Battle of the Pasta Salads: Mayo vs. No Mayo

Summer means cookouts, and cookouts mean pasta salad. We're bringing our favorite kinds of pasta salad to the table and letting the mayo and no-mayo renditions duke it out once and for all.

Summer means cookouts, and cookouts mean pasta salad. If we had to guess, you belong in one of two camps of people: those who live for a creamy pasta salad loaded with the good stuff, or those who like to take a fresher, lighter mayo-free approach. In honor of this age-old battle of the sides, we're bringing our favorite kinds of pasta salad to the table and letting the mayo and no-mayo renditions duke it out once and for all. For each type of pasta salad, whether it's classic, family-friendly or something more adventurous, there's a recipe for mayo lovers and haters alike.

If you keep your pasta salad classic ...

American Macaroni Salad: Food Network Kitchens

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Team Mayo: Classic, Creamy  American Macaroni Salad

Perhaps the most-quintessential cookout-bound recipe of all, Food Network Kitchen's creamy, chunky macaroni salad is just begging to be invited to your summer gatherings. You might not believe it by the looks of it, but this ultra-creamy recipe is actually better for you than anything you might buy premade at the store.

Neely's Lemon Pasta Salad; The Neelys

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Team No Mayo: Fresh and Bright  Lemon Pasta Salad

With loads of 5-star reviews and a very doable ingredient list, this classic corkscrew-based pasta salad is bound to be a family favorite, especially without divisive mayo involved. Instead, it's tossed with a vibrant lemon dressing that stands up to the fresh scattering of asparagus, peas and cherry tomatoes.

If you like an Italian-style pasta salad ...

FN.com Off the Menu, St. Patrick's and Bacon/ CC Healthy

Photo by: Kate Mathis ©(C) 2013 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Kate Mathis, (C) 2013 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Team Mayo: Italian-Style  Pasta, Pesto and Peas

With pasta at its core, cold pasta salad lends itself perfectly to an Italian flavor profile, even when it's all taken cold. Loaded with peas, pine nuts and chopped spinach, Ina Garten's green-as-can-be, 5-star recipe is clinging with a seriously delicious, homemade basil pesto; the dish gets extra creamy with a little mayo added to the mix.

Team No Mayo: Top-Rated  Tomato Feta Pasta Salad

In between mouthfuls of fusilli, you'll spear bites of salty feta, Kalamata olives and juicy ripe tomatoes. And forget the mayo. The spiraled noodles will soak up a vinegar-spiked, sun-dried-tomato-packed dressing in its place.

If you're serving up pasta salad for kids ...

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Fair game for family cookouts and weekday lunches alike, Ree Drummond's basil-, bacon- and cheese-filled pasta toss will be a sure winner with the kid component of your group. Opting for a fun pasta shape doesn't hurt its chances either.

Team No Mayo:  Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad the Kids Will Love

Simple to make in just 20 minutes, Food Network Kitchen's kid-approved recipe is a prime way to sneak some veggies in. Instead of mayo, a tangy red wine vinegar-based dressing does the trick.

If you like your pasta salad to have a kick ...

The Pioneer Woman counters the mayo-based creaminess of her summery recipe featured in Food Network Magazine with the heat of smoky adobo sauce, taken from a can of chipotles.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Team No Mayo:  Southwestern Pasta Salad

You definitely won't miss the mayo here. Bobby Flay creates a smoky, tangy sauce instead by combining vinegar and chipotle peppers in a blender until the ingredients emulsify, and he scatters the entire dish with lima beans, corn, peppers, tomatillos and onions.

Listen, even if you don't like to give your pasta salad the mayo treatment, that doesn't mean your cookout sides will be dry and sad by any means. In fact, there are plenty of dressing alternatives that will keep your noodles just as flavorful.

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