This classic Vegan Pasta Salad is easy, colorful, and a perfect side dish for parties. With fresh veggies like cucumber, tomato, and peppers plus chickpeas, olives, and zesty Italian dressing, it's a classic for a reason! For a lighter pasta salad, pair it with our Oil-Free Aquafaba Italian Dressing.
Why You'll Love It
A cool and refreshing pasta salad is always a hit. And dare I say, it's also an easy way to show friends and family that vegan food is just normal food. You know what I mean? There's need to show up at your cousin's barbecue with a seitan roast, unless you just want to. 😎
Especially for new vegans, sometimes it's nice to slide under the radar at social events, and this classic, familiar, regular pasta salad is perfect for that!
This recipe was inspired by the good old fashioned pasta salads I grew up enjoying at potlucks and backyard cookouts. And it's every bit as delicious, versatile, and easy!
Flexibility is the name of the game here. When choosing vegetables for pasta salad I like to incorporate a variety of textures, from crisp peppers to 'meaty' zucchini, but it's also nice to use whatever is in season.
Dressing - I used my Fat-Free Italian Dressing (a double batch), which I created especially for this pasta salad. Feel free to use any Italian vinaigrette you love, homemade or store-bought. Just be sure to check the ingredients for dairy because cheese is often added.
Pasta - Choose penne, rotini, farfalle, or any other bite-size pasta you like, regular or gluten-free.
Vegetables - I like to use a variety of colorful veggies for pasta salad. Since it's summer right now I included cucumber, tomatoes, and zucchini, but don't be afraid to experiment. We also love chopped carrots, sliced radishes, jicama, and green onion. In fall and winter, roasted vegetables add a nice twist. Try it with squash, beets, and broccoli or cauliflower.
Flavorful Extras - I'm a sucker for olives, so they always make the cut! Canned artichoke hearts also add nice texture and briny flavor. Fresh parsley and/or basil are highly recommended. Oh, and quick-pickling the red onion is another flavorful trick!
Vegan Cheese - Violife's Just Like Parm is wonderful in this salad. For an oil-free option I highly recommend my Vegan Almond Feta recipe! It's crumbly, tangy, and salty, and adds an extra bit of umami and richness that takes the pasta salad up a notch.
See recipe card below for quantities and full instructions.
How to Make Vegan Pasta Salad
Making pasta salad is as easy as boiling water and chopping a few veggies.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, wash and chop the veggies. Combine the red onion and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water until no longer warm.
- Combine the pasta, veggies, herbs, and dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Add cheese and more herbs, if desired, and serve cool.
- Gluten-Free - make this recipe gluten-free with your choice of pasta. If using store-bought dressing be sure to look for a gluten-free variety.
- Beans - make this dish more filling by doubling the amount of chickpeas; also try kidney beans, black eyed peas, or white beans.
- Oil-Free - use the Italian dressing linked in the recipe below to keep this dish oil-free; for a more classic olive-oil based version use any basic Italian vinaigrette you like. You can also simply replace the aquafaba in our oil-free dressing with olive oil, and adjust the seasonings to taste.
How to Store Leftovers
Vegan pasta salad keeps in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. This will vary depending on the fresh vegetables used. Some tend to hold up better than others.
Pasta salad is not freezer friendly.
For the best flavor it's important to generously salt the pasta cooking water!
I hope you enjoy this easy vegan pasta salad. If you try the recipe be sure to comment below and leave a star rating to let us know!
More Vegan Party Recipes
P.S. If you love fresh herbs try this Parsley-Dill Pesto Pasta Salad!
Vegan Pasta Salad (Oil-Free Option)
- ⅔ to ¾ cup Italian vinaigrette (tap this link to get the oil-free recipe and make a double batch) - You may also add olive oil to that recipe, or use your favorite store-bought Italian dressing.
- 16 ounces dry pasta such as fusilli, rotini, or farfalle, gluten-free if needed
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or other mild vinegar - For pickling the red onion.
- 1 large orange, yellow, or red bell pepper, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium English cucumber, thinly sliced - Or sub peeled regular cucumber.
- 8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or chopped
- 1 (15 oz) can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 3 to 4 ounces sliced black olives
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or basil, plus more for servings
- Vegan Parm or Feta - See Notes for options.
- salt and pepper, to taste
- First, make the dressing. The oil-free version is VERY light, so you'll probably use the entire double batch (about ¾ cup). If using an oil-based dressing you may need less.
- Place the diced onion in a small bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions. Since the pasta will be chilled immediately after cooking you want it to be fully cooked and tender, not just al dente.
- While the pasta cooks finish washing and chopping the vegetables and additions. When the pasta is done, drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water until cool. Toss and shake the colander occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Return the pasta to the pot, and add the chopped vegetables and about ⅔ cup dressing. Toss to distribute the dressing, then taste for seasoning, adding more dressing, salt and/or pepper, if desired. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Add cheese (use as much as you like), and garnish with more herbs if desired. Serve cool.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.