The Easiest Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe…Ever!

The easiest classic macaroni salad recipe is the perfect pasta salad for kids year round. You can sneak a ton of vegetables into this delicious and tangy side dish that looks like it was made with colorful confetti!

Homemade Macaroni salad shown on a spoon with bowl of macaroni salad in the background
Macaroni salad is my family’s favorite side dish. You can’t go wrong with pasta salad recipes!

Easy MACARONI SALAD Recipe

Pasta salad is one of my favorite dishes to make for parties and get-togethers because not only is it a crowd-pleaser, it is made from inexpensive ingredients, which makes it cost-effective when cooking for many people.

I also love that the ingredients are basic pantry staples that I usually have on hand! If you don’t have some of these ingredients, switch it up and use what you have.

This really is the best macaroni salad recipe.

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Delicious Recipe for Macaroni Salad:

  • Serves 16-20
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe shown in a medium bowl on the kitchen counter
Make sure that you keep your macaroni salad refrigerated. Don’t leave it out of the fridge at a party for too long!

Macaroni Salad Ingredients

  • 1 box (16 oz) elbow macaroni
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup or ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup (2 stalks) celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup matchstick carrots, chopped
  • 2 large eggs, hard boiled
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas

Do you put eggs in macaroni salad?

Our favorite macaroni salad recipe includes hard boiled eggs as the protein that are diced into small pieces. Diced ham, cheese or turkey are good substitutes for the hard boiled eggs or additions.

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe ingredients needed to make this easy recipe at home
I love using fresh veggies from my garden, or the farmer’s market, to make pasta salad!

Dressing Ingredients for Macaroni Salad

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe
If you have to bring a dish to a party, you can’t go wrong with pasta salad!

How to Make Macaroni Salad

STEP 1

Start by boiling the pasta according to directions on box to al dente.

STEP 2

Then, while the pasta is cooking, cut vegetables and eggs.

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe ingredients shown in medium bowl with bright colors
Using a rainbow of fresh veggies is the secret to making the best pasta salad!

STEP 3

Add to a large bowl.

STEP 4

When the pasta is done, rinse thoroughly in cold water.

STEP 5

Next, add to a large bowl.

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe
Pasta salad recipes are great to make with kids! You don’t have to worry about them burning themselves, and they get to stir in all sorts of fun ingredients.

STEP 6

In a small bowl, combine ingredients for dressing until smooth.

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe
The dressing is the best part of a good macaroni salad recipe!

STEP 7

Pour over pasta mixture and mix to coat well.

STEP 8

Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

STEP 9

Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe

Should macaroni be rinsed for macaroni salad?

Rinsing the pasta in cold water stops the cooking process and makes the pasta cool quickly which works well for this cold pasta dish. Because it won’t become cold, you still will want to chill before serving.

Pasta salad is so colorful! It makes the perfect centerpiece for a BBQ!

Why is my macaroni salad bland?

If you are trying to rescue another macaroni salad recipe, you are in the right place. The first thing you want to do is check the ingredient list of the macaroni salad dressing that you made and make sure it includes apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. If you want a macaroni salad with a little kick, substitute the dijon mustard for a spicy mustard.

Easy Macaroni Salad Variations

  • There are unlimited ideas to add to your macaroni salad based on what vegetables might be in season or the occasion. Some of my favorites are: green peppers, cheese cubes, cherry tomatoes, sweet pickles, green onions, bacon, ham, green or black olives, curry powder, jalapeños (I am Texan!), banana peppers and pimentos.
  • Don’t like mayonnaise? That’s okay! You can use half and half of sour cream and mayo. Combine the mayonnaise and sour cream for a still rich and creamy macaroni salad, but one that isn’t so regular mayo forward.
  • Don’t like the sweetness of red peppers? Red bell peppers are great, but they’re not for everyone. You can use a green pepper if you’d like. Just depends on your personal preference, this is your mac salad afterall.
  • Instead of red onions, you can also use green onions.
Yield: 16-20

Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe

This classic macaroni salad is the perfect side dish and pasta salad for kids. A summer BBQ just isn't complete without this classic macaroni salad recipe! It is so easy and delicious!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 box (16 oz) elbow macaroni
  • ⅓ cup red onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup or ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup (2 stalks) celery, diced
  • ¾ cup matchstick carrots, chopped
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • 2 large eggs, hard boiled
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

    1. Boil pasta according to directions on box to al dente.
    2. While pasta is cooking, cut vegetables and eggs.
    3. Add to a large bowl.
    4. When pasta is done, rinse thoroughly in cold water.
    5. Add to large bowl.
    6. In a small bowl, combine ingredients for dressing until smooth.
    7. Pour over pasta mixture and mix to coat well.
    8. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
    9. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Can You Make Macaroni Salad with Food Allergies? 

Yes! Depending on the food allergy, you can make an easy pasta salad to meet those needs!

  • There are many different versions of gluten free, egg free, dairy free, and corn free pasta noodles. You could also use zoodles (zucchini noodles) in place of pasta for a fun macaroni alternative!
  • There are also many different vegan mayonnaise products that will help you if you have an egg allergy (and then just opt out of adding the hard-boiled egg to this recipe). 

Thanks to so many awesome dietary options, where there’s a will for a simple macaroni salad recipe, there’s a way! 

This family favorite is great for a summer potluck, goes well with any bbq, hot dogs, fried chicken. It is such a versatile salad as most cold pasta salad is.

More Easy Recipes that Kids will Love from Kids Activities Blog

Easy Greek Pasta Salad Recipe with Chicken
Easy Greek Pasta Salad Recipe with Chicken is so yummy it is basically straight out of a restaurant!
  1. If you’re looking for light summer meal and appetizer ideas, pita bread recipes are the perfect choice! 
  2. Salads are one of my favorite things to eat on hot summer days. If you have a hard time getting your kids to eat veggies, try these kid-approved salad recipes
  3. These summer snacks are healthy and yummy! 
  4. Are you up to your ears in corn, from your garden or the farmer’s market? Try these sweet corn summer recipes
  5. This easy Greek pasta salad recipe with chicken makes a cool and refreshing dinner on hot nights! 

How did your easy classic macaroni salad turn out? Did your kids love this pasta salad?

3 Comments

  1. I haven’t yet made this macaroni salad recipe, but I’m definitely going to for Thanksgiving dinner. It may seem like an odd choice for Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s ok I’m sure it will find it’s place on our dinner plates!
    Only changes I’m going to make are, more eggs, no peas and mini sweet colored peppers in place of red bell pepper.

  2. Kristen Yard says:

    Hi, Linda! That actually sounds really yummy for Thanksgiving! Your moderations to the recipe sound delicious–let us know how it turns out! I hope that you and your family enjoy it and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Hi there! You don’t need to cook the frozen peas?

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