Macaroni Salad is a classic creamy pasta salad with sweet and tangy flavors, perfect for picnics, barbecues, or any time you need a side dish. It is a well-rounded salad with plenty of flavor and texture in every bite! I also have Amish Macaroni Salad you may want to try.

Macaroni Salad in a big white bowl on a wooden table.
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Ingredients & Substitutions

Pasta: For the classic shape and texture, I used elbow macaroni cooked al dente. You could use other pasta shapes or make homemade shaped pasta.

Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is the base of the creamy dressing that coats the macaroni. I have a delicious homemade mayonnaise that would be an option!

Sugar: Granulated sugar provides sweetness to the salad.

Vinegar: Look for distilled white vinegar to add a tangy flavor to the salad dressing. Although it may alter the taste, apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar could be substituted.

Vegetables: Celery and red onions are added to the salad to add flavor and texture to each bite. You could substitute celery with bell peppers or cucumbers for a similar crunch. Or, try sweet onions or green onions in place of red onions. You could also add even more vegetables if preferred!

Raw ingredients for making Macaroni Salad in a bowl.

Can I Make Macaroni Salad Ahead Of Time?

Yes! Macaroni salad should chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving, so it is a great option to make in advance. I like to make it a day ahead of time to let all of the flavors come together and improve the salad’s overall texture.

Add-Ins & Variations To Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is very versatile and easy to customize to your tastes! Here are add-ins and variations you might consider:

  • Add protein like cooked diced chicken, ham, or bacon.
  • Cut up cubes of cheese like cheddar or Monterey Jack to mix in the salad.
  • Chop or slice hard-boiled eggs to add.
  • Give the salad a tangy crunch by adding diced pickles or sweet relish.
  • Do you like a little heat or spicy kick? Add a few dashes of hot sauce!
Macaroni Salad in a big bowl with a spoon on a wooden table.

How To Store Macaroni Salad

Store macaroni salad in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 2-3 days. When ready to serve, give it a good stir. You may need to add a little more mayonnaise to refresh the texture.

Bowl of Macaroni Salad in front of bigger bowl.
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Macaroni Salad

Prep Time 20 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Macaroni Salad is a classic creamy pasta salad with sweet and tangy flavors, perfect for picnics, barbecues, or any time you need a side dish. It is a well-rounded salad with plenty of flavor and texture in every bite!


  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 ½ cups (348 g) mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (59.5 g) distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 ribs celery, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced (about ½ cup)
  • parsley, chopped for garnish


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente according to package instructions (about 8-10 minutes). Drain water and set aside to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  • To a large bowl, add mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Add cooled macaroni, celery, and onion. Toss to combine, ensuring everything is coated evenly in the dressing.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, up to overnight.
  • Garnish with parsley. Serve.

Did you make this recipe?

You can tag me at @iamhomesteader.

What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:


A classic and delicious macaroni salad recipe. Perfect for many occasions or a light lunch!


This is a great macaroni salad! Perfect flavor combination and perfect creaminess! You could add any meat to this for a great pasta salad base.


This is a classic salad! Easy to make, and super creamy!


I could eat spoonfuls of this without getting tired! It's classic, easy, and tasty all at the same time! It is a creamy salad with tangy and fresh flavors!


Super classic and yummy salad! Goes together super quickly and would be perfect at any potluck!

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