Creamy Macaroni salad is all about creamy and tangy mayo dressing! Not overwhelmingly sweet or too vinegary, yet perfectly delicious. Easy to make and with just the right amount of mayonnaise. It’s an easy side dish your family will love in the summer!
Easy American Classic with Mayo based dressing
I used a mix of elbow macaroni, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard and sugar. This cold macaroni salad recipe is also loaded with crunchy bits of celery and bell peppers. You can and should make it ahead. Because it’s perfect for all sorts of occasions. Whether it is a family dinner, a picnic food, or a potluck. It’s filling, delicious and easy to make. Pasta can’t get better than that!
A perfect cold summer side?
I used to think that macaroni salad was a summer food. And who would argue with the fact that it’s a perfect cold summer side? But at the same time my family loves this classic salad anytime during the year! Why? Because the pasta is easy to work with and tastes great at room temperature.
What can I serve with macaroni salad?
Do you rinse macaroni for macaroni salad?
When being used for a cold salad, pasta should always be rinsed after cooking. Why?
- First, rinsing in cold water brings the temperature of the pasta down, which we want since the pasta will be served cold.
- Rinsing also stops the cooking process immediately. We don’t want mushy pasta salad.
- Finally, rinsing also keeps the pasta loose for the salad. If you leave it unrinsed, the starchy coating can make the pasta gummy and clump together. And who wants that?
How do I keep macaroni from absorbing mayonnaise?
Very simple! Chill! Chilling your macaroni and other ingredients before mixing your salad together will help slow the absorption of mayonnaise.
How do I keep macaroni salad moist?
Because it is made of starch, pasta absorbs liquids and starch absorbs water. What I usually do is I toss the pasta with oil will to reduce the absorption. This also coats my macaroni in a water-repellent layer.
Beyond this, I also add lemon juice to my pasta salad which helps with keeping the moisture in.
So easy! Boil and drain the pasta, then toss it in the dressing mixture and refrigerate overnight. Done!
Traditional Macaroni Salad
- 8 oz elbow macaroni pasta
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup bell peppers (yellow and red, chopped)
- 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
Mayo Based Dressing
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons spicy mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 2 teaspoons distilled vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
- Cook elbow macaroni noodles according to your package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl and drizzle olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking.
- Chop yellow and red pepper and celery. Add them to the bowl with macaroni. Set aside.
Mayo based dressing
- In a medium size bowl combine mayonnaise, spicy mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and whisk well.
- Pour dressing over macaroni salad ingredients and toss until combined. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.