Every good BBQ needs the perfect side dish. 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!

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Creamy Macaroni Salad in a large bowl topped with fresh dill with wooden serving utensils behind it.

Easy Macaroni Salad 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.

Creamy Macaroni Salad in a large bowl topped with fresh dill

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.

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 do you make creamy macaroni salad?

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 the salad to be really creamy and sometimes the light version make it taste watered down.

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

Easy 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
Creamy Macaroni Salad in a large bowl topped with fresh dill on a wooden platter

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:

  1. Boil macaroni according to package instructions. You can cook in salted water for more flavor. 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.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together cooked pasta with the cubed cheese, onion, celery, bell pepper, and peas.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, dill, sugar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour the mixture over the pasta and toss until everything is well coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
  5. Top with fresh dill or fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Salt and pepper to taste and then enjoy!

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.

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

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.

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.
Overview of this Macaroni Pasta Salad in a large bowl topped with fresh dill.

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 this 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.

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!

Print this Creamy Macaroni Salad Recipe below:

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Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe

4.89 from 456 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 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Chill 1 hr
Total Time 22 mins
Servings 12
Cuisine American
Course Side Dish
Calories 291
Author Carrie Barnard


  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 6 oz cheddar cheese cubed
  • 1/2 red onion minced
  • 4 celery stalks diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  • 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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More Cold Easy Pasta Salad Recipes:

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 in Macaroni salad recipe. Try this Pasta salad with mayo. Everyone will love this simple Elbow macaroni salad!
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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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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe! The dressing makes it. I substituted the peas for celery and the ACV with pickle juice. Ahhh-maazing. I also added an orange bell pepper… you could add any vegetable you’d like really.
    I’ll be making this regularly. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is wonderful!!!!! I didn’t change anything about it and everyone at the party wanted the recipe. This recipe is a keeper. ???

  3. Actually mayonnaise is getting a bad rap. It is acidic and actually helps keep the salad from going bad. It is not the culprit.

  4. 4 stars
    Looks good!! I put everything in mine though:
    Ham, peas, cheese, onion, celery, eggs, tomato, mayo, mustard, dill pickle juice and s&p. Macaroni or shells.

  5. 5 stars
    I made this last night with leftovers from an 8# roast chicken which needed to be used. The temperature was over 90, so I did not want to heat up the kitchen. I put in boiled egg instead of cheese. I mixed mayo with honey Dijon which had a great flavor for the chicken. There is a small bit left for one serving tomorrow.

  6. I love the macaroni I made it very delicious. Do you have recipe for Cole Slaw.

  7. 5 stars
    The first time I made this I forgot the dijon and used vegan mayo and pasta and omitted the cheese to avoid life threatening egg/milk allergies – everyone loved it – even those without allergies. The next time I used traditional mayo and elbows and added the dijon and the cheese. Still delicious, but more of a tang. Next time I think I will cut the dijon to 1 Tablespoon for comparison. It is a traditional “macoroni” salad recipe that takes me back to my youth.

  8. The recipe looks great. I have family members who don’t like dill. Any suggestions for a substitute.

  9. I made this exactly as the recipe is posted. It is delicious! The best macaroni salad I’ve ever tried!

  10. The mayo is pasteurized so it isn’t the culprit. It is the fresh onion that will go bad. The vinegar helps keep it fresh. I seldom have fresh dill. How can I use dill weed?

  11. Just made this macaroni salad! It is delicious! Will become one of my favorites!! Yummy!

  12. For Pansy,
    When I see fresh dill at the supermarket, I buy it and wash it when I get home and chop it and freeze it. You can then just chip it into your recipe with a fork while it is still frozen. Works really well and then you always have fresh dill.

  13. 5 stars
    This is the MOST DELICIOUS Macaroni Salad any of our Family have ever eaten, thank you SO MUCH?? It will DEFINITELY become a regular Meal for us, and our new BBQ and Church Dinner Salad too! We made it with your half Sour Cream/half Mayonnaise suggestion, and the only changes we had to make, because of my annoying allergies, were swapping frozen peas and red onion for lightly fried zucchini and Spring Onions.

