Aggie's Kitchen

Macaroni Salad (Mayo-Free)

Macaroni Salad (Mayo-Free)

Macaroni Salad (Mayo-Free)

Is it beach weather where you live yet (or I guess depending on where you live I should ask pool, lake or picnic weather)? Is our weather finally on the same page across the country?

My family and I started hitting the beach on the weekends early last month. I don’t necessarily wait till the weather warms up to enjoy the beach, I LOVE the beach pretty much all times of the year , every season (fall and early spring might be my favorite), any time of day (early mornings and late afternoons are the most peaceful for me), every weather condition (where I come from we flock to the beach when a hurricane is brewing). I spent most of my life just 10 minutes from the ocean (and was lucky to work at my parents restaurant that was just a few feet from it) and can honestly say that I am my calmest and happiest self near the water. When I lived at home with my family, going to the beach consisted of grabbing a towel, a bottle of water and a book and heading out the door. My hometown beach is small and quaint so parking or finding a quiet spot on the sand was never an issue.

It was and still is my favorite place to be.

These days though, I live close to 45 minutes from the beach. Sadly, we (I) don’t get there as often as I would like. And my “new” beach is not like my old quiet and quaint beach, it’s pretty much the exact opposite. My new beach is a destination beach and there are lots of cars, peoples, hotels, bikes and stuffs going on. It’s a little different. It’s a lot different. But you know what? Once I settle into my chair and see the backsides of my kids running out toward the water, it’s all good. I’m at ease and in a happy place (though sweaty and a little winded after lugging a ridiculous amount of bags, chairs, towels, toys, a cooler and an umbrella, I guess it counts as workout of some sort right?). There is absolutely nothing like that fresh ocean breeze and the subtle sounds of waves crashing, sigh…even if there is a Spring Break USA scene going on behind me.

For fun…last spring, I tweeted a photo of my kids to our weather guy… how excited were we to see it on the afternoon news later that day!


I always pack up a big cooler when going to the beach. We get hungry. It usually consists of lots of sandwiches, fruit, snacks, beverages. On our last beach day, I wanted to eat something a little different. I very quickly and easily put together this mayo-free pasta salad using basic ingredients I pretty much always have on hand. Since there’s no mayo, it’s easy to serve at any outdoor get together you may be planning or having over the next few glorious months of summer!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Macaroni Salad (Mayo-Free)

Macaroni Salad (Mayo-Free)

Print Recipe

Macaroni Salad (Mayo-Free)


For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • good pinch of salt and pepper

For the macaroni salad:

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat elbow macaroni, cooked and cooled
  • 2-3 celery stalks, rough chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (I use Bush's Best Garbanzo Beans)


For the Dressing

  1. Prepare dressing in an air tight container or glass jar. Add all ingredients to container and shake well for a few seconds until well blended. Taste for salt and pepper.

For the Salad

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing to the pasta and veggies and toss gently to cover. Taste for salt and pepper and season accordingly. Add more dressing if needed or set aside to add at a later time (if not serving immediately, you may have to redress your salad a bit, the pasta tends to soak in the dressing when it sits in the fridge for a while. I also like just splashing on red wine vinegar on its own to freshen it up.)

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More mayo-free pasta salads for you to enjoy:

Pasta Salad with Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette

Easy Mayo-Free Pasta Salad from Delicious Dishings

Shrimp Pasta with Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette from Mommie Cooks

Spring Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Artichokes from Food For My Family

Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad with White Beans and Spinach from My Kitchen Addiction

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37 Responses to “Macaroni Salad (Mayo-Free)”

  1. Lauren posted May 16, 2012 at 9:43 am

    That is so cool to see your photo on TV!! This looks perfect!

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 10:49 am

      thanks Lauren! It was pretty fun to see on TV!

  2. Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch posted May 16, 2012 at 9:51 am

    How fun for the kids to see the photo you tweeted on television. I bet they were ecstatic! This macaroni salad looks like the perfect addition to any outdoor get together where food is involved – and food is always involved! 🙂

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 10:48 am

      It was pretty exciting! (for all of us!)

      yes, I agree, food is pretty much involved in everything isn’t it? 😉

  3. j3nn posted May 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I’m not near the beach but this salad sounds great to eat while fantasizing about it. 🙂

  4. Chef Chuck posted May 16, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Great family outdoor salad!! I just made one for this mothers day with my family for our Sedona river retreat, that also has “Garbanzo Beans”, love them…
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 10:47 am

      I love adding garbanzos to pasta salads! There is another one I make all the time with a balsamic basil vinaigrette and the garbanzos always add some nice protein and texture. Thanks for the comment!

      • chefchuck posted May 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

        Hi Aggie, So true, great protein! Your welcome …

  5. Cassie posted May 16, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I absolutely love this already. Can’t wait to try. So jealous of your proximity to the beach!

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Thanks! Come visit me Cassie! 🙂

  6. Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray posted May 16, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Yay, I prefer my pasta salad without mayonaisse–this dressing looks tasty! And perfect for outdoor enjoyment. I can’t wait for beach days to start here!

