This vegan pasta salad recipe is an easy and delicious meal that combines the satisfying chewiness of Italian pasta with fresh, colorful, crunchy vegetables and a bold, tangy Italian dressing.

The recipe is perfect for a quick lunch, healthy dinner, and meal prep. You can bring it to picnics and potlucks; vegans and non-vegans alike will rave about it.

You’ll love the combination of textures and flavors of vegan pasta salad and the fact that you can customize it with your favorite ingredients.

vegan pasta salad with white beans

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet if made with gluten-free pasta.

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What is vegan pasta salad?

Vegan pasta salad with beans and Italian dressing

This delicious vegan pasta salad is a quick recipe that combines naturally vegan Italian pasta with fresh vegetables, legumes, herbs, and a delicious dressing.

You’ll love the texture of cold, chewy pasta with juicy, crunchy, colorful veggies and creamy cannellini beans hugged by a bold, citrusy olive oil and mustard dressing.

Like our chickpea pasta salad and black bean salad, this recipe is satisfying and nutritious thanks to the combination of fresh veggies and legumes.

The flavor will remind you of our spaghetti salad, couscous salad, and orzo salad, which are made with similar ingredients.

Vegan pasta salad with beans

If you want an even creamier recipe, try our macaroni salad or creamy pasta salad.

For something with whole grains, we recommend Farro salad and barley salad. Like this easy vegan pasta salad, they are Mediterranean-inspired recipes with simple ingredients.

Take this recipe as a guideline, and feel free to change it up and customize it based on your preferences and dietary needs. We provide ideas for substitutions below.

Vegan pasta salad video

Ingredients & substitutions for vegan pasta salad

Vegan pasta salad ingredients

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Pasta

Use dry Italian pasta, not fresh pasta. Dry pasta holds up better once cooked, and it’s naturally vegan, made with hard wheat or durum wheat semolina flour.

We recommend using a short pasta type with nooks and crannies for the dressing to hide, such as bow ties (farfalle), rotini, fusilli, elbow macaroni, or penne.

If you want to use long pasta, check out our spaghetti pasta salad recipe instead.

If you are on a gluten-free diet, use your favorite gluten-free pasta. You can also use legume-based pasta, such as chickpea, pea, or lentil pasta.

White Beans

Cannellini beans are our favorite for this vegan pasta salad recipe because they are tender, slightly nutty, creamy, and absorb the flavor of the dressing.

Substitute other white bean varieties or legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, green beans, or peas for cannellini.

Cherry Tomatoes

You can use any small tomato.

We like cherry tomatoes, small vine tomatoes, and grape tomatoes because they are sweet and crunchy.

Substitute red pepper for tomatoes.

Corn

We use canned or frozen whole-kernel corn. It adds color, crunch, and sweetness to the salad.

Substitute yellow bell pepper for corn.

Olives

Olives add a salty, umami-rich taste. Make sure you get pitted olives or remove the pit before adding them to the salad.

You can use Kalamata olives, Taggiasche Olives, or generic black or green olives in brine or oil.

Drain the salted water or the oil away before tossing the olives into the salad.

Substitute marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, or capers for olives.

Cucumber

You can use American, English, Persian, and Kirby cucumber. Cucumber adds crunch and freshness to the salad.

Substitute celery or diced zucchini for cucumber.

Red onion

Red onions are the perfect flavor match for white beans and corn.

I recommend using a mild red onion and slicing it thinly for the best results.

Substitute shallots or spring onions for red onions.

Fresh herbs

We use fresh flat-leaf parsley and fresh basil.

Other herbs for this pasta salad are cilantro (fresh coriander), dill, chives, and mint.

Just use the ones you have at hand. Be generous. Fresh herbs add a ton of freshness and flavor.

Dressing

We recommend a simple Italian dressing with:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Maple syrup
  • American mustard or Dijon mustard
  • Dried oregano or Italian seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Grated lemon zest is optional; it adds a refreshing citrusy aroma.

If you want a creamier dressing, we recommend checking out our creamy pasta salad recipe with vegan mayo.

