This Macaroni Salad is heads above any recipe and will have everyone coming back for seconds and thirds! It’s delightfully creamy without being heavy (thanks to the half yogurt or sour cream dressing), infused with fresh herbs and spices (no flat salad here!) with the craveable balance of sweet tanginess. Best of all, this Macaroni Salad recipe can be made 24 hours ahead of time for stress free entertaining while still remaining amazingly creamy thanks to my tips!
Watch How to Make Macaroni Salad Recipe
FOR THE Macaroni Salad:
For the Macaroni Salad Dressing:
How long is macaroni salad good for?
Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. The longer the pasta salad is refrigerated, the drier it can become. If your leftovers taste dry, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, mayo or yogurt.
Can you freeze macaroni salad?
No, I don’t recommend freezing this Macaroni Salad recipe. The fresh veggies will release water once frozen and thawed and become mushy and the dressing can split. Macaroni Salad is a dish you want to consume within a few days of making.
Best Macaroni Salad Faqs
Macaroni Salad can separate and become watery if the dressing is added when the pasta is still warm or wet. If the pasta is warm, the mayonnaise can break and separate. If the pasta is wet, the water will separate from the dressing. Both of these problems can be avoided by only adding the dressing to the pasta once completely chilled.
Yes, rinse the macaroni under cold tap water to prevent it from cooking further and to cool it down quickly. Let the macaroni drain well before tossing with olive oil and proceeding with the recipe.
I highly recommend doing so; the olive oil keeps the pasta from sticking to itself and tearing when added to the pasta salad. You’ll need to use about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
If you add all the dressing to the Macaroni Salad, then chill it in the refrigerator, the pasta will soak it right up and the pasta salad will be dry. Instead, reserve half of the dressing and toss it with the pasta right before serving. If your Macaroni Salad still seems dry, add a drizzle of olive oil, toss to combine then add additional oil as needed.
Macaroni Salad is best served at room temperature, but don’t let it sit out more than two hours. If pasta salad is served straight from the refrigerator, you will taste the chill of subdued flavors and a congealed dressing. Instead, pasta salad served at room temperature allows the flavors and dressing for a more appealing texture and shining flavors.
Yes, you should always salt your pasta water, whether making Macaroni Salad or a warmed pasta dish. Salting the water is the one chance you have to penetrate the pasta and enhance the subtle pasta flavor – you can taste the difference. Use 1 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts of water when cooking one pound of pasta.
First, use enough pasta water when cooking the pasta. Fill a large pot with a very generous amount of water, typically 6 quarts of water for 1 pound of pasta; this is typically three-quarters full. Pasta needs enough water to cook evenly and to move around so it doesn’t clump. Second, toss the cooked, drained pasta in a tablespoon of oil before adding the dressing.
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Easy Macaroni Salad
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- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 3/4 cup diced sweet pickles
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 1/4 cup grated carrot
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
Macaroni Salad Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup sweet pickle juice
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tsp EACH pepper, garlic powder, paprika
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Macaroni: Cook macaroni noodles in heavily salted water according to package directions just until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, then drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Let cool completely before adding the dressing.
- Dressing: Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- Salad: Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- If serving within 1-2 hours: Pour all the dressing over the salad and stir until well combined. Best if chilled at least one hour.
- If not serving within 2 hours: Pour HALF the dressing over the macaroni salad ingredients and toss until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate the salad and remaining dressing separately. When ready to serve, stir in remaining dressing.
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