Classic Macaroni Salad

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It’s a picnic must-have and tastes better when you make it ahead.
classic macaroni salad
Katherine Gillen

Is it really a backyard barbecue if there isn’t a massive bowl of cold pasta waiting to be paired with your burgers and hot dogs? We think not, so we’re making this classic macaroni salad on repeat this summer. In the spirit of all the most delicious side dishes, it actually tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge, so we highly recommend making it a day ahead of your picnic. (Pick up a bag of ice on your way to the park to keep it chilled, so you don’t let that mayonnaise sit out in the sun for too long.)


Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound elbow noodles

1 cup mayonnaise, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 bell pepper, finely diced

1 medium carrot, shredded

1 small red onion, finely diced, rinsed under cold water

Chopped fresh chives, to garnish


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta just shy of al dente, 6 to 7 minutes or according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and immediately rinse under cool water; set aside while you prepare the dressing.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add the cooled pasta to the bowl of dressing, along with the bell pepper, carrot and onion. Stir until everything is well coated, then cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. Before serving, taste the salad and adjust the seasoning and dressing as needed, adding more mayonnaise If the pasta seems dry.

Nutrition Facts
  • 350 calories

  • 20g fat

  • 36g carbs

  • 7g protein

  • 3g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...