Rating: 4.78 stars
365 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 308
  • 4 star values: 42
  • 3 star values: 10
  • 2 star values: 3
  • 1 star values: 2

Whether it's sitting next to some smoky ribs or just a humble hot dog, this deli-style macaroni salad will always be a crowd favorite, as long as you pay attention to a few key details.

Recipe Summary

prep:
20 mins
cook:
8 mins
additional:
4 hrs 5 mins
total:
4 hrs 33 mins
Servings:
12
Yield:
12 servings
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Ingredients

12
Original recipe yields 12 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Whisk 1 cup mayonnaise, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl until well blended; whisk in sugar. Stir in celery, red bell pepper, carrot, onions, and jalapeno and poblano peppers. Refrigerate until macaroni is ready to dress.

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  • Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain but do not rinse. Allow macaroni to drain in a colander about 5 minutes, shaking out moisture from time to time. Pour macaroni into large bowl; toss to separate and cool to room temperature. Macaroni should be sticky.

  • Pour dressing over macaroni and stir until dressing is evenly distributed. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or, ideally, overnight to allow dressing to absorb into the macaroni.

  • Stir salad before serving. Mix 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon water into salad for fresher look.

Chef's Notes:

You can use the tops of the green onions to chop up and use as a garnish.

Nutrition Facts

295 calories; protein 5.4g; carbohydrates 32g; fat 16.1g; cholesterol 7.4mg; sodium 508.1mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (266)

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
06/21/2015
Chef John, you never disappoint! In my opinion, this is one of the best macaroni salads I've ever tasted. My favorite part is the addition of the jalapeno and poblano peppers. Don't be scared to use them. They don't make the macaroni spicy, rather they give it a whole other level of flavor. Your guests will ask what you put in it. You can definitely taste the flavor of the peppers, but not the heat. The only issue I had was that I had to add way more mayo and water than called for before serving, otherwise it was too dry. A keeper! Read More
(104)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 2 stars
06/18/2018
I made this as written. This is the first Chef John recipe that we didn't care for. I made this for Father's Day, and sadly, it didn't go over well. My husband said it needed more dressing, and he didn't care for the peppers in it. I'm fairly sensitive to heat from peppers, and I did not find this to be too spicy. I made another quarter recipe of dressing to add to the salad for leftovers. Read More
(9)
365 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 308
  • 4 star values: 42
  • 3 star values: 10
  • 2 star values: 3
  • 1 star values: 2
Rating: 5 stars
06/21/2015
Chef John, you never disappoint! In my opinion, this is one of the best macaroni salads I've ever tasted. My favorite part is the addition of the jalapeno and poblano peppers. Don't be scared to use them. They don't make the macaroni spicy, rather they give it a whole other level of flavor. Your guests will ask what you put in it. You can definitely taste the flavor of the peppers, but not the heat. The only issue I had was that I had to add way more mayo and water than called for before serving, otherwise it was too dry. A keeper! Read More
(104)
Rating: 5 stars
01/15/2016
Today's email contained an allrecipes.com announcment that this recipe is The Most Viewed New Recipe in 2015. Way to go Chef! I've made this recipe 3x, as written. Excellent each time. Like so many of your recipes, I've learned to pay attention to your instructions and let you teach me why you do things in a certain order, etc. Very helpful. Read More
(39)
Rating: 5 stars
12/14/2015
I sauteed the onions in little butter until they slightly browned over low heat. Then I add the bell peppers, jalapeno and poblano peppers, continuing to cook over low heat until tender and tasty. Make sure to get all the seeds out of the peppers or it will be really hot. Follow the recipe as stated otherwise. Omit the Cayenne pepper as their is plenty of heat in this one already. Cubed cheese goes well in this also. Read More
(34)
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Rating: 5 stars
12/03/2015
This was possibly the best macaroni salad I have ever had, and I made it. Mind blown. The peppers give it a little spice, so if you are serving it to anyone sensitive to spice, you might want to just use bell peppers. That being said, the spice is really not much and it compliments all the other flavors perfectly. This will be my staple mac salad for some time. Read More
(14)
Rating: 5 stars
06/02/2016
Delicious pasta salad!! The best I've ever had! Usually pasta salads are a bit bland, but this recipe has great texture, great crunch and wonderful flavor. The bit of heat from the peppers, along with the crunchiness of the other veggies makes it super delicious. Truth be told, I didn't read the entire recipe before I made it, so I made it for dinner - right before dinner. It was warm - and I did not let it sit for 4 hours. Family was hungry. It was still fabulous! I would serve cold or warm. Very, Very good. My sweet little family RAVED about it. Chalk one up for mom :) Made it with grill asparagus and honey BBQ chicken. Yowza Read More
(13)
Rating: 5 stars
05/24/2017
I confess this is the first macaroni salad I have ever made, but we loved it! I really don't like to see when people rate a recipe on here when they have changed so many ingredients but I must admit my husband forgot to buy green onion so I did have to substitute vidalia onion since it was too late to send him back out to the store. Other than that, everything else was exact. We didn't find the salad too spicy at all. It was delicious and with just the 2 of us we have been eating it every day with meals or even as a snack. I think next time I might add 50% more veggies but I am definitely making this again and again. Delicious! And when I add those green onions next time I know it will be even better. Thanks for a wonderfully delicious and easy macaroni salad. Read More
(13)
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Rating: 5 stars
08/30/2015
Zippy, tasty, tangy. No changes Read More
(12)
Rating: 5 stars
08/13/2015
So I made this huge side for a lake party I went to and everyone was very pleased with how it turned out. I thought at first the poblano and jalapeño would be too much for the wimps there but it turned out to be perfect! I'm making it again for an end of summer bbq pool party. My friend said to add spinach next time because that's what she did to her plate but I'll leave the greens out on this one. Read More
(11)
Rating: 4 stars
06/22/2015
I guess even one tablespoon sugar was a bit much for us. Next time maybe just a pinch. But I liked the technique (making sure the pasta was completely drained and sticky to the touch before dressing), so will play around with this one. Read More
(11)
Rating: 2 stars
06/18/2018
I made this as written. This is the first Chef John recipe that we didn't care for. I made this for Father's Day, and sadly, it didn't go over well. My husband said it needed more dressing, and he didn't care for the peppers in it. I'm fairly sensitive to heat from peppers, and I did not find this to be too spicy. I made another quarter recipe of dressing to add to the salad for leftovers. Read More
(9)