Make this Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe as the perfect side dish for a cookout, party, or barbecue. You’ll love this creamy salad dressing mixed with tender elbow macaroni, cheese, peas, celery, bell peppers, and red onions, and it’s so easy to make!
Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe
When we need a quick and delicious side dish for a cookout, picnic, or to go with a dinner of hamburgers or BBQ, I go for Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe. It is super fast to put together and nothing beats fresh, homemade macaroni salad!
Here’s what you’ll need to make the Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe (the exact measurements and full recipe instructions are below in the printable recipe card):
- Elbow macaroni
- Cheddar cheese
- Red onion
- Red bell pepper
- Frozen peas
For the dressing:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Fresh dill
- Granulated sugar
- Dijon mustard
How to Make Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe
Start by whisking together the ingredients for the dressing, then cover and chill in the refrigerator while you move on to the next steps. I do this first so it has time for the flavors to meld and also because the sugar needs a chance to melt into the dressing.
Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions, just until al dente. Pour the cooked macaroni into a colander to drain, then immediately rinse with cold water. The cold water will stop the cooking and cool down the pasta quickly to help prevent it from sticking together.
In a large bow, combine the cooked elbow macaroni, cubed cheddar cheese, red onion, celery, red bell pepper, and the peas.
Pour the dressing over the pasta salad.
Toss the macaroni salad together until everything is well coated in the dressing.
You can serve the macaroni salad right away! If you won’t be serving immediately, cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad until you’re ready to eat.
There may be some ingredients that you don’t prefer or different preparation methods you’d like better. The great thing about this Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe is that you can customize it to make it your own! Here are some ideas:
- Different pasta – you may wish to use a different type of pasta, such as bowtie, penne, or rotini.
- No dill – some people do not enjoy the flavor of fresh dill, so you can easily leave out this ingredient.
- Mince or dice – when making this salad, you can see we roughly diced the red onion, bell pepper, and celery. This is because we enjoy the slightly larger pieces. But if you like the vegetables to be smaller, you’ll want to mince them into very small pieces. Either way is delicious!
- Add eggs – many people love hard boiled eggs in their pasta salad. Just hard boil the eggs, peel, chop, then add to the salad.
- No peas – some people love peas, some people don’t. This ingredient can easily be left out if you prefer.
- Apple cider vinegar – not everyone likes the flavor of apple cider vinegar. You can instead use white vinegar or leave out the vinegar altogether. If you choose to not use any vinegar, you may want to add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream.
How to Store the Leftovers
Due to the mayonnaise in the dressing, be sure to keep the leftover macaroni salad chilled. Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days. Serve the salad cold.
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Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese cubed
- 1/2 red onion peeled and minced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Cover and refrigerate while you move on to the next steps.
- Boil the elbow macaroni according to the package directions just until al dente. Pour the macaroni into a colander to drain and immediately rinse with cold water to cool down the macaroni and prevent it from sticking.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together the cooked macaroni, cubed cheddar cheese, minced red onion, diced celery, diced red bell pepper, and the thawed peas.
- Whisk the dressing well, then pour it over the macaroni salad; toss to combine.
- Serve immediately or keep chilled until serving.