Classic Macaroni Salad

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Grandma’s macaroni salad with egg is a classic! Serve this delicious side dish on weekends with family and friends. Enjoy it on game day with hot dogs, chicken wings, sliders or spicy grilled lime shrimp!

This is the best macaroni salad with egg! But if you’re craving a pinch of sweet, make it a Hellmans macaroni salad: skip the eggs and add some granulated sugar. Assemble this tasty recipe in just 35 minutes!

PIN THIS EASY MACARONI SALAD

Grandma's classic macaroni salad recipe served in a glass bowl with wooden salad servers.

about grandma’s macaroni salad

This deli staple is a slice of Americana. It’s the old-fashioned macaroni salad you remember from childhood. Generations have enjoyed this traditional recipe at picnics, backyard BBQs, tailgating parties, and family gatherings.

This low-cost recipe won’t break the bank! It’s the perfect choice for work potlucks and Sunday socials when you’re signed up to bring a large dish. It’s a simple easy recipe that will have you in and out of the kitchen quickly.

Classic Macaroni Salad in a glass serving bowl with wooden tongs.

Macaroni Salad Ingredients

For the sweeter taste of Hellman’s macaroni salad, use sweet pickles and add granulated sugar to the ingredients list.

Here’s what you’ll need for this tasty summer salad:

  • Ditalini pasta
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Celery
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Black olives
  • Kosher dill pickles (or sweet pickles)
  • Fresh dill
  • Mayonnaise (Best Foods or Hellman’s)
  • Sour cream
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Yellow mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika

RECIPE TIP: For an iconic American look, nostalgia insists on ditalini pasta. But in a pinch, use elbow macaroni or any short pasta you have on hand.

Ingredients for Grandma's classic macaroni salad with egg laid out on a rustic white tabletop.

COOK AND COOL PASTA LIKE A PRO

Want your macaroni salad to look its Sunday best? Today I’m sharing an insider secret. It’s how professional food stylists prep cold pasta salads that photograph well. After all, we eat with our eyes!

This easy cooling method gives Grandma’s macaroni salad a beautiful look, as well as the best taste and texture.

  1. Cook pasta al dente according to instructions listed on the package. We want slightly-firm noodles.
  2. Drain the pasta in a colander, but don’t rinse it under cold water.
  3. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the noodles and toss.
  4. On a large baking tray, spread the pasta out in an even layer to release heat. Separate the noodles as much as possible. Once cooled, transfer them to a large bowl. These loosened-up noodles are now perfectly prepped for mixing in other ingredients.
Cooked ditalini pasta in a glass bowl for Grandma's macaroni salad.

MACaroni salad recipe

KITCHEN SMARTS: For cold pasta salad, dice or mince the veggies. We want small pieces. The crisp crunch of veggies should never overwhelm the pasta. The texture of the noodles should be the primary focus of every bite! This is a classic macaroni salad, not a veggie salad!

SIZE OF DICED VEGGIES: Images on this page show the veggies chopped larger than normal so you can easily see recipe ingredients. For homemade macaroni salad, dice the veggies 1/3 or 1/4 the size of the pasta.

EASY MACARONI SALAD RECIPE

Once the veggies have been minced or diced, and the eggs have been boiled and chopped, it’s quick and easy to assemble this cold pasta salad.

  1. MAKE THE DRESSING. Add wet ingredients to a small bowl: mayonnaise, sour cream, dijon mustard, yellow mustard, and apple cider vinegar. Whisk them together. Add salt and pepper to taste. If making Hellmans macaroni salad, add 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Whisk again.
  2. COMBINE DRESSING AND PASTA. In a large mixing bowl, fold the tangy dressing into the cooked and cooled pasta until well combined.
  3. FOLD IN REMAINING INGREDIENTS. Add the minced veggies, chopped dill, and a sprinkling of paprika. Taste the macaroni salad. Adjust the spices as needed: salt, pepper, and paprika.
  4. COVER AND REFRIGERATE. Grandma’s macaroni salad with egg tastes best once the flavors have melded together in the fridge. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Macaroni Salad ingredients chopped and ready to mix with the pasta.

EXPERT TIPS

  • SALT THE WATER IN THE POT: When boiling pasta, this is essential for building flavor. The water in the pot should taste like the ocean.
  • COOK PASTA AL DENTE: Never overcook pasta. The noodles should be tender yet firm. They should have a little bite. Al dente is most often achieved by cooking the pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions.
  • BEST PASTA FOR CLASSIC MACARONI SALAD: Use a short pasta cut like ditalini, elbow macaroni, rotini, gemelli or farfalle.
  • HOW TO KEEP MACARONI SALAD MOIST: Noodles soak up dressing fairly quickly. When making this recipe in advance, plan on whisking up a little more dressing. Set it aside in the fridge. Just before serving, fold in the additional dressing. Because no one likes a dry pasta salad.
  • TIP FOR MAKING THIS RECIPE IN LARGE QUANTITIES: Classic macaroni salad is a potluck favorite. When assembling this recipe to feed a crowd, keep the ratio of pasta to add-ins consistent. Use 2 parts cooked pasta to 1 1/2 parts diced add-ins. Keep the noodles the star of the show.
  • HOW TO GIVE THIS RECIPE A TWIST OF FLAVOR: Mix in shredded cheddar cheese and bacon. For a spicy twist, add diced fire-roasted green chiles. For added tang, fold in some capers. For a crunchy garnish, try a handful of snapped or broken Fritos corn chips.
Macaroni Salad garnished with a hard-boiled egg cut in half, black olives and parsley.

