Macaroni Salad

This is a slight variation on the macaroni salad my mom used to make when I was a kid. I have such fond memories of that salad that I even included it in my Learn to Cook book! To me, it’s the classic, creamy macaroni salad that everyone thinks of when they think of awkward family reunions, sweaty church picnics and uncomfortable office potlucks.

macaroni salad

Her original recipe (in my book) served something crazy like 20 people and since I am just but one mere mortal, I shrunk it down to a more manageable size and added some parsley to brighten it up. She always included diced ham and Cheddar but that was my least favorite part so I leave them out now that I’m in charge!

This is a great starting point for any kind of macaroni salad you want to make. The basic creamy dressing goes well with pretty much any flavor. Jazz it up with more vegetables (think red bell pepper, tomato, corn kernels, cucumber, olives) or add lunch meat like ham or salami; cheese chunks or diced boiled eggs.

You might also like this Greek pasta salad with feta, vegetables and olives; or this caprese pasta salad with basil and tomatoes. Both are mayonnaise-free if that’s more your style of pasta salad.



Macaroni Salad

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6


  • 1 cup (6 ounces weight) dry macaroni noodles


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon or grainy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

Optional ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cubed ham or other lunch meat
  • 1/2 cup cubed Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced green or black olives


  1. Boil macaroni until al dente (6-9 minutes) and meanwhile:
  2. Whisk dressing ingredients together into a large bowl.
  3. Drain macaroni well.
  4. Toss macaroni with dressing to coat. Add remaining ingredients and stir. It may seem like there is too much dressing, but it will absorb into the pasta as it cools.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until cold (at least 1 hour). Stir again before serving.
  6. Keeps 5 days refrigerated.


Double all ingredients to make pasta salad for a crowd

macaroni salad


  1. Do you cook the frozen peas and carrots?
    This sounds like a delish salad. When I make it, will add chopped apple (Granny Smith for tartness) like I do to my potato salad.

    • Hi Jackie!
      The peas and carrots go in frozen and by the time they’re mixed with the hot pasta and dressing, they are thawed. I like the idea of adding Granny Smith apples!

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