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 

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe

4.97 from 108 votes
Author: Natalya Drozhzhin
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.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

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

Instructions

  • Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions in salted water. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water and set it aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients together and whisk until smooth and creamy.
  • Place the macaroni into a large bowl. Add the diced bell peppers, red onion, celery, and eggs.
  • 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 Per Serving

348kcal Calories41g Carbs9g Protein16g Fat3g Saturated Fat9g Polyunsaturated Fat4g Monounsaturated Fat1g Trans Fat62mg Cholesterol627mg Sodium237mg Potassium3g Fiber5g Sugar1002IU Vitamin A33mg Vitamin C32mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
348
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
16
g
25
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
9
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Cholesterol
 
62
mg
21
%
Sodium
 
627
mg
27
%
Potassium
 
237
mg
7
%
Carbohydrates
 
41
g
14
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
5
g
6
%
Protein
 
9
g
18
%
Vitamin A
 
1002
IU
20
%
Vitamin C
 
33
mg
40
%
Calcium
 
32
mg
3
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Macaroni Salad
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 348

Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya is a food blogger who founded Momsdish.com to make cooking easier. Growing up on a farm in Ukraine, Natalya was inspired by the amazing dishes that were prepared using simple ingredients. Natalya is most notably known for making cooking approachable for any person.

Read more posts by Natalya

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Lisa
    September 4, 2023

    This was so good. My first successful homemade macaroni salad. So excited! Mine soaked up all the dressing so I added extra mayonnaise when I took it out of fridge. Perfect.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 4, 2023

      Sounds great! Happy to hear that you enjoyed it, Lisa.

      Reply

  • Janice Quick
    July 27, 2023

    I made this recipe yesterday. It was really good, not too much mayo as other recipes call for.
    the only negative was for some reason it left an aftertaste for both me and my husband that we couldn’t identify.
    That didn’t keep us from going back for more though.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      July 27, 2023

      Hi Janice, I’m glad you enjoyed it! The only thing I can think to consider is maybe if you used miracle whip or a mayo substitute or some kind of ‘healthy’ mayo that might taste different than normal mayo? I’ve definitely tried several varieties and still just love the classic mayonnaise.

      Reply

  • Jan Drinkwater
    July 9, 2023

    I just made this macaroni salad and it is fantastic! I added sun dried tomatoes- Just yummy! Thank you

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 9, 2023

      That’s a good addition to the recipe, we’re so glad that you liked it!

      Reply

  • Mary
    July 9, 2023

    HI…I used celery, red onion and carrots, also added garlic powder, and a little milk to mayo dressing, make the pasta a little on the harder side as it sits in the frig it will absorb the juices and soften more…try to turn the salad in frig every couple of hours so the top absorbs flavors….

    Reply

  • Dorrine Fulk
    June 19, 2023

    I like putting my eggs in with the pasta save time and dishes.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 19, 2023

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

      Reply

  • Renee
    June 11, 2023

    This is really close to a recipe I use. Sometimes I will add either small boiled shrimp or little chunks of ham.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 11, 2023

      Good to know that you use a similar recipe. Sounds like a great idea too!

      Reply

  • Celine
    May 28, 2023

    We really didn’t care for it. I made it exactly as written. A little tart and felt like it was missing something. Maybe I expects it to be creamier and richer.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      May 30, 2023

      Hi Celine, I’m sorry to hear that. Did you change anything or make any substitutions in the dressing ingredients? Also make sure to have the right balance of dressing to the macaroni/salad so it stays creamy in consistency.

      Reply

    • Mary
      September 10, 2023

      I think I know why yours was too tart. Because I just made the mistake of reading the yellow mustard as 3 TBS instead of 3 tps. It was really tart. Luckily I caught it before I added it to the salad and I could fix it by dumping 1/2 of it out and adding mayo to the 1/2 that was left. It’s ok but not as good as the first time when I made it correctly.

      Reply

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