This easy, classic Macaroni Salad recipe has favorite add-ins like celery, onion, bell pepper and shredded carrot, tossed in a creamy mayo-based dressing. It’s a beloved side dish at potlucks and BBQ’s and it’s easy to adapt to add what you like.

There are a few side dishes that make summer dinner complete, including Baked Potato Salad, Baked Beans, and Skillet Cornbread!

A serving bowl with macaroni salad in it and a wooden spoon on the side.

Whether its the fun shape of the pasta, the delicious creamy sauce, or the variety of add-ins, macaroni salad has been one of the most popular side-dishes at American dinner tables for decades! It goes well with just about anything, and you can include whatever leftover veggies, meats and cheese you like or need to use up from your fridge.

What you’ll need:

Pasta: Elbow macaroni is the most popular pasta in macaroni salad but any short pasta will work, including ditalini, farfalle, and rotini. 

Dressing: I use half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt or lowfat sour cream because I love the mellow flavor and creaminess it adds.

Veggies: Bell pepper, celery, onion, shredded carrot.

Other add-in ideas: Diced cheese, peas, hard boiled eggs, diced ham, pickles, bacon, tuna, chicken

The ingredients needed to make macaroni salad, including elbow noodles, diced bell pepper, celery, onion, carrot and dressing.

How to make macaroni salad:

Cook and cool pasta: Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain. This stops the cooking process and rinses away extra starch so the noodles will not stick together. Cool the noodles completely before adding the dressing.

Add chopped salad ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooked and cooled noodles onion, celery, bell pepper, and carrots. Additional add in for macaroni salad include: Diced cheese, peas, hard boiled eggs, diced ham, pickles, bacon, tuna, chicken.

Cooked elbow noodles and chopped vegetables add to a bowl to make macaroni salad.

Make dressing: In a small mixing bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, cider vinegar, sugar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour half of the sauce over pasta and toss until everything is well coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour before serving. Stir in additional sauce before serving.

Storing: Leftover macaroni salad can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

Variations:

  • No mayo Macaroni Salad: Use an olive-oil based dressing instead, like this Italian dressing.
  • Filipino Macaroni salad: Add chicken, pineapple, raisins and cheese.
  • Hawaiian Macaroni salad: Add milk to the dressing instead of sour cream of Greek yogurt. Leave out the bell pepper and add green onion. Chopped pineapple and ham are optional additions.

Make ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To make ahead, assemble the salad ingredients and dressing and store separately in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

Freeze the pasta mixture without the sauce, in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before adding the dressing.

Macaroni Salad goes well with:

Grilled Chicken

Marinated Flank Steak

Burgers

Salmon

Kebabs

You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST for more great recipes!

Recipe

A serving bowl with macaroni salad in it and a wooden spoon on the side.
Prep 15 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 25 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1/2 pound elbow noodles , or ditalini
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 rib rib celery , finely diced
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper , finely diced
  • ¼ cup finely shredded carrot , loosely measured, then squeezed out

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni according to package directions, until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain. This stops the cooking process and rinses away extra starch so the noodles will not stick together.
  • Cool the noodles completely before adding the dressing.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooked and cooled noodles onion, celery, bell pepper, and carrots.
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, cider vinegar, sugar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour half of the sauce over pasta and toss until everything is well coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour before serving. Stir in additional sauce before serving. Add a splash of milk, for a thinner sauce, if desired.

Notes

Storing Instructions: Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
Make-ahead Instructions: assemble the salad ingredients and dressing and store separately in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 
Freezing Instructions: Freeze the pasta mixture without the sauce, in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before adding the dressing.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 214kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 6gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 363mgPotassium: 159mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1246IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @TastesBetterFromScratch on Instagram with #TastesBetterFromScratch!

HAVE YOU TRIED THIS RECIPE?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

Related Posts

Share Recipe

Categories

About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. So excited to make this for the 4th of July! I’m planning to make the Hawaiian version and notice it requires replacing either the mayo or sour cream with milk — should I replace both of those or just one of them? If just one, which one?

    Thank you! LOVE your recipes!

  2. 5 stars
    Once again, TastesBetterFromScratch saved the day. I made this for our last-minute 4th of July bbq party and it was a hit! It was the first dish to run out. I have since made it two more times. It’s quick, easy, and the whole family loves it!