Classic Macaroni Salad is the perfect side dish for summer! Tender elbow macaroni is tossed in a creamy dressing and loaded with veggies and seasoning!
With summer just around the corner, it’s time to dust off your favorite cookout recipes for the season! If you don’t have a pasta salad recipe yet — or you’d like to try something different — make sure to throw this Classic Macaroni Salad into your rotation.
Full of spices, textures, and a bit of tang, this Macaroni Salad recipe is anything but boring!
What’s In Macaroni Salad?
There are a lot of different ways to make this dish, but this way is pretty classic, no “out there” ingredients, just simple and delicious flavors! In this recipe, tender elbow macaroni meets the crunch of chopped vegetables including carrots, celery, cucumbers, and peppers.
It’s all tossed in a dressing that blends mayo, vinegar, and mustard powder along with zesty spices like garlic and onion powder, salt, pepper, and even a bit of sugar! My family also loves when I add a touch of smoked paprika for a bit of kick, but this is totally optional!
This savory Macaroni Salad is so delicious when eaten with grilled favorites like hamburgers and hot dogs. Whether you’re hosting a gathering or bringing a dish to someone else’s house, this is the perfect dish to add to any picnic table.
Macaroni Salad is a favorite of mine, and I love that there are so many different versions of this nostalgic side dish! I enjoy both creamy and oil-based dressings, but with its blend of flavors, this particular recipe puts a tasty twist on traditional pasta salad recipes.
The tanginess of the mustard and vinegar, plus the hint of sweetness from the sugar, will have you (and everyone else!) going back from second helpings. Plus, all those different textures mean that every bite stays interesting.
Did I mention that this stuff tastes great leftover, that is, if there’s any left? Try adding a scoop on top of your salad greens for a satisfying lunch or just eat it as a meal on its own (it’s macaroni, after all!).
When it comes to summertime grilling, Macaroni Salad is a must-have item on the menu. Whether these next few months are filled with reunions, parties, Fourth of July celebrations, or “just because” gatherings, you’ll be glad to have this crowd-pleasing recipe on hand!
Pin this Macaroni Salad Recipe for Later!
Classic Macaroni Salad
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 small white onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 large carrot grated
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 1 cucumber quartered and diced
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions, strain into a colander and run cold water over the top of the pasta to prevent further cooking and to cool the pasta. Transfer to the large bowl with the veggies.
- While the pasta is cooking, prep your vegetables and add them to a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper as well as the paprika if using. Add to the bowl of pasta and veggies and toss to combine.
- Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight for best results. Serve cold.
- Every brand of pasta is different and the kind you use could absorb more of the sauce than that kind I typically use, if you find your macaroni salad is a little dry after chilling, add an additional 1/3 cup of mayonnaise.
- White vinegar may be used in place of red wine.
- Peas, scallions, and other veggies may be used as well depending on your tastes.