Macaroni Salad – Budget Bytes

close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

You can’t have a summer potluck or BBQ without a big ol’ bowl of macaroni salad. It’s a classic summer comfort food. Cold, creamy, carby, and delicious. And cheap! Which is great because we all need that right now. But macaroni salad isn’t just good for gatherings, it’s also a great side to meal prep for your lunches for the week.

Overhead view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

What’s In Macaroni Salad?

Macaroni salad starts with a base of one of our favorite budget-friendly ingredient, macaroni. We add a little celery, bell pepper, and red onion for color and crunch, and a couple of hard-boiled eggs to give the salad more heft. All of this gets finished off with a super creamy dressing made with mayo, Dijon, sweet pickle relish, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Classically creamy, sweet, tangy, crunchy, and delicious.

Adjust the Sweetness

There are two main camps when it comes to macaroni salad, sweet and not so sweet. I like my macaroni salad with just a touch of sweetness to balance the acidity and creaminess of the dressing, so that’s what you’ll get with the recipe below. If you like a sweet macaroni salad, you can simply add more sugar to taste (up to about ¼ cup sugar).

What Else Can I Add to Macaroni Salad?

Macaroni Salad is another one of those great catch-all recipes. You can add all sorts of ingredients for color, texture, and flavor. Here are some ideas for other ingredients to add to your macaroni salad:

  • Cheddar cheese cubes
  • broccoli florets
  • Peas
  • Black olives
  • Shredded carrots
  • diced ham
  • chopped parsley

How Long Does Macaroni Salad Stay Good?

Macaroni salad can be kept in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. The macaroni will continue to absorb moisture as it sits in the refrigerator, so you may find it gets a little drier each day. If taking your macaroni salad to a potluck or BBQ, make sure to not let it sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.

close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is an easy and inexpensive classic for potlucks, summer BBQs, or an easy side dish for dinner.

Author: Beth – Budget Bytes

close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

  • 2 hard boiled eggs ($0.48)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper ($0.75)
  • 1/2 red onion ($0.20)
  • 2 ribs celery ($0.47)
  • 8 oz. macaroni ($0.67)

Dressing room

  • 1 cup mayonnaise ($1.16)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard ($0.18)
  • 1 Tbsp sweet pickle relish ($0.08)
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar ($0.10)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar ($0.01)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
  • Chop the salad ingredients first, so they’re ready to go. Dice the hard-boiled eggs, bell pepper, onion, and celery.

  • Boil the macaroni until tender, then drain it in a colander. Briefly rinse the pasta with cool water to cool it off.

  • While the macaroni is boiling, prepare the dressing. Stir together the mayonnaise, Dijon, relish, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.

  • Combine the cooled and drained macaroni, egg, bell pepper, celery, and onion in a bowl. For the dressing over top, then stir until everything is well combined and coated in dressing.

  • Serve the macaroni salad immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Serving: 0.75cupcalories: 332caloriesCarbohydrates: 25gprotein: 6gFat: 23gSodium: 385mgfiber: 2g

How to Make Macaroni Salad – Step by Step Photos

Chopped salad ingredients on a cutting board.

Chop the macaroni salad add-ins first. Dice two hard-boiled eggs (here’s a tutorial on how to make hard-boiled eggs, if needed), ½ of a red bell pepper, 2 ribs of celery, and ½ of a red onion.

Cooked macaroni in a colander.

Next, boil 8oz. elbow macaroni until tender. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water to cool down the pasta.

Dressing ingredients in a bowl.

While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the dressing. Combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp sweet relish, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Macaroni and salad ingredients in a bowl.

Add the cooked and cooled macaroni to a large bowl along with the chopped egg, bell pepper, celery, and red onion.

Dressing poured over the salad ingredients.

For the prepared dressing over the salad in the bowl.

Finished macaroni salad in a bowl.

And now your macaroni salad is ready to eat! Make sure to keep it in the refrigerator if you don’t plan to serve it right away, and give it a good stir again just before serving.

close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

Need more recipe ideas for your summer gatherings? Check out our round-up of Recipes for Summer BBQs and Potlucks.

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