Classic Macaroni Salad in a served cold pasta salad with a creamy mayo based dressing. Add in all of your favorite mix in’s to make this just how you like it!
Macaroni Salad is a traditional side dish served in many homes, and each time it’s made a little differently, making it a unique and versatile dish that everyone can enjoy and appreciate.
You’re most likely to see macaroni salad as a side dish around the spring or summer months because it’s a great addition to a BBQ party and is best served cold, which gives a great relief from the heat of the sun. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t serve mac salad during the other months too (there’s no bad time to enjoy a simple macaroni salad recipe!)
No matter how you make your macaroni salad, you can always make it your own by choosing different add-ins based on what you want to eat, what you think sounds good, or whatever you may have on hand. It’s also a great way to sneak extra vegetables or protein into your kid’s diet if they’re a picky eater. 😉
What’s In Macaroni Salad?
- Cooked macaroni pasta: cook your pasta until *barely* al dente. The pasta will get softer is it sits in the dressing, so to insure a pasta salad that doesn’t turn to mush, make sure your pasta is barely al dente.
- Diced Bell Pepper: you can use any color of bell pepper you’d like!
- Mozzarella Cubes: You can cut your own cubes or cut a string cheese into slices! We always have string cheese in our fridge.
- Minced Red Onion: Red onion is strong, so make sure to mince it finely!
- Sliced Olives
- Mini Pepperoni Slices: if you can’t find mini pepperoni slices at your grocery store, you could definitely quarter regular pepperoni!
- Broccoli: Take it or leave it in yours, but broccoli is my favorite addition to the salad!
- Your Favorite Add-In’s: We will chat about different add in options below.
- Miracle Whip
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper To Taste
Don’t forget to check out the recipe card below for the exact measurements and steps needed to make this delicious pasta dish!
How to Make Macaroni Salad
Making macaroni salad is as easy as prepping the ingredients (a little boiling of pasta here, a little chopping and dicing there), whisking together the dressing and string everything together.
This is definitely a beginner recipe that any level of cook should be able to master.
Add in Ideas for Creamy Macaroni Salad
- frozen peas
- diced celery
- hard boiled eggs
- shredded carrots
- diced ham
- bacon bits
What’s the difference between pasta salad and macaroni salad?
Pasta salad and macaroni salad share a lot of similarities but some of the biggest differences include the dressing used. Pasta salad is made using an oil based vinegar dressing and the pasta itself is more likely to be a different lengthier shape like rotini. Macaroni salad uses a mayo based dressing to give a smoother and creamier flavor profile that is sweeter.
Can you freeze macaroni salad?
While you could freeze cooked pasta noodles in advance, thaw them and then use them for this recipe, you do not want to try and freeze macaroni salad after it has been made and prepared.
The mayo and dressing ingredients do not handle well in the freezer and the results of a thawed macaroni salad will be off in both flavor, appearance, and texture making it gross and unedible.
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Creamy Macaroni Salad
- 3 cups cooked macaroni pasta (approx 1 1/2 cups uncooked)
- 1/2 cup bell pepper diced
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cubes
- 1/8 cup red onion minced
- 1/4 cup sliced olives
- 1/2 cup mini pepperoni slices
- 1/4 cup broccoli in bite sized pieces
- 1/4 cup miracle whip
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, toss all of the prepped macaroni salad ingredients together.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Taste and ajust seasonings to your liking.
- Pour the dressing over the macaroni salad and stir to combine.
- Store in the refrigerator, the flavors will develop the longer it sits in the fridge. Can be made up to 1 day in advance.