Our Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad is easy to make and simply delicious. All Summer picnics and Barbeques require a Classic Macaroni Salad. The great thing about making pasta salad is that you can use whatever your favorite pasta is and you can switch out different ingredients to fit your family's taste.
If you have ever went to a family get together or potluck during the Summer, then you know there are tables full of cold pasta salads, potato salad, baked beans, homemade coleslaw, BBQ, Fried Chicken, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, deviled eggs, and desserts! And of course, you need refreshing drinks such as lemonade and iced tea to wash it down.
For some, the words “Easy Macaroni Salad” means heading to the deli and grabbing a container of the store brand version. Most forms of pasta salad are easier to make than you think and much quicker than heading to your local market!
❤Here’s Why This Recipe Works
You should totally make this recipe because it's:
Delicious - once the flavors marry you will have a fantastic dish!
Easy to Make - this recipe uses ingredients you probably already have on hand.
Classic - homemade macaroni salad has been around for decades.
Another reason why this recipe works is because it's great for picnics! Planning a trip to check out a cool waterfall? Preparing for a quaint road trip? Just prep it ahead of time and then pack it in an air-tight container, put it in the cooler, add some ice and you are good to go!
You will find a complete list of the ingredients as well as the amounts needed in the printable recipe card below.
- Elbow macaroni - you can use whatever shapes your family loves.
- Onion - if you prefer more of a bit, use a red, white, or yellow onion.
- Light mayo - you can also use whatever flavor of mayonnaise you prefer.
- Honey - this ingredient helps sweeten the recipe up a bit.
At the bottom of the post, you will find the instructions inside of the recipe card.
- Celery salt - add just a dash to really create a delicious flavor.
- Onion powder - in lieu of onions, just use one tablespoon of onion powder.
- Radishes - you can omit if you prefer.
- Yellow mustard - you can use this instead of dijon.
The great thing about any classic mac salad is that there are no wrong or right add-ins! You can add-in:
- ham (great way to use up leftovers)
- frozen peas
Put a small bowl of diced dill pickles out in case someone would like to top their salad with some of those.
You can also set out a bowl of chopped olives so your guests can put that on top too.
- Large bowl
- Medium bowl
- cutting board
It can stay in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days, 3 days maximum.
This doesn't freeze well at all.
This side dish works perfectly as a main course too. Just throw on a side of fresh sweet corn and some juicy watermelon and dinner is served!
Cook pasta just until it's al dente then drain and rinse immediately to stop the cooking process.
If you are serving this at a party, make sure to only leave it out for two hours at the most. It needs to stay cold.
By chilling the salad before serving and then keeping it chilled.
Definitely. It allows the flavors to really marry together nicely.
If you are wondering how to keep Macaroni Salad from drying out, it's really as simple as how the pasta is cooked. The key is cooking it al dente. When you bite into your pasta, you want there to be a "bite" to it. If it's too soggy or not done enough, your dish won't turn out.
Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad
- Large bowl
- Medium bowl
- cutting board
- 2 c elbow macaroni noodles
- 4 stalks celery chopped
- 3 radishes chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 small sweet onion diced
- 2 tbsp. minced parsley
- ¼ c apple cider vinegar
- 1 c light mayo
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ c honey
- ½ t. kosher salt
- ½ t. fresh ground pepper
- In a large pot, fill the pot with water and salt it. Bring the water to a boil.
- Cook the pasta to the directions on the back of the box. Make sure they are cooked al-dente. Do NOT overcook the pasta.
- Drain the pasta and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Prep your vegetables by washing them, drying them, then dicing them up. Chop them all into ½ inch pieces. You want them to be as close to size as possible so they are the same size as the macaroni noodles.
- Add the vegetables to the elbow macaroni in a large bowl along with the chopped parsley. Set aside. In a medium sized bowl or measuring cup make the dressing. Combine the honey, mayo, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. You can add more salt and pepper to taste if preferred.
- Combine the dressing with the macaroni and vegetables. Cover and allow to set in the fridge for 3-4 hours for the best taste.