Really Good Macaroni Salad Recipe

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This really good macaroni salad recipe is one of my favorite recipes, thanks to a few special touches and unexpected ingredients. I think you’re going to love it too!

homemade macaroni salad with fresh dill sprig on top

You can save this recipe and use it when you need an easy dish for a party or when you are making a salad to take to someone who is sick or homebound. It feeds a lot of people on the cheap.!

The low cost of the ingredients isn’t the only thing I love about this salad. It also tastes really good, like REALLY good (hence the name). One bite, and you’ll agree that this is the perfect side dish.


Frequently Asked Questions about Macaroni Salad

Before we get to the macaroni salad recipe, here are some questions people often ask about it. If you don’t see your question in this list, please leave it in the comments.

Do you put egg in a macaroni salad?

Yes, I always include hard-boiled eggs in my pasta salad. They are a meat-free way to add some healthy protein. I also love how the texture complements the al dente macaroni noodles.

Why is my macaroni salad bland?

If you follow my recipe exactly, then it won’t be bland – I promise! Make sure you aren’t using too many macaroni noodles. A common problem with pasta salad is not adding enough dressing. You can also try salting the water while your noodles boil.

How do you keep mayonnaise from separating in macaroni salad?

The best way to prevent the dressing from separating from the pasta is to coat the macaroni noodles with a thin layer of olive oil first.

Let’s Make Macaroni Salad

So, I stumbled upon a photo of macaroni salad this morning and had an immediate craving. Shame on you, Pinterest. Normally I can subdue these cravings, but with thoughts of summer swirling in my head, the desire to whip up a batch of macaroni salad was too powerful to resist.

dressing being poured over cooked pasta


The secret to a really good macaroni salad is the ingredients. I have lots of special things that I put in my macaroni salad recipe.

Salad Ingredients

  • Elbow Macaroni – You can’t have macaroni salad without macaroni! But yes, you can totally make this recipe with another type of noodle – try it with bow-tie pasta.
  • Onion – I used white onion, but if you dice a red onion in tiny pieces, it will work too.
  • Celery – This adds a delightful crunch to the pasta salad.
  • Sweet Pickles – This is a sweet and sour salad, so use sweet pickles.
  • Eggs – Hard boil a bunch of eggs the day before and save yourself some time.
  • Olives – These are optional, but I love the tart flavor olives add to this sweet and tangy salad.
  • Dill – Fresh herbs taste the best, so use fresh dill.

Macaroni Salad Dressing

  • Mayonnaise – Don’t use Miracle Whip, only real mayo.
  • Sour Cream – Full-fat sour cream will give the richest flavor to the salad.
  • Dijon Mustard – This adds complexity to the dressing. If you like spice, add some spicy mustard too.
  • Pickle Juice – Use the same juice from the sweet pickles.
  • Sugar – White granulated sugar will mix in the best and give it the perfect balance of sweetness.
  • Salt & Pepper – Use just enough to enhance the other flavors in the salad.

Now that you know all of the ingredients, let’s whip some up!


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How to Make the Best Macaroni Salad Recipe

Believe it or not, I’ve never made macaroni salad before. That’s kind of weird, right? To be honest, I was actually intimidated to tackle this today.

I seem to fear staple recipes such as this that people have come to know and love. Everyone has their favorite way to make macaroni salad, and anything but their favorite is blasphemy.

My dad, for example, makes an amazing macaroni salad. It’s no-frills and swimming (in a really good way) in Miracle Whip. I love the stuff, as does the rest of my family. If you’re looking for a Miracle Whip-based macaroni salad recipe, you can find that HERE.

macaroni salad side dish on a table with fresh flowers in a pot

Now, without further adieu – here’s how to make this incredible macaroni salad:

  1. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions for al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water and set aside.
  2. For the dressing, in a medium-size bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, pickle juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, add the cooked macaroni, onion, celery, pickles, green olives, and dressing. Stir well to coat.
  4. Add the hard-boiled eggs and dill. Stir again to coat. Add extra salt or pepper to taste.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator or transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh dill before serving.
close up of pasta salad with boiled eggs and olive

How to Store Macaroni Salad

This salad tastes best when it is fresh. But, you can make it ahead of time if needed. Store your macaroni salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

What to Serve with Macaroni Salad

This recipe is the perfect companion to just about anything you make. It tastes delicious on the side with burgers, grilled hot dogs, pulled pork, or even with a simple deli sandwich.

That’s a Wrap on Really Good Macaroni Salad!

It really is that easy to make a macaroni salad that everyone raves about! I have a fondness for more traditional, old-fashioned macaroni salad made with real mayonnaise, which is what this recipe calls for.

However, there are a few more unique ingredients that, in my opinion, make this particular salad bold and special. Those ingredients include sweet pickle juice, sugar, and fresh dill. They really make all the difference. Trust me.

Initially, I thought about naming this recipe The Best Ever Macaroni Salad. However, that’s a lot of pressure for a salad. Instead, I decided on Really Good Macaroni Salad.

Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll agree. And then check out more of my favorite appetizer recipes HERE.

Really Good macaroni salad pinterest image


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macaroni salad in a bowl.

Really Good Macaroni Salad

This Really Good Macaroni Salad is one of my favorite recipes thanks to a few special touches and ingredients. I think you’re going to love it too!
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: macaroni salad, pasta, pasta salad, summer
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 633kcal




  • 6 cups elbow macaroni 1 lb box, cooked
  • 1/2 large white onion finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 5-6 sweet pickles finely chopped
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs chopped
  • 1 cup green olives pimento-stuffed, sliced in half
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped
  • Additional fresh dill for garnish


  • Begin by cooking the macaroni according to the package directions. Cook al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Set aside..
  • For the dressing, in a medium-size bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, pickle juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined.
  • In a large bowl, add the macaroni, onion, celery, pickles, green olives, and dressing. Stir well to coat. Then add the hard-boiled eggs and dill. Stir again to coat. Add extra salt or pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator or transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh dill before serving.



Calories: 633kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 845mg | Potassium: 333mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 433IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. This is definitely my go-to salad for get-togethers. I took some to my friends house and she loved it! So much so that I’m making it for he Labor Day picnic! I really think it’s the olives and dill ~ best ever! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow! This salad is incredible! My husband and I just ate two big bowlsful right after I made it and I don’t even care if it’s all I eat for dinner tonight. Yum!

  3. I made this salad for Father’s Day tomorrow and it looks great and I had to try it and it’s better then mine. I did add milk to keep it creamy and not dry out. And I added both dill and aweet pickles.
    Thank you so much for sharing ur recipe. I have to say I give it a 10!