  14. Was wondering how adding bacon bits would work in this salad? Want to make for Easter dinner…thanks

  15. 5 stars
    I made this EXACTLY as shown – very, very good! I confess I added some chopped black olives, but they neither added or subtracted from taste of salad. I would recommend!

  16. Mayo doesn’t need refrigeration. I always thought so until I read a Dear Abby years ago. Someone challenged her about so she got in touch with the Kraft Mayo people. They said that it wasn’t necessary. It was the vinegar and pasteurized eggs as I recall. And for the last 20 years or so I rarely put my Mayo in the fridge. As long as the lid is on to keep it from turning green you’re good to go.

  17. I have an important question and I making this dish tonight for tomorrow’s event. It says to just add the frozen peas so does that mean I do not prepare them before hand?

  18. We did not cook them before adding them. I stirred them in frozen and then the peas were defrosted out by the time it was time to serve and it worked great!

  19. 5 stars
    Thanks For Sharing this amazing recipe. My family loved it. I will be sharing this recipe with my friends. Hope the will like it.

  20. 5 stars
    I don’t comment a lot on recipes, but this was really good. The only things I did different was use a tablespoon of dried dill instead of fresh and I added another 1/4 cup of mayo. Definitely will be something I’ll make often!

  21. I made this for supper today, and it is delicious. Used dried dill weed and adjusted the quantity. Great taste due to the dressing! I would definitely bring this to a potluck or picnic. Thanks for the recipe.

  22. 5 stars
    Made this a couple weeks ago and loved it! So did my friend who can be harder to please. Made it again this afternoon to go with some grilled kebabs tonight. My new go-to macaroni salad! Thanks!

  23. Won’t look at any other recipe for macaroni salad. This is the best! Husband wants it again tonight. Unusual for him. YUM!! thank you

  24. I made this but used macaroni, diced ham, Vidalia onion, peas, cheddar & pepper jack cheese & the dressing was perfect. It is delicious.

  25. 5 stars
    Seriously yummy yummy! Did sliced black olives instead of peas, hubby not a fan. Followed recipe other than that and is awesome! Thank you bunches!

  26. I like my mac salad with lots of mayo and I like my mac cooked good I dont like firm mac just too chewy for me I make mine with cubed cheese green onions, peas and a can of good tuna and lots of mayo lol

  27. 5 stars
    Hubby loved this Mac Salad … me too ??
    Very tasty & so easy to put together .
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  28. 5 stars
    This salad is delicious! Next time I will double the dressing recipe as there wasn’t that much and by the next day most of it had been absorbed into the pasta. Other than that this is delicious!!

  29. If you are worried about the peas not being cooked then put them in the colander and poor the noodles over them.

  30. 5 stars
    Macaroni salad is a favorite. I made this tonight, the best macaroni salad I believe I have ever eaten. Followed recipe, just added dry dill weed, paprika, a bit of dill pickle relish. Added a mix of dijon, honey mustard and yellow mustard. The dressing makes this salad taste so great. We definitely be making this from now on.

  31. This was easy and delicious! Even my pickiest eaters gobbled it up!
    Great recipe!!

  32. Made this for dinner last night with baked chicken…so good! Printed to save and share.

  33. This macaroni salad was delicious. Just all the flavors blended together, the texture with the celery and bell peppers made for a surprising “treat”. Gotta make another one!!

  34. 5 stars
    Delicious! Instead of red onions and apple cider vinegar, I used green onions and rice vinegar. Left out dill because for me, its overpowering. Loved the addition of cheese and the dressing was perfect.

  35. 5 stars
    Had so many things to use out of my garden.. I love the dressing .. Thank you for all the tips.. Rebecca

  36. 5 stars
    So good! This is my go-to macaroni salad recipe! One comment was how nice it wasn’t “so mayo-e” & covered in mayo, it’s just the right amount! Thank you!

  37. Carrie…

    Made your Macaroni salad and changed but one ingredient…instead of adding dill, I added 4oz of sour cream to the wet mixture….my guests were impressed and requested the recipe. Thank you for providing a most delicious recipe…added not only flavors but good conversation.

    Sid Formica

  38. I just made this for a BBQ gathering tomorrow afternoon. It looks beautiful, colorful and it tastes really good! I can’t wait to taste it tomorrow after it kisses and mingles all night! Thank you for such a great recipe!