The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe

“The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe” is a classic dish that’s a staple at picnics, potlucks, and barbecues. This recipe starts with cooked elbow macaroni, which serves as the base for the salad. The pasta is boiled until it’s just tender, known as al dente, ensuring it holds its shape and texture when mixed with the other ingredients.

The real magic of this salad lies in its mix-ins and dressing. For a burst of color and crunch, finely chopped vegetables are essential. Common choices include red and green bell peppers, adding a sweet, slightly tangy flavor, and crisp texture. Red onion is often included for its sharpness and vibrant color, while celery contributes a refreshing crunch. Some versions of the recipe might also call for grated carrots or even sweet pickles, which add a unique sweetness and texture.

To add a creamy element, the dressing is typically a blend of mayonnaise, mustard, and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice for acidity. This creates a rich, tangy, and slightly sweet coating that brings the salad together. The dressing is seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes sugar to balance the flavors. Fresh herbs like parsley or dill can be stirred in for a burst of freshness.

For an extra layer of flavor, some recipes include hard-boiled eggs, chopped into small pieces, adding a tender, rich component to the salad. Cheese, such as cheddar or Parmesan, can be shredded into the salad for a salty, savory element.

The salad is best when chilled for a few hours before serving. This resting period allows the flavors to meld together, creating a harmonious balance between the creamy dressing, tangy vegetables, and the soft, chewy macaroni. Served cold, it’s a refreshing, satisfying dish that’s beloved for its creamy texture, contrasting flavors, and the comforting taste of classic macaroni salad.


16 oz. Elbow Macaroni
½ Red Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper
¼ cup Parsley, fresh
1 Carrot
¾ cup Mayonnaise (can use vegan mayonnaise)
can use vegan mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Spicy Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Cook macaroni to al dente according to package directions, drain and rinse. Transfer to large bowl, let cool.

While macaroni cooks and cools, chop red onion, bell peppers, parsley and dice carrot, set aside.
Add red onion, bell peppers, parsley, carrot, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper to macaroni. Mix well, refrigerate until cool. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 thought on “The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe”

Leave a Comment