Hot weather and cool refreshing recipes go hand in hand. This classic macaroni salad recipe is a real crowd pleaser! It’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, and backyard BBQs. Growing up I remember attending huge family reunions at a popular park downtown. My Dad comes from a large family, so when everyone got together the potlucks were amazing. There was everything from hot dogs and hamburgers, flats of enchiladas, to standard American picnic fare. I fondly recall big Tupperware bowls of macaroni salad with paprika sprinkled on top, and large buckets of southern fried chicken set up on red-and-white checkered tablecloths.
Macaroni Salad Ingredients
This is the classic macaroni salad recipe you remember from your childhood! Here is the list of ingredients for this traditional summer salad: Ditalini pasta, hard boiled eggs, black olives, celery, red bell pepper, red onion, pickles, fresh dill, mayo, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, yellow mustard, salt, pepper, and paprika. Although you can use elbow macaroni to make this recipe, for me nostalgia insists on using ditalini pasta for a truly iconic American look, taste and texture. After all, this deli staple is a slice of Americana!
Best Macaroni Salad
To make the best macaroni salad, begin by cooking your pasta al dente according to the instructions listed on the box or package. Drain the pasta in a colander, but do not rinse it! Instead, add a bit of olive oil to the pasta, toss it, then spread it out in an even layer on a baking tray to cool. This will help bring the temperature down quickly without needing to rinse it under cold running water. This is a little trick used by food stylists when preparing gorgeous-looking pasta salads that photograph well. Not only will this keep your pasta looking its Sunday best, your noodles will be nicely loosened up in preparation for mixing in other ingredients.
How to Make Macaroni Salad
When making this classic macaroni salad recipe, be sure to dice or mince the fresh veggies. We want them in very tiny pieces. Although there may still be an ever-so-slightly firm crunch, it’s important to have the lovely texture of the noodles be the primary focus of each and every bite! The stiff consistency of the crisp veggies should never overwhelm the smoothness of the pasta. After all, this is a macaroni salad, not a veggie salad!
Homemade Macaroni Salad
In the images on this page my veggies are most definitely chopped much larger than how I normally prep them for my homemade macaroni salad. This is simply so you’re able to see all of the gorgeous, colorful ingredients that go into this classic pasta salad recipe. I recommend dicing or mincing the veggies so they’re about 1/3 or 1/4 the size of the ditalini pasta.
Recipe for Macaroni Salad
To make the macaroni salad dressing, add the wet ingredients to a small bowl and mix them together with a whisk. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mixture will be tasty and tangy. If you think it may be too tangy, just keep in mind that after all the ingredients have been mixed together the taste of the dressing will be diluted as all of the other delicious flavors shine through.
Macaroni Salad with Egg
Once you peel the hard boiled eggs, use an egg slicer or sharp knife to dice up the eggs. Chop the fresh dill and put it aside. In a large mixing bowl, fold the dressing into the noodles. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and combine everything together. Do a taste test and adjust the spices as needed. This is truly an easy macaroni salad recipe that’ll have you out of the kitchen in no time flat!
Easy Macaroni Salad
Chill your macaroni salad in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving, or even overnight. This will allow enough time for all of the delicious flavors to meld together beautifully. Before serving, garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and pepper, a boiled egg that’s been cut in half, a few whole black olives, and fresh sprigs of dill or parsley.
Best Kitchen Tools for Classic Macaroni Salad
These are helpful kitchen items for making this macaroni salad recipe. If you love my glass mixing bowls, and my lovely wooden salad servers, the affiliate links for these great kitchen tools are included below!
Classic Macaroni Salad
Yield 8 Servings
This iconically American macaroni salad recipe is reminiscent of the classic pasta salad you enjoyed as a child at picnics, BBQs and large family gatherings. It's perfect for potlucks and Sunday socials after church. This simple, easy recipe will have you in and out of the kitchen very quickly. It's a delicious family favorite!
- 1 16-ounce box ditalini pasta, cooked al dente according to package instructions
- 6 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup celery, minced
- 1/2 cup red onion, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper (seeds removed), minced
- 1/4 cup Kosher dill pickles (or sweet pickles), minced
- 1 6-ounce can black olives, diced
- 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
- Sea salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Paprika to taste
- Begin by making the macaroni salad dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, yellow mustard, dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix again.
- In a large mixing bowl, fold the dressing into the cooked and cooled ditalini pasta. Add the minced veggies, the chopped dill, and a few sprinklings of paprika. Gently fold all ingredients together until combined. Taste the macaroni salad and adjust the spices by adding in more salt, pepper and paprika, as desired.
- Cover the pasta salad and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Classic macaroni salad tastes best after the flavors have had a chance to meld together, and when its served up nice and cold.
- Before serving, you can brighten up the taste of your macaroni salad by sprinkling a little more apple cider vinegar on top and then mixing it in. Garnish with another sprinkling of black pepper and paprika. Top off your tasty creation with a peeled hard-boiled egg that's been sliced in half, along with a few whole olives and a couple sprigs of fresh dill or parsley.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION: How long can you keep macaroni salad in the refrigerator? Properly refrigerated in a tightly-sealed container or a zip-top bag, your macaroni salad will stay fresh and tasty for up to five days.
Courses Lunch, Snack, Dinner, Potlucks
MACARONI SALAD RECIPE > PIN IT TO PINTEREST
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CLASSIC MACARONI SALAD > JOIN THE CONVERSATION!
Do you have a favorite pasta salad recipe you enjoy making for picnics and potlucks? What do you think about this easy macaroni salad recipe? Would you serve it as a main dish or side dish? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!