Easy Macaroni Salad

10 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

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.

Macaroni Salad

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.
Macaroni Salad Recipe

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!


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.

Macaroni Salad Recipe

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Macaroni Salad

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.
Yield 10 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk celery , finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sweet relish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimento peppers
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni , cooked and drained


  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix until pasta is well coated.
  • Refrigerate at least an hour, and preferably overnight.



Calories: 231kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 371mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 0.8mg
Macaroni Salad collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Not sure why but the mayo separated and looked curdled by the time it came out of the fridge. Not as good.

  2. At first I thought it had way too much vinegar and mustard, although, after 24 hrs in the fridge, it wasn’t nearly as strong. In fact, the dish is perfect in my opinion! I added a can of peas. It’s delish. Thank you.

  3. Hello Sabrina, I love your macaroni salad recipe, i I’ve been making for years now delicious and it’s the only go to macaroni salad I make.

    Thank you,