Macaroni Salad Recipe

Macaroni Salad is one of those classic salads that makes an appearance at every family or holiday picnic. It’s the perfect summer side dish for grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Come on in and I’ll share an Easy and Delicious Macaroni Salad Recipe…

macaroni salad

Classic Macaroni Salad 

Macaroni salad is a potluck side that is easy enough to find at your local deli, but the homemade version is so easy and so much better. I know that you and your guests will love it so much and you’ll love how easy it is to make. You probably won’t buy the store-bought version again.

Sides are so key to any potluck. The main meat might be a signature recipe, but the sides are really the star of the show. If you are out and about looking for more side dishes to take center stage then I think you’ll love this recipe for Creamy Cucumber Salad, Cold Spaghetti Salad, this old fashioned Seven Layered Sald, or KFC Coleslaw (copy-cat)

What I love about this macaroni salad

  • it is a classic recipe that comes from the old church potlucks and is handed down
  • this is a tried and true old-fashioned recipe handed down for generations. This is a truly classic recipe to share with your friends and family
  • homemade from scratch is always so much better
  • it is a recipe that you can put your own touches to by adding in different vegetables for a new twist and flare
  • you can make this side salad ahead of time for your potluck
macaroni salad in a bowl


ingredients for macaroni salad
  • elbow macaroni noodles – uncooked. Elbow noodles are a classic to macaroni salad for a reason. They truly are the best noodle to pair with this dressing. Here’s one quick tip: When you cook them cook them a little bit past al dente for a softer noodle
  • sweet onion –  chopped. I use a white sweet onion like Vidalia for this recipe
  • celery – chopped. Celery adds a crunchy texture to this side
  • green pepper –  chopped. Bell pepper also adds crunch and a delicious flavor to this dish
  • carrots -grated. I grated my own carrots, but you can buy carrots at the grocery store that have already been grated. I’m always in favor of shortcuts that save you time and energy
  • sweet pickled relish. I once had someone ask if I use dill relish. I never thought to specify, but it is sweet relish in this dish

Dressing Ingredients

macaroni salad ingredients
  • salt – regular table salt is perfect for this recipe. I would not substitute with kosher or sea salt in this particular case. If you do decide to use another salt, be sure to adjust the measurements. For example, if you use kosher salt then you’ll need to add a little bit more to equal the same flavor as table salt
  • ground black pepper – this spice adds a little bit of heat to this macaroni salad, but not too much
  • mayonnaise – use mayonnaise and not Miracle Whip. Mayonnaise has a nice mild flavor that allows the other flavors to shine through
  • apple cider vinegar – although there are many other vinegars to choose from, apple cider is the very best for this recipe. If you absolutely can not find apple cider vinegar, then use white vinegar
  • granulated sugar – between this and the sweet relish, sugar gives the balance of tang and sweetness that this recipe is famous for
  • yellow mustard – just plain old yellow mustard is all you need for this recipe

Key Equipment

For this side salad, the only equipment you’ll need are mixing bowls and mixing utensils

How to Make Macaroni Salad

The full recipe is in the printable card found below

Step One

  • Cook, rinse, and drain the noodles
  • let the noodles completely cool
ingredients for macaroni salad

Step Two

In a large bowl, combine the noodles, celery, onion, carrots, pepper, and relish and mix well

Pour the dressing over the mixture and mix well

Step Three

cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight

Expert Tip

Cook these elbow noodles a little more than al dente to make sure you have a soft noodle for this side salad

Do not cook too long though, or your noodles will get starchy

Recipe Variations

Although I really think this macaroni salad is perfect as-is, some people like to add ingredients, like these:

  • red onion
  • green onion
  • paprika
  • boiled egg
  • tomatoes

What to Serve with Macaroni Salad

How long will Macaroni Salad last in the refrigerator?

If covered and stored in the refrigerator, macaroni salad will last up to five days.

Should I rinse the macaroni noodles for Macaroni Salad?

Yes. Rinse with cold water. It helps stop the noodles from cooking more and cools the noodles for mixing.

Make Ahead and Storage

You can make this macaroni salad a few days in advance

Store in the refrigerator covered until you are ready to serve. Toss the salad to coat the noodles with the dressing before serving

Storing Leftovers

Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days

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Serving Size

This macaroni salad is enough to serve a crowd, so it’s perfect to take to your summer potluck

You can double the recipe to serve an even larger crowd or half it to feed fewer people

My top Amazon Picks for this Macaroni Salad Recipe…

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Here’s a quick video on how I made this delicious Macaroni Salad

Recipe for Homemade Macaroni Salad…

Classic Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad Recipe

Easy and classic macaroni salad for a delicious picnic side.
4.77 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 268cal
Author: Melissa


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni noodles uncooked
  • 1 small sweet onion chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • ¼ cup carrot grated
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet pickled relish
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard


  • Cook and drain the noodles
  • Let Cool
  • In a large bowl, combine everything and mix well
  • cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight


Can be doubled to feed a bigger crowd.


Calories: 268cal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 280mg | Potassium: 99mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 642IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg
macaroni salad

easy macaroni salad
4.77 from 13 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Elaine McGee

    5 stars
    Great macaroni salad. Left the carrots out-didn’t think we’d like them in it.
    We think it is the best we’ve eaten!

    1. Melissa

      What a great compliment! I’m so glad that you like the recipe. Thank you for coming back to review it. I really appreciate it. 🙂

      1. Joanne

        No onion I use union flakes no peppers

  2. Diana Anderson

    4 stars
    Wow, this is one great macaroni salad! I’ve always made the same one forever. This is my new go too!

    1. Melissa

      This makes me so happy! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for coming back to tell me and rate it. 🙂

  3. Rick

    Made this recipe, gojng to taste it tonight. But my rsnt is how horrible Pinterest has gotten with all the pop up ads, videos, and “Crap” honestly someone should make a competing app and ditch all the advertising. Find alternate funding. The posters are part of the problem they want revenues so link everything under the table/counter so they get $$$

  4. Amanda

    Excited to try this! Just wondering- do you have the nutrition facts for this recipe?

    1. Melissa

      Hi Amanda. I’m sorry, I don’t have the nutrition facts for you. I hope to start adding those within the next couple of weeks, but my current recipe card does not generate them. So sorry.

  5. Ann

    5 stars
    Just made this and it’s delicious! I did increase the mayo a bit! I always thought there had to be eggs in this…no wonder mine never came out right! Thank you for an easy go to recipe!

  6. Carol

    5 stars
    Never made mac salad before. I am so glad I found this recipe! It is the best I have ever had. I hate buying store mac salad, too much mayo in it. Love this recipe was fun to make and so enjoyable to eat!

    1. Melissa

      I’m so happy that you tried it. It’s not hard to make and so worth it! Thanks for coming back to leave me a great review!

  7. margaret

    Was this made with sweet relish or dill?

    1. Melissa

      sweet relish

  8. Kathy

    5 stars
    The best, family couldn’t get enough.

    1. Melissa Haines

      That’s awesome! I’m so glad. Thank you for letting me know.