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This easy macaroni salad is a potluck superstar! It’s creamy and flavorful with peas, carrots, and celery added in for some extra color and crunch. Each bite is a dream!

If you’re ever unsure of what to make for a summer potluck, pasta salads are the answer! They’re so easy to mix up and everybody loves ‘em. A few great recipes to add to the lineup: Greek broccoli pasta salad, shrimp pasta salad, or BLT avocado pasta salad!

Closeup of easy macaroni salad in a serving bowl.

Quick and Easy Macaroni Salad

Alright, listen up! I’m here to give you the inside scoop on the most delicious and fuss-free macaroni salad ever! This salad is so easy to whip up, you’ll be the potluck hero in no time. It’s made with tender elbow macaroni, shredded carrots, diced celery, sweet peas, and chopped green onions, all partying together in one big bowl. The texture is to die for!

But wait, it gets even better! The secret sauce that ties this whole thing together is a creamy, tangy dressing that will have you coming back for seconds and thirds. You just mix some mayo, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder together, but the combination is so wonderful! The magic is in the dressing, folks! It’s what takes this macaroni salad from good to great.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Mix all these awesome ingredients together, and you’ve got yourself a killer macaroni salad that’s bursting with flavors and textures. It’s the perfect side dish for any occasion, and trust me, everyone will be begging for more!

  • Elbow Macaroni: The main ingredient! These little pasta tubes are the heart and soul of our macaroni salad. They’re chewy and satisfying, holding all the flavors together.
  • Shredded Carrots: These bright orange veggies add color and a hint of sweetness to the salad. They also give it a nice crunch.
  • Finely Diced Celery: Don’t underestimate the power of celery! It brings a fresh and crunchy vibe to the mix, balancing out the creamy goodness.
  • Fresh or Frozen Peas: Green goodness alert! Whether fresh or frozen, peas add a touch of sweetness and freshness that make the salad pop.
  • Green Onions: Bring a mild onion flavor and a splash of green color to keep things interesting.
  • Mayonnaise: The creamy star of our dressing! This rich and velvety ingredient is what makes the macaroni salad so creamy and irresistible.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: The tangy kick! This vinegar adds a tangy punch that keeps things lively and stops the salad from being too heavy.
  • Brown Sugar: A pinch of brown sugar adds a subtle sweetness that makes the dressing addictive.
  • Salt: Just a little salt makes everything taste better and brings out the best in each ingredient.
  • Black Pepper: The spicy touch! A dash of black pepper adds a bit of kick to the dressing. Adjust to taste.
  • Garlic Powder: Garlic powder adds a delicious savory flavor that makes this easy macaroni salad extra tasty.

Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe

It only takes 20 minutes to make this easy macaroni salad, so it’s perfect for when you’re on the go! This is definitely one of my go-to recipes for the summer and beyond.

  1. Cook Pasta: Cook your pasta according to the package directions, rinse in cold water, and place the fridge until it has completely cooled.
  2. Prep Veggies: Prepare your carrots, celery, peas, and green onion. Toss them together into a large bowl.
  3. Dressing Mixture: In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic. Then whisk to combine. Taste the dressing and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Combine: Once your pasta has cooled, add it to the bowl with the veggies and toss to mix together. Then pour your dressing over the pasta mixture and toss to coat everything completely.
  5. Serve or Store: You can serve it fresh or cover it and allow it to rest in the fridge for a few hours before serving. I recommend this method to allow all the flavors to meld together.
4-photo collage of the veggies, noodles, and dressing being added to a bowl.

Tips and Variations

You know what’s awesome about this easy macaroni salad? You can totally make it your own! Check out these extra tips to level up the salad and give it your own personal touch:

  • Add More Veggies: Don’t be shy to mix and match veggies! Go wild with bell peppers, cucumbers, or cherry tomatoes. The more colors, the better!
  • Make it Meaty: Wanna turn this salad into a full-on meal? Toss in some cooked chicken, ham, or crispy bacon.
  • Add Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle in some chopped herbs like parsley, dill, or cilantro. It’ll give the salad a fancy twist and make it taste gourmet.
  • Pick Your Pasta: While elbow macaroni is traditional, you can try different pasta shapes like bowtie, penne, or rotini. Each shape holds the dressing differently, adding a unique touch to the salad.
  • Chill: Letting the salad rest in the fridge for a few hours (or even overnight) allows the flavors to meld together and intensify. It’ll be even more tasty when you serve it.
Top-down view of macaroni salad in a wooden bowl.

Storing Leftovers

Make this recipe ahead of time and store it for an even more convenient side dish.  Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. And if you still have leftovers of this easy macaroni salad, it makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.

In the Refrigerator: Store in an airtight container or resealable bag for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

Pasta salad in a serving bowl.

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Easy Macaroni Salad

By: Alyssa Rivers
This easy macaroni salad is a potluck superstar! It's creamy and flavorful with peas, carrots, and celery added in for some extra color and crunch. Each bite is a dream!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients 

Macaroni Salad:

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, if using frozen thaw before use
  • ½ cup green onion, chopped

Dressing:

Instructions 

Macaroni Salad:

  • Cook your pasta according to the package directions, rinse in cold water, and place the fridge until it has completely cooled.
  • Prepare your carrots, celery, peas, and green onion. Toss them together into a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic. Whisk to combine. Taste the dressing and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Once your pasta has cooled, add it to the bowl with the veggies and toss to mix together. Pour your dressing over the pasta mixture and toss to coat everything completely.
  • You can serve it fresh or cover it and allow it to rest in the fridge for a few hours before serving. I recommend this method to allow all the flavors to marinate together.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 438kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 9gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 13gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 487mgPotassium: 260mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 2774IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!
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About Alyssa Rivers

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Alyssa Rivers and the food blogger behind The Recipe Critic. The blog launched in 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family. Each recipe is tried and true, family-tested and approved.

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