How to Make Macaroni Salad

This simple yet satisfying dish is a popular item to bring to potlucks or any other fun gathering. You simply can't go wrong with a tangy and refreshing macaroni salad.

This macaroni salad is the perfect side dish to bring along to a neighbor’s BBQ party this spring and summer. Not only is it delicious, but it’s actually loaded with veggies too! This creamy salad is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Not to mention, it’s super easy to make and won’t take you longer than 30 minutes—just like these insanely yummy quick casserole recipes.

How to Make a Mouthwatering Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad IngredientsTMB Studio


  • 1 package (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped


Step 1: Cook the pasta

Cook the elbow noodles according to the package directions. We recommend boiling your pasta with salted water.

Step 2: Drain the pasta

Drain your pasta. Then, rinse with cold water. After this, drain your pasta one more time.

Step 3: Make your dressing

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Blend together until all ingredients are combined. This mixture should have a creamy texture to it.

Step 4: Combine the ingredients

In a large bowl, combine macaroni, sweet red pepper, onion, celery and eggs. Stir together and make sure all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.

Step 5: Add your dressing

Add the dressing to the noodles. Toss gently to coat them. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Next, try this Hellman’s macaroni salad.

Macaroni Salad Variations

Macaroni Salad in a large bowl with some served into two smaller bowls nearbyTMB Studio

No matter if you are a veggie lover or a meat connoisseur, this salad is extremely versatile depending on your needs.

  • Add chicken, beef or your choice of protein to bulk up your mac!
  • If you like your pasta more on the spicy side, feel free to add a dash of red pepper chili flakes.
  • You can always add more veggies to the mix. From broccoli to mushrooms, this mac goes well with just about anything. If you like tuna, then you must try this tuna macaroni salad.

Making Macaroni Salad in Advance

To make this salad ahead—precook the pasta and make your dressing. You can store your pasta in the fridge overnight. Make sure to keep your pasta and dressing in separate containers to ensure freshness.

What to Serve with Macaroni Salad

There are a ton of options for this. Serve dollops of macaroni salad with a hearty meatloaf or BBQ pulled pork. Cornbread and collard greens make this the perfect southern meal. You can also roast Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes alongside the mouthwatering salad for extra nutrition.

How to Store Macaroni Salad

Store leftovers in the fridge. Macaroni salad should stay fresh for 3 to 5 days.

Tips for Making Macaroni Salad

How do you prevent the noodles from becoming too soft?

In order to prevent the noodles from absorbing too much sauce, make the sauce slightly thinner. This will result in less moisture, allowing the noodles to become less mushy or soft.

Can you use any type of pasta in this recipe?

This recipe works well with all shapes and sizes of pasta varieties. If you want something similar to elbow macaroni, we suggest using shells.

What kind of vegetables would go well with macaroni salad?

If you would rather have more of a veggie salad instead of adding meat, the more the better! Feel free to cut up zucchini, kale or broccoli. All you need to do is add the additional veggies to your onion and pepper mixture.

What kind of meat would go well with macaroni salad?

If you’re a big carnivore or want to add more protein to this dish, chicken or beef would be delightful with it. You also can’t go wrong with pork or chopped up bacon.

The Best Macaroni Salads
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Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
Lauren has spent more than eight years writing lifestyle, health and wellness content for publishers like Allure, Teen Vogue and Thought Catalog. As Taste of Home's assistant editor, she ran the Holiday, Healthy and Desserts newsletters, and wrote and edited everything from recipe tutorials to healthy eating tips. After work hours, you can find Lauren trying out new pasta recipes, obsessing over her dog, Andre, and working on her third book of poetry.