The Best Macaroni Salad


Macaroni salad is a timeless classic that brings together creamy textures, vibrant flavors, and a satisfying crunch. Whether it’s for a backyard barbecue, a picnic in the park, or a simple family dinner, the best macaroni salad can elevate any meal. In this article, we’ll explore the secrets to creating a delicious macaroni salad that will have everyone asking for seconds.


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion, i use dehydrated onion
  • 2 tablespoons sweet relish
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash paprika
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


  1. In a large pot bring 3 quarts water to a rolling boil.Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
  2. Gradually add dry elbow macaroni.
  3. Return to a boil.
  4. Boil uncovered 6-8 minutes.
  5. Drain well and rinse with cold water and drain again.
  6. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients.
  7. Place cooked macaroni in a large bowl and toss well with other ingredients.
  8. Cover and refrigerate.

Serving Tips:

  1. Chill Before Serving: Macaroni salad is best served chilled, allowing the flavors to meld together. Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving, or overnight for even better results.
  2. Garnish Before Serving: Just before serving, garnish the macaroni salad with fresh herbs like parsley, chives, or dill to add a pop of color and a burst of fresh flavor.
  3. Use Chilled Serving Dishes: To keep the macaroni salad cold during serving, use chilled serving dishes or bowls. This helps maintain the salad’s freshness, especially when serving outdoors or at picnics.
  4. Keep Cold During Outdoor Events: If serving macaroni salad at a picnic or outdoor event, place the serving bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice to keep it chilled and safe to eat.
  5. Adjust Seasonings Before Serving: Taste the macaroni salad before serving and adjust the seasoning if needed. You may want to add a pinch of salt, a splash of vinegar, or a drizzle of olive oil to enhance the flavors.
  6. Serve with Confidence: Present the macaroni salad with pride and confidence. Highlight any unique ingredients or flavors to spark conversation and intrigue among your guests.

Storage Tips:

  1. Store in an Airtight Container: After serving, transfer any leftover macaroni salad to an airtight container to maintain its freshness and prevent it from absorbing any odors in the refrigerator.
  2. Refrigerate Promptly: Don’t leave macaroni salad out at room temperature for too long, especially on warm days. Promptly refrigerate any leftovers within two hours of serving to prevent bacterial growth.
  3. Consume Within a Few Days: While macaroni salad can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days, it’s best enjoyed within the first day or two for optimal flavor and texture.
  4. Refresh Before Serving: If the macaroni salad seems dry or the flavors have mellowed, give it a quick refresh before serving by adding a splash of dressing or a squeeze of lemon juice, and tossing gently to coat.
  5. Avoid Freezing: Due to its creamy texture and fresh ingredients, macaroni salad doesn’t freeze well. It’s best enjoyed fresh or within a few days of preparation.


  1. Can I make macaroni salad ahead of time?
    • Absolutely! In fact, macaroni salad often tastes even better when made ahead of time as it allows the flavors to meld together. Prepare the salad up to a day in advance, store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and give it a quick toss before serving.
  2. Can I use gluten-free pasta for macaroni salad?
    • Yes, you can substitute gluten-free pasta for traditional wheat-based macaroni to make a gluten-free version of macaroni salad. Just be sure to cook the gluten-free pasta according to the package instructions and rinse it under cold water to cool it down before adding it to the salad.
  3. How long can macaroni salad sit out at room temperature?
    • It’s best to avoid leaving macaroni salad out at room temperature for more than two hours, especially on warm days. Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. If serving outdoors, place the salad bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice to keep it chilled.
  4. Can I customize the ingredients in macaroni salad?
    • Absolutely! Macaroni salad is highly customizable, allowing you to tailor it to your taste preferences and dietary restrictions. Feel free to add or omit ingredients based on what you have on hand or your personal preferences. Popular additions include diced ham, shredded cheese, olives, or pickles.
  5. How can I prevent macaroni salad from becoming dry?
    • To prevent macaroni salad from becoming dry, store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If the salad seems dry when serving, add a splash of dressing or a drizzle of olive oil, and toss gently to coat. You can also refresh the salad with additional herbs or seasonings to enhance the flavors.


Mastering the art of making the best macaroni salad is all about balancing flavors, textures, and creativity. By following these simple steps and customizing the recipe with your favorite ingredients, you can create a delicious macaroni salad that’s sure to impress your family and friends at any gathering. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your ingredients, and get ready to enjoy a bowl of homemade goodness!