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HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC MACARONI SALAD

Nothing says summertime eating like a serving of the best, classic, old-fashioned, creamy macaroni salad with eggs and crisp vegetables dressed in a simple and creamy but still light mayonnaise dressing for any picnic, potluck, or barbecue.

While I’ve always been a fan of potato salad (my mom’s potato salad recipe is THE BEST!) it’s taken me years to come around to macaroni salad. The reason being is that every time I tried one, it was never a good one. They were either too dry, too plain, or too heavily loaded with a goopy, flavorless mayo dressing that coated the macaroni like oil on a dipstick and likely came from a pre-packaged box from the deli counter—yes! That stuff usually comes from a box!

HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC MACARONI SALAD
HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC MACARONI SALAD

There’s nothing worse than that acrid taste of fake mayo macaroni salad. You know. You’ve been there.

But, this old-fashioned macaroni salad is everything those others were not. First off, it’s homemade—toss the box! It’s simple but well-seasoned. It’s dressed just right with a tangy but light mayo dressing. And the pasta is neither clumpy nor starchy, but smooth and satisfying with every bite.

I really do love this salad but I’m going to defer to my husband on this one, who as a self-proclaimed macaroni salad connoisseur did attest, “Honey, this is still the best macaroni salad I’ve had. Ever.”

HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC MACARONI SALAD

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 pound ditalini pasta or other short pasta or shell
  • 3 hard boiled eggs diced
  • 2 celery ribs minced
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and minced
  • 1/4 red onion minced
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickles chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon pickle juice
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley if desired
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions, Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until cooled. Shake the colander to toss the pasta, and drain for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  2. Transfer the drained pasta to a large bowl and add the eggs, celery, red bell pepper, red onion and sweet pickles. Mix the mayonnaise, pickle juice, sugar, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add to the macaroni mix and toss until evenly coated. Season with more salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to add a little color if desired.

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