A classic macaroni salad filled with veggies, cheese, eggs and noodles in a delicious creamy sauce. It’s the perfect side dish for potlucks and BBQs!

macaroni salad in a bowl with napkin and herbs in bowls

I’ve been making a variation of this macaroni salad for several summers now. It always get such rave reviews, so I figured it was time to share it with you!

Macaroni salad is completely customizable, and you can add whatever you like! My perfect combination is macaroni noodles with a creamy sweet-tangy dressing, diced veggies like red onion, celery, red bell pepper, and pickles, chopped hard boiled eggs, bits of cheddar cheese, and fresh herbs like basil and dill. It’s delicious and full of flavor and crunch.

Classic macaroni salad is also easy to make, keeps really well, and is the perfect side dish to any potluck, BBQ or picnic!

Ingredients you’ll need

Here’s everything you need to make this classic macaroni salad! You can find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to make this classic macaroni salad

  1. Cook pasta. Cook pasta in generously salted boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and spread out on a sheet pan to cool. You can add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the pasta to keep it from sticking together as it cools.
  2. Hard boil eggs. Add eggs to a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cover. Set timer for 12 minutes. When time is up, drain away hot water and replace with ice cold water. Let cool completely.
  3. Chop mix-ins. Chop red onion, red pepper, pickles, celery, cheddar cheese and hard boiled eggs. You want them to be fairly small pieces, similar to the size of the macaroni noodles. Finely chop dill and basil.
  4. Make dressing. Whisk together mayo, sour cream, red vinegar, pickle juice, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper.
  5. Combine. Combine the cooled pasta with all of the mix-ins and half of the dressing.
  6. Chill. Cover macaroni salad and chill for several hours or until ready to serve.
  7. Serve. The noodles will have soaked up most of the dressing. Add more dressing as desired before serving.

all ingredients for macaroni salad in a bowl
whisking macaroni salad dressing

Macaroni salad tips

  • You can use any short pasta you like in place of the elbow macaroni. Penne, farfalle and rotini are other great options.
  • Do not rinse pasta to cool it down! You’ll be rinsing away flavor and starch that will help it absorb the dressing.
  • You can add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the pasta to keep it from sticking together as it cools.
  • Feel free to adjust mix-ins for what you like or have at home. Macaroni salad is very versatile and nearly impossible to mess up!
  • This recipe makes a lot of dressing, but the noodles will soak up a lot of it as it chills. I like to add half of the dressing initially and then add more when I’m ready to serve as needed. Feel free to add as much or as little as you like.
  • This classic macaroni salad will keep in the fridge for up to a week, though I usually try to serve it within 48 hours (and then enjoy leftovers after that!).

More potluck salads

macaroni salad in bowl with large spoon
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Classic Macaroni Salad

A classic macaroni salad filled with veggies, cheese, eggs and noodles in a delicious creamy sauce. It's the perfect side dish for potlucks and BBQs!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni noodles , or other short pasta
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup diced dill pickles (about 4 small)
  • ½ cup diced red onion (about ½ small red onion)
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper (about ½ a bell pepper)
  • ½ cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)
  • ¾ cup diced cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Creamy dressing:

  • ½ cup mayonaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoon pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt , or to taste
  • ¼-½ teaspoon ground black pepper , to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in generously salted boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and spread out on a sheet pan to cool. Do not rinse! You can add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the pasta to keep it from sticking together as it cools.
  • Add eggs to a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cover. Set timer for 12 minutes. When time is up, drain away hot water and replace with ice cold water. Let cool completely.
  • Chop red onion, red pepper, pickles, celery, cheddar cheese and hard boiled eggs. You want them to be fairly small pieces, similar to the size of the noodles. Finely chop dill and basil.
  • Whisk together mayo, sour cream, red vinegar, pickle juice, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper.
  • Combine the cooled pasta with all of the mix-ins and half of the dressing.
  • Cover macaroni salad and chill for several hours or until ready to serve. I like to serve this macaroni salad within 48 hours of mixing, but it will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • As the macaroni chills, it will absorb a lot of the dressing. Before serving, stir in more dressing as desired (you may not use all of the dressing, depending on how creamy you want the macaroni salad).

Nutrition

Sodium: 320mg, Calcium: 72mg, Vitamin C: 9mg, Vitamin A: 412IU, Sugar: 2g, Fiber: 1g, Potassium: 72mg, Cholesterol: 44mg, Calories: 198kcal, Trans Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Fat: 13g, Protein: 5g, Carbohydrates: 17g, Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?I’d love to hear about it! Leave a review below or take a photo and tag it on Instagram @completelydelicious with #completelydelicious.