This creamy avocado macaroni salad recipe is perfect for summer gatherings! A classic vegan macaroni salad with a dairy free, avocado sauce.

Creamy Avocado Macaroni Salad | The Full Helping

What spells summer more than a big bowl of macaroni salad?!

More and more, I find myself gravitating toward nostalgic dishes. This was especially true during Covid, when so few things felt solid and secure. Macaroni salad was a childhood favorite of mine, and this creamy avocado macaroni salad is a delicious tribute to it.

I’ve made vegan macaroni salad a few times before, but I’ve always taken the easy route of using vegan mayo as a base. Nothing wrong with that, of course! However, blended avocado is a delicious, nutritious alternative.

How to make macaroni salad

Classic macaroni salad is made with cooked macaroni, vegetables, and a mayonnaise-based dressing. It’s a simple dish to prepare: cook pasta, add mix-ins, add mayo, stir.

Making the avocado macaroni salad recipe is nearly as easy as the classic version. You cook and drain the pasta, blend your avocado-based dressing ingredients together, add veggies, and mix. You can use a food processor or a blender to make the sauce.

Why avocado is a perfect base for macaroni salad

The avocado-based creaminess in this macaroni salad isn’t over-the-top. It’s there, but it’s subtle. Plus, avocado is rich in health-supporting nutrients. These include fiber, folate, Vitamin E, potassium, and healthful fats.

I tried a few different versions of the dressing as I was playing around with the recipe. One only included avocado, another avocado and olive oil. Another—the I liked the most—was avocado blended with unsweetened vegan yogurt.

I love the tanginess that the yogurt adds to the sauce! And the consistency of the sauce is perfect for macaroni salad. As an added bonus for those who eat oils sparingly, the sauce is naturally oil free.

Avocado macaroni salad ingredients

The ingredients for the avocado macaroni salad are pretty flexible. You don’t have to use the same vegetables that I used, and there are lots of ways that you could jazz up the sauce. I wanted to keep the dish very simple, and the recipe reflects that.

Here’s what it’s made with:

Avocado

I used about half of a large, Hass avocado. If you have a smaller avocado, you can just use a little more than half. I give a cup measurement in the recipe!

Vegan yogurt

Any plain, unsweetened, non-dairy yogurt is fine here: almond, cashew, coconut, or soy. My go-to vegan yogurt lately is the Forager brand cashew-gurt, but I’ve used a lot of other yogurts in meals and cooking. Just be sure that the yogurt is unsweetened, as it’ll make the sauce too sweet otherwise.

White vinegar

I often use lemon juice in dressings and sauces like this, but sometimes the lemon can compete with other flavors. I’ve been using white vinegar a lot in dressings lately, originally because it was always on hand at the start of quarantine, whereas lemons tended to run out. But I’m enjoying the fact that it can add acid to a dressing without being overly assertive.

Elbow pasta

I use elbows in the salad, but another small pasta shape will also be fine! Try the dish with mini shells, tubeti, or even orzo.

Vegetable mix-ins

I almost always come back to a combination of bell pepper, carrots, celery, and red onion when I make macaroni salad. The proportions fit my tastes: lots of bell pepper, very little onion, but enough to impart some flavor. I think chopped scallions, broccoli florets, peas, and grape tomatoes would all be lovely. And I didn’t add herbs to the recipe, but you certainly could.

Preparation and storage

Once the avocado macaroni salad is ready, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. This makes it easy to prepare in advance of a gathering, if that suits your schedule.

Can I freeze macaroni salad?

You can! Macaroni salad, like many pasta dishes, can be frozen. The leftovers of this recipe can stay in the freezer for up to four weeks.

Serving options

The avocado macaroni salad would fit well into any summer grilling or cookout. If you want to serve it as a side, it would be a great accompaniment to BBQ soy curl sandwiches, sweet potato black bean burgers, or sweet potato red pepper quesadillas.

You can also turn the avocado macaroni salad into a main course by adding some cubed tofu, tempeh, or vegan bacon. Maybe with a slaw or some steamed broccoli on the side.

Creamy Avocado Macaroni Salad | The Full Helping
5 from 3 votes

Creamy Avocado Macaroni Salad

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 6 people

Ingredients

Macaroni salad

  • 8 ounces elbow pasta (or another short pasta shape)
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped or grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (substitute chopped scallions)
  • optional: chopped fresh herbs of choice

Creamy avocado sauce

  • 1/2 large, Hass avocado (about 2/3 cup, or 3 ounces/90 g)
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) unsweetened, plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar (substitute apple cider vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or coarse salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • pinch of freshly ground, black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to package instructions. Drain and rinse the macaroni in cold, running water. Drain again.
  • While the macaroni cooks, add all sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend till smooth. The sauce should be thick, but pourable. If it's too thick, you can add an extra tablespoon of water to thin it a bit.
  • Once the pasta has been cooked and drained, add it to a large mixing bowl, along with your vegetables and herbs, if using. Add all of the sauce. Toss the ingredients together well and serve.
Creamy Avocado Macaroni Salad | The Full Helping

Happy summer!

xo

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Recipe Rating




    7 Comments
  1. Wow, I’ve honestly never thought of using avocado as the base of a sauce like this! What a great idea. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Just made this for 4th of July dinner – it’s delicious! Thank you for sharing a non-dairy version of this salad that is reminiscent of childhood summertime cookouts!

  3. 5 stars
    Hello Gena, this recipe looks very yummy! My hubby likes salad very much and I hope he will like this one too! Can’t wait to make it at home for him!!One question, what is the alternative to black pepper?

  4. This looks delicious. I love that it does not contain any oils and can’t wait to try it this weekend!