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Macaroni Salad is a classic American side dish served up at summer barbecues and picnics every year. This is the best macaroni salad recipe ever with the perfect balance of flavors. 

White Bowl full of Macaroni Salad.

What do you put in macaroni salad?

Additional ingredients added to macaroni salad can vary based on personal preferences. The sauce is usually mayonnaise based. Mustard, herbs, and pickle juice or relish are all common ingredients to add to the sauce. In addition to the pasta, you might find red onion, green onion, celery, peas, bell peppers, cheese and more added to macaroni salad. Feel free to mix and match to suit your own personal taste preferences.

Do you rinse pasta for a cold pasta salad?

Yes. Pasta that is used for a cold pasta salad or macaroni salad should be rinsed. Not only does this cool it off, it also washes away extra starch that will cause the pasta to stick together.

What should I serve with Macaroni Salad?

Macaroni salad is often served up as a side dish to grilled meats and fish. Check out the following recipes that would go fantastically with this particular recipe:

Close up of bowl full of macaroni salad with a wooden spoon in it.

How long can macaroni salad sit out?

Macaroni salad can sit out for 2 hours at room temperature before it should be discarded. If you are serving your macaroni salad at an outdoor function, be sure to keep it chilled before serving and keep it in the shade while serving. Macaroni Salad left in the sun can spoil much faster than 2 hours depending on the temperature outside.

How long will macaroni salad last in the fridge?

Macaroni salad will stay good refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or store in an airtight container to maximize freshness.

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

White Bowl full of Macaroni Salad.
Macaroni Salad is a classic American side dish served up at summer barbecues and picnics every year. This is the best macaroni salad recipe ever with the perfect balance of flavors.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
  • 1 pound elbow noodles
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese cubed or shredded
  • ½ red onion minced
  • 4 ribs celery diced
  • 1 red bell pepper minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas thawed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup minced fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook elbow noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is cooled. Drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together cooked noodles with cheese, onion, celery, bell pepper, and peas.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cider vinegar, dill, sugar, relish, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour sauce over pasta and toss until everything is well coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour before serving.


Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 541mg | Potassium: 294mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1005IU | Vitamin C: 28.6mg | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 1.4mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Macaroni Salad
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Susan Davison
May 17, 2020 9:42 pm

5 stars
My husband LOVES LOVES LOVES macaroni salad. I made this but cut all ingredients in 1/2 as there’s only the two of us. Hubby ate two helpings at dinner and two more while watching a movie. He said it’s the best I’ve ever made. Easy to make and I had all the ingredients on hand.

Barbara silva
May 25, 2020 1:24 pm
Reply to  Susan Davison

Does it have a sweet taste to it?

May 26, 2020 6:07 pm
Reply to  Barbara silva

definitely, so you could cut the sugar out. It’s really good though anyway.

Deb Urciolo
July 25, 2020 3:38 pm
Reply to  Barbara silva

Mine did not… just balanced the vinegar – sweet and tart!

September 2, 2020 8:14 am
Reply to  Barbara silva

Slightly sweet, but the vinegar balances it all out making it just the right combination.

May 15, 2020 6:32 am

5 stars
I was skeptical at first because some of the ingredients in it. But I made it and Absolutely loved it. My mother-in-law asks me every weekend when I’m going to make it again. Has the perfect crunch, and the flavors blend well and when they say it’s the best macaroni salad I have to agree!!

April 22, 2020 9:48 am

5 stars
Super easy and so good – I used reg canned peas bc it was all I had and left out the peppers bc I didn’t have any. You can use whatever you have and it’s still good!

April 12, 2020 5:33 pm

I’m very picky when it comes to my macaroni salad, but I have to say this came out to be a really really good recipe. I did use a yellow bell pepper instead of a red because that’s what I had on hand, I also used dry dill instead of fresh because I didn’t have any fresh and I added a little more cider vinegar because I like mine a little more tart, but even with all the changes it came out to be so good not too creamy cuz I don’t really like mayonnaise but everything else was dead… Read more »

March 9, 2020 9:44 am

5 stars
I just made this mac salad for my sister’s baby shower and boy was it delicious! We doubled the recipe and added a bit more mayo based on some reviews. I used fresh parsley rather than dill to have a milder flavor. Love it!

June 10, 2020 3:50 pm

5 stars
Love this salad and it is always a big hit. Occasionally I add a large can of tuna fish flaked in it and have received so many compliments. I am always asked to make this for family get togethers.

Bonnie McMCabe
March 31, 2020 1:09 pm

5 stars
This truly is “The Best Macaroni Salad”. My husband loves it and asks for it often. I found it necessary to double the sauce recipe because mine was too dry and still could taste plain macaroni. You will not be disappointed in this recipe!

Bonnie McMCabe
March 24, 2020 1:04 pm

5 stars
This salad is incredible! It is just like the one my grandmother made and I have searched for a recipe for years. It is even better after all the flavors meld together, about six hours or overnight. A real keeper!

Bonnie McMCabe
March 31, 2020 1:15 pm
Reply to  Bonnie McMCabe

4 stars
This truly is “The Best Macaroni Salad”. My husband loves it and asks for it often. I found it necessary to double the sauce recipe because mine was too dry and still could taste plain macaroni. You will not be disappointed in this recipe!

Debora Haws
May 26, 2020 10:21 am

5 stars
We served this with grilled lemon pepper chicken thigh/legs on Memorial Day. Made a great meal and we will be using this recipe again. Thank you for sharing it.

May 23, 2020 1:24 pm

5 stars
I made this today with the exact ingredients except peas. Did not want to go to store just for them. It made no difference though. It is absolutely the best macaroni salad I have ever tasted and I have tasted a lot. Thank you Rachael for yet another winning recipe. . You are the best.

July 23, 2019 1:19 pm

5 stars
Made this for a crowd last weekend & everyone loved it. Great recipe.

Donna G.
September 3, 2019 1:33 pm

This is a delicious macaroni salad recipe. I omitted the cheese and used dried dill instead of fresh. I like that mayonnaise doesn’t over power the other flavors. The chopped vegetables add nice crunch. This recipe is definitely a keeper. In the future I might consider adding imitation crab meat (since I’m allergic to the real deal).. Thank you for sharing your tasty recipe.

July 4, 2019 7:10 pm

5 stars
This recipie is delicious, although I agree with another person. The dressing is so good but as soon as it sits in the fridge for an hour the dressing is soaked up by the macaroni and was not as creamy. Next time I may double the dressing , add extra just before serving. If my macaroni is not coming from a 1 lb box, I needed to measure it. I used 3 cups of dry macaroni as that was all that I had. How many cups is 1 pound?

Deb Urciolo
July 25, 2020 3:49 pm
Reply to  Sharon

3 to 3.5 I’d say…

A Davis
October 31, 2020 9:04 am

Loved it, makes a big salad.

Barbara Alper
September 8, 2020 1:11 pm

5 stars
This is amazing. The flavors all work so well together. The only change I made is to double the dressing because the pasta soaks it up.

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