Tip: Feel free to enrich this recipe with your favorite vegan cheese or nuts, such as crumbled vegan feta or toasted walnuts.

Italian dressing

How to make vegan pasta salad

US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water as per package instructions.

Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water for 15 seconds to avoid overcooking.

Transfer the cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl, drizzle with a few drops of olive oil, and mix well. The oil prevents the pasta from sticking while you prep the veggies.

bow ties pasta in mixing bowl with a drop of oil

While the pasta cooks, you can chop the vegetables.

Cut tomatoes in half or quarters. Cut olives in half. Drain the canned corn. Drain and rinse the white beans. Chop the cucumber. Thinly slice the red onion. Finely chop the fresh parsley and basil.

Add all chopped veggies to the bowl with the pasta, then make the dressing.

all ingredients for vegan pasta salad in a mixing bowl

To a small bowl, add extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, dried oregano, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

Optionally, you can add in some grated lemon zest.

Whisk well until the ingredients are emulsified (i.e., the vinegar and the oil become one).

Alternatively, add all ingredients to a small mason jar, close it, and shake well.

dressing in a bowl

Pour the tangy dressing onto the other ingredients and toss well.

Taste and adjust for salt before serving.

just made vegan pasta salad

You can now serve the pasta salad or store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tip: Vegan pasta salad gets more flavorful if you let it sit for 30 minutes as the ingredients and the dressing have time to meld.

Vegan pasta salad with beans and cherry tomatoes

Serving suggestions

You can serve vegan pasta salad as a main for a quick lunch or healthy dinner.

You can pair it with flavorful vegetables or add more protein with one of our delicious tofu recipes. We recommend:

Variations

Creamy Pasta Salad

Creamy pasta salad with mayo and olives

Our creamy pasta salad is a tangycrunchycreamy, and refreshing cold pasta salad recipe you can make with your favorite pasta and crips veggies in about 20 minutes.

Check out our creamy pasta salad recipe.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto pasta salad with walnuts

Pesto pasta salad is another quick and delicious cold pasta salad you can make with your favorite pesto and fresh veggies.

You can make it with our easy basil pesto or your favorite store-bought pesto.

Check out our pesto pasta salad.

Chickpea pasta salad

chickpea pasta salad with a fork in a bowl

Chickpea pasta salad is one of the quickesttastiest, and most fulfilling meals you can make when you want something healthy and satiating but don’t have much time to cook.

Season it with our delicious mustard dressing for a tangy and flavorful meal.

Check out our chickpea pasta salad recipe.

Eggplant pasta salad

roasted eggplant salad with farfalle pasta

Eggplant salad is an easy and delicious recipe made with roasted or air-fried eggplant, chickpeas, and other crunchy seasonal vegetables. It’s perfect as a make-ahead meal for potlucks and picnics.

Check out our eggplant pasta salad recipe.

Spaghetti pasta salad

Spaghetti salad with fork

Spaghetti salad is an easy, delicious, and colorful dish with fresh veggies, cooked spaghetti, a tangy Italian dressing, and your favorite add-ins.

It’s excellent for a healthy lunch, picnicpotluck, and family dinner.

Check out our spaghetti salad recipe.

Five mistakes to avoid when making pasta salad

Using the wrong pasta

penne, farfalle, and fusilli uncooked in bowls

Use dry pasta made from 100% durum wheat semolina flour.

Any imported pasta from Italy (Barilla, De Cecco, Buitoni, Molisana, Rummo, and others) is a good choice.

Once cooked and cooled, dry pasta holds its shape and texture well. Do not use fresh pasta for pasta salad; it won’t hold its shape.

Regarding pasta shapes, short and small types such as rotini, fusilli, orecchiette, farfalle (bow ties), and elbows are generally better than long and large pasta shapes.

Not salting the pasta water.

Not adding salt to the pasta cooking water is the most common mistake.

Pasta water should always be salted. Sea salt or Kosher salt is best. The salted water infuses the pasta with flavor.

This is especially true for cold pasta salads, vegetarian pasta salads, and vegan pasta salads.

The cold temperature makes the dish less tasty, so add salt to the cooking water.

