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The Best Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe

Discover the perfect summer side dish with our delicious macaroni salad recipe featuring carrots and celery. This easy pasta salad is full of flavor!

macaroni salad

Macaroni salad with carrots and celery is a classic summer dish that’s both refreshing and satisfying. 

This simple yet flavorful classic macaroni salad recipe combines tender macaroni noodles with crunchy carrots and celery, all tossed in a creamy dressing. 

This easy macaroni salad recipe is easy to prepare in large batches, making it a convenient option for feeding a crowd. Its refreshing and comforting qualities make it a timeless favorite that’s sure to please guests of all ages.

macaroni salad

Whether you’re hosting a summer BBQ, attending a potluck, or simply looking for a delicious side dish to accompany your meal, this classic side dish is sure to be a hit with family and friends.

macaroni salad

How to Make Macaroni Salad 

Be sure to scroll down to get the printable recipe card with the full simple ingredients that you can pick up right at your local grocery store.

Macaroni Salad Ingredients

  • dry elbow macaroni
  • celery
  • diced carrot
  • red peppers (or swap out for green pepper or yellow bell peppers)
  • green onions or red onion
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • sour cream
  • apple cider vinegar (can use white or red wine vinegar)
  • pinch of sugar
  • yellow or dijon mustard
  • sweet pickle relish or finely chopped sweet pickles or dill pickles
  • garlic powder
  • Kosher Salt and black pepper, to taste
macaroni salad ingredients

Cook macaroni according to package directions until it reaches al dente in a large pot. 

While the pasta cooks, prepare your vegetables by finely chopping carrots and celery into small, bite-sized pieces.

Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool them down.

macaroni salad

In a small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients. This is a good recipe to taste and adjust to your personal preferences. You can add just a bit of sugar or a couple of teaspoons sugar instead.

Spoon the dressing over the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, stir well to coat.

Mix in the chopped vegetables. 

Once everything is mixed together, cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least an hour to chill before serving. 

macaroni salad

What to Eat With Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses and side dishes. Here are some delicious options to serve alongside macaroni salad:

  • Serve Mac salad alongside grilled chicken, steak, pork chops, or burgers for a classic BBQ meal.
  • Easy Macaroni Salad is the perfect side dish to sandwiches such as ham and cheese, turkey and avocado, or a classic BLT for a satisfying lunch or dinner.
  • Enjoy macaroni salad as an easy side dish with grilled or fried seafood options like shrimp, fish tacos, or crab cakes for a coastal-inspired meal.
  • At your next picnic, enjoy your macaroni salad along with other summer favorites like fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, and fresh fruit for a delightful outdoor meal.
  • Serve creamy macaroni salad alongside other BBQ sides like baked beans, corn on the cob, potato salad, and grilled vegetables for a hearty and satisfying meal.
macaroni salad

How long does macaroni salad last in the fridge?

Macaroni salad can typically last for 3 to 5 days when stored properly in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s important to keep the salad chilled at all times and to avoid leaving it out at room temperature for extended periods, especially in warm weather. Before serving leftover macaroni salad, be sure to give it a good stir.

Can you freeze macaroni salad?

It is not recommended to freeze macaroni salad because it will change the consistency and texture.

macaroni salad

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macaroni salad
macaroni salad recipe

Macaroni Salad Recipe

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
This Macaroni Salad Recipe will become a go-to favorite side dish for any occasion! Made with elbow macaroni, fresh vegetables like celery and carrots in a creamy dressing, it easily comes together.


  • Macaroni Salad
  • 2 cups dry macaroni noodles (4 cups cooked)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, diced (green parts only)
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (can use white or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet green relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


    1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Do not rinse after draining.
    2. In a large bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust to your personal preferences.
    3. Add the cooked macaroni, stir well to coat, and then mix in the chopped vegetables.
    4. Place the macaroni salad in the fridge for an hour to let the flavors marinate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Rickie Bansbach

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Since my husband became allergic to eggs, I’ve tried different macaroni salads over the years, hoping to find one that can replace my good, old fashioned, fairly basic, macaroni salad with eggs. This one is quite good.

I used 8 ounces of macaroni. Rotini, cavatappi, and extra-large elbows.

It’s creamy without being weighed down by lots of heavy mayonnaise. Has a rich taste from the sour cream that very nicely replaces the hard boiled eggs I miss. I like the tanginess of the vinegar, prepared yellow mustard, and sweet pickle relish, that is offset and enhanced by the sugar. But it’s not too sweet! I used 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

I substituted a ½ teaspoon of onion powder for the green onions (as raw onions bother my stomach), and I think that worked out pretty well. I used ¾ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper, and ½ teaspoon of granulated garlic. I think I might increase the black pepper and garlic just a bit. Maybe another ¼ teaspoon of each.

This recipe is a keeper! Thank you.

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