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!

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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Course: Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: macaroni salad, pasta, pasta salad, summer
Servings: 8 people
Prep Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
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!


  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons sweet pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 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.


Nutrition Facts

Calories: 633kcalCarbohydrates: 86gProtein: 18gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 845mgPotassium: 333mgFiber: 4gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 433IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 2mg
Made it? Share it!Tag @inspiredbycharm on Instagram and use the tag #myIBC so we can see what you’re cooking in the kitchen!
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  • Helen R. at

    My momma used to add small pieces of diced cheese to her macaroni salad and if she was feeling a little adventurous would add chunk tuna as well. My brother was asking me about this same salad recently. Maybe I should make some up and take it over to him as a surprise.

  • Nadine at

    Thanks, I was looking for a macaroni salad that was using the pickle juice as one of my friends made one like that and I love it. So I did yours and It was a big winner….Yeah Iv’e got a good macaroni salad!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Fabulous Nadine! So happy to hear that!

      xo Michael

  • Marybeth B. at

    Looking forward to trying this recipe! I feel the same way about potato salad as you do macaroni salad. Total intimidation! I did find one I liked by Emeril Lagasse that is now my go to recipe… and it has bacon in it! Anyway… I’m going to try this recipe for macaroni salad for something different! Thanks for sharing this recipe. 🙂

  • Mackenzie F. at

    I was inspired by YOU and made your macaroni salad last night. It was SCRUMPTIOUS, and I gave some to my very grateful neighbors since I had so much. Thanks for sharing your recipe! This was my first time making macaroni salad and it tasted ‘Really Good’. 🙂

  • Leslie W at

    Hey Baby! Nice to see you are back! Unpack those bags from your guilt trip – the universe does not revolve around you & we will take you (& support you) as you are. We all have our ups & downs so guess what – you are allowed! Hang in!

  • Gwen, The Makerista at

    We all need a break once in a while. Pasta salad is one of my guilty pleasures! Anything with carbs and mayonnaise has to taste good, right?

  • Terri at

    I am going to give this one a try. It sounds great and I like having a variety of Mac salads. Hope to see more from you soon.

  • JoeyfromSC at

    You were missed! Glad to see this recipe because my brother has been begging me to make my Mom’s macaroni salad recipe! lol..Hers is very similar..I’d have to leave out the olives(I LOVE them, but my brothers both do not sadly!) so I’d put those in my portions lol

    Thanks for the recipe!


  • shar at

    Glad you’re back; the macaroni salad looks delicious!

  • Maralyn Woods at

    As Cher said, “Snap out of it!”. We missed you and I too went back looking to make sure I hadn’t missed something. I woke up thinking about macaroni salad this morning and I made it first thing. I don’t really follow a recipe, just get inspired by what I have on hand. Today it was dill, basil and fresh parsley from my garden as well as red sweet peppers, a jalapeno, onions, mustard, smoked paprika, pepper, garlic powder and Mrs Dash Fiesta Lime and a touch of Mrs. D’s Chipotle seasoning. Wish I could have used those olives and some mayo but (sigh) but I have sodium issues so used Trader Joe’s Kalamata olive oil as dressing with Italian herbs shaken it. Mine is delicious but I sure would like a big bowl of yours. Now get over yourself. We all love you and will read anything you post. If angst is all you’ve got POST IT! Nuff said. You’re the best.

  • Claire @ A Little Claireification at

    Have missed you and your posts! This looks so very delicious. If I weren’t about to fall into bed I would be making some elbow pasta right now. Dill is such a perfect ingredient in this. Pinned and hope that all is well in your world! xo

  • Shari at

    He’s baaaaack, y’all! Seriously, I missed you!! Glad to hear you’re all right & just having a lil creativity rut. xoxo

  • Kay at

    Michael, I’m absolutely sure I’ll love this macaroni recipe. I can tell by simply reading the ingredients: mayonnaise and sour cream (mayonnaise alone always tastes kind’a “heavy” to me) and you can’t go wrong by adding sweet pickles or pickle juice and dill. YUM!!
    Now about your feelings of being in a rut. Don’t be hard on yourself. You, like most of us, occasionally must give in to our feelings and do whatever brings peace of mind. If you chose to take some time off to refuel your creativity, just know that your friends will wait to hear from you when you’re ready.

  • Sue at

    This looks so good, and I’m in need of a good (really good) macaroni salad recipe-thank you!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thanks Sue! I hope this one works for you. 🙂

      xo Michael

  • Jamie @ Anderson & Grant at

    This recipe sounds delicious…it is always nice to find a new take on an old favorite. The secret to my family’s “Best” macaroni salad is mustard….it adds a nice tangy taste to the salad. I’m going to have to try your dill idea, though!

    And by the way…..If you find the reason behind your lack of motivation, please share! I am also still in a rut and seem to change the vision I have for my own blog on a daily basis. I get super excited about heading In one direction, and by the next week I have a totally different plan!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Thank you, Jamie! Yep, this recipe has a little dijon mustard in it. That helps too!

      And I will certainly share if I ever figure it out. It seems to come and go, so I’ve been just waiting patiently for it to pass.

      xo Michael

  • Yalanda @ Laugh Anyway at

    I’ve been a reader for a while and I’ve seen you whip out some fantastic looking baked goods. I, on the other hand, suffer from severe intimidation for pie crusts, and most other complicated sounding/looking pastry recipes. So initially, I was going to tell you not to be afraid, but then I’d be a hypocrite. Of course, all in all, I’m glad you tried it. It looks intriguing!

    Yalanda |

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Haha. Thanks so much Yalanda!

      xo Michael

  • Holly H. at

    Would love your Dad’s miracle whip macaroni salad! Miracle Whip is the devil to some people but heaven to me 🙂

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      I’m not sure if there is an official “recipe”, but next time he makes it, I’ll watch and see what I can come up with. 🙂

      xo Michael

  • Melissa in North Carolina at

    You used my secret ingredient for a fabulous macaroni salad, fresh dill!!!
    So far everyone has been very gentle with their comments regarding your absence. I’m not going to be gentle…it’s been a couple weeks! Drop that funk and get busy inspiring us! No excuses…love you!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      I greatly appreciate the kick in the pants! 😉 Thanks Melissa!!

      xo Michael

  • Jennifer at

    Michael! You’re entitled to a rut. We’ll wait patiently and be happy with whatever you decide to chat about. Looking forward to trying the salad!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      I guess so, right? That’s what I’ve been telling myself.

      xo Michael

  • Veni at

    Hi Michael…Glad you are ok…I have missed your posts and actually went back to make sure I hadn’t missed any. Take your time but know we look forward to your creativity as we are often in creative ruts ourselves! Enjoy your mac salad…looks deeelish..

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Awww. Thanks Veni! It feels good to be posting again. Glad you like the recipe.

      xo Michael

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