Classic Macaroni Salad is an easy side dish for potlucks, summer parties, or Easter dinner! Elbow macaroni, veggies, and a creamy tangy sauce make this cold pasta salad perfect for feeding a crowd.

potluck Classic Macaroni SaladClassic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad is one of those Southern side dishes you find at every potluck, picnic, and summer party. It also makes a great addition to your Easter dinner menu.

This classic American macaroni salad is made with elbow macaroni noodles, red onions, red bell peppers, and celery. Some people also add hard-boiled eggs, ham, or tuna. There is no wrong way to make it!

The pasta and all of the add-ins are tossed together in a creamy, tangy sauce made with mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and sweet pickle. The flavors all combine and soak into the elbow macaroni and the other ingredients turning it into the perfect pasta salad. 

The best part…it’s served cold! Make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. Then when you’re ready to serve it grab the bowl and head to your potluck, party, or just serve it as a side for a summer weeknight dinner!  

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creamy Classic Macaroni Salad
What is in Classic Macaroni Salad?

  •  Elbow Macaroni
  •  Mayonnaise
  •  White vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Mustard
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Red Onion
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Celery
  • Salt & Pepper

spoonful of Classic Macaroni Salad
Should You Rinse Macaroni for Macaroni Salad?

Since this is a cold pasta salad you can rinse the pasta after you drain the boiling water from it. By rinsing it with cold water you stop the cooking process. Rinsing the pasta also removes the excess starch off which keeps the pasta from clumping together.

How Do You Keep Macaroni Salad From Drying Out?

To help keep the macaroni from soaking up all of that delicious creamy dressing as it sits in the refrigerator or on the table, toss your pasta in a little olive oil. This also helps to keep the pasta from clumping together, which is especially useful if you make it ahead of time.

How Long Can You Keep Homemade Macaroni Salad in the Fridge?

You can keep Macaroni Salad in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Make sure it is tightly sealed and remains below 40 degrees F. If it sits out at room temperature for more than 2 hours it should not be placed back in the refrigerator and should be disposed of.

Easter dinner plate with Classic Macaroni Salad

What Can I Serve With Macaroni Salad?

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Servings: 8
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Chill Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 25 mins

Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad is an easy side dish for potlucks, summer parties, or Easter dinner! Elbow macaroni, veggies, and a creamy tangy sauce make this cold pasta salad perfect for feeding a crowd.
potluck Classic Macaroni Salad
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote


  • 1 pound Elbow Macaroni
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup White vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Sweet pickle relish
  • 1 cup Red Onion
  • 1 cup Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 cup Celery
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Pepper


  • Cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions. Make sure to salt your water for added flavor.
  • Once the pasta is al dente, drain the water and rinse pasta under cold water. Let the pasta drain thoroughly before proceeding to the next step.
  • While the elbow macaroni is draining combine the mayonnaise, white vinegar, sugar, mustard, and sweet relish in a small bowl and whisk together.
  • Add the cooked macaroni, red onion, red bell pepper, and celery to a large bowl.
  • Pour the mayonnaise mixture over everything and gently toss together until well coated.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let it chill.
  • Enjoy!


Calories: 431kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 11mg, Sodium: 411mg, Potassium: 238mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 705IU, Vitamin C: 25.7mg, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Easter side dish, easy side dish for barbecue, how to make macaroni salad, macaroni salad recipe, potluck recipe