Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad

This easy, classic Macaroni Salad recipe has favorite add-ins like celery, onion, bell pepper and shredded carrot, tossed in a creamy mayo-based dressing. It’s a beloved side dish at potlucks and BBQ’s and it’s easy to adapt to add what you like.

There are a few side dishes that make summer dinner complete, including Baked Potato Salad, Baked Beans, and Skillet Cornbread!

Whether its the fun shape of the pasta, the delicious creamy sauce, or the variety of add-ins, macaroni salad has been one of the most popular side-dishes at American dinner tables for decades! It goes well with just about anything, and you can include whatever leftover veggies, meats and cheese you like or need to use up from your fridge.

What you’ll need:

Pasta: Elbow macaroni is the most popular pasta in macaroni salad but any short pasta will work, including ditalini, farfalle, and rotini. 

Dressing: I use half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt or lowfat sour cream because I love the mellow flavor and creaminess it adds.

Veggies: Bell pepper, celery, onion, shredded carrot.

Other add-in ideas: Diced cheese, peas, hard boiled eggs, diced ham, pickles, bacon, tuna, chicken

Macaroni Salad

How to make macaroni salad:

Cook and cool pasta: Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain. This stops the cooking process and rinses away extra starch so the noodles will not stick together. Cool the noodles completely before adding the dressing.

Add chopped salad ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooked and cooled noodles onion, celery, bell pepper, and carrots. Additional add in for macaroni salad include: Diced cheese, peas, hard boiled eggs, diced ham, pickles, bacon, tuna, chicken.

Macaroni Salad

Make dressing: In a small mixing bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, cider vinegar, sugar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour half of the sauce over pasta and toss until everything is well coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour before serving. Stir in additional sauce before serving.

Storing: Leftover macaroni salad can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

Variations:

  • No mayo Macaroni Salad: Use an olive-oil based dressing instead, like this Italian dressing.
  • Filipino Macaroni salad: Add chicken, pineapple, raisins and cheese.
  • Hawaiian Macaroni salad: Add milk to the dressing instead of sour cream of mayonnaise. Leave out the bell pepper and add green onion. Chopped pineapple and ham are optional additions.

Make ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To make ahead, assemble the salad ingredients and dressing and store separately in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

Freeze the pasta mixture without the sauce, in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before adding the dressing.

Macaroni Salad goes well with:

Grilled Chicken

Marinated Flank Steak

Burgers

Salmon

Kebabs

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Macaroni Salad

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Macaroni Salad

This easy, classic Macaroni Salad recipe has favorite add-ins like celery, onion, bell pepper and shredded carrot, tossed in a creamy mayo-based dressing.
Course Main Course, side course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 214kcal
Author Lauren Allen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound elbow noodles , or ditalini
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 rib rib celery , finely diced
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper , finely diced
  • ¼ cup finely shredded carrot , loosely measured, then squeezed out

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni according to package directions, until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain. This stops the cooking process and rinses away extra starch so the noodles will not stick together.
  • Cool the noodles completely before adding the dressing.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooked and cooled noodles onion, celery, bell pepper, and carrots.
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, cider vinegar, sugar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour half of the sauce over pasta and toss until everything is well coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour before serving. Stir in additional sauce before serving. Add a splash of milk, for a thinner sauce, if desired.

Notes

Storing Instructions: Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

Make-ahead Instructions: assemble the salad ingredients and dressing and store separately in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

Freezing Instructions: Freeze the pasta mixture without the sauce, in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before adding the dressing.

 

Nutrition

Calories: 214kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 363mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1246IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg
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