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Classic Macaroni Salad

When it comes to summer picnics, family gatherings, or any potluck, a Classic Macaroni Salad is always a hit. This creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet dish brings back memories of childhood and is loved by all age groups. Today, I'm excited to share with you my favorite macaroni salad recipe, perfected over the years to achieve the perfect balance of flavors and textures. Let's dive in!

Why You'll Love This Macaroni Salad

A Perfect Side Dish

Macaroni salad is incredibly versatile and pairs well with a variety of main dishes. Whether you're grilling burgers, barbecuing chicken, or serving up a holiday spread, this salad is the perfect complement.

Easy to Make Ahead

One of the best things about macaroni salad is that it can be made ahead of time. In fact, it tastes even better after sitting in the fridge for a few hours, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully.

Customizable to Your Taste

This classic recipe is a great starting point, but feel free to get creative. Add in your favorite veggies, adjust the seasonings, or even incorporate some protein like diced ham or chicken.

Ingredients for Classic Macaroni Salad


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni


  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Step-by-Step Directions

Step 1: Cook the Pasta

First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the elbow macaroni and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process. This also helps to remove some of the starch, ensuring the pasta doesn’t stick together.

Step 2: Prepare the Vegetables and Eggs

While the pasta is cooking, dice the celery, red bell pepper, and red onion. Shred the carrots and chop the hard-boiled eggs. Having all the ingredients prepped and ready makes the assembly process much quicker and more efficient.

Step 3: Make the Dressing

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Whisk until smooth and well combined. This creamy dressing is the heart of the salad, providing that classic tangy flavor.

Step 4: Combine Everything

Add the cooked and cooled pasta to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat the pasta evenly. Then, add the diced vegetables, chopped eggs, sweet pickle relish, and chopped parsley. Gently fold everything together until all the ingredients are well mixed and coated in the dressing.

Step 5: Chill and Serve

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. This allows the flavors to meld and the salad to chill. Before serving, give it a good stir and taste for seasoning. You can adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

Tips for the Best Macaroni Salad

Choose the Right Pasta

Elbow macaroni is the classic choice, but you can use other short pasta shapes like rotini or shells. The key is to choose a pasta that can hold the dressing well.

Don’t Overcook the Pasta

Overcooked pasta can become mushy when mixed with the dressing. Aim for al dente, which means the pasta should be firm to the bite.

Let the Salad Chill

Allowing the salad to chill for a few hours (or even overnight) enhances the flavors. If you’re in a rush, even 30 minutes in the fridge can make a big difference.

Customize Your Salad

Feel free to add other ingredients like diced ham, peas, or even shredded cheese. This recipe is a great base, but it’s highly adaptable to suit your preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Macaroni Salad Ahead of Time?

Yes! In fact, macaroni salad often tastes better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld. Just be sure to give it a good stir before serving.

How Long Does Macaroni Salad Last in the Fridge?

Macaroni salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If it seems a bit dry after being stored, you can add a little more mayonnaise or a splash of vinegar to revive it.

Can I Freeze Macaroni Salad?

I don’t recommend freezing macaroni salad as the texture of the pasta and vegetables can become mushy once thawed. It’s best enjoyed fresh or after being refrigerated for a few days.

Nutritional Information

While macaroni salad is a delicious treat, it's important to enjoy it in moderation. Here’s a rough estimate of the nutritional content per serving:

  • Calories: 250
  • Total Fat: 15g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 80mg
  • Sodium: 600mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 24g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 5g
  • Protein: 5g


There you have it, a classic macaroni salad recipe that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. With its creamy dressing, crunchy vegetables, and perfectly cooked pasta, this salad is a timeless favorite. Make it for your next gathering and watch it disappear quickly!

Remember, the beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity and versatility. Feel free to make it your own by adding your favorite ingredients and adjusting the flavors to suit your taste. Enjoy!

Cooking Method
Difficulty Beginner
Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 10 mins Total Time: 30 mins
Servings 4
Calories 250 kcal

Classic Macaroni Salad is a timeless favorite perfect for any occasion. This creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet salad features al dente elbow macaroni, crunchy vegetables, and a flavorful dressing. Made with mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and a touch of sugar, it's easy to customize and can be made ahead of time. Perfect for picnics, barbecues, and potlucks, this macaroni salad is sure to be a hit. Follow this simple recipe to create a delicious side dish that everyone will love.

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  1. Cook the Macaroni: In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the elbow macaroni until tender but firm to the bite, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the Dressing: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, and black pepper until smooth and well combined.
  3. Combine Ingredients: Add the cooked macaroni, celery, red bell pepper, red onion, and chopped hard-boiled eggs to the bowl with the dressing. Gently stir until everything is evenly coated.
  4. Chill the Salad: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld. For the best results, refrigerate overnight.
  5. Serve: Before serving, give the macaroni salad a good stir. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
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Prabhash Jyani

Prabhash Jyani, the creative mind behind KitchenGYD, is a passionate food lover with a deep appreciation for culinary arts. With years of experience in the kitchen and a love for exploring new flavors, Prabhash aims to share his culinary adventures and expertise with you through this platform.