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This classic macaroni salad is a summer staple! This bright salad has a delicious tangy and sweet creamy dressing. This recipe is a great base for adding in your favorite extras!

creamy macaroni salad in a teal bowl with wooden salad utensils

Pasta salads is what summer is all about! My version of this traditional recipe has a mayo-based dressing that’s lightened up a bit with the addition of sour cream (or use Greek yogurt), and I also included plenty of fresh veggies to liven it up. The addition of fresh parsley to the dressing gives it a nice fresh herb flavor. It’s still every bit as creamy and delicious as the one you may remember from your childhood.

creamy macaroni salad in a clear glass serving bowl

This summer macaroni salad is perfect for potlucks, BBQs, picnics, etc. I like it as a side dish, but you can also make it the star of the show.

The best part of this salad is that it’s easily customizable if you do want to add more. The recipe is vegetarian as written, but you can definitely add some meat to this easy macaroni salad.

close-up of creamy macaroni salad in a teal bowl

Macaroni salad ingredients:

  • Macaroni
  • Red pepper
  • Green pepper
  • Red onion
  • Celery
  • A sweet and tangy dressing

I kept this salad pretty simple – it’s good as-is or you can add other ingredients such as:

  • Cheese (cheddar cubes are always a hit)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Meat e.g. ham or salami
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Whatever you like! This salad is very adaptable.

Want to spice up the dressing? Add a 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle chili pepper to give it a smoky southwest flavor.

Love easy pasta salads? Try my chicken bacon ranch pasta salad, my balsamic caprese pasta salad or my Mexican street corn pasta salad.

creamy vegetarian macaroni salad in a teal bowl

Do you make macaroni salad every summer? What kinds of things do you include in it? Talk to me in the comments below! 🙂

This classic macaroni salad is super easy to make! It's the best old fashioned creamy potluck salad. It has a vegetarian base that's perfect for adding extra protein if needed.
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Classic Macaroni Salad

This classic macaroni salad is a summer staple! This bright salad has a delicious tangy and sweet creamy dressing. This recipe is a great base for adding in your favorite extras!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 pound (16 oz.) uncooked macaroni
  • 1/2 medium red onion chopped finely
  • 3 sticks celery chopped finely
  • 1/2 green bell pepper chopped finely
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped finely


  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Boil a large, salted pot of water for the pasta, and cook it al dente according to package directions. Once cooked, rinse with cold water and drain thoroughly.
  • Meanwhile, chop all your veggies and add them to a large bowl.
  • Add the salad dressing ingredients to a medium bowl and stir thoroughly until combined (and make sure the sugar dissolves). Give it a taste and adjust if needed (e.g. more vinegar). 
  • Add the cooked macaroni to the large bowl, along with the dressing. Toss until everything is combined. Season as needed (I am generous with the salt & pepper - this is a lot of pasta). Salad can be made ahead, just be sure to seal it tightly so the dressing doesn't dry out. Salad can be refrigerated for a few days. 


  • This salad is great by itself or with other additions. The recipe post has some tips on what else you can add and how to spice up the dressing (if you want to). 
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.


Calories: 461kcal, Carbohydrates: 61g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 151mg, Potassium: 286mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 855IU, Vitamin C: 35mg, Calcium: 45mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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  1. Rishi Kumar says:

    i always love food

  2. Karen McKeon says:

    I sometimes make a cold pasta salad and add tuna for a quick simmer lunch or dinner. I recently made it with Lemon, Sesame, Ginger tuna NY Starkist. It added a great flavor to the mayo and dry Italian dressing I used for seasoning.

    1. Natasha says:

      That sounds really yummy!

  3. Karly says:

    I love this classic macaroni salad! Looks amazing!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks, Karly!! 🙂