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This Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe is my go to dish to bring to potlucks, BBQ’s, parties and more. It is loaded with lots of delicious veggies, cheese and more!

A large spoonful of macaroni salad being scooped out of a large bowl of macaroni salad.
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The mayonnaise is the secret to making the salad creamy. You can certainly try reduced fat or light versions but I don’t recommend it. You want this easy salad recipe to be really creamy and sometimes the light version make it taste watered down.

Why I Love this Recipe

I love to make this Easy Macaroni Salad. It’s super easy and everyone always loves this easy summer salad. This Easy Macaroni Salad is budget friendly and makes feeding a crowd a breeze!

It’s creamy and delicious. The veggies combined with the cheese really make this simple side dish hearty and tasty.

It is the perfect compliment to hot dogs with the Best Coleslaw, BBQ Ranch Grilled Chicken, and more! We even like it with Jalapeno Poppers Burger Sliders Recipe.

How to Serve this Salad:

I love to serve this salad in a pretty glass bowl. The layers of this salad look gorgeous in the glass.

The bowls with the lid are really handy for taking to BBQ’s or wherever you might be going. You might also like the plastic bowls with lids for outdoor parties and such.

A large spoonful of macaroni salad being scooped out of a large bowl of macaroni salad.

What ingredients are in macaroni salad?

Traditional Southern macaroni salad has mayonnaise, cheese, vinegar and a few veggies. You can easily add or omit the ingredients you do not like.

A very simple version is just tomato and cheese with the mayo or Italian dressing.  Cheddar cheese cubed is what is traditionally in this salad.

You can mix it up with pepper jack or other cheeses though for something different. Classic Macaroni Salad uses elbow macaroni but you can use what you prefer or have on hand.

What do you put in your pasta salad?

This recipe calls for onion, green pepper, green peas and more. However, feel free to make it  your own. This simple salad is just as tasty with only a few ingredients or load it up with veggies like carrots, pickles, sweet pickle relish, if you prefer.

Hard boiled eggs are also good in the salad and add protein. I also like green pepper or red bell pepper. Sweet pickle is also in many traditional Southern style pasta salads.

Whatever you choose, it is the perfect Summer side dish. You can also use mustard sugar and black pepper instead of the vinegar.

Close up of creamy Macaroni Salad in a large bowl topped with fresh dill

How long can you eat macaroni salad?

Pasta salad recipe with mayo will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.

However, if the salad has been left out for more than 2 hours, discard it. This is due to the mayonnaise in the macaroni salad.

Ingredients to make this Macaroni Salad

Ingredients:

  • elbow macaroni noodles
  • cheddar cheese
  • red onion
  • celery stalks
  • red bell pepper
  • frozen peas
  • mayo
  • apple cider vinegar
  • fresh dill
  • sugar
  • Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

For the full list of ingredients and the recipe card, scroll down to the recipe card.

What Type of Mayonnaise to Use?

I recommend that you use a whole egg creamy mayonnaise for this recipe. It tends to be more creamier than other types of mayonnaise.

Also, use a full fat instead of a reduced fat option.

How to make Macaroni Salad Recipe:

Step 1 – Boil macaroni according to package instructions. You want the pasta to still be firm so cook until al dente. Immediately rinse under cold water and drain so it isn’t sticky and prevents it from over cooking.  Drain well.

Step 2 – In a large bowl, toss together cooked pasta with the cubed cheese, onion, celery, bell pepper, and peas.

Step 3 – In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, dill, sugar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

Step 4 – Pour the mixture over the pasta and toss until everything is well coated.

Step 5 – Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.

Step 6 – Top with fresh dill or fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Keep reading for all the step by step instructions.

How to store Pasta Salad.  

You will love this Macaroni Salad dressing. It is so good and truly makes this macaroni salad amazing. Since this pasta salad has mayonnaise in it, you’ll want to store this pasta salad in the refrigerator.

Simple Macaroni Salad Additions:

  • You can also substitute some of the mayo with sour cream. It will make it the sauce more tangy so just keep that in mind. You might want to try half mayo and half sour cream.
  • Stir in some cherry tomatoes cut in half.
  • Top with shredded parmesan cheese.

Expert Tips for this Recipe:

  • Make sure that you do not over cook the pasta. Over cooked pasta will make this macaroni salad mushy. Watch the pasta closely when cooking, cook to al dente and rinse with cold water immediately to stop the cooking process.
  • Ensure that you refrigerate this salad before. Chilling the salad gives it time for the flavors to meld together.

How to Store leftovers:

You can store leftover pasta salad for up to five days. Simply, scoop it out of the bowl and transfer it into an airtight container.

Add the lid, and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it.

What to serve with pasta salad recipe

This pasta salad recipe is perfect to serve with your favorite grilling recipes. I love serving this recipe at barbecues, picnics and any outdoor event.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes that I love serving with this easy macaroni salad.

Close-up of the macaroni salad.

When do you serve this pasta salad?

Traditionally, pasta salad was a Spring and Summer side dish recipe. Since it’s cold, it’s refreshing to serve with it’s warm outside.

Over the last few years, I have started serving this pasta salad in the Fall and Winter plus over the holidays.

This recipe is such a crowd pleaser, it’s the best side dish to serve year round!

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Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe

4.92 from 660 votes
This Easy Macaroni Salad recipe is the perfect side dish to bring to Summer BBQ’s, parties and more! Easy macaroni salad is loaded with veggies, cheese and more. You will love the creamy dressing.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chill 1 hour
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 12
Cuisine American
Course Side Dish
Calories 291

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cook the elbow macaroni until al dente. You want them still firm. Immediately run the pasta under cold water so it isn’t sticky and prevents it from over cooking.  Drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooked pasta with the cubed cheese, onion, celery, bell pepper, and peas.
  • In a small mixing bowl, mix together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, dill, sugar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the mixture over the pasta and toss until everything is well coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Calories 291kcal, Carbohydrates 34g, Protein 9g, Fat 12g, Saturated Fat 4g, Cholesterol 18mg, Sodium 422mg, Potassium 196mg, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Vitamin A 910IU, Vitamin C 15.8mg, Calcium 124mg, Iron 1.1mg

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Carrie. Welcome to Eating on a Dime!

I’m on a mission to help you cook delicious meals without busting your budget. Together we are going to cook real food… for real families!

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  1. I allowed them to thaw slightly but they will thaw as the salad marinades together.

  2. 5 stars
    We love this !! But the dill is very strong for 1/4 cup.so I broke it down some especially for the 1x . Perfect amount.

  3. 5 stars
    GURL, this is some good Macaroni Salad, thanks for the recipe!! My husband loves it better than mine!

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