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

      soon for you I hope! 🙂

  7. Erica posted May 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

    So cool that you got on the news!! I am not a mayo fan, this sounds just perfect to me. Happy summer 😉

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Happy summer to you too 🙂
      I always tend to lean toward mayo free pasta over the creamy ones too!

  8. Heather (Heather's Dish) posted May 16, 2012 at 10:35 am


    if only we had a beach nearby! too bad colorado is land-locked 🙁 there are a few lakes with beaches that are SUPER crowded, but i say some water and sand is better than none at all!

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 10:44 am

      But you do have mountains…I have to say, the few times I’ve visited CO or UT they have taken my breath away. And the hiking…

      We need to figure out how to have the best of both worlds 🙂

      and yes, some water and sand is better than none at all!

  9. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar posted May 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

    This sounds great for any time of day! Yum!

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

      thanks! and it does make enough to enjoy for a few days, I packed it for my daughter’s lunch and she loved it! (minus the garbanzos, red peppers and onions 🙂 )

  10. patsy posted May 16, 2012 at 11:33 am

    This salad looks perfect to take along on our beach days! We haven’t had quite warm enough weather to really take advantage just yet, but it’s coming!

  11. Shaina posted May 16, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I am always drawn to the ocean. The closest thing we have here is Lake Superior, which will have to do…though not quite as comfortable to swim in. The pasta salad looks refreshing and like the perfect beach food!

  12. Jeanette posted May 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Aggie, I wish it was beach weather in CT. The water is definitely much warmer in FL. Love that you tweeted a picture of your kids and it was on the news, very cool. As for this mayo-free macaroni salad, great idea, perfect for a picnic, BBQ or beach day.

  13. Lenore posted May 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I love mayo-less macaroni salads, but I’ve never thought to add chopped carrots before! I need to get to the beach this summer…since it is such a schlep (I grew up right by the beach, too), I skip it more often than not, even though I always love it once I get there.

  14. Cookin' Canuck posted May 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Okay, a few things here. 1) I always knew you and I were kindred spirits. I grew up close to the beach, too and it is where I feel calm and just…right. 2) I love that this macaroni salad is mayo-free. It looks like the perfect picnic salad! 3) How fun that the weather guy posted the picture you tweeted. Too cute!

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Oh Dara, it is a feeling that is just “right” isn’t it? You’ll have to come down and visit me. We can lounge in the sand with a drink in our hand. 😉

  15. Angie posted May 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Love the salad, and love it’s low fat. Your beach pics are wonderful! Can’t wait to go back myself now.

  16. Jen posted May 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I love the idea of putting garbanzo beans in a pasta salad. I’ve never thought of that! Thanks for the recipe.

  17. Kim | At Home With Kim posted May 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Aggie, that is SO awesome that your picture landed on the news! Too cute!!! I just pinned this recipe to make ASAP. I LOVE pasta salad. BTW, I’m completely jealous that you are 45 minutes from the beach. 🙂

  18. shelly (cookies and cups) posted May 17, 2012 at 8:09 am

    This sounds like the perfect lunch!

  19. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids posted May 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

    We love the beach, too, but, it is quite a drive for us to get there. I agree, though, I feel my happiest and best in the sunshine, and so do my littles.

    This pasta salad looks delicious, Aggie. I always love your healthy, gorgeous recipes!

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      You are sweet Natalie, thank you! I love the sunshine…it’s been raining (much needed) the last few days here and I’m starting to feel it…need sun!! 🙂

  20. Samantha@FerraroKitchen posted May 17, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I also always grew up by some sort of water! NY, then hawaii and now 2 blocks away from the pier in Cali… need to come here! We’re in a small beach town and you would just LOVE it. I’ll be waiting 😉

    • Aggies Kitchen posted May 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      ohhh Samantha, don’t tempt me girl! What’s the name of your small beach town? 🙂

  21. ea-the spicy rd posted May 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I love the boogie board photo!! And, great idea to take a macaroni salad to the beach. I live 2 miles from the beach, so we do go a lot in the summer, but right now is “May Gray” and next month we have “June Gloom” in San Diego, so not the best beach weather, until July…Enjoy your time at the beach!!!

  22. Julie M. posted May 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Nice shot you got! It’s no wonder they popped up on the evening news! We’re big beach goers in this family too. We live a bit far, but seeing as both sets of grandparents live at the beach, we get our fill that way. I can absolutely see how this salad would be a simple and tasty addition to a lunch outdoors. Thanks so much for the link up aggie and have a great weekend!

  23. Rachel posted May 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Wow! That looks delicious! I usually don’t like pasta salad because of the mayo, but this one would be perfect for me. Can’t wait to try it out! 🙂

  24. Tara @ Unsophisticook posted May 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I’m not a big mayo fan, so I love that this is mayo free!

  25. Marc Luzietti posted June 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

    There’s nothing wrong with using mayo for picnic salads. Mayo is full of vinegar. It’s not the mayo that spoils, it’s what you put in it: eggs, chicken, tuna, potatoes, pasta, etc., that goes bad.

    I haven’t refrigerated mayo in years. It might go rancid, after a few months, but it rarely lasts that long.

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