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Macaroni Salad Recipe – Love and Lemons


This macaroni salad recipe is a crowd-pleasing side dish! A creamy dressing, crunchy veggies, and pickles pack it with delicious textures and flavors.


Macaroni salad


This classic macaroni salad recipe is a hit at potlucks and cookouts! Based on the macaroni salad I ate at summer gatherings as a kid, it features a creamy dressing and crunchy veggies like celery, red bell peppers, and onion. Diced dill pickles add a pop of tangy, savory flavor to the salad, and a splash of pickle juice punches up the dressing.

This macaroni salad is easy to make, and it’s perfect for making ahead. Prep it a few hours or even a day before a picnic or BBQ, and chill it until you’re ready to serve. The flavors get better the longer it sits in the fridge!

Enjoy this salad as a side dish with veggie burgers, black bean burgers, or saucy BBQ sandwiches. It pairs well with any cookout fare. I hope you love it as much as we do!


Macaroni salad ingredients


Macaroni Salad Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this classic pasta salad recipe:

  • Elbow macaroni – A macaroni salad essential! You just need 8 ounces, typically half a box. It really expands as it cooks.
  • Red bell pepper – It adds crunch and a touch of sweetness to the salad.
  • Celery and red onion – For savory flavor and extra crunch.
  • Dill pickles and pickle juice – You’ll dice up the pickles and add them to the salad and use the pickle juice in the dressing. Both amp up the salad’s addictive tangy flavor. Sub sweet pickles if you prefer!
  • Mayonnaise – It creates the dressing’s creamy base. Use vegan mayo to make this recipe vegan.
  • Distilled white vinegar and Dijon mustard – They work with the pickle brine to add tangy flavor to the dressing. If you don’t have white vinegar on hand, apple cider vinegar is a good substitute.
  • Sugar – It sweetens the dressing, balancing the sharp vinegar, mustard, and pickle brine.
  • Garlic – It gives the dressing a savory, garlicky kick.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

VariationFor an extra-creamy texture, add two peeled and chopped hard-boiled eggs to the salad.

I love them in my classic potato salad, and they’re great here too!


Chopped pickles, celery, red onion, red bell pepper, and pasta in glass mixing bowl


How to Make Macaroni Salad

To make this easy macaroni salad recipe, start by cooking the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions, cooking until slightly past al dente so that the noodles will stay tender once they cool.

Drain the pasta. Many macaroni salad recipes recommend rinsing the pasta in cold water after cooking. I prefer not to, as this washes away some of the starches from the noodles.

Instead, toss the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking. Then, set it aside to cool.


Mixing easy macaroni salad in glass bowl


Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, pickle juice, vinegar, sugar, mustard, garlic, salt, and several grinds of pepper.

Then, assemble the salad. Add the cooked pasta, red pepper, celery, pickles, and red onion to the bowl with the dressing. Stir to combine and season to taste.

Chill the salad until ready to serve. Finally, dig in!

How long does macaroni salad last?

Macaroni salad keeps well for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Feel free to make it ahead for picnics and cookouts!

One note about the dressing: It’s best not to leave mayo-based salad dressings in the heat for too long. Keep this salad chilled until you serve it, and don’t let it sit at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.


Macaroni salad recipe


More Classic Salad Recipes

If you love this macaroni salad, try one of these classic salads next:

Macaroni Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves 6

This macaroni salad recipe is my take on the classic cookout side dish. Featuring a creamy dressing, crunchy veggies, and tangy dill pickles, it’s simple and delicious. Make it ahead for your next potluck or cookout!

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the macaroni according to the package instructions, cooking until slightly past al dente. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking, then set aside to cool.

  • Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, pickle juice, vinegar, sugar, mustard, garlic, salt, and several grinds of pepper.

  • Add the macaroni, red pepper, celery, pickles, and red onion to the bowl with the dressing and stir to combine. Season to taste and chill until ready to serve.



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