This homemade elbow macaroni salad is a comfort food side dish that can be served any time of the year.

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad in bowl

Whenever there’s a variety of cold salads to choose from like at a deli, before I know it my eyes have already scanned the options and locked on to the macaroni salad.

It’s generally always my first choice.

Macaroni salad tastes so good as a snack or side dish.

It’s also great with grilled meat, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, sliders or comfort food such as fried chicken.

I especially like that macaroni salad can be made ahead of time for parties or get-togethers.

And it’s perfect to add to a packed lunch for work if there’s a fridge to store lunch in.

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad on fork

About this Recipe

The dressing in this salad is made with mayonnaise, white vinegar and sugar.

When mixed together, these 3 ingredients add a light tangy sweet taste, as well as a nice consistency to the overall salad.

Tips for Making this Macaroni Salad:

  1. Cook the macaroni to al dente (firm to the bite).  It adds so much texture to the salad and leftovers last nicely in the refrigerator.
  2. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours before serving.  It tastes even better when the flavors have time to blend together.
  3. Just before serving, gently stir the salad just in case some of the dressing may have settled at the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Don’t be shy with the saltJust enough salt makes all the difference in the world and really brings out the flavors.

More side dishes made with pasta you my like “Salami Caprese Pasta Salad with Balsamic Dressing“, “Easy Macaroni and Cheese with Cavatappi  Pasta” and “Green Chili Macaroni and Cheese“.

Let’s check out the ingredients.

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad ingredients

Macaroni Salad – elbow macaroni, celery (including some of the leafy parts), onion, sweet pickles, red bell pepper, fresh parsley (curly or flat leaf), salt, pepper and dressing

Dressing – mayonnaise, white vinegar, prepared yellow mustard, granulated sugar, salt and pepper

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

A printable recipe with the measurements and instructions is located at the bottom of this post.

For the Pasta:

Add salt to boiling water in pot

In a medium to large size pot, add water to about 2/3’s full and bring it to a boil.

To the boiling water, add salt.

Add elbow macaroni to boiling water

Then carefully add the pasta.

Stir pasta in pot of water

Give the pasta a quick stir so that it’s evenly distributed in the pot.

Cooking pasta in boiling water in pot

As the pasta cooks, stir the pasta again to make sure it’s not sticking together.

Drained pasta in colander

Cook the pasta to al dente (according to the package instructions; about 7 to 10 minutes) and drain it in a strainer.

Rinse the pasta and let it cool completely.

For the Macaroni Salad:

Chopped sweet pickles on cutting board

While the pasta is cooling, chop the sweet pickles,

Chopped onions on cutting board

onion,

Chopped celery on cutting board

celery,

Chopped red bell pepper on cutting board

red bell pepper, and

Chopped parsley on cutting board

parsley (including the some of the stem).

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad ingredients

To a large mixing bowl, add the cooled pasta, sweet pickles, celery, red bell pepper, onion and parsley.

Set aside for a moment.

For the Dressing:

Dressing ingredients for macaroni salad

In a medium size bowl, add the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.

Add mustard to dressing in bowl

Don’t be like me and forget to add the mustard.

Stir dressing for macaroni salad

Whisk together…

Dressing for macaroni salad in bowl

…until incorporated.

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad ingredients

Add the dressing to the large mixing bowl.

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad ingredients

With a large spoon…

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad in bowl

…mix until the pasta is coated with the dressing.

Do a taste test and add more salt if needed.

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad in bowl

Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more before serving.

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad in bowl

Just before serving, garnish with a light dusting of freshly ground pepper and a sprig of parsley.

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad in bowl

Then,

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad in bowl

it’s time to…

Homemade Elbow Macaroni Salad on fork

…dig in and enjoy.

Thank you so much for stopping by CCC!

More side dishes that are served chilled you may like:

Easy Potato Salad with Egg

Crispy Apple, Raisin and Walnut Salad

Simple Coleslaw

Cherry, Pineapple and Mandarin Orange Ambrosia

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Elbow macaroni salad

Homestyle Elbow Macaroni Salad

This homemade elbow macaroni salad is a crowd-pleaser side dish any time of the year.
4.7 from 6 votes

Ingredients

For the Elbow Macaroni:

  • 2 cups dry elbow macaroni
  • 3 dashes salt

For the Dressing:

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (heaping) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Macaroni Salad:

  • 3/4 cup chopped celery (including some of the leafy parts)
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet pickles
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion white or yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley curly or flat leaf (including some of the stem)
  • Dressing

For the Garnish:

  • Light dusting of freshly ground black pepper for garnish
  • 1 small sprig of parsley for garnish

Instructions

For the Elbow Macaroni:

  • In a medium to large size pot, add water (2/3's full).
  • Bring the water to a boil and add salt.
  • Add the elbow macaroni and stir. Cook until al dente (according to the package instructions; normally about 7 to 10 minutes).
  • Drain it in a strainer. Rinse the pasta and let it cool completely.

For the Dressing:

  • In a medium size bowl, add the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Whisk together until incorporated. Set aside.

For the Macaroni Salad:

  • In a large mixing bowl, add the cooled pasta, celery, red bell pepper, sweet pickles, onion, parsley and dressing.
  • Mix together until the pasta is completely coated with the dressing. Do a taste test and add more salt if needed.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Just before serving, stir the salad and garnish with a light dusting of freshly ground pepper and a sprig of parsley.

Video

Notes

TIPS:

  1. Cook the macaroni to al dente (firm to the bite).  It adds so much texture to the salad and leftovers last nicely in the refrigerator.
  2. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours before serving; it tastes even better when the flavors have time to blend together.
  3. Just before serving, gently stir the salad just in case some of the dressing may have settled at the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Don't be shy with the salt.  Just enough salt makes all the difference in the world and really brings out the flavors.