Best Macaroni Salad Recipe

Elevate Your Picnic Game with The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe

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Are you in search of the ultimate crowd-pleasing dish for your next gathering? Look no further than The Best Macaroni Salad! Bursting with vibrant colors and flavors, this classic dish is a must-have for picnics, barbecues, potlucks, and any occasion that calls for delicious comfort food. With its creamy texture and refreshing crunch, this macaroni salad will quickly become a favorite among family and friends. Join us as we embark on a culinary journey to create a dish that’s sure to leave everyone craving seconds.

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  • 16 oz. Elbow Macaroni
  • ½ Red Onion
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • ¼ cup Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Carrot
  • ¾ cup Mayonnaise (can use vegan mayonnaise)
  • 1 tbsp. Spicy Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. Cook the Macaroni:
    • Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Prepare the Vegetables:
    • Finely chop the red onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and fresh parsley. Grate the carrot using a box grater or food processor.
  3. Make the Dressing:
    • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and spicy Dijon mustard until smooth and well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Combine Ingredients:
    • Add the cooked and cooled macaroni to the bowl with the dressing. Toss until the macaroni is evenly coated.
    • Gently fold in the chopped vegetables – red onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, parsley, and grated carrot – until well distributed throughout the salad.
  5. Chill and Serve:
    • Cover the macaroni salad and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
    • Before serving, give the salad a final toss and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with additional parsley if desired.
  6. Enjoy!
    • Serve chilled and enjoy this refreshing and flavorful macaroni salad as a side dish or main course. It pairs perfectly with grilled meats, sandwiches, or as a standalone dish.

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • Add Protein: Boost the protein content of this salad by adding diced cooked chicken, ham, or boiled eggs.
  • Extra Crunch: For added crunch and texture, mix in chopped celery, diced cucumber, or toasted almonds.
  • Spice it Up: Add a kick of heat with a pinch of cayenne pepper, chopped jalapeños, or a dash of hot sauce to the dressing.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian Options: Use vegan mayonnaise or a dairy-free yogurt-based dressing to make this recipe vegan-friendly. For a vegetarian version, add crumbled feta cheese or cubed mozzarella.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q: Can I make this macaroni salad ahead of time? A: Yes, this macaroni salad can be made ahead of time. Prepare the salad as directed, cover, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving. Give it a good stir before serving to redistribute the dressing.

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta? A: While elbow macaroni is traditional for macaroni salad, you can use other pasta shapes such as shells, rotini, or penne if preferred. Just be sure to cook them according to the package instructions.

Q: How long will this macaroni salad keep in the refrigerator? A: Properly stored in an airtight container, this macaroni salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. However, it’s best enjoyed within the first 1-2 days for optimal freshness.

Q: Can I customize the dressing? A: Absolutely! Feel free to adjust the dressing to suit your taste preferences. You can add a splash of lemon juice, a dollop of Greek yogurt, or your favorite herbs and spices for added flavor.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

For those following a keto or low-carb diet, here’s how you can modify this recipe:

  • Replace Pasta: Substitute the elbow macaroni with cooked and cooled cauliflower florets or shirataki noodles to reduce the carb content.
  • Low-Carb Dressing: Use a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, and vinegar seasoned with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs for a low-carb dressing option.
  • Add Healthy Fats: Incorporate diced avocado, chopped nuts, or crumbled bacon for added flavor and healthy fats.

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In conclusion, The Best Macaroni Salad is a versatile and crowd-pleasing dish that’s perfect for any occasion. With its simple yet flavorful ingredients and customizable dressing, it’s sure to become a staple in your recipe repertoire. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, packing a picnic lunch, or craving a satisfying side dish, this macaroni salad delivers on taste, texture, and convenience. So gather your ingredients, whip up a batch of this delicious salad, and prepare to impress your guests with every forkful!

Share your experience with this recipe and any creative variations you try. Happy cooking!

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