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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.

This Shrimp Macaroni Salad is another family favorite that is a must try.

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!

Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe

4.93 from 675 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

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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!

4.93 from 675 votes (644 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Joanne Ferris says:

    5 stars
    Sounds delicious,I will try. adding 1 T sugar instead of 2.

  2. Jan says:

    Looks and tastes Great !!!!

  3. Carrie Barnard says:

    So glad you loved it! I love this recipe.

  4. Piss Pot Patty says:

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

  5. Theresa Bengston says:

    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.

  6. Carrie Barnard says:

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

  7. Nikki says:

    Maybe a dumb question, but did you put the peas in frozen?

  8. Faith J Bradbury says:

    5 stars
    Enjoy these quick and easy recipes

  9. Jeanne says:

    4 stars
    Dressing for me lacked something. Maybe garlic?? It is kind of a ranch style dressing. I would prefer a touch more creamy and will try adding sour cream (as one other user did) along with some garlic to give it a bit more punch.

  10. Linda says:

    5 stars
    This was the best dressing. Just left out the sugar, we prefer tangy to sweet. Through in a can of tuna to make it main meal.

  11. Kjs says:

    Great salad! Next time I will just use dried dill weed. I really didn’t care for the texture of the fresh.

  12. Bunny says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe! Someone mentioned cutting back on the Dijon so I only used 1-1/2 Tb. I cut back on the sugar a bit because I didn’t want it too sweet. I had a hard boiled egg sitting around so I very finely chopped that up (because Gods forbid anyone should discover there was EGG in there!) Everything else the same but only used about 12 oz of pasta. Will definitely make this again.

  13. JoAnn says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is WONDERFUL as written (I’ve been cooking/preparing foods for 50+ years, so I know a good recipe when I see it!). I was looking for something at least a little bit “different” (and cheap) to make for a (small) Memorial Day get-together when I came upon it, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. At the same time, my Daughter is allergic to Celery (I usually use Anise bulbs as a substitute, but I won’t be doing that for this Salad — too overbearing in my opinion) and I don’t have some of the ingredients on hand, so — at least for THIS time — my Salad for this weekend is going to consist of chopped Sweet Onions (rather than Red), chopped Jalapeno Peppers and some Sun-Dried Tomatoes in lieu of the Red Pepper and Peas, Anise fronds in lieu of of the Dill, and shredded “Fiesta Mix” in lieu of the Cheddar Cheese while halving the “proportions” for all other ingredients. I totally and absolutely LOVE Macaroni Salad, so I am most definitely looking forward to making it “your way” at some time in the VERY near future! Thank you, Carrie, for the INSPIRATION.

  14. Una says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely DELICIOUS. I hate that super mayonnaise-y deli Mac salad. Phenomenal. Just added some diced ham. It was a HUGE hit. Thank you!!!

  15. Carolyn Radaich says:

    5 stars
    Just made this recipe today and it was really good. I will be making it again. Thanks

  16. Jeanie says:

    Can you sub fresh dill and use dill weed instead?

  17. Carrie Barnard says:

    I’m so glad you liked it.

  18. Terri D says:

    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!

  19. Carrie Barnard says:

    I’m so glad you liked it.

  20. Sid Formica says:

    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

  21. Kelly says:

    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!

  22. Carrie Barnard says:

    Oh that sounds delicious!

  23. Rebecca Kerr says:

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

  24. Carrie Barnard says:

    Thank you for commenting. I’ll have to try your variations.

  25. Paula says:

    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.

  26. Pat says:

    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!!

  27. Mary Kargel says:

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

  28. Andrea says:

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

  29. Bonnie says:

    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.

  30. Sandy says:

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

  31. Brittany Armstrong says:

    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!!

  32. Barbara Foucheux says:

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

  33. Juanita says:

    I made this recipe today. It was so good ! This is a keeper.

  34. Lora-Lee Hardy says:

    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

  35. Jodie says:

    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!

  36. Carrie says:

    So glad you enjoyed it!

  37. Katy says:

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

  38. Carrie says:

    So glad you enjoyed it!

  39. Shelbie says:

    5 stars
    Left out the cheese cubes and ACV; was wonderful taste and crunch!

  40. Carrie says:

    Thank you so much Katie!

  41. katie says:

    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

  42. Carrie says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  43. Lynda says:

    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!

  44. Carrie says:

    Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  45. Carrie says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you!

  46. Janey says:

    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.

  47. SHARON l CLIPPERTON says:

    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!

  48. ashok says:

    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.

  49. Carrie says:

    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!

  50. Carrie says:

    Thanks for sharing! I didn’t know this either!

  51. Brittany Norman says:

    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?

  52. Connie says:

    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.

  53. Carrie says:

    Thank you Trudy! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  54. Trudy L McFall says:

    I made this a couple of days ago and it is absolutely delicious!

  55. Carrie says:

    Thank you so much Susan – I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  56. Susan says:

    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!

  57. Carrie says:

    I haven’t tried that but it sounds delicious!

  58. Jane says:

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

  59. Carrie says:

    Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  60. Sarah says:

    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.

  61. Carrie says:

    Great tip! Thanks for sharing!

  62. Carolyn says:

    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.

  63. Carrie says:

    Thank you Pauline!

  64. pauline morris says:

    I HAVE MADE THIS AND WILL AGAIN……..( A-W-E-S-O-M-E ) THANK YOU!!!

  65. Shery Sullivan says:

    Can’t wait to try this recipe while camping. Yum.

  66. Carrie says:

    I’m glad you loved it!

  67. Juanita says:

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

  68. Carrie says:

    I’m so glad you loved it!

  69. Pansy says:

    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?

  70. Sarah says:

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

  71. Colleen Metcalf says:

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

  72. Mary says:

    This is so good but could you use red wine vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar?

  73. Carrie says:

    Great to hear Michelle! Thank you so much for sharing.

  74. Michelle says:

    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.

  75. Carrie says:

    thank you!

  76. Devonna Matney says:

    This really sounds good ! , I love macaroni I salad !

  77. Cherrie Stockdale says:

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

  78. Carrie says:

    Yum – Great idea to add the chicken to make it a complete meal. Yummy!

  79. Carol Hopkins-Lutz says:

    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.

  80. Teri C. says:

    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.

  81. Greg says:

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

  82. Jessie Chamberlain says:

    5 stars
    I put tuna fish in my macaroni salad

  83. Shelly Brown says:

    5 stars
    Best recipe! I’m not a great cook but took this to a pot luck and everyone loves it!

  84. Caren Edwards says:

    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. ???

  85. Tambra says:

    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!

  86. Roger says:

    5 stars
    Love this for summer BBQ