Classic Macaroni Salad is an easy side dish you can make the night before your next picnic or potluck with a creamy and tangy dressing.
Macaroni Salad is the classic popular summer side dish many people grew up eating. You will love bbq’s and picnics serving this along with Cole Slaw, Baked Beans and Baked Mac and Cheese for the ultimate spread.
Easy Macaroni Salad is an easy pasta salad that is a mix of elbow pasta, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, relish, mustard and pimento peppers. Macaroni Salad may seem like a silly recipe since most people tend to go to the grocery store deli and load up on sides (like Pea Salad and Crab Salad too!) in preparation for big parties. Making your own pasta salad can be so easy it won’t even be worth the grocery store trip.
This recipe is so crazy easy, the longest part is waiting for the water to boil. By the time the pasta is done cooking you’ll have the entire mixture ready to go. Then you drain the pasta, toss it in the mixture and refrigerate overnight.
You can have fun with this versatile recipe and mix in veggies to add some crunch and nutrients. Make it a Rainbow Macaroni Salad for the kids by adding in red bell peppers, orange bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, green bell peppers and red onions for an easy, vegetable filled rainbow.
Another fun option is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad which has grated onions, pineapple, carrot and sometimes cubed ham for a tropic twist. This is generally served along side steamed rice and classic Hawaiian bbq meats.
Because the pasta is so filling and tastes great at room temperature, it makes the perfect side dish to serve all summer long. Macaroni Salad is often made for large parties. A good rule of thumb is about ½ a cup or about 5 ounces per person.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
Tips for Making Easy Macaroni Salad
- Fill a large stock pot with water over high heat and bring to a boil.
- While water is heating, finely chop celery and pimento peppers.
- Mix together remaining ingredients and fold in chopped celery and pimentos.
- After pasta is cooked, drain but do not rinse. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Mix pasta into mayonnaise mixture, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Variations on Easy Macaroni Salad
- Peas: People LOVE peas in their pasta salads. You can just toss in frozen peas, they’ll thaw out overnight without any issues.
- Ham: Diced ham is also really popular especially in a Hawaiian version which also has pineapple in it.
- Red Onions: They’re slightly sweeter than yellow onions and add a fun color.
- Bell Peppers: Don’t worry, they will have a slight crunch but also somewhat soften overnight.
- Tuna: Tuna Macaroni Salad is hugely popular and a perfect easy picnic main dish option since you’re adding a protein.
- Eggs: Chopped eggs are also an easy and very popular mix-in. Use 3-4 large eggs that have been hard boiled.
- Pickle Juice: If vinegar is too harsh a flavor for you, try substituting pickle juice!
- Cheese: Cubed bits of cheddar cheese added to your salad is an easy protein addition.
- Noodles: Feel free to swap out the pasta shapes. You can use fusilli, bowtie, rotini, ziti or even broken spaghetti!
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What to Serve with Macaroni Salad
How to Store Easy Macaroni Salad
- Serve: Don’t leave this pasta salad at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
- Store: Cover the large bowl or put the Easy Macaroni Salad into another airtight container to store it in the fridge. It will keep well for up to 3 days.
- Freeze: Unfortunately the creamy dressing in this salad recipe won’t stay good in the freezer. It’s better just to make the recipe fresh.
- Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix until pasta is well coated.
- Refrigerate at least an hour, and preferably overnight.