Macaroni salad mixed with creamy dressing

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe – NatashasKitchen.com


Macaroni Salad is one of those dishes that just says summertime. Often paired with BBQ meats, hot dogs, and hamburgers, it’s the perfect creamy, refreshing side dish to please a crowd. 

We love to serve this easy Macaroni Salad with Grilled Steak or Juicy Burgers and Grilled Corn on the Cob for the perfect summer menu.

Macaroni salad mixed with creamy dressing

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Easy Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a staple American pasta salad made with tender pasta, hardboiled eggs, crunchy veggies, and a creamy dressing. You’ll find it served throughout the year to cool down hot proteins sizzling on the grill or to pair with a sandwich on a picnic. A perfect, minimal prep recipe for those hot summer months! 

Ingredients for Macaroni Salad

  • Elbow Macaroni – Elbow macaroni is the most classic choice for macaroni salad. While you can get away with swapping in rotini or penne, nothing compares to the creamy dressing getting stuck in tiny crooks of the macaroni! 
  • Red Bell Peppers – We like to use red bell peppers for their subtle sweetness. If you can’t get your hands on them, any other color will do. 
  • Red Onion – Red onion works best for its pop of color and strong flavor. 
  • Celery – Fresh celery adds just the right amount of crunch and texture. 
  • Hardboiled Eggs – You can snag premade hard-boiled eggs or whip up your own using my guide on perfect-boiled eggs. 

Pro Tip: In this recipe, we prefer to use bell peppers, red onion, and celery as the veggies of choice, but feel free to swap those out for any other crunchy veggies you like best (carrots and peas are both great choices).

Ingredients for macaroni salad with elbow macaroni and vegetables

The Best Dressing for Macaroni Salad

  • Mayonnaise – Creamy, full-fat mayo is your best bet. Alternatively, you can use half mayo and half greek yogurt if you like it a little on the tangier side. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar adds just the right amount of tang to cut through the fat of the mayo. 
  • Sweet Pickle Relish – Use the same sweet relish as you would for hot dogs in this recipe. You can also chop up dill pickles o
  • Mustard – Regular yellow mustard or dijon mustard works best! You don’t need to run to the store to grab anything too fancy. 
  • Salt & Pepper – Finish the pasta salad with as much or as little salt and pepper as suits you! 
  • Fresh Herbs (Optional) – If you’d like, add in some minced fresh parsley, dill, or green onion for an extra pop of color and flavor. 

Pro Tip: If you like a kick of spice, add some cayenne pepper to the dressing. If you like it extra salty, add in some diced ham cubes. 

Ingredients for creamy dressing with mayo and relish

How to Make Macaroni Salad

  1. Prepare the Pasta – Cook elbow macaroni according to the package instructions. Drain it through a colander and rinse the pasta under cold water and set it aside. 
  2. Make the Dressing – In a separate bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth and creamy.
  3. Toss the Salad – Place the macaroni, veggies, and eggs into a large bowl. Pour in the dressing, stir to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill the salad in the fridge for a couple of hours or serve immediately. Enjoy! 
Step by step how to make macaroni pasta salad dressing and pasta salad

To Serve

Make-Ahead 

If you want to get ahead of prep, you can make the salad a couple of hours or up to a day ahead of time. keep it covered and stored in the refrigerator. The best part is that it will continue to develop its flavors as it marinates. Just make sure to give it a good stir before serving to redistribute the dressing.

Ingredients prepped ahead for salad with pasta, bell pepper, celery, egg and onion in a bowl

Common Questions

Why is your salad bland?

Your macaroni salad is likely bland if you didn’t add enough salt to the mix or balance the flavors of the dressing correctly. If you find yourself with flavorless macaroni salad, add more of your favorite ingredients and seasonings and keep tweaking it until you’re happy. 

How do you fix over-salted pasta salad?

The main way to fix over-salted pasta salad is to cut the sodium with a little vinegar. If that doesn’t work, add a bit more mustard or relish. 

How do you moisten dry macaroni salad?

If your macaroni salad gets a little dry in storage, you can rehydrate it by adding a bit more dressing. This is a common issue, as pasta soaks up moisture when stored in the fridge. 

Can this salad be frozen?

Since pasta does not freeze well and turns mushy when thawed, it’s not a good idea to freeze macaroni salad.

Creamy macaroni salad recipe in bowl

This is a crowd-pleasing Macaroni Salad and it’s so easy. I hope it becomes a new favorite for you. If you put something unique into your pasta salad recipe, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

More Tasty Salad Recipes 

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Macaroni Salad Recipe in bowl

Macaroni Salad is perfect for a summer menu. Paired with BBQ meats, hot dogs, and hamburgers, it’s the perfect creamy, refreshing side dish.

Author: Natalya Drozhzhin

Skill Level:

Easy

Cost to Make:

$10-$14

Keyword:

Macaroni Salad

Cuisine:

American

Course:

Salad, Side Dish

Calories: 348

Servings: 6 servings

Salad Ingredients 

  • 2
    cups
    elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1
    cup
    red bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2
    cup
    red onion, diced
  • 1/2
    cup
    celery, diced
  • 2
    large
    hard-boiled eggs
  • 1
    Tbsp
    chopped parsley, optional for garnish

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/2
    cup
    mayonnaise
  • 3
    tbsp
    apple cider vinegar
  • 3
    tbsp
    sweet relish
  • 3
    tsp
    yellow mustard
  • 1
    tsp
    ground black pepper
  • 1
    tsp
    salt, adjust to taste

  1. Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions in salted water. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water and set it aside.

  2. In a separate bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients together and whisk until smooth and creamy.

  3. Place the macaroni into a large bowl. Add the diced bell peppers, red onion, celery, and eggs.

  4. Pour in the dressing and stir to combine. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve right away or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition Facts

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 348
Calories from Fat 144

% Daily Value*

Fat 16g25%

Saturated Fat 3g19%

Trans Fat 1g

Polyunsaturated Fat 9g

Monounsaturated Fat 4g

Cholesterol 62mg21%

Sodium 627mg27%

Potassium 237mg7%

Carbohydrates 41g14%

Fiber 3g13%

Sugar 5g6%

Protein 9g18%

Vitamin A 1002IU20%

Vitamin C 33mg40%

Calcium 32mg3%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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