Macaroni Salad Recipe

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Macaroni Salad Recipe


Classic Macaroni Salad: A Perfect Potluck Side Dish

This macaroni salad recipe is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and for good reason! It’s a simple dish that comes together quickly, making it ideal for potlucks, picnics, or backyard barbecues.

Elbow macaroni is the classic choice, but feel free to experiment with any small pasta shapes you have on hand. The beauty of this salad lies in its versatility. You can easily prepare it ahead of time for the flavors to meld, making it a stress-free addition to your menu.

Here’s what makes this macaroni salad so special:

  • Easy and Affordable: This recipe is budget-friendly and likely uses ingredients you already have in your pantry.
  • Make-Ahead Friendly: The flavors develop beautifully over time, so you can whip it up ahead for a relaxed get-together.
  • Quick and Customizable: It comes together in a flash and offers endless possibilities for customization with different add-ins.

Choosing Your Ingredients

Pasta: Elbow macaroni is the traditional choice, but feel free to explore other small pasta shapes like ditalini, shells, or wagon wheels.

Add-Ins: I like to keep it simple with chopped celery, shredded carrots, red bell peppers, and red onion. However, this is your chance to get creative! Here are some ideas for variations:

  • Freshness Boost: Add chopped parsley or dill for a vibrant touch.
  • Bold Flavors: Incorporate cheese, bacon bits, diced ham, dill pickles, or even a sprinkle of garlic powder.
  • Savory Options: Chopped boiled eggs add a protein punch.
  • A Touch of Sweetness: Baby peas, sweet bell peppers, sweet pickles, or a dollop of pickle relish can add a surprising sweetness.

The Dressing: Simple and Customizable

The creamy dressing comes together in a jiffy. Feel free to experiment with your favorite store-bought dressings as well!

Here’s the base:

  • Mayonnaise: The foundation for a creamy texture.
  • Vinegar (white or cider): Adds a touch of tang.
  • Sweetness: A pinch of sugar or a splash of pickle juice balances the flavors.
  • Mustard (prepared or Dijon): Provides a subtle kick.
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste, of course!

For a lighter option, substitute half of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.

Putting it All Together

Cooking the Pasta: Follow the package instructions to boil, drain, and cool the macaroni.

Preparing the Add-Ins: While the pasta cooks, chop up your chosen vegetables and other add-ins.

Mixing and Chilling: In a large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Then, toss in the cooled macaroni, chopped add-ins, and mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Tips for the Best Macaroni Salad

  • Pasta Options: Feel free to experiment with different small pasta shapes.
  • Uniform Dicing: Dice your add-ins to roughly the same size as the macaroni for even distribution of flavors and textures.
  • Stopping the Cooking: Rinsing the drained pasta under cold water halts the cooking process and prevents mushiness.
  • Minimize Dishes: Mix the dressing directly in the salad bowl, then add the other ingredients. Easy cleanup!
  • Leftovers: Store leftover macaroni salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

This classic macaroni salad recipe is a versatile and crowd-pleasing side dish that’s perfect for any occasion. With its ease of preparation and endless customization options, it’s sure to become a staple in your recipe repertoire.

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Macaroni Salad Recipe

Macaroni Salad Recipe

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  • Author: Mekar Official
  • Total Time: 35 minutes


This macaroni salad recipe is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and for good reason! It’s a simple dish that comes together quickly, making it ideal for potlucks, picnics, or backyard barbecues.


  • 2 cups (½ pound) uncooked elbow macaroni (or any short pasta)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup diced red pepper
  • ¼ cup diced red onion (or green onion)


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet relish
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions (don’t overcook!). Rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
  2. While pasta cooks, whisk together dressing ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooled macaroni, dressing, celery, carrots, pepper, and onion. Toss to coat.
  4. Season with extra salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours before serving.


  1. Feel free to swap elbow macaroni for other short pasta shapes.
  2. Dice veggies similar to the macaroni size.
  3. Mix the dressing directly in the salad bowl for fewer dishes!
  4. Add-ins (like pickles, olives, ham, peas, or cheese) are optional – get creative!
  5. Leftovers store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 432
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Sodium: 408mg
  • Fat: 29g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Cholesterol: 16mg


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