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Macaroni Salad - Awesome Recipe!

Updated on July 3, 2013
Loaded Macaroni Salad
Loaded Macaroni Salad | Source

Picnic Recipes

I just made some great macaroni salad! It’s chilling in the fridge now. I’m making several picnic recipes for our big July 4th cookout/picnic. Think I’m starting too early? Actually, I’m not. The two picnic recipes I made tonight, macaroni salad and three bean salad, will taste better after spending thirty-six or thirty seven hours in the refrigerator. With the macaroni salad, the dressing will thicken, and with the bean salad, the flavors will meld wonderfully. The meats we’re having are smoked ham, hot dogs, and smoked pork shoulder. I’ll pull the pork shoulder for southern pulled pork sandwiches. Other traditional picnic recipes we’ll be enjoying on the Fourth include potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and fruit salad. Of course, several desserts will follow. We’ll be washing down all the grub with sweet ice tea, homemade lemonade, and sodas. Okay – the guys will be drinking a few brews. Macaroni salad wasn’t actually in my original Fourth of July menu, but my son-in-law loves it, and he asked me to make it, so I did. I asked him what he wanted me to put in it, and he said “everything!” Well, I somewhat followed his wishes, but I had to draw the line somewhere. After tasting this recipe, he’s convinced me that using a lot of different ingredients in macaroni salad is a great idea!

I like lots of veggies in my macaroni salad recipes.
I like lots of veggies in my macaroni salad recipes. | Source

Macaroni Salad Recipes

There are lots of different macaroni salad recipes, and there’s really no way to go wrong making it. They all start with cooked and cooled elbow macaroni – hence the name. After that, though, the ingredients are really just a matter of personal preference. You can add as many or as few other ingredients as you like. Once that’s decided, you’ll need some sort of dressing to coat the ingredients. Many cooks use a mixture of mayonnaise and vinegar for a creamy macaroni salad, but I’ve also tasted some macaroni salad recipes that used a lighter dressing, like a vinaigrette. For those who prefer an extra-thick and creamy dressing, they might include sour cream or whipping cream.

The dressing is often flavored with sugar, and how much sugar you add is completely up to you. Of course, you’ll most likely want to include some salt and pepper in the dressing, but after that, the field is wide open as far as herbs and spices are concerned. Popular spices for macaroni salad recipes include paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt. Herbs that work well in macaroni salad include parsley, dill, basil, and chives. Also, some cooks like to add grated cheese, like cheddar or parmesan.

What else can you add to your macaroni salad recipe? Practically anything you like! I’ve created a table below that might give you some fresh ideas for macaroni salad.

Macaroni Salad Recipes - Ideas

Dressing Ingredients
Veggies/Other Additions
Spices and Herbs
Miracle Whip
white vinegar
black pepper
apple cider vinegar
fresh cucumber
red wine vinegar
chipotle powder
ranch dressing
bell pepper
Italian dressing
jalapeno peppers
yellow mustard
brown mustard
fresh tomato
green olives
black olives
onion powder
sour cream
frozen green peas, thawed
garlic powder
raspberry vinaigrette
grated cheddar
celery salt
grated parmesan
celery seed
brown sugar
bacon bits

Low Carb Recipes

When you think of low carb recipes, macaroni salad probably doesn’t enter your mind. After all, regular macaroni is loaded with carbohydrates. You can make a lower carb version that’s higher in dietary fiber by using whole wheat macaroni. You can make a very low carb macaroni salad by using Miracle Noodles instead of traditional pasta made from regular flour. Miracle Noodles, by the way, don’t contain any carbs at all.

Most of the other ingredients in traditional macaroni salad recipes are low carb or no carb, like mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, celery, olives, onion, and bell pepper. If you want to use sweet pickles, you can find artificially sweetened sweet pickles and sweet pickle relish. For a sweet low carb macaroni salad, use Splenda instead of sugar.

If you’re into low carb recipes, you probably eat a lot of protein. It’s super easy to increase the protein content of your macaroni salad. Just add canned tuna, cooked and diced ham, cooked and diced chicken or turkey, cheese, boiled eggs, or even boiled shrimp. By adding poultry, cheese, eggs, or shrimp, your macaroni salad can become a hearty main dish.

Bring salted water to a boil and cook macaroni.
Bring salted water to a boil and cook macaroni. | Source
Cool macaronii under running water and drain well.
Cool macaronii under running water and drain well. | Source
Pour pasta into a large bowl or pot.
Pour pasta into a large bowl or pot. | Source
Add veggies.
Add veggies. | Source
Add remaining ingredients to a small bowl.
Add remaining ingredients to a small bowl. | Source
Whisk until smooth.
Whisk until smooth. | Source
Toss dressing with other ingredients. Cover and chill overnight.
Toss dressing with other ingredients. Cover and chill overnight. | Source

Macaroni Salad Recipe

This is a very yummy macaroni salad recipe! You don’t need to follow my recipe exactly. Tweak some of the ingredients to suit your taste. You might want to use more or less of some of my ingredients, or you might want to completely omit one or two. Just taste your creation along the way, and adjust the ingredients accordingly. You'll probably want to add your creation to your collection of picnic recipes and cookout recipes.

Please rate my recipe. Thanks!

4.5 stars from 2 ratings of Loaded Macaroni Salad

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 25 min
Yields: Makes about 20 servings.


  • 16-ounce box elbow macaroni
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped or thinly sliced celery
  • 1 firm ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped or diced
  • 7-ounce jar sliced pimientos, drained well
  • 1/2 cup chopped or diced red onion
  • 3.8-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1/3 cup cubed sweet pickles
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup sugar or Splenda
  • 1/3 cup bottled ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)


  1. Boil macaroni in salted water according to package directions. Drain well under cold running water until pasta is cool. Place drained macaroni in a large bowl or pot.
  2. Add celery, tomato, bell pepper, pimientos, onion, olives, and pickles.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth.
  4. Pour over pasta and veggies and toss well to coat.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Give the macaroni salad one more good stirring before serving.


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    • Lillly Rose1 profile image

      Linda 2 years ago from Texas

      Gosh it sounds so good although i do not like the taste of splenda, I would use agave instead for my self. I can't wait to make this, thanks for recipe. I am new here and will be sharing recipes too when I figure it out how to, lol

    • profile image

      Diana Abrahamson 2 years ago

      Thanks for the macaroni salad..sure has a lot of great ingredients!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      When I visit up north, this is a popular dish at almost every home. I haven't had one in awhile and may have to make this recipe soon. Thanks for highlighting the low carb information and the salad recipe ideas.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm not a cook but this sounds delicious. I'll be forwarding this to the family cook. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Looks like another winning recipe! Love your clear instructions and photos. Happy 4th of July!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      As always, I love how you break down all of the possible components for this recipe. There are so many great customization options with something for everyone. Thanks for the awesome resource!

    • profile image

      Lena M. Christine 4 years ago from Winchester, KY

      Oh man, I looooooove macaroni salad. Must. Try. This. Recipe.

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 4 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      voted up, useful, and awesome.

      I have to say this is perfect timing. I am invited to a family cookout and did not want to simply buy something from the deli on the way there. And i am way too lazy and tired to prepare something extravagant today. So i will make your macaroni salad instead.

      Thanks for you help, and i believe this will be an acceptable dish to bring.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Awesome! You've taught me something about giving the dressing time to thicken, and the flavors time to blend. The macaroni salad looks so complete like that's all I'd want on my plate. You're one great cook. Thanks for sharing your talent.