This easy macaroni salad is a classic side dish that's always a crowd favorite! It's a traditional mix of macaroni noodles and finely chopped vegetables in a light and flavorful mayonnaise-based dressing.
About This Recipe
Macaroni Salad is a must-have recipe for summer as well as holidays! It's easy to make a big batch ahead of time, which makes it perfect for days when you need to feed a crowd but don't have a lot of time. It's the ultimate side dish for get togethers, potlucks and picnics.
This recipe is a traditional, classic way to make macaroni salad. The only items I've 'lightened up' are in the dressing: you have the option to use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and honey as a natural sweeter instead of white sugar.
Overall this recipe has all the flavors and creaminess of the best old fashioned macaroni salad!
This macaroni salad makes about 10 servings as a side dish, or about 5 servings as a main dish. If you serve it as a main dish you could also stir in a protein like shredded chicken or shrimp.
Here's a few popular ingredient additions and substitutions for this recipe:
Mustard: swap yellow mustard for dijon to give the dressing a stronger mustard flavor.
Vinegar: use white, white wine or apple cider vinegar.
Relish: I've used sweet pickle relish in the dressing. For more pickle flavor, add ¼-1/2 cup of chopped sweet pickles into your salad instead.
How to Make Macaroni Salad
The full recipe is at the bottom of this page, but here's a quick overview of how to make it:
Step 1: Cook the Macaroni
Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. Strain and rinse it under cold water.
PRO TIP: be careful not to overcook your macaroni. You want it to be al dente — cooked but still slightly firm so that your salad doesn't turn out mushy.
Step 2: Make the Dressing
While the macaroni cooks, stir together the dressing ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Step 3: Mix the Salad
Add all of the salad ingredients, including the macaroni, to a large bowl and stir in the dressing. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, or honey (for sweetness) as desired.
Step 4: Serve
For best flavor, chill your salad in the fridge for an hour before serving. You can also serve it immediately, but chilling it will allow the flavors to marinate and become stronger.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make your dressing thicker, stir in more yogurt. Taste and adjust he flavors of the dressing as needed, using more vinegar to make it acidic, honey for sweetness, or mustard for tanginess.
Macaroni salad is a classic choice for barbecues and picnics. It's popular with cookout foods like hot dogs and hamburgers and pairs well with any hearty main dish. It's also a favorite for holidays like Easter or Christmas dinner.
Yes, macaroni salad is a great recipe to make ahead of time! I think it tastes even better the next day. Make the recipe as directed and then cover and refrigerate it overnight until you're ready to serve it. Stir well before serving.
Store your leftover macaroni salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 - 5 days. Stir well before serving leftovers.