Classic Macaroni Salad

Total Time

Prep/Total Time: 30 min.


8 servings

Updated: Jun. 30, 2023
This classic macaroni salad recipe is a refreshingly light take on an all-time favorite. It's perfect for a fast weeknight dinner or a festive weekend barbecue. —Dorothy Bayes, Sardis, Ohio


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 hard-boiled large egg, chopped
  • Dash paprika


  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Cool completely.
  2. For dressing, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, pickle relish, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, celery, carrot and onion. Add dressing and toss gently to coat.
  3. Refrigerate until serving. Garnish with egg and paprika.
Classic Macaroni Salad Tips

Do I need to rinse macaroni in cold water?

Yes, rinsing the pasta under cold water will help speed up the cooling process and prevent the pasta from overcooking and turning to mush. Ensuring that your pasta is fully cooled before assembling will allow the dressing to adhere to the pasta and coat it evenly. Check out how to cook pasta perfectly for any type of recipe!

Why isn't my macaroni salad creamy?

Cooked pasta is coated in starches. By rinsing the cooked pasta in cold water and removing the starches, the salad won’t turn sticky or soak up all the dressing. No matter which kind of pasta salad you make, making sure your pasta is rinsed and cold will create the creamiest salad.

How far in advance can you make classic macaroni salad?

This is the perfect recipe to make ahead of time. This macaroni salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

—Ellie Crowley, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup: 115 calories, 2g fat (0 saturated fat), 27mg cholesterol, 362mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 2g fiber), 4g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch.