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Macaroni Salad: the ultimate recipe for the beloved summer side dish

Total time: 25 Min + Refrigerating time
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist

Whether you're planning a picnic, barbecue, or potluck this summer, no gathering is complete without macaroni salad. Chock-full of tender macaroni and a medley of veggies like crunchy celery, bell pepper, and red onion, all tossed in a creamy mayo-based dressing, classic macaroni salad is always a popular main or side dish for feeding a crowd.

Customize macaroni salad however you like, or make it using this traditional recipe. Enjoy plenty of macaroni salad with your favorite cookout or picnic dishes – barbecue ribs, grilled chicken, hot dogs, brats, deli sandwiches, and fried chicken.

Tips for making the Best Macaroni Salad

Don't overcook the pasta – aim for al dente.

Macaroni is ideal for this tasty pasta salad, but you can use other pasta like farfalle, penne, or fusilli.

No red wine vinegar? Use apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or champagne vinegar instead.

Full-fat mayo is best for this recipe, but you can use low-fat mayonnaise for your macaroni salad dressing.

For a healthier dressing, swap out the mayo for Greek yogurt.

Other tasty add-ins for your macaroni salad include crispy bacon, chicken, tomatoes, and cucumber. Add more spice with some jalapenos, or leave out the red chili flakes if you're not keen on heat.

Make macaroni salad up to one day in advance.

How to Store Macaroni Salad

Homemade macaroni salad will last three to 4 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

for the salad
macaroni noodles (any type of pasta works)
8 oz
sweet gherkins, finely diced
1/2 cup
red bell pepper, finely diced
3/4 cup
celery, thinly sliced
1/3 cup
red onion or shallots, finely diced
1/3 cup
large hard-boiled eggs, finely diced
for the dressing
3/4 cup
Sour cream
1/4 cup
sweet pickle juice
2 tbsp
Red wine vinegar
1 tbsp
1 tbsp
Dijon mustard
2 tsp
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Garlic powder
a pinch
Crushed red pepper
a pinch

How to Make Macaroni Salad

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package for al dente.

Drain, then rinse the pasta under cold water.

Toss the pasta with a teaspoon of olive oil.

Place the pasta in a large bowl, then add the celery and onion.

Stir in bell pepper.

Add the pickles.

Add in the hard-boiled eggs.


In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, pickle juice, red wine vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to combine.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Cover in cling film and place in the fridge for at least one hour to allow the flavors to merge.

Serve and enjoy!

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