Macaroni Salad makes a terrific summertime lunch and is made for taking to gatherings. Simple to prepare and as diverse as you want it to be, this is a great classic pasta salad.
With a pasta salad dressing made with a combination of mayonnaise and yoghurt, it’s still beautifully creamy with all the flavour and less guilt! For a healthier option, try this Macaroni pasta salad with a mayo-free Creamy Lemon Dressing or Ranch Dressing!
Macaroni Pasta Salad
It’s difficult to imagine a summer with Macaroni Salad. Like Coleslaw, it’s a summertime staple. The pasta salad you keep in your fridge for a quick side for meals and to put in your lunchbox.
While it’s tempting to take the easy route and pick up a tub from the deli, too often they are overly mayo-heavy, too sweet, too sour, or dripping with watery dressing.
So skip store bought and make your own – it’s so simple and tastes so much better!
Lighter, flavour packed Dressing for Pasta Salad
I like to have a lot of dressing because it makes pasta salads moist and juicy. But using just mayo is too oily. So I always lighten up mayo dressings with either sour cream or yoghurt, then add a nice amount of seasoning so no one would even notice that it’s got less fat in it!
Here’s what goes in my creamy pasta salad dressing:
Equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream OR yogurt
Cider vinegar – essential touch of tang!
Dijon Mustard – flavour and thickening
Seasonings – Sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Regular readers know how much I love my sauces and that extends to salad dressings. No pasta salad recipe of mine will ever be lacking in Dressing!
And that’s why this Macaroni Salad stays nice and moist – because there’s plenty of dressing!
Wondering if Macaroni Salad is good or bad for you?
While you get some nutrition from the vegetables the reality is that Macaroni salad is heavy on carbs from the pasta and fat in the dressing. For a healthier option, try this with a mayo-free Creamy Lemon Dressing or Ranch Dressing!
Macaroni Salad Add-in options
I’ve kept this recipe classic. So as much as I was tempted, I resisted all my favourite add-in possibilities including:
roasted red peppers
chicken (try my Chicken Pasta Salad recipe)
MORE SUMMER SALADS to take to gatherings
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Potato Salad and Lemon Potato Salad
- Pearl Couscous Salad <– personal fave!
- Wild Rice Salad <– reader fave!
- 12 Minute Sun Dried Tomato Couscous Salad
Browse all Pasta Salads and Rice Salad
Macaroni Pasta Salad
Watch how to make it
- 250 g / 1/2 lb macaroni elbow pasta
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt (to cook pasta)
- 1 cup celery , finely sliced (1 stalk)
- 3/4 cup red capsicum / bell peppers , finely diced (1 small)
- 3/4 cup green onions , finely sliced (1 large stem)
- 1 medium carrot , grated (using standard box grater)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's, Best Foods, S&W or other whole egg mayonnaise)
- 1/2 cup yoghurt or sour cream , full or low fat
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Bring large pot of water to the boil - 4 to 5 litres / quarts. Add salt then add pasta. Cook per packet directions.
- Drain pasta then cool.
- Meanwhile, mix Dressing ingredients in a bowl.
- Place pasta in a bowl. Add remaining Macaroni Salad ingredients. Pour over Dressing.
- Toss. Adjust salt / sugar / sour (vinegar) / mayo to taste.
- Set aside for at least 20 minutes. Then serve at room temperature (not cold). It's great the next day too!
Life of Dozer
When I leave Dozer indoors when I’m out all day and it’s been raining (damn that dog door!!!!).