Blow that deli macaroni salad out of the water in every way. Great taste from fresh ingredients with these easy step by step photo instructions.
Editor’s Note: Originally Published May 25, 2014. Updated with expanded discussion and updated photos.
Classic homemade macaroni salad is a crowd-pleaser at every cookout, potluck, picnic, and any family gathering. But the deli version is just OK, not bad but not outstanding. You and your family deserve outstanding.
Anybody can buy the macaroni salad but take up a few notches and show up with your version. And as a bonus, you will know what’s in it.
A nice medium 4. I won’t be doing it often since it makes too much for two. But it is a solid side dish.
Pro Tips: Homemade Macaroni Salad
I looked around a lot. I read a lot of recipes but just ended up just combining several. I don’t think you can go wrong making macaroni salad.
This is a basic recipe. Add or subtract what you want. Cook some pasta, make a mayonnaise-based sauce, and put in what you like. It is that simple.
My main problem was trying to make it “cooking for two” friendly. I finally decided that it just wasn’t happening for me. I wanted the pepper in the recipe (my taste).
Otherwise, you can cut this recipe in half and make it more “cooking for two.” I decided I was mainly going to use it for gatherings and holiday cooking, so I’m ok with the eight servings.
Other Picnic Dishes
This is an easy recipe to cut in half. I use it for gatherings, so this is 8 servings.
Cook 2 cups pasta according to package directions. A one-pound box of pasta is generally 4 cups.
In a large bowl mix 1 cup mayonnaise (regular or low-fat), three tablespoons milk, two tablespoon vinegar, one tablespoon mustard, 1-2 teaspoon sugar to taste, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Finely chop one small or 1/2 medium red onion, two stalks celery and one pepper (red or green).
Mix pasta with the dressing, veggies and 1 cup of shredded mild cheddar cheese. Refrigerate for a few hours to blend flavors.
Homemade Macaroni Salad
- 2 cups pasta - 8 oz.
- 1 cup mayonnaise - regular or low-fat
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1-2 teaspoon sugar - to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 red onion - small or 1/2 medium
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 pepper - red or green
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Cook 2 cups pasta according to package directions. A one pound box of pasta is generally 4 cups.
- In a large bowl mix 1 cup mayonnaise (regular or low-fat), three tablespoons milk, two tablespoon vinegar, one tablespoon mustard, 1-2 teaspoon sugar to taste, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Finely chop one small or 1/2 medium red onion, two stalks celery and one pepper (red or green)
- Mix pasta with the dressing, veggies and 1 cup of shredded mild cheddar cheese. Refrigerate for a few hours to blend flavors.
- This is a very easy recipe to cut in half or double, but since I mainly use this for gatherings, this is the amount I commonly make. It also uses the full pepper.
- Use low-fat mayo if you want.
- A one-pound box of macaroni is 4 cups dry pasta.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days but will not freeze well.
- Tastes better if it spends a few hours in the refrigerator after mixing.
- This one of those dishes that can lead to food poisoning. Please obey the food safety rules. See Summer Food Safety if you have questions.
Nutrition is generally for one serving. Number of servings is stated above and is my estimate of normal serving size for this recipe.
All nutritional information are estimates and may vary from your actual results. This is home cooking, and there are many variables. To taste ingredients such as salt will be my estimate of the average used.
Originally Published May 25, 2014.