmm … so good in Asian salads, for sure)
Quinoa (yup – stir in some of that right along with the pasta!)
Nuts (whether as part of the dressing or as a salad ingredient)
Tofu (again, either as a component in a creamy dressing, or you can add chunks of firm tofu to the salad)
Vegan “meat” and “cheese” substitutes (based on plant proteins like soy)
Another option is to select a protein-rich pasta made from something like chickpea flour (but as we discussed above, always double-check those ingredient lists to be sure the entire product is completely plant-based and vegan-friendly).
Yup … Vegan Salad Recipes Even Meat-Lovers Will Adore!
There’s no doubt that pasta salads beautifully lend themselves to all those parties and potlucks where there’s a mix of dietary needs. They’re kind of like the Switzerland of food – gracefully staying neutral and keeping the peace.
Since pasta salads rarely include meat to begin with, nobody really feels like they’re missing something.
And these recipe ideas and tips will help you be sure you’re selecting plant-based ingredients and swaps.
So, whether you specifically want a vegan recipe … or just a nutritious recipe idea that’ll fit right into any health-minded cooking situation … well, you’ve definitely come to the right place!
Get More Veg-Focused Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes!
Simply trying to incorporate more veggies into your diet? Or maybe you’re following a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet? Either way, we’ve got lots more ideas for you to explore!
And we have a gorgeous collection of the very BEST Vegetarian Meals from bloggers all across the Internet (for ideas that go way beyond pastas to sandwiches, curries, tacos and more … but include a few additional pasta recipes, too).