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.



Pasta Salad

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  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


  • Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salad:
  • 1/2 pound small elbow macaroni
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • Optional ingredients you may like:
  • 1/2 cup cubed ham
  • 1/2 cup cubed Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced green or black olives


  1. Whisk dressing ingredients together into a large bowl.
  2. Boil macaroni until al dente (9-10 minutes) then drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Toss macaroni with dressing to coat. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
  5. Keeps 5 days refrigerated.


Double all ingredients to make pasta salad for a crowd

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macaroni salad


  1. Jackie on April 19, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on July 11, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      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!

  2. Jessica Stempko on September 17, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Just read Jackie’s comment and noticed the recipe doesn’t mention the carrots. Good call to use frozen peas and carrots and let hot pasta thaw. Wonder if it’s too much to add to colander and let hot pasta water run over them before adding?

    • Hilah on September 18, 2017 at 7:16 am

      Either way is fine, Jessica. If I think about it, I’ll sometimes put the frozen veg in the colander first but they get cooked/thawed enough just mixing with the hot pasta, too

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