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Elbow macaroni salad

How to Make Homestyle Elbow Macaroni Salad

This ridiculously good homemade elbow macaroni salad is a crowd-pleaser side dish any time of the year.
4.8 from 4 votes


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
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Light dusting of freshly ground black pepper for garnish


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.




  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.