Classic Macaroni Salad


This macaroni salad always gets lots of compliments. It's an easy recipe to make and has a pleasing taste that everyone seems to love!

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
10 mins
Additional Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 30 mins

This flavorful macaroni salad is easy to make and is the perfect crowd-pleasing dish to bring to your next picnic or potluck. 

How to Make Macaroni Salad

You'll find a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions in the recipe below, but let's go over the basics:

Macaroni Salad Ingredients

These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this macaroni salad recipe: 

  • Macaroni: Of course, you’ll need macaroni noodles!
  • Condiments: A creamy blend of mayonnaise and yellow mustard adds tons of flavor. 
  • Sugar and vinegar: White sugar adds a dose of sweetness, which is pleasantly balanced by white vinegar. 
  • Seasonings: This macaroni salad is simply seasoned with salt and ground black pepper. 
  • Vegetables: You’ll need celery, an onion, and a bell pepper. Grated carrots and pimento peppers are optional, but they add welcome flavor and color. 

How Do You Make Macaroni Salad? 

Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect when you make homemade macaroni salad: 

  1. Cook the macaroni in salted water. 
  2. Mix the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings together. 
  3. Stir in the macaroni and remaining ingredients. Chill in the refrigerator.

Can You Make Macaroni Salad Ahead of Time? 

Yes, macaroni salad makes a great make-ahead potluck dish. In fact, since the flavors need time to meld in the refrigerator, it might actually be better to make it a day or two in advance. 

How Long Does Macaroni Salad Last? 

This homemade macaroni salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. We don’t recommend freezing this recipe, as the noodles will likely become mushy after they are thawed. 

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

“This recipe is fantastic, I tasted it when I finished mixing,” says Sue Newman. “WOW, can't wait for it to get cold. I did make a couple of changesL I used celery salt instead of just salt and left the green pepper and pimento out.”

“Great flavor,” raves one Allrecipes community member. “I used cellentani pasta and only ⅓ cup sugar. Also used some garlic powder and did not use bell pepper or pimento. Perfect accompaniment to our BBQ.”

“This is a fantastic pasta salad,” according to Rebecca Timbers. “The only drawback is I have found is that now I am required to bring a big bowl to every family gathering no matter the season or holiday!”

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams


  • 4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • cup white sugar

  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar

  • 2 ½ tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  • ¼ cup grated carrot (Optional)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimento peppers (Optional)


  1. Gather all ingredients.

    Overhead of macaroni ingredients in various bowls and containers.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.

    Overhead of cooked macaroni resting in a colander.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  3. Mix mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and macaroni together in a large bowl.

    Overhead of macaroni being stirred in with a mayonnaise mixture in a bowl.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  4. Stir in celery, onion, green pepper, carrot, and pimentos.

    Overhead of macaroni salad being stirred in a bowl.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  5. Refrigerate salad for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.

    an overhead view of classic macaroni salad in a large serving bowl.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

390 Calories
19g Fat
49g Carbs
7g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10
Calories 390
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 529mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 13mg 66%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 134mg 3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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