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Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe

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

5 from 50 votes
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

Ingredients

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

  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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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

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Lena
    June 21, 2022

    Omitted eggs and onions since we’re not a fan of either. SO GOOD. Best macaroni salad I’ve ever had. The zing from the vinegar keeps you going back for more. Thanks for such a stellar recipe!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 21, 2022

      So glad to hear that you enjoyed this recipe, Lena! Thank you for the review.

      Reply

  • Thuy Meinz
    June 20, 2022

    I made this salad today, added dill instead of pasley…. It is so delicous. My husband was non stop eating and he asked to make again… another cold salad add on our menu. Thank so much

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 20, 2022

      Love it! Thank for sharing, I’m always happy to see happy results or great feedback.

      Reply

  • Karen
    June 16, 2022

    I followed the recipe EXACTLY as written and it was a HUGE success! SO easy! SO tasty! A 10/10 and a definite make-again! THANK YOU!!!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 16, 2022

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that with us, Karen!

      Reply

  • Natalya
    June 8, 2022

    Yum! I had leftover Mac-and-cheese, so made this salad today. It was so delicious. Surprisingly my toddlers liked it too. Perfect meal on a hot summer day.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 8, 2022

      That is the best when kids love what we moms make. That’s so great!

      Reply

  • Tammy J.
    June 5, 2022

    This is a keeper, Natasha! My husband loves pasta salads of all types, but I’ve never found a macaroni salad that I liked, too. Well, we now have a winner for both of us! Thank you for the great recipes you share.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 5, 2022

      You’re very welcome! I hope you and your family will love all the recipes that you will try!

      Reply

  • Andrea
    June 4, 2022

    This is my family’s new favorite macaroni salad. I made a few modifications because we are not big fans of either yellow mustard or sweet relish. I used 2 Tbls of dijon mustard and 1 1/2 Tbls of dill relish + 1 Tbls sweet relish. Big YUM!! It does change the flavor from the usual, but it is really good. Give it a try. Thank you once again, Natasha

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 4, 2022

      That’s wonderful. Thank you for the feedback, Andrea.

      Reply

  • Patty
    May 27, 2022

    Eating for one you sometimes don’t want to cook complete meals. This was easy to make loved the crunch great for 1 person. Thanks Ms. Natasha

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 27, 2022

      I’m so glad to hear this was perfect for you, Patty!

      Reply

  • Doreen
    May 24, 2022

    Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe – How much is 1 serving in grams or ounces as I live alone and make 1/2 the recipe also and am not sure how much I am eating.
    I weigh my servings. Thank you

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 25, 2022

      Hi Doreen, If you scroll down to our printable recipe card, most of our recipes have a metric conversion option on the printable recipe card. We are currently working on adding metric measurements to all of our recipes, but it is taking some time to add them one at a time. Thank you so much for being patient! In the meantime, check out our post on measuring which should help.

      Reply

  • Laurie Golan
    May 23, 2022

    Way too much vinegar for my taste. I would start with 1 tbs. To start and add more as needed.

    Reply

  • Sharon
    May 22, 2022

    Sounds so much like my mother’s macaroni salad. Making it tonight! Thanks.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 22, 2022

      Sounds like a great plan, Sharon! Please update us on how it goes.

      Reply

  • Danny
    May 22, 2022

    Personally, I think hard boiled eggs are an excellent addition. And when I can get to the store I’m getting everything and making this. It looks FAB!!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 22, 2022

      Sounds great too and yes, an egg is always a good addition to a salad. I hope you love it!

      Reply

  • Melody
    May 22, 2022

    I though this recipe was fantastic! There are a million variations of macaroni salad but I really enjoyed this one. It was bright, fresh and I loved the added crunch from the bell pepper. This just might be my new go to recipe for neighborhood cookout’s. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 22, 2022

      So glad you enjoyed this salad, Melody! Thank you for sharing your feedback with us.

      Reply

  • Connie Fisher
    May 22, 2022

    I love your videos. You make cooking fun. This is almost like mine except I add cucumbers and tomatoes. I will be giving yours a try this weekend. Thanks for all your recipes. I always look to your site first when trying something new. You are great.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 22, 2022

      Thank you for your good comments and feedback, Connie. We appreciate it a lot!

