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BEST EVER MACARONI SALAD

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The Best Ever Macaroni Salad is a potluck, cookout and party staple! Tender pasta tossed with fresh vegetables, eggs and a tangy dressing, it’s one folks will keep coming back for more!

A bowl of pasta salad with a spoon.

I introduced my Best Ever Macaroni Salad recipe on Dinner in 321 late spring of 2022, and it launched my blog to a whole new level. There are thousands of macaroni salad recipes, but 4 things caught folks attention when they saw mine: the blend of dressing ingredients, the shape of pasta I use (ditalini), the way I chop my eggs into the salad (pressed through a cooling rack), and the fact that I use Miracle Whip over mayonnaise.

I had front row seats for the knock-down-drag-out debate of whether Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise should be used in macaroni salad. It was super entertaining, and boy were the passionate comments fun to read. The beautiful thing about macaroni salad is that it can be made in so many ways and adjusted to personal preference. The balance of sweetness to savoriness is unique from person-to-person. So, get creative, have fun, and enjoy the delicious flavors of this timeless favorite!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Ingredient Amounts Listed in the Recipe Card Below

  • Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise
  • Sugar or Sugar Substitute
  • Celery Seed
  • Garlic Salt
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Dill Pickle Relish
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Elbow or Ditalini Pasta
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Red Onion
  • Celery
  • Bell Peppers

TOOLS YOU’LL NEED

  • Large Bowl
  • Spatula
  • Cooling Rack (optional for eggs)

WHY YOU’LL LIKE THIS RECIPE

  • It’s a great make-ahead dish for a get together!
  • It’s a versatile side dish that can be customized to individual preferences!
  • It brings back happy memories of family gatherings, potlucks and holidays!
  • The combination of flavors creates a creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet taste that is SUPER delicious!

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water per package directions, drain and cool. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together Miracle Whip, sugar, celery seed, garlic salt, vinegar, relish, mustard, salt and pepper. Taste for balance of flavors.
  1. To the dressing, add eggs, vegetables and pasta. Stir until well combined. 
Macaroni salad ingredients in a bowl ready to be stirred including the dressing, vegetables and boiled egg.
  1. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

TIPS AND SUBSTITUTIONS

  • You can add or omit any ingredient from the ingredients noted in this recipe. Macaroni salad taste and texture preference is individual from person-to-person.
  • Optional ingredient add-ins are: cucumbers, peas, carrots, cubed cheddar cheese, bacon, ham, diced tomatoes, green onions and other mustard varieties.
  • Light Miracle Whip or mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, sour cream and sugar substitute can be used instead of the regular versions.
  • Cook the pasta until it is slightly firm (al dente) to ensure it holds its shape in the salad. Rinse with cold water to cool it down quickly and prevent it from becoming mushy.
  • Feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices, such as dill or paprika, to add a unique twist to your macaroni salad.
  • Letting the macaroni salad chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight will enhance the flavors and make it even more delicious.

STORAGE

  • Properly stored macaroni salad can last for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Make sure to keep it in an airtight container to maintain freshness.
  • Freezing macaroni salad is not recommended as the texture of the pasta and other ingredients can change upon thawing, resulting in a less desirable consistency.
  • If served at a gathering and left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours, discard it as it’s not safe to eat. If possible, serve in a chilled bowl.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Why do you use Miracle Whip over mayonnaise in this recipe?
    • It’s personal preference for the flavor of Miracle Whip over mayonnaise. Miracle Whip a slightly sweeter and tangier taste compared to mayonnaise.
  • I like my macaroni salad more creamy. How do I adjust the recipe for this?
    • My recipe has just enough dressing that the ingredients are fully coated but not swimming in it. If you like it creamier, you can use less pasta.
  • Can I use a different type of pasta in macaroni salad?
    • Macaroni is the traditional choice for macaroni salad, but like me, you can experiment with other pasta shapes like ditalini, penne, fusilli, or farfalle. Just ensure that the pasta has a similar size and density to macaroni so that it holds the dressing and ingredients well.
  • How can I prevent macaroni salad from becoming dry?
    • To prevent dryness, make sure not to overcook the pasta. Decrease the pasta if you like a creamier salad. If the salad sits for a while and appears dry, you can add a small amount of additional Miracle Whip or a splash of vinegar to moisten it.
  • Can I make macaroni salad ahead of time?
    • Yes, macaroni salad can be made ahead of time. In fact, it often tastes even better when allowed to chill and let the flavors meld together. Prepare it a few hours or even a day before serving for the best results.
  • Is this recipe gluten-free?
    • The pasta in this recipe is the only ingredient containing gluten. You can easily swap for a gluten-free pasta alternative.
  • Is macaroni salad suitable for vegetarians or vegans?
    • Macaroni salad can be made vegetarian or vegan by using plant-based mayonnaise or mayo alternatives and omitting eggs.
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