This is a classic, tasty, and oh-so easy macaroni salad recipe! Made with classic ingredient staples including celery, red pepper, and onion and dressed up in a simple creamy mayo-based dressing, this is guaranteed to be a hit at every cookout and potluck this year!
Be sure to check out the easy video that shows step-by-step how to make this recipe!
We have had a non-stop week of rain here.
Zach’s first two softball games of the season have been rained out and I’m beginning to forget what the sun looks like (I’m only slightly dramatic I promise 😉). I am completely over it. I’m ready for summertime sunshine and cookout weather, and with Memorial Day weekend just around the corner I’m taking the opportunity to prepare and share my all-time favorite macaroni salad recipe, even if it is grey and gloomy outside.
Macaroni salad is a party/potluck/cookout staple, no get-together is complete without a giant chilled bowl, and today I’ll show you how I make my favorite recipe and the perfectly creamy, slightly sweet dressing that goes along with it.
What Ingredients are in Macaroni Salad?
Different macaroni salads contain different ingredients, but my staples include:
- Elbow macaroni (obviously 😉)
- Sweet pickles
- Red pepper
- Red onion
- Hard boiled eggs or shredded or diced cheddar cheese
- A homemade mayo-based macaroni salad dressing
You can obviously add your favorite additional add-ins or make substitutions (I know some people prefer sliced green onions to red onion and some people like to add paprika to their dressing), but this if my favorite combination and I really recommend you try it out exactly this way at least once for yourself.
The dressing I just mentioned is what really sets it apart from other potluck recipes you might have tried. It provides just the right amount of creaminess — the noodles are coated in just enough sauce and are neither dry nor are they drenched in the dressing. It’s also just slightly sweetened thanks to the addition of some sweet pickle juice and a pinch of sugar.
How long can you keep Macaroni Salad?
Macaroni salad will keep for up to five days when stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. This is a great salad for making in advance (I actually recommend chilling for at least an hour before serving) and serving at picnics and potlucks, but try not to leave it out at room temperature (or worse, in the heat!) for very long as the salad dressing base will not keep well in the heat.
This macaroni salad recipe is a favorite to serve alongside my favorite BBQ pulled chicken and a plate full of deviled eggs (you’re already going to be boiling eggs anyway, might as well make enough for deviled eggs while you’re at it!).
When I shared my deviled egg recipe, so many of you shared your favorite methods for cleanly peeling fresh eggs, and I appreciated those tips so much and have tried many of them. I’d love to keep the conversation going here if you would share your favorite egg-peeling methods in the comments!
How Do You Make Homemade Macaroni Salad?
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- 8 oz dry macaroni noodles (227g)
- ½ cup finely diced sweet gherkins usually 4-6 sweet gherkins for me (80g)
- ¾ cup finely diced red bell pepper about ½ pepper (100g)
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced celery about 1-2 stalks (55g)
- ⅓ cup finely diced red onion (45g)
- 2 large hard boiled eggs, finely diced
Macaroni Salad Dressing
- ¾ cup mayonnaise I use olive oil mayo (175g)
- ¼ cup sour cream (70g)
- 2 Tablespoons sweet pickle juice
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar*
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper optional
- Prepare macaroni noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water, then drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and gently stir so the noodles don't stick together as they sit.
- In a large bowl, combine macaroni noodles, sweet pickles, red pepper, celery, red onion, and eggs. Stir until well-combined. Set aside and prepare your dressing.
For the dressing
- To prepare your macaroni salad dressing, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, red wine vinegar, sweet pickle juice, sugar, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper (if using) in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk until ingredients are well-combined.
- Pour dressing over your macaroni salad ingredients and toss until well-combined.
- For best flavor, cover bowl and allow macaroni salad to chill for at least one hour. Stir once more before serving and enjoy!
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.