recipe FAQ

  • CAN I DOUBLE THIS RECIPE? Yes! This is an easy recipe to double. It’s an ideal salad for large groups and parties.
  • HOW TO GARNISH GRANDMA’S MACARONI SALAD? Garnish with a few sprinkles of paprika, halved hard-boiled eggs, some whole black olives, and a few sprigs of fresh parsley.
  • HOW LONG WILL MACARONI SALAD LAST IN THE FRIDGE? When immediately stored in an air-tight container, it’ll stay fresh the fridge for up to 5 days. For the best taste and texture, enjoy it within 3 days.
  • HOW LONG CAN MACARONI SALAD BE LEFT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE? For no more than 2 hours. After that time it should be discarded. When serving outdoors, keep the bowl of salad out of direct sunlight. Set it in an oversized container and surround the bowl with ice up to the rim. Here’s what the USDA has to say about safe food handling.
  • CAN MACARONI SALAD BE FROZEN? No. This dish does not freeze well.
Serving of Grandmas Macaroni Salad in a white bowl with fork and an orange cloth napkin.

MORE SUMMER SALADS

If you loved this macaroni salad with egg, you’ll really enjoy these easy summer recipes. Cool and refreshing, they’re perfect for lunch or dinner as an entree or side.

best macaroni salad > RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Grandma’s Macaroni Salad with egg is a family favorite. It’s one of the most requested sides for potlucks, picnics and tailgating. If you agree it’s the best summer salad, give this classic recipe a 5-star rating in the comments!

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A large bowl of classic macaroni salad

Classic Macaroni Salad


Description

Grandma’s macaroni salad is iconically American. It’s the deli favorite we’ve enjoyed at large family gatherings for generations. Make this simple recipe in 35 minutes. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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 apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Paprika to taste

Instructions

  1. MAKE THE DRESSING. Add wet ingredients to a small bowl: mayonnaise, sour cream, dijon mustard, yellow mustard, and apple cider vinegar. Whisk them together. Add salt and pepper to taste. If making Hellmans macaroni salad, add 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Whisk again.
  2. COMBINE DRESSING AND PASTA. In a large mixing bowl, fold the tangy dressing into the cooked and cooled pasta until well combined.
  3. FOLD IN REMAINING INGREDIENTS. Add the minced veggies, chopped dill, and a sprinkling of paprika. Taste the macaroni salad. Adjust the spices as needed: salt, pepper, and paprika.
  4. COVER AND REFRIGERATE. Grandma’s macaroni salad with egg tastes best once the flavors have melded together in the fridge. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.Make 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.

HOW TO BRIGHTEN AND GARNISH MACARONI SALAD: Before serving, you can brighten the taste by mixing in a sprinkling of apple cider vinegar. Garnish with black pepper, paprika, a hard-boiled egg sliced in half, a few whole olives, and sprigs of fresh dill or parsley.

Notes

CAN I DOUBLE THIS RECIPE? Yes! This is an easy recipe to double. It’s an ideal salad for large groups and parties.

HOW TO GIVE THIS RECIPE A TWIST OF FLAVOR: Mix in shredded cheddar cheese and bacon. For a spicy twist, add diced fire-roasted green chiles. For added tang, fold in some capers. For a crunchy garnish, try a handful of snapped or broken Fritos corn chips.

HOW LONG WILL MACARONI SALAD LAST  IN THE FRIDGE? When immediately stored in an air-tight container, it’ll stay fresh the fridge for up to 5 days. For the best taste and texture, enjoy it within 3 days.

CAN MACARONI SALAD BE FROZEN? No. This dish does not freeze well.

  • Category: Potluck
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: classic macaroni salad, Grandma’s macaroni salad

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

POST UPDATE: This post and images have been updated to keep the content fresh and current. The information provided is much more helpful to readers. But the recipe has not been changed. It remains the same.

CLASSIC MACARONI SALAD > JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

Do you have a favorite pasta salad you make for potlucks and family gatherings? What do you think of this easy macaroni salad recipe? What entrees would you pair it with? Share your thoughts below!

26 thoughts on “Classic Macaroni Salad”

  1. With the Super bowl just around the corner, it will be perfect for a tasty side dish! I love your variation suggestion of using bacon as an additional mix in! Yum!

    Reply
  2. This is a favourite for game day! It is classic and delicious – can’t wait to make your recipe again this week.

    Reply
  3. This macaroni salad was super easy to make and was also super kid friendly!! I had a couple of happy kids after I made this for lunch today!

    Reply
  4. This is my go-to and favorite cook-for-a-party recipe! Everybody loves the flavors in this dish and I love that I can make it ahead of time!

    Reply

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