This healthy macaroni salad recipe is packed with fresh veggies, chickpea pasta, and a high-protein dressing that makes this side dish super creamy! This satisfying dish is low in calories and high in flavor, perfect for your next cookout!

healthy macaroni salad
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I have to admit that for many years, I thought I didn’t like macaroni salad. I’ve never been a big fan of mayonnaise, although I’ve recently accepted that a little bit of mayonnaise can be a wonderfully simple way to add flavor to dressings and dips. But I’ve never found myself craving a mayonnaise-heavy salad like coleslaw, potato salad, or traditional macaroni salad.

I didn’t want to give up on the idea of a macaroni salad, but I also didn’t want to try to substitute Greek yogurt in a dish like this. While I love Greek yogurt, the tangy flavor can throw off savory dishes like this one. That’s when I had an idea… why not try blended cottage cheese? It’s worked well in pasta sauce and pudding, so I thought it was worth trying!

You guys, it worked SO WELL. The results were delicious, and my husband ate a whole serving without even a raised eyebrow or a “What did you use in this?” so you know it tastes like the real deal.

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Macaroni– I used chickpea pasta because it has more protein and fiber, but this recipe also works with whole wheat noodles or regular pasta.
  • Cottage cheese– I used low-fat cottage cheese, but full-fat cottage cheese will make this even creamier.
  • Mayonnaise– A little bit of mayonnaise adds creaminess and flavor. So don’t skip it! But you can use vegan mayo or olive oil mayonnaise.
  • Red wine vinegar– A splash of vinegar amplifies the tangy flavor. You can substitute this for apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
  • Celery– Minced celery adds a nice crunch to the salad. Don’t skip it!
  • Carrots– I prefer the flavor of freshly shredded carrots. I shred them on a small box grater. But you can buy pre-shredded carrots if you need to save time.

How to Make Healthy Macaroni Salad