Macaroni salad is a classic recipe for barbecues and picnics. This macaroni salad recipe is by far the best ever and will be a hit wherever you bring it!
Our macaroni salad is made with mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and bacon. It’s always the first side dish to go when we take it to a potluck. I like to serve it with slow cooked pork ribs and lemon cake mix cookies or peanut butter cookies!
I love this macaroni salad recipe with fresh ripe cherry tomatoes and green onions, but if you have kids (like mine) who squawk at those ingredients, you can skip them!
What goes in macaroni salad
- Elbow macaroni – Technically you can use any type of pasta, but traditionally macaroni salad calls for elbow macaroni. The nice thing about elbow macaroni is that it has all those nooks and crannies to hide the dressing and make every bite flavorful.
- Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise is the base so your macaroni salad is super creamy and delicious. Please do not substitute Miracle Whip, it is not the same!
- Dijon mustard – This adds a great tang and high note, also a little more creaminess.
- Crumbled bacon – Salty, smoked, and adds perfect texture!
- Cherry tomatoes – I love the sweetness of tomatoes for this macaroni salad, but my kids are super anti-tomato, so if I’m making it with them in mind, I’ll skip the tomatoes. But it makes me sad.
- Lemon juice – Brightens the whole thing up!
- Garlic salt – I’m almost sure that garlic salt is good on everything. Literally everything.
- Green onion – For a pop of color and flavor!
What is good to eat with macaroni salad?
Macaroni salad is traditionally served at picnics, potlucks, and barbecues. For a picnic I like a good roast beef sandwich and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. At a potluck the chili dog casserole is always a hit, and for barbecue definitely ribs. Apple cider ribs maybe. Mmmmm.
Can you freeze macaroni salad?
Do not freeze macaroni salad. Freezing macaroni salad will make the pasta mushy and unappealing in texture. The nice thing about macaroni salad is that it’s easy to make and comes together quickly, so there’s really no good reason to freeze it.
More delicious pasta recipes
- Chicken Pasta Puttanesca Soup – Absolutely one of my favorites. So fresh and bright.
- Easy Chili Mac and Cheese – Deeply comforting food. Perfect for a cool evening.
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese – Delicious and so creamy.
- Curried Mac and Cheese – Love this one with broccoli!
Macaroni Salad making tools
- Large salad bowl – This raspberry colored serving bowl is everything. I want to serve everything in it this summer. Everyone needs a good large bowl. Or twelve.
- Serving spoon set – I inherited some large stainless steel serving spoons from my grandparents (you can see them in this post!) and they’re my absolute favorite. Everyone should have a set.
- Measuring cups and spoons – If you’re going to have some great stainless steel serving spoons, you definitely ought to have the matching measuring cups to go with it.
How to Make Macaroni Salad
- 1 pound elbow macaroni prepared and cooled (I used Barrila® elbow pasta)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup stone ground dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
- 1 cup diced tomatoes I used cherry tomatoes
- 2 strips thick cut bacon crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
- 4 tablespoons green onion chopped
- In a small bowl, mix the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic salt together.
- Pour over macaroni and stir until everything is coated.
- Add tomatoes, bacon, and green onion. Toss to incorporate.
originally published 3-21-16