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Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe

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This Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe is certain to be a favorite summer side dish! Simple pasta salads are some of my favorite side dishes to cook. Some people prefer potato salad but I love this classic macaroni salad. Try these other simple pasta recipes!

I also love to add in sweet pickle slices as well for a fun and unique flavor. The best part about this side salad dish is that you can change it up however you’d like!

summer side dish

The elbow macaroni and Dijon mustard literally do create a perfect combination. Just be certain to add it to a large bowl so that you have enough room to stir! An easy side dish option!

Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe

Even though this recipe isn’t hard to make, everyone tends to forget to cook the pasta and rinse under cold water! This is important for getting that macaroni the perfect texture. You can also add in a tiny bit of olive oil if the macaroni is sticking together after rinsing.

My boys LOVE this simple recipe and ask for it all the time. Since it takes no time to make, I have no issues cooking it up. It’s great for leftovers, too! Which means that they get to enjoy it over and over again.

cold salad recipe

What are some other ingredients that could be added to this pasta salad?

A hard boiled egg could be a great addition as would grilled corn on the cob. (that you cut off the kernels and add!) Chunks of goat cheese could also make a super delicious taste.

Specialty Ingredients:

The following ingredients are affiliate links on Amazon because they may be a bit hard to find in your normal store.  I wanted you to be able to see exactly which things we are using.

Reminder, not all ingredients in the Simple Pasta Recipe are linked above, just the ones that may be a bit difficult to find or that you might be unsure of what to look for

Shop My Kitchen:

The following items can be found in my kitchen here at Miller Manor. Simply click the image that interests you – yes, they do contain affiliate links.

Must Have Resources:

When making Cold Macaroni Salad at home, you really need to have the following Amazon affiliate tools on hand.

2 Pack Apronner Bib Aprons for Women Soft Cotton Linen Kitchen Cooking Chef Apron with Pockets Adjustable Machine Washable 003Meat Chopper, Hamburger Chopper, Premium Heat Resistant Mix Chopper, Ground Beef Chopper Tool & Meat Fork, Potato Masher,Safe for Non-Stick CookwareFarberware Dishwasher Safe Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set, 15 Piece, PewterFast Defrosting Tray - Meat Thawing Board for Natural Thawing Frozen Meat and Food - Miracle Thaw for Fridge - Rapid Thaw Defrosting Plate to Keep Original Food Flavor - Large with Drip Tray


Make it a Meal:

Ready to give meal planning a try? It’s really simple and easy to do! I love that I can plan out the meals for the day and let everyone in the family know what to expect. This example below shows just how simple it truly is to meal plan!

Main Dish: Blue Cheese and Turkey Club Sandwich

Vegetable Side: Creamy Ginger Carrot Soup Recipe

Refreshing Drink: Cotton Candy Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipe

Don’t forget Dessert: Crazy Good Instant Pot Banana Split Cheesecake

easy pasta recipe for a picnic

Best Pasta Recipes:

Once you make this Cold Salad Recipe, I bet that your mind is going to want more easy pasta dishes. I’m with you on that so I’ve gathered up some of my favorite summer side pasta dishes to enjoy!

Check out this simple Tropical Pasta Salad Recipe!

This Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is so super simple to whip up!

I love the flavor of this Summer Pasta Salad!

This Broccoli Pasta Salad is really good and refreshing.

These Pasta Dinner Recipes are so delicious and easy!

I really enjoy the flavor of this Buffalo Style Pasta Salad.

Once scoop of this Bacon and Broccoli Salad Recipe will have you hooked.

pasta salad using elbow macaroni

Is pasta salad served hot or cold? 

Although some may view pasta salad as a side dish that can be served either hot or cold, it is usually eaten chilled.

It involves tossing cooked noodles with a variety of ingredients like vegetables, cheese, and a dressing before chilling the whole mix.

The combination of the room temperature ingredients combined with the cold noodles creates a wonderfully flavorful experience.

The cool temperatures also allow for all the components to shine separately yet come together in harmony.

Eating pasta salad cold allows each bite to be an individually unique experience as you taste all the different ingredients in one easy, crunchy bite!

Can I add other ingredients to this simple macaroni salad recipe? 

You can if you want! Some people add diced bell peppers (or a red bell pepper for a fun pop of color!) for a nice crunch. You can also add dill pickles or sweet pickles to take the flavor of this best macaroni salad and make it delicious. 

While any additions to this perfect summer side dish do change the classic recipe, that doesn’t make it a bad thing! Sometimes you just have a craving to take basic macaroni salad and add some of your favorite add-ins. Once you have the cooked pasta, you can prep and add other ingredients into a small bowl to mix and match. 

​Plus, don’t forget that you can easily add other types of seasonings as well. Adding garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and even a little bit of pickle juice to this classic macaroni salad is a great way to take a basic recipe and make it amazing!

And if you want a creamy pasta salad, you can get that perfect balance by adding a little bit of sour cream as well. No matter what you do, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser for everyone! 

When it is best to serve pasta salad?

Pasta salad is an incredibly versatile dish that can be served at any time of year, although it’s best enjoyed when the weather is warm.

For outdoor events during the spring or summer, a pasta salad can really be a hit: its combination of crunchy vegetables, zesty seasonings, and delicious cheese make it a thoroughly crowd-pleasing addition to the table.

It’s a great way to utilize leftovers, too; with just a few ingredients added to cold pasta (such as olives, pesto, or fresh herbs), you can easily create a delectable dish as part of an otherwise complex meal.

Whether you’re hosting a picnic in the park or an al fresco dinner at home, pasta salad makes for both a tasty and practical way to impress your guests!

What is the most common type of pasta to use in pasta salad?

One of the most used kinds of pasta in pasta salad is elbow macaroni. This curly, hollow-centered type of pasta provides a great vessel for sauce and other ingredients, and its shape makes it perfect for scooping up cooked vegetables, cheese, and dressing.

Elbow macaroni is quite versatile with different sauces because of its neutral taste, which allows for more creative flavor combinations for your pasta salad.

Additionally, elbow macaroni’s size promotes flexibility when pre-cooking; it holds up to both longer cooking times and shorter ones.

With just a few ingredients, you can create an amazing pasta salad with everyone’s favorite: elbow macaroni!

How do I know if I’ve overcooked pasta?

When it comes to pasta, there are certain indicators you can use to determine whether your noodles have been overcooked.

The most obvious indicator is that the noodles will be soft and floppy instead of firm and al dente. You may also notice that the pasta has lost its original shape, becoming squished or lumpy instead of being able to hold its shape.

Additionally, overcooked pasta will tend to fall apart while boiling or during stirring, as it has already become hydrated too much by the hot water.

To prevent overcooking, it’s important to follow instructions on the package closely and set a timer so you can test for doneness just in time.

How do you store leftover pasta salad?

You must be certain that you store the leftover pasta in the fridge. This will keep it nice, cold, and ready for when you want to eat it again.

More Macaroni Recipes:

easy macaroni salad recipe

Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This is the easiest pasta salad recipe, ever!


  • 16 ounces of Elbow Macaroni
  • ½ of Red Onion
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • ¼ cup of fresh Parsley
  • 1 Carrot
  • ¾ cup of Mayonnaise
  • 1 T Spicy Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


Cook the macaroni per the directions on the box. Drain, and rinse. Put in a large bowl and cool.

Chop up the onion, peppers, parsley, and carrot. Set aside.

Put in the chopped items plus the mayonnaise and mustard (and salt and pepper) to the macaroni. Mix. Put in the fridge to chill.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 224mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g

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