Macaroni Salad. The ultimate in summer eating! This classic macaroni salad is the perfect side dish to any picnic or BBQ. Coated with a creamy dressing, loaded with fresh crisp veggies, this simple, easy to make recipe is sure to be a winner!
How to make Homemade Macaroni Salad:
Macaroni salad is an easy side dish to make! It’s a pasta salad that is dressed in a creamy dressing made with mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, and a bit of sugar.
- Cook the macaroni noodles: This recipe can be made with any pasta noodle. My favorite is elbow macaroni. Growing up my mom always made macaroni salad with the short macaroni noodles. The most important thing is to cook the noodles correctly. If you cook them too long you will end up with mush. If you cook them to al dente then as the pasta salad chills the noodles will become a bit too hard. The noodles should be cooked just a bit past al dente.
- Prepare dressing and other add ins: While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing and dice up the add ins you are choosing to use.
- Dry the noodles: Once the macaroni is cooked, pour the noodles into a strainer to get rid of the pasta water. Then run some cold water over the noodles to stop the cooking. Pat the noodles as dry as you can with some paper towels, this will help to make sure your salad doesn’t get soggy.
- Add the dressing to the salad. Stir it all together.
What ingredients are in Macaroni Salad?
The best part is that you can really customize what add ins you want. Some of my favorites include: bell peppers, red onion, hard boiled eggs, and celery.
Some other popular add ins are:
- sweet pickles
- grated or diced carrots
- green onion
How to make a creamy dressing for macaroni salad:
The dressing for this macaroni salad is my favorite! It has a bit of tang thanks to the vinegar. Plus a bit of sweetness thanks to the small amount of sugar being added. And the dijon mustard adds a wonderful flavoring.
Mix together the dressing in a small bowl and add to the cooked macaroni and add ins. You can substitute some of the mayonnaise for sour cream or greek yogurt if desired.
If you are storing the macaroni salad overnight or for a couple of days, you may need to mix together some more of the dressing to stir into the salad before serving. The salad will soak in a lot of the dressing as it sits over a few days.
More side dish recipes you may enjoy:
Classic Macaroni Salad
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni noodles
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 bell pepper , diced
- 3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
Macaroni Salad Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- Bring a medium to large size pot of water to a boil. There should be enough water that when the noodles are added they will be completely submerged in the water. Once the water is boiling add 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir together, then add the macaroni noodles.
- Cook for about 5 minutes or until the noodles are just past al dente. Don't overcook, they will get mushy.
- Pour the noodles into a strainer to get rid of the water, and rinse the noodles with some cold water to stop the cooking. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Add the cooked macaroni noodles to a large bowl.
- Prepare the dressing in a small bowl by combining all of the ingredients, stir together until mixed and creamy.
- Add the diced add ins to the cooked macaroni in the large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over. Stir until combined.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.
- Can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. As the salad keeps, it will soak up the dressing.
- If you make this ahead of time, you may need to prepare additional dressing to re-coat the pasta with prior to serving.
Recipe first published July 9, 2019. Updated May 13, 2020 with images and video.
This is a fabulous Macaroni salad! I used the elbow Mac and its a perfect old school classic! The dressing is delicious, you can’t go wrong with this one!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Thanks a lot! Great recipe, deserved my 5 star rating! But can I replace vinegar with lemon juice?
Yes you can!