Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe with Mayo

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe with Mayo

Looking for a delicious and easy-to-make macaroni salad recipe? Look no further! This classic macaroni salad recipe with mayo is sure to become a favorite at your next picnic or barbecue. Made with tender macaroni noodles, crunchy vegetables, and a creamy mayo dressing, this timeless dish is perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re serving it as a side dish or as a main course, everyone will be coming back for seconds. Follow this simple recipe and impress your guests with a mouthwatering macaroni salad that will leave them craving for more!

Ingredients for Classic Macaroni Salad

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Step-by-Step Instructions for Classic Macaroni Salad

Follow these easy steps to make a delicious classic macaroni salad:

  1. Boil a large pot of water and add salt to it.
  2. Add the macaroni noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions, usually around 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. While the noodles are cooking, prepare the vegetables. Chop the celery, red onion, and bell pepper into small, bite-sized pieces.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
  5. Once the macaroni is cooked, drain it in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow it to cool completely.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled macaroni with the chopped vegetables.
  7. Pour the dressing over the macaroni and vegetables, and gently toss until everything is well coated.
  8. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  9. Before serving, give the macaroni salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  10. Serve chilled and enjoy!

With these simple steps, you’ll have a classic macaroni salad ready to impress your family and friends at any gathering or barbecue!

Tips and Variations for Classic Macaroni Salad

Creating a delicious macaroni salad is all about experimenting with different flavors and ingredients. Here are some tips and variations to enhance your classic macaroni salad:


  • Use elbow macaroni or any small pasta shape for the best texture.
  • Cook the pasta until it is al dente, not overcooked and mushy.
  • Rinse the cooked pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down quickly.
  • Allow the macaroni salad to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to let the flavors meld together.
  • Adjust the amount of mayonnaise and other dressing ingredients according to your preference.


While the classic macaroni salad recipe is delicious on its own, you can also add some exciting variations to personalize it:

1. Vegetable Medley:

Add a variety of colorful vegetables such as diced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and shredded carrots to give your macaroni salad a refreshing crunch.

2. Protein Boost:

For a heartier version, mix in some diced cooked chicken, ham, bacon, or boiled eggs. These additions provide extra protein and add a savory element to the salad.

3. Herbs and Spices:

Experiment with different herbs and spices to elevate the flavor profile. Try adding fresh basil, parsley, dill, or a sprinkle of paprika, garlic powder, or onion powder to enhance the taste.

4. Cheese Lover’s Dream:

If you’re a fan of cheese, incorporate shredded cheddar, mozzarella, or crumbled feta cheese into your macaroni salad. The cheesy goodness will take it to the next level.

5. Tangy Twist:

To give your macaroni salad a tangy kick, mix in some pickle relish, diced pickles, or a squeeze of lemon juice. These additions will brighten up the flavors and add a zesty twist.

Remember, macaroni salad is a versatile dish, so don’t be afraid to get creative and tailor it to your taste preferences. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions for Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad is a versatile dish that can be served as a side dish or as a main course. Here are some serving suggestions to enhance your macaroni salad experience:

1. Picnic Delight

This macaroni salad is perfect for picnics and outdoor gatherings. Pack it in airtight containers and enjoy it as a refreshing side dish alongside grilled burgers, hot dogs, or sandwiches. The creamy texture and tangy flavors of the salad complement the smoky flavors of barbecued meats.

2. Summer BBQ Favorite

Bring this classic macaroni salad to your next summer barbecue. It pairs well with grilled chicken, ribs, or steak. The combination of mayo, mustard, and vinegar in the dressing provides a delightful tanginess that cuts through the richness of grilled meats.

3. Potluck Crowd-Pleaser

Planning to attend a potluck dinner? This macaroni salad is sure to be a hit! Its colorful appearance and creamy texture make it an attractive and delicious option for potluck gatherings. Serve it alongside other salads, such as coleslaw or potato salad, for a variety of flavors.

4. Light Lunch Option

If you’re looking for a light lunch option, this macaroni salad can be enjoyed on its own. It’s filled with various vegetables and provides a good balance of carbohydrates and protein. Add some grilled chicken or shrimp for an extra protein boost.

5. Party Appetizer

Transform this classic macaroni salad into bite-sized appetizers for your next party. Skewer small portions of the salad with toothpicks or serve them in mini phyllo cups. These portable and flavorful appetizers are sure to impress your guests.

Regardless of how you choose to serve it, Classic Macaroni Salad with Mayo is a timeless dish that is loved by many. Its creamy and tangy flavors make it a crowd-pleasing favorite for any occasion.

Frequently Asked Questions about Classic Macaroni Salad

1. Can I use any type of pasta for this recipe?

While the recipe calls for macaroni, you can definitely use other types of pasta such as penne, fusilli, or rotini. Just keep in mind that different types of pasta may have varying cooking times, so adjust accordingly.

2. Can I substitute the mayo with another ingredient?

Yes, if you’re not a fan of mayo or want a healthier alternative, you can use Greek yogurt or sour cream instead. They will provide a similar creamy texture and tangy flavor.

3. How long does the macaroni salad last in the refrigerator?

When stored in an airtight container, classic macaroni salad can last up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Make sure to give it a good stir before serving again.

4. Can I add additional vegetables or ingredients to the salad?

Absolutely! Classic macaroni salad is quite versatile, and you can customize it to your liking. Some popular additions include diced bell peppers, shredded carrots, chopped celery, or even pickles for an extra tangy kick.

5. Can I make the salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the macaroni salad ahead of time. In fact, it is often recommended to allow the flavors to meld together by refrigerating the salad for at least a couple of hours before serving. Just make sure to give it a good mix before serving to redistribute the dressing.

6. Is this recipe suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, the classic macaroni salad recipe with mayo is suitable for vegetarians. However, always double-check the ingredients of the mayo you’re using to ensure it doesn’t contain any animal products or by-products.

7. Can I make this salad gluten-free?

To make this salad gluten-free, simply substitute regular macaroni with gluten-free macaroni or any other gluten-free pasta of your choice. Ensure that all other ingredients you use, including the mayo, are also gluten-free.

8. Can I use low-fat mayo or light mayo?

Yes, you can use low-fat mayo or light mayo if you prefer a lighter version of the salad. However, keep in mind that it may slightly alter the taste and texture compared to using regular mayo.

9. Can I double the recipe for a larger gathering?

Absolutely! The recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled to accommodate a larger gathering. Just make sure to adjust the ingredient quantities accordingly and allow for extra chilling time.

10. Can I freeze the macaroni salad?

It is not recommended to freeze macaroni salad as the texture of the pasta and other ingredients may change significantly upon thawing. It is best enjoyed fresh or stored in the refrigerator for a few days.


This article provided a delicious classic macaroni salad recipe with mayo. By following the step-by-step instructions, anyone can easily create a flavorful macaroni salad perfect for any occasion. The combination of cooked macaroni, diced vegetables, and a creamy mayo-based dressing creates a refreshing and satisfying dish. Whether it’s for a picnic, potluck, or a simple family gathering, this macaroni salad recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Enjoy!

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