This Classic Macaroni Salad recipe is a hit at parties, BBQs and with adults and kids alike. It comes together easily and is the perfect side dish for summer parties, making it perfect for Memorial Day and 4th of July!
The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe
See the peas in that macaroni salad? This is seriously the only thing I like peas in. And I hate peas. But there’s something about the combination of flavors and textures in this macaroni salad that makes them fit in perfectly.
This is a favorite family recipe that my mom has been making since her home ec class in high school. It’s loved by everyone – so much so that my cousin listed it specifically in our family reunion book as his favorite food. It’s that good.
What’s in Macaroni Salad?
- Elbow macaroni – my mom swears by this brand. I haven’t been able to find it in grocery stores lately, but I just discovered that it’s available on Amazon!
- Sweet pickle relish – make sure you get the sweet kind and not dill. Although dill won’t taste bad, the sweet really heightens the flavor of this macaroni salad.
- Celery – because you gotta have some crunch!
- Onion – just a little and diced really fine. I use red onion so it adds some color. Plus it’s a little bit spicier that other types.
- Peas – Ok, this is where things get a little dicely. Not everyone likes peas, myself included, but they really pop (pun intended!) in this pasta salad.
- Mayonnaise – This mac salad is mayo based, but it’s not so heavy with the stuff that it’s all you can taste. It’s what makes this salad so creamy and delicious.
- Mustard – for a little bit of tang.
- Hard boiled eggs – We always have hard boiled eggs in our fridge because my husband eats them almost every day. Make them yourself using that easy recipe or buy a package at the store.
Crunchy celery and peas, tangy pickle relish and mustard, tender hard boiled eggs and macaroni come together with the perfect amount of seasoning and just enough mayo to keep it from drying out. My kids love it too, even with the peas and onions! Now THAT is a special recipe!
How to Make the Best Macaroni Salad
- Cook macaroni following the directions on the package. Drain and rinse in colander and drain well. Cool to at least room temperature, or in the fridge. *Note: For cold pasta salads, you want to always rinse your pasta. Not only does this cool it off and stop the cooking process, it helps to rinse the extra starches and keeps the noodles from sticking together.
- While the pasta is cooking toss together the chopped celery, diced onion, pickle relish, peas, chopped hard boiled eggs in a large bowl. Once the macaroni is cool, stir that in too.
- Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir in mayonnaise and mustard. The recipe calls for 1 cup of mayo, but you may need more or want to use less, depending on your personal preference.
What Goes with Macaroni Salad?
This classic pasta salad is normally served with grilled meats or fish and is a backyard barbecue staple. These recipes would pair fabulously with Macaroni Salad:
- Grilled Chicken Marinade
- Grilled Steak Marinade
- Easy Baked Pork Chops
- Korean Short Ribs
- Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
- Baked Chicken Breasts
- Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs
Top Tips and Tricks
- Rinse the pasta – Make sure to rinse the pasta after draining it. You want your macaroni to be al dente and not get mushy.
- How long can Macaroni Salad sit out? Because of the mayonnaise in this recipe, it is best kept refrigerated. It can be left out for up to two hours in the shade before it would need to be discarded. If left out in the sun, it will spoil faster.
- How to Store Leftovers – Store macaroni salad in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days. If the salad seems dry, add a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise to moisten it before serving.
- Do I have to add peas to Macaroni Salad? You do not have to add the peas to this salad. They do add a nice texture, but you can customize with other vegetables, like bell peppers, tomatoes or olives.
- I don’t like mayonnaise – Instead of mayo you could use sour cream or greek yogurt. It definitely won’t have the same taste or texture but it’s close enough to still taste good.
Love this Classic Macaroni Salad? For more delicious potluck friendly sides, be sure to check these out:
Print out this recipe and make this classic macaroni salad for your next BBQ or summer party. You can thank me later.
Classic Macaroni Salad
- 2 cups elbow macaroni 1/2 box
- 4 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 cup frozen peas cooked and cooled
- 4 hard cooked eggs chopped
- 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- Cook macaroni following directions on the package. Drain and rinse in colander and drain well. Cool to at least room temperature, or in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine celery, onion, relish, eggs, salt and peas.
- Stir in cooked macaroni.
- Stir in mustard and mayonnaise and blend thoroughly.
- Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days. If salad seems dry, add a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise to moisten.