This classic Macaroni Salad Recipe is creamy, delicious, and super easy to make. Made with classic ingredients, including cooked elbow macaroni, hard-boiled eggs, crunchy celery, onions, and pickles, and dressed in a light and creamy mayo-based dressing, this fantastic pasta salad is the perfect summertime side dish for bbq’s, picnics, and potlucks!
Macaroni salad is my favorite summer side dish. I think it has something to do with its varying textures – tender, chewy pasta combined with the occasional veggie crunch and the creamy, mellow mayo dressing. So good! It reminds me a little of deviled eggs – another spring/summer superstar side dish.
Anyway, this easy macaroni salad has a perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and savory flavors but can be easily modified with simple add-ins (like cheese, fresh herbs, or other veggies) as you feel necessary.
Macaroni Salad Ingredients
You’ll come across countless mac salad recipes, but mine always includes the following –
- Mayonnaise (full-fat)
- Sweet pickles plus their juice
- Yellow mustard
- Salt and Black pepper
- Red onion (or green onion)
- Elbow macaroni (or ditalini)
- Hard-boiled eggs
How to Make the Best Macaroni Salad
Start by combining the ingredients for the macaroni salad dressing in a large bowl. Once combined, stir in the diced onions, pickles, and celery until coated in the dressing.
Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Keep a close watch to prevent over-cooking the macaroni. Drain and rinse with cold water. This will remove away extra starch and stop the macaroni from continuing to cook.
Stir the cooked pasta into the creamy dressing, then gently fold in the egg. Season with additional salt and black pepper, to taste.
Garnish with chopped parsley and paprika, if desired.
How Long Can Macaroni Salad Be Left At Room Temperature?
Macaroni salad should not be left at room temperature for longer than two hours. Food safety guidelines recommend that perishable foods, especially those containing mayonnaise and other dairy products (i.e., coleslaw, egg salad, or potato salad), be kept out of the “danger zone” (between 40°F and 140°F or 4°C and 60°C) to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. If the temperature is above 90°F (32°C), the time should be reduced to one hour.
- Prevent overcooked pasta: Overcooking the macaroni noodles will result in a soggy salad. Closely watch the pasta as it cooks, especially in the last 3-4 minutes.
- Modify with yummy additions: This classic macaroni salad recipe is delicious, but feel free to add other ingredients, such as cubed cheese, peas, red bell peppers, fresh dill, green onion, or crushed red pepper. You can even add a little sour cream (about a half cup) to the dressing.
- Refrigerate before serving: Allow at least an hour for the flavors to meld (blend) together. Even better, prepare it the night before and let it refrigerate overnight.
Recipes to Serve with Macaroni Salad
When I think of creamy macaroni salad, I imagine BBQs, picnics, cookouts, and the occasional post-workout snack.
- Pulled Pork Recipe
- Easy Grilled Veggie Skewers
- Carne Asada
- Citrus Chicken Marinade Recipe
- The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
- Salmon Sliders with Garlic Lemon Aioli
If you try making this Macaroni Salad Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoon pickle juice
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt - plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper - plus more to taste
- ½ cup celery - diced
- ½ cup red onion - diced
- ½ cup pickles - diced
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni pasta - or other small pasta
- 2 hard-boiled eggs - roughly chopped
- In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, pickle juice, mustard, salt, and black pepper.
- Mix in the celery, onion, and pickles until combined. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to package directions until al dente, then drain and rinse with cold water.
- Gently stir the cooked macaroni into the creamy dressing and mix until everything is evenly coated. Fold in the eggs.
- Optional, but recommended – Cover the macaroni salad and transfer it to the refrigerator for at least one hour. This will allow the flavors to blend and the mayo dressing to permeate the pasta.
- Just before serving, stir and season with additional salt and black pepper, to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley or paprika, if desired.
- Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Freezing is not recommended.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
This recipe is very close to what I make, and it’s so good! I did start adding 1/2 c. of sour cream to my dressing, and instead of chopping up pickles I started using about 1/2 cup (I eyeball it) of sweet pickle relish. I also shred in some carrot sometimes too. I’ve tweaked over the years from what I was taught to get to what’s perfect for my family and me, and everyone seems really like it! Thanks for your recipe and info!