July 22, 2024

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!

Large white oval serving dish filled with homemade classic macaroni salad garnished with a light dusting of paprika and fresh chopped parsley.

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
  • Celery
  • Red onion (or green onion)
  • Elbow macaroni (or ditalini)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
All of the ingredients needed to make classic macaroni salad set aside in individual serving bowls.

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.

Collage of six images showing the steps to make macaroni salad. The first image shows a bowl filled with mayonnaise, pickle juice, mustard, salt and pepper. The second image shows a bowl filled with mayonnaise dressing plus chopped celery, onions, and pickles. The third image shows the chopped pickles, onions and celery combined with the mayonnaise dressing in a bowl. The fourth image shows macaroni pasta boiling in a large pot of water. The fifth image shows cooked and drained macaroni pasta in a large bowl. The sixth image shows the cooked macaroni pasta mixed with the onions, celery, and pickles and the mayo dressing and topped with chopped hard boiled eggs.

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.

A generous scoop of macaroni salad being removed from a large oval shallow bowl.

Recipe Tips

  • 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.

Three small bowls filled with creamy macaroni salad on a white table and garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

If you try making this Macaroni Salad Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.

Large white oval serving dish filled with homemade classic macaroni salad garnished with a light dusting of paprika and fresh chopped parsley.

Macaroni Salad