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EASY Macaroni Salad (just 20 minutes!)


Easy macaroni salad filled with noodles, veggies, bacon and cheese. Then tossed in a creamy and tangy dressing that’s full of flavor. This recipe will become one of your potluck favorites!

Macaroni salad is one of my top things to bring to a BBQ. It’s simple, fast and has so much flavor. Some of my other favorites are cornbread salad, broccoli salad with baconfruit salad and cucumber tomato salad.

macaroni salad in a wooden bowl with a spoon

Macaroni salad is a classic side dish for potlucks and BBQ’s during the summer time. It’s one of those sides that you can almost always bet someone will bring and is definitely a crowd favorite. Adding the additional bacon and cheese to the macaroni salad adds such great flavor! You could even sub ham for bacon if you’d like. It’s the great way to use up leftover ham from Easter or other holidays. Yum!

Dressing

The dressing is my favorite part about this recipe. It’s super simple to make and has great flavor. Plus it’s perfectly creamy with a small bit of tang. Below are the ingredients (amounts included in printable recipe below).

  • Mayo
  • White vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Dijon mustard

making dressing for macaroni salad

How to make macaroni salad

Scroll down for the printable recipe.

  1. Cook noodles. Cook the elbow noodles according to directions, then drain under cold water.
  2. Whisk together dressing. While noodles are cooking, whisk together the dressing ingredients. S&P to taste.
  3. Stir and serve! Place noodles, bell pepper, celery, onion and bacon in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over and toss until combined. Top with fresh parsley or dill if desired.

TIP: Feel free to add in extras like eggs or peas. I also love to top it with fresh parsley or dill too. Yum!

Making in advance

This recipe can easily be made ahead of time. I love to make it the day before and let the flavors marinate together in the fridge overnight. However I do abandon out the bacon if chilling overnight. I’ll add it in right before serving so that it stays kind and crisp.

How to keep it moist

It’s important to make sure your macaroni salad stays moist. No one wants a dry salad where the macaroni has absorbed the mayonnaise dressing! If you’re making it ahead of time, I’d recommend making a small more dressing to have on hand. That way, you can add some in the next day before serving. The extra dressing will keep it moist and delicious!

pouring dressing over macaroni salad ingredients

How long does it last?

It will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 to 5 days in an airtight container. After serving, just make sure you immediately put it back in the fridge to chill. The mayonnaise base can spoil quickly if left out. I prefer to eat within the first few days of making.

Favorites to serve with

Macaroni salad tastes delicious served with any of the following:

bowl of macaroni salad

Other simple pasta salads:

macaroni salad

Course: Salad

Cuisine: American

Keyword: macaroni salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 10

Calories: 325

Easy macaroni salad filled with noodles, veggies, bacon and cheese. Then tossed in a creamy and tangy dressing that’s full of flavor. This recipe will become one of your potluck favorites!

  • 12 ounces uncooked elbow noodles
  • 1 red bell pepper , chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 6 pieces bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2-1 cup cheddar cheese , shredded or cubed

Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar , or cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard

Fresh parsley or dill, optional

  • Cook the elbow noodles according to package directions. Drain under cold water. 

  • While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, sugar, relish and mustard. Salt and pepper to taste.

  • Place the noodles, bell pepper, celery, onion and bacon in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over and toss until combined. Top with fresh parsley or dill if desired.

Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 265mg | Potassium: 146mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 500IU | Vitamin C: 15.3mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 0.7mg

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meet Jamielyn Nye

Jamielyn Nye is the creative director and founder of I Heart Naptime. She is also the author of the I Heart Naptime Cookbook. When she’s not creating in the kitchen, Jamielyn loves to chase her four small monkeys and snuggle up on the couch with her man.

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