Classic Macaroni Salad has tender elbow macaroni, fresh veggies, and seasonings that are all coated in a creamy dressing! The perfect side dish for all of those backyard cookouts!
For more delicious summertime side dishes, be sure to also check out my Tuna Pasta Salad and this Easy Antipasti Pasta Salad!
This Classic Macaroni Salad is a favorite of mine! It’s full of spices, textures, and a bit of tang, making it anything but boring!
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 for second helpings. Plus, all those different textures mean that every bite stays interesting!
About This Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe
Taste: This salad is 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! However, that’s totally optional!
Texture: In this recipe, tender elbow macaroni meets the crunch of chopped vegetables including carrots, celery, cucumbers, and peppers. All of which are coated in a cool, creamy dressing! Bringing lots of tasty textures to every bite!
There are a lot of different ways to make this dish! I personally love how this way is simple yet super delicious!
Making it easy to pair this with grilled favorites such as BBQ Baby Back Ribs! Or even Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Smash Burgers!
Our family is also known to enjoy this side at our annual family Steamed Lobster feast!
But whether you’re hosting a gathering or bringing a dish to someone else’s house, this really is the perfect side dish to add to any picnic table!
Recipe Tips & Tricks To Know When Whipping Up This Side Dish!
- Every brand of pasta is different! The kind of pasta you use could absorb more of the sauce than the kind I use. Therefore, if you find your macaroni is a little dry after chilling, add an additional 1/3 cup of mayo.
- You can use white vinegar in place of red wine if you prefer.
- Once the pasta has been cooked to al dente, strain it into a colander. Afterward, run cold water over the top. This will prevent further cooking of the pasta while also cooling it down.
- For best taste, chill this macaroni salad in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
Keep any leftover macaroni salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Enjoy the leftovers within 3 days!
Will This Macaroni Salad Recipe Feed A Large Crowd?
I’ve found that this side dish comfortably serves a dozen people! If you’re feeding a larger crowd, you may want to consider doubling this recipe.
Can I Add Other Veggies To This Dish?
Yes, you can add whatever you’d like based on your tastes! If you like eggs in your pasta salad those can even be added to this!
For this recipe, I’d say 3 roughly diced hard-boiled eggs would be the perfect amount.
👋 Let’s Connect!
If you’ve tried this recipe, please let me know how you liked it in the comments below and leave a review; I love hearing from you! And don’t forget to tag me – @sugarandsoulco – on Instagram and Pinterest with your photos or join our Sugar & Soul Show-offs Community and share them there, where you can join our recipe challenges and win prizes!
This recipe was originally published in June 2018 and was updated with fresh photos and tips in August 2022.
Classic Macaroni Salad
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- ½ medium red onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 large carrot grated
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 1 cucumber quartered and diced
- ½ cup peas thaw if using frozen
- 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. Chill in the refrigerator while you cook the pasta and prep the veggies.2 cups mayonnaise, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground mustard, 1½ teaspoons garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 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 a large bowl with the veggies.16 ounces elbow macaroni
- While the pasta is cooking, prep your vegetables and add them the large bowl with the pasta. Add the dressing and toss to coat.½ medium red onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 large carrot, 2 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, ½ cup peas
- 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.
- Other veggies may be used as well depending on your tastes.
- If you like eggs in your pasta salad, you can add 3 roughly diced hard-boiled eggs.
Did You Make This Recipe?
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Comments & Reviews
Rebecca Hubbell says
I’m so glad you liked it, Debbie! Sometimes nothing hits the spot like a bowl of classic macaroni salad on a summer day!
Absolutely love this recipe! The sauce is what makes this salad so good.