How much salt did you ask? Here’s a quick summary:

PastaWaterSalt
8 ounces or 230 grams2 quarts or 8 cups or 2 liters1 tablespoon or 15 grams
12 ounces or 340 grams3 quarts or 12 cups or 3 liters1.5 tablespoons or 21 grams
1 pound or 450 grams1 gallon or 16 cups or 4 liters2 tablespoons or 30 grams
pasta in a sieve rinsed under cold water

Undercooking the pasta

Cook the pasta for the time indicated on the package. We rarely advise that, as we usually want the pasta a little undercooked to keep it al dente.

However, when it comes to pasta salads, we cool down the pasta with water and then put it in the fridge.

The cold temperature makes the pasta a little harder, with some bite, so we don’t want to undercook it.

Overcooking the pasta.

In the same way, we don’t want to overcook the pasta.

To prevent that, drain the pasta and rinse it under cold running water for 10 to 15 seconds to cool it down.

Do not rinse the pasta for over 15 seconds, or it will lose flavor.

Not making enough dressing.

Since pasta salad is served cold or at room temperature, its flavor will be muted compared to a warm pasta dish, as cold temperatures reduce the perceived flavor of foods.

A good, tasty dressing is vital to ensuring your pasta salad won’t be bland.

When making pasta salad in advance (for instance, if you bring it to picnics or potlucks), make a double portion of dressing and bring it with you to add at the last minute before serving the salad.

While in the fridge, the pasta will absorb most of the dressing. It’ll get a little dry. Adding extra dressing just before serving makes all the difference.

Vegan pasta salad with beans and Italian dressing

Tips

If you want to increase protein

This vegan pasta salad already packs enough protein, thanks to the beans and the pasta.

However, to boost that up even more, you can use pasta made with legumes (chickpea pasta, lentil pasta, or protein pasta).

You can also double up the bean content or add fried tofu, air-fried tofu, marinated tofu, or baked tofu.

Let the pasta salad sit for 30 minutes before eating it

The pasta salad will taste much better as the flavors have time to come together.

If you store the pasta salad in the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before eating it.

Nutrition Tip

Adding legumes such as beans, chickpeas, edamame, and lentils to pasta is a healthy, quick, and cheap way to ensure you are eating more than enough (complete) protein.

Legumes contain a high level of Lysine, an essential protein building block, but are deficient in Methionine. On the other hand, pasta and grains are rich in Methionine (another essential protein building block) but deficient in Lysine.

So, to get a complete protein profile with all essential amino acids, combine legumes and grains.

Vegan pasta salad with beans

Questions

Can I make vegan pasta salad gluten-free?

Yes, you can make gluten-free pasta salad by using any gluten-free pasta.

Why is my pasta salad so bland and has no flavor?

Your pasta salad is bland for two reasons:

1) you did not add salt to the pasta cooking water.
2) the dressing is not tasty/salty enough.

Pasta salad requires more condiments/salt than warm pasta because it is eaten cold, often from the fridge, and the cold temperature reduces the dish’s flavor.

How do you fix bland pasta salad?

To fix a bland pasta salad, you’ve got to add more dressing. This is especially true if you did not add salt to the pasta cooking water. Remember that the dressing for pasta salad should be bold, as the pasta’s cold temperature reduces the dish’s taste.

In some cases, if you have not added salt to the pasta cooking water, you might have to add salt directly to the pasta salad.

Should pasta salad sit overnight?

No. Pasta salad does not need to sit overnight. You can make it and eat it. To increase its flavor, you can make it ahead and let it sit for 30 minutes. This is enough time for the flavors to come together.

How long is pasta salad good out of the fridge?

According to international food safety standards (HACCP), food left out of the fridge for more than 2 hours should not be consumed. This also applies to pasta salads.

Can I add different veggies?

Yes, but make sure you keep into account three things when you change the veggies: 1) colors – you want bright colors that go well together; 2) textures – you want a mix of crunchy, soft, and creamy; 3) flavors – you want a sweet, acidic, and umami.

Baked vegetables are also delicious in this pasta salad. Check out our Roasted Vegetables for inspiration.

