Best Macaroni Salad Recipe

The Ultimate Macaroni Salad: A Flavorful Delight for Every Occasion

When it comes to classic side dishes, few are as beloved and versatile as macaroni salad. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, attending a potluck, or simply craving a comforting accompaniment to your meal, macaroni salad always hits the spot. With its creamy texture, flavorful ingredients, and endless customization options, it’s no wonder why this dish has stood the test of time. Today, we’re excited to share with you our recipe for the Best Macaroni Salad, guaranteed to become a staple in your recipe collection.


  • 1 lb macaroni noodles, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (opt for fat-free if preferred)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (opt for fat-free)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey mustard
  • 1 heaping tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cans peas and carrots, well drained
  • 1 large can corn niblets, well drained
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp parsley


  1. Cook the Macaroni: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni noodles and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, honey mustard, sugar or honey, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder until well combined. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked macaroni noodles, chopped onion, peas, carrots, corn, and parsley. Gently fold the ingredients together until evenly distributed.
  4. Add Dressing: Pour the prepared dressing over the macaroni mixture and toss until everything is coated in the creamy dressing.
  5. Chill and Serve: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the macaroni salad for at least 2 hours, allowing the flavors to meld together. Before serving, give the salad a final stir and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with additional parsley, if desired.
  6. Enjoy: Serve the macaroni salad chilled as a side dish alongside your favorite grilled meats, sandwiches, or burgers.

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • Add Protein: For added protein, consider mixing in diced cooked chicken, ham, or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Customize Veggies: Feel free to customize the vegetable mix according to your preferences. Some popular additions include diced bell peppers, celery, or cherry tomatoes.
  • Spice it Up: If you like a bit of heat, add a dash of hot sauce or some chopped jalapeños to the dressing for a spicy kick.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I make this salad ahead of time?

A: Yes, this macaroni salad actually tastes better when made ahead of time as it allows the flavors to meld together. Simply store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Q: Can I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream?

A: Yes, Greek yogurt can be used as a healthier alternative to sour cream in this recipe. It will add a tangy flavor and creamy texture to the dressing.

Q: Is this macaroni salad suitable for vegetarians?

A: Yes, this macaroni salad is vegetarian-friendly. Just be sure to use vegetarian-friendly mayonnaise and check the labels on any canned vegetables used.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

  • Keto Version: For a keto-friendly version of this macaroni salad, substitute the macaroni noodles with cooked and cooled cauliflower florets. You can also use a keto-friendly sweetener instead of sugar or honey in the dressing.
  • Low-Carb Version: Similarly, for a low-carb version, replace the macaroni noodles with spiralized zucchini or shirataki noodles. Use a low-carb mayonnaise and sour cream, and skip the sugar or honey in the dressing.

In conclusion, this Best Macaroni Salad recipe is a must-try for any occasion. With its creamy dressing, vibrant vegetables, and perfectly cooked macaroni noodles, it’s a crowd-pleaser that will have everyone coming back for seconds. Whether you’re serving it at a summer picnic, family reunion, or weeknight dinner, this macaroni salad is sure to be a hit. So, gather your ingredients and give this delicious recipe a try today

Cooking Tips and Tricks:

  • Altering Creaminess: Adjust the creaminess of the salad by modifying the ratio of mayonnaise to sour cream. For a richer flavor, increase the amount of sour cream, and for a lighter option, use more mayonnaise.
  • Enhancing Flavor: Experiment with different herbs and spices to enhance the flavor profile of the salad. Fresh herbs like dill, chives, or basil can add a burst of freshness, while spices like smoked paprika or cayenne pepper can provide depth and warmth.
  • Optimizing Texture: To ensure the macaroni salad has the perfect texture, be sure to cook the pasta just until al dente. Overcooked pasta can become mushy when mixed with the dressing, so keep an eye on it while boiling.
  • Preventing Dryness: If you find that the macaroni salad is too dry after chilling, simply add a splash of milk or cream and gently toss to rehydrate the ingredients. This will help revive the creaminess of the dressing and ensure each bite is flavorful and moist.

Variations and Customizations:

  • Seafood Twist: For a seafood-inspired twist, add chopped cooked shrimp or crab meat to the salad. The seafood adds a delightful brininess and pairs beautifully with the creamy dressing and tender pasta.
  • Mediterranean Flavors: Infuse the salad with Mediterranean flavors by incorporating ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and feta cheese. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for brightness.
  • Asian Fusion: Give the macaroni salad an Asian flair by mixing in ingredients like shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced scallions, and toasted sesame seeds. Toss with a tangy soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil dressing for a refreshing twist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I use different pasta shapes for this recipe?

A: Absolutely! While elbow macaroni is traditional for macaroni salad, you can experiment with different pasta shapes such as rotini, penne, or farfalle. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly based on the shape you choose.

Q: How long can I store macaroni salad in the refrigerator?

A: Macaroni salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. However, keep in mind that the texture of the pasta may change slightly over time as it continues to absorb the dressing.

Q: Can I make this recipe gluten-free?

A: Yes, you can easily make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta instead of traditional wheat-based pasta. Additionally, ensure that all other ingredients, such as mayonnaise and seasonings, are certified gluten-free.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

  • Keto Version: To make this recipe keto-friendly, substitute the macaroni noodles with cooked and cooled shirataki noodles or spiralized zucchini. Use a keto-friendly mayonnaise and sour cream, and sweeten the dressing with a keto-approved sweetener like erythritol or stevia.
  • Low-Carb Version: For a low-carb option, swap out the macaroni noodles for cooked and cooled cauliflower florets or hearts of palm noodles. Choose low-carb vegetables like bell peppers, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes, and opt for a low-carb mayonnaise and sour cream.

In conclusion, this Best Macaroni Salad recipe is a versatile and crowd-pleasing dish that’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue, packing a picnic, or simply craving a comforting side dish, this creamy and flavorful salad is sure to satisfy. With its simple yet delicious ingredients and endless customization options, it’s a recipe that you’ll turn to time and time again. So, gather your ingredients, unleash your creativity, and enjoy the deliciousness of homemade macaroni salad!

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