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Nothing says summertime like the best macaroni salad recipe. A favorite dish for parties and backyard BBQs, this easy recipe is filled with all the classic ingredients, tossed with a creamy and tangy easy dressing.
Skip the deli, and make your own cold pasta salad in just 20 minutes. The popular summer side dish, pasta salad is super quick and easy to make at home. You can even make it ahead of time!
Macaroni pasta salad goes with everything, which is why you see it at so many picnics and potlucks, served alongside burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, and almost anything else. Create the ultimate spread by serving it with other side dish favorites like coleslaw, little smokies, and baked beans.
Made with pantry staples like elbow macaroni, celery, peppers, and carrots in a simple creamy mayonnaise dressing, you may already have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen right now. The most difficult part may just be waiting for the water to boil for your pasta.
Macaroni Salad Ingredients
- Elbow macaroni
- Red pepper
- Celery finely
- Sour cream
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Green onions
What goes into a pasta salad? The best part about your macaroni salad is that you can add in other mix-ins to make it completely personalized to your taste. You could add in frozen peas, sharp cheddar cheese, hard-boiled eggs, diced ham, or pickles.
The flavors in your pasta salad will meld better if your mix-ins are in small pieces. Crumble your bacon, halve your cherry tomatoes, and shred or cube your cheese, for example.
To ensure the perfect bite, cook the macaroni to al dente, then quickly drain the noodles and run cool water over them. If you normally toss cooked pasta with butter, use olive oil instead because the butter will clump when the pasta is chilled.
How to Make Macaroni Salad
FIRST STEP: In a large bowl toss cooked macaroni with celery, red pepper, and carrots.
SECOND STEP: In a small bowl whisk together mayo, sour cream, sugar, vinegar, mustard, green onions, and parsley.
THIRD STEP: Pour over macaroni and toss to coat. Refrigerate until serving.
Refrigerate your pasta salad for at least an hour, and preferably overnight.
Wondering what else you could add to your pasta salad? Try red onions, baby corn, green or yellow bell peppers, kidney beans, grape tomatoes, tuna, crab, cucumbers, pickle relish, or any number of other possibilities.
You can swap any small bite-size pasta for the elbow macaroni, just follow the package directions for cooking time.
Storing this Recipe
IN THE FRIDGE: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
IN THE FREEZER: Freezing is not recommended as the mayo in the dressing will separate while frozen and won’t taste very good once thawed.
- 1 pound elbow macaroni cooked
- 1 red pepper diced
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- 1 cup carrots shredded
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 green onions chopped
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
- In a large bowl toss cooked macaroni with celery, red pepper, and carrots.
- In a small bowl whisk together mayo, sour cream, sugar, vinegar, mustard, green onions and parsley.
- Pour over macaroni and toss to coat. Refrigerate until serving.