Storage & Make ahead

Make ahead: you can make this vegan pasta salad up to 3 days in advance.

If you do so, I recommend doubling up the dressing and bringing half with you to add shortly before the pasta salad is served.

This is because the pasta will absorb most of the dressing as it sits in the fridge.

Refrigerator: store leftovers in the fridge, preferably in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.

More pasta salads

More grains salads

vegan pasta salad in a bowl

Vegan Pasta Salad

By: Nico Pallotta
4.95 from 17 votes
This vegan pasta salad recipe is an easy and delicious meal that combines the satisfying chewiness of Italian pasta with fresh, colorful, crunchy vegetables and a bold, tangy Italian dressing.
The recipe is perfect for a quick lunch, healthy dinner, and meal prep. You can bring it to picnics and potlucks; vegans and non-vegans alike will rave about it.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Pasta Salad

  • 8 ounces farfalle pasta or rotini + 2 quarts/8 cups/2 Liters water and 1 tablespoon/15 grams sea salt.
  • 1 can (15-ounces) cannellini beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1 heaping cup cucumber diced
  • ½ cup olives halved
  • ½ cup corn
  • 1 red onion or shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons parsley finely chopped
  • 15 leaves basil optional

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice + grated zest of ½ lemon, optional
  • 1 tablespoon mustard American or Dijon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Cook 8 ounces farfalle pasta in a large pot with salted boiling water as per package instructions.
    Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water for 10 seconds to avoid overcooking.
    Transfer the pasta to a large bowl, drizzle with a few drops of olive oil and stir.
    bow ties pasta in mixing bowl with a drop of oil
  • Add 1 can (15-ounces) cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), 2 cups cherry tomatoes (quartered), 1 heaping cup cucumber (diced), ½ cup olives (halved), ½ cup corn, 1 red onion (thinly sliced), 3 tablespoons parsley (chopped), and 15 leaves basil.
    all ingredients for vegan pasta salad in a mixing bowl
  • To a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
    Whisk until combined.
    Italian dressing
  • Pour the dressing onto the pasta and toss well.
    Taste and adjust for salt before serving.
    Vegan pasta salad with beans

Video

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of vegan pasta salad out of 4 servings.
STORAGE & MAKE AHEAD
Make ahead: you can make this vegan pasta salad up to 3 days in advance.
If you do so, I recommend doubling up the dressing and bringing half with you to add shortly before the pasta salad is served.
This is because the pasta will absorb most of the dressing as it sits in the fridge.
Refrigerator: store leftovers in the fridge, preferably in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.
Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 442kcal, Carbohydrates: 69g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 513mg, Dietary Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 903IU, Vitamin B6: 0.3mg, Vitamin C: 32mg, Vitamin E: 3mg, Vitamin K: 71µg, Calcium: 96mg, Folate: 46µg, Iron: 3mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 60mg, Zinc: 1mg
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If you like this vegan pasta salad, you might also enjoy:


Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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5 Comments

  1. I am having vegan friends for lunch and the pasta salad looks delicious. Any suggestions for what to pair would be nice. Thank you

    Delores

    1. Hi Delores,

      Sounds like wonderful lunch plans! If you jump to the section in the article with “serving suggestions”: https://theplantbasedschool.com/vegan-pasta-salad/#h-serving-suggestions you will see our favorite protein pairings, such as air fryer tofu and roasted tofu 🙂

      If you’re looking for vegetable inspiration, I recommend this article: https://theplantbasedschool.com/best-vegetable-sides/ with roasted, grilled, marinated, braised veggies that will hopefully inspire you for your lunch plans.

      I hope that helps. Enjoy 🎉

      Kindest, Louise

    1. Hi Linda, to make this recipe with less fat you can take away the avocado and replace it with an oven roasted zucchini. Just dice the zucchini, put it on a baking tray with parchment paper and bake it for 30 minutes at 200˚C / 380˚F.

      If you want even less fat, then you can also remove the olives. Replace them with some capers or chopped sun dried tomatoes to keep the umami taste.

      If you want even less fat, then you can also reduce the amount of olive oil by cutting it in half.
      Hope this helps! 🙂