Classic Macaroni Salad: the best recipe for a tasty pasta salad

Total time: 30 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist
Short pasta
1 pound
hard-boiled eggs, diced
celery ribs, minced
red bell pepper, deseeded and minced
red onion, minced
sweet pickles, chopped
1/4 cup
1 cup
pickle juice
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
2 tsp
Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped

Packed with incredible flavor, classic macaroni salad is a perfect main dish that also works as a side for your summertime potlucks and barbecues. Richly creamy, savory, and slightly tangy macaroni salad is simple to make. This recipe calls for just the right amount of mayo – enough to make the classic macaroni salad creamy but without overwhelming the dish. You'll still taste the crunchy celery and bell pepper, sweet pickles, and the bite of the red onion. For a great-tasting summery main dish, you can't go wrong with classic macaroni salad.

Tips to Make the Best Classic Macaroni Salad

– Don't overcook the pasta. You'll want to cook it to al dente.

– Regular mayonnaise will give you a richer, creamier texture than reduced-fat options.

– Make sure to be generous when seasoning your classic macaroni salad. Don't skimp on salt and pepper, otherwise, the salad might taste bland. Taste as you go.

– Macaroni salad is easier to mix when the pasta is still slightly warm.


Macaroni Salad Variations to Try

– Add fresh garden peas, bacon, salmon, cooked chicken, or tuna to your pasta salad. Fresh herbs like dill, basil, and mint can all make great additions as well.

– You can substitute macaroni for orzo for a lighter take on pasta salad.

– Try crumbling a little feta or goat's cheese over the top of your macaroni salad.

How to Store Classic Macaroni Salad

To keep leftovers at their freshest, transfer the macaroni salad to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. It tastes best when enjoyed sooner rather than later.

How to Make the Best Classic Macaroni Salad

  1. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain, then rinse under cold water. Let the pasta drain completely for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pour the pasta into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, celery, bell pepper, onion, and pickles.
  3. Whisk mayonnaise, pickle juice, mustard, and sugar in a separate bowl. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the pasta. Toss to coat. Refrigerate for one hour before serving the macaroni salad. If desired, garnish with fresh parsley.


– Any short pasta will do. Try macaroni elbows, penne, or orecchiette.

– While you can make classic macaroni salad ahead of time, don't make it too far in advance. Make it the day before or the same day you plan on serving it.

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