This Macaroni salad is so perfect for picnics, potlucks or barbecues. It’s an easy and quick pasta salad, generously dressed in a super creamy dressing! Great to make ahead and a crowd favorite!
Macaroni salad is a type of pasta salad. This dish is made with fully cooked elbow macaroni, and a mayonnaise based dressing. Much like potato salad or coleslaw, it is often served as a side dish with barbecued meas, fried chicken, or other picnic style dishes. Like any dish, there are many versions around but generally it is prepared with raw diced onions, dill or sweet pickles, celery and seasoned with salt and pepper.
This easy macaroni salad is fresh and so delicious! I kept this salad pretty simple with classic staple ingredients including celery, green pepper, carrot and onion. These vegetables were just enough to add awesome flavor, color and crunch. The main ingredient for our creamy dressing mix is mayonnaise.
- Elbow macaroni
- Green bell pepper
For the dressing:
- White vinegar
- Yellow mustard
How to make macaroni salad
Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions. This will take about 7 to 10 minutes depending on the brand you have handy. Strain the pasta and rinse it well with cold water. This will halt the cooking process, and you won’t be burdened with a big bowl of sticky noodles!
While the pasta cooks, you can go ahead and prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop the onion, celery, green bell pepper and carrot. I prefer a fine chop on my veggies, but feel free to cut them to any size you like! Mix all dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl until well combined. Once the pasta has been fully rinsed and cooled down, you can dump everything into a large bowl. With a spoon or salad tossers, mix until the veggies are evenly dispersed and the entire salad is coated in dressing. You want it to be nice and oh-so creamy!
Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more before serving. The longer those flavors get to sit and hang out, the better.
How to serve
While this macaroni salad can be served as a side for any dinner, it goes best as a side for your BBQ nights or picnics in the park. Any kind of grilled meat pairs so well with Macaroni Salad. This recipe just gets better the longer those ingredients get to sit together, so it’s great for planning ahead if you’re hosting a BBQ or attending one.
Want to turn this salad into a meal? Add some diced chicken! You can also keep it vegetarian by adding cubed tofu.
Store this salad in and airtight container in the fridge. It will last for 3-5 days. Since it’s made with noodles, they may soak up a bit of the dressing. You can always make a little extra dressing to stir in right before serving to keep it fresh.
While it’s not ideal to freeze this type of recipe, there are a few tips and tricks that will make it possible. It is best to separately freeze the dressing and pasta. The mayonnaise in the dressing tends to change consistency and affects the taste of the salad. Give the dressing a stir after it completely thaws, and if it has separated, add a little bit more mayonnaise until it comes back together.
More easy lunches you’ll love:
- 4 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 medium carrot, shredded
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Bring large pot of water to the boil. Add salt then add macaroni. Cook as per package directions. Drain pasta then cool.
- Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
- Place the pasta in a large bowl and add the onion, celery, pepper and carrots to it. Pour over the dressing and toss everything well together. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed with salt and pepper.
- Chill for 20 minutes before serving.