      Reply

  • Connie Druskis
    May 21, 2022

    I use small shell macaroni, vadalia onion, small cubed ham, and cheese in mine with Miracle Whip instead of Mayonnaise! Also put some pickle juice, and vinegar , and milk in sauce for it!! Everyone loves my salad!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 21, 2022

      Sounds delicious, Connie!

      Reply

    • Maryann
      May 29, 2022

      I can’t stand Miracle Whip! The rest of the recipe looks great. Hellmann’s (or Best Foods) or Dukes would be my choice. Why would you add a new recipe when Natasha was giving us her recipe. You gave a whole new recipe.

      Reply

      • Carol Briers
        June 19, 2022

        I know it’s a shock, but some of us prefer Miracle Whip to Mayo. In reading all of the comments, it appears that many people changed the recipe a bit. It seems to be very adaptable.

        Reply

  • Colin Jull
    May 21, 2022

    Add Crushed Pinapple and grated carrot, or peas cold tinned, My wife makes this regularly in summer a family favorite. Love your recipies; Colin Jull NZ.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 21, 2022

      That sounds delicious! Thank you, Colin. So glad you enjoy this recipe.

      Reply

  • kristiyan
    May 19, 2022

    medeocer at best, i find that peas work much better, and the eggs are not a good mix. should be a little cold but not like ice cream.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      May 19, 2022

      Hi Kristiyan, these ingredients are pretty classic for a macaroni salad but there is definitely room to experiment and change up the ingredients. It’s what we love about this recipe – it’s very versatile.

      Reply

  • Cindy Berry
    May 19, 2022

    I can’t stand sweet pickles, so could you use dill relish and regular white, or even white wine vinegar instead of apple cider? I would think so, right? I hope so!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      May 19, 2022

      Hi Cindy, that should still work. I think there’s room to experiment with this one and make it your own.

      Reply

  • Doug M Oswald
    May 19, 2022

    I love mac salad, I am not a fan of eggs in these types of salads I use olives instead of eggs it’s a bit more colorful and it amps up the flavor.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 19, 2022

      I hope you try this one soon, Doug!

      Reply

  • Cathy S
    May 19, 2022

    Good recipe, very similar to mine. Except, I add diced tomatoes and sliced green olives. I omit the pickle relish. I did make it like this and it was good, everyone liked it.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 19, 2022

      That sounds so good! Thank you so much for sharing that with me! I hope you give our recipe a try soon!

      Reply

  • Aliki Collins
    May 18, 2022

    Thank you for this recipe. It sounds good. I plan to make it this weekend and take it to a pot-luck. I thought I would add some cooked in the microwave frozen corn to it. What do you think?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 18, 2022

      You’re very welcome! I think that would be fine.

      Reply

  • Susan Otsuki
    May 18, 2022

    I add in frozen peas in addition to the above ingredients. Adds nice bright color

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 18, 2022

      Sounds great!

      Reply

  • Liz
    May 17, 2022

    Similar to my mom’s recipe. She’d add diced carrot and two cans of small shrimp

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 17, 2022

      Nice to know that, Liz! I’m sure your mom is a great cook too.

      Reply

  • Dana
    May 17, 2022

    I will be making this for all the summer cookouts this year! Love this recipe.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 17, 2022

      Sounds great! Thank you for the review, Dana. So glad you enjoy this recipe.

      Reply

  • Teresa
    May 17, 2022

    I like to add diced tomatoes and cucumbers in my pasta salad

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 17, 2022

      Sounds great! Thanks for sharing.

      Reply

  • April
    May 17, 2022

    Love macaroni salad! It’s a summer staple, and this recipe is such a classic! Simple, but familiar and oh so good.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 17, 2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Florence
    May 17, 2022

    You can also add a can of tuna fish (drained) and mix in with Your macaroni salad which is really tasty also ! Cover and refrigerate over nite for a great tasting salad …Floe
    Rence

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 17, 2022

      Hi Florence, thank you for sharing that suggestion with us.

      Reply

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