This simple and nostalgic macaroni salad recipe has all the classic elements you'd expect and a few fun twists. Delicious on the first day it's made, but even better on the second, this Creamy Macaroni Salad is the dish to bring to your next barbeque or picnic.
When I started this website, I had only planned to publish recipes that my kids would eat so I could claim them as "kid-approved". However, I desperately wanted to share a recipe for my childhood favorite summertime salad (macaroni salad) here, but my kids absolutely will not eat pasta (or potato!) salad. With that being said, I'm breaking my own self-imposed rule here, and sharing this recipe anyway; this Creamy Macaroni Salad is one that I loved as a child, and still love to this day.
I have such fond memories of eating classic Macaroni Salad at nearly all summer picnics/cookouts/BBQs. And now as an adult, I still love making it and serving it in our backyard cookouts too.
This Creamy Macaroni salad is tangy, sweet, and full of veggies. It has a classic taste, but uses a few unique ingredients to get there, such as greek yogurt and sweet pickle brine. The salad is pretty darn good when it's made fresh, but it's equally, if not better, on day two. So it's also a perfect make-ahead side dish (or lunch if you add in some protein!).
So let's get to making it! The text below offers some tips for making it, or you can scroll down to the bottom for the complete recipe.
Ingredients Needed and Substitutions
Here is a brief overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe with quantities is listed below this text in the recipe card. If substitutions are available for this recipe, they'll be listed here. If you don't see a substitution you are looking for, please leave a comment below.
- macaroni (commonly elbow pasta...or, you can substitute in whatever pasta shape you like)
- greek yogurt (this recipe uses equal portions of yogurt and mayo to add an additional flavor element and make it feel a little bit lighter--but you could omit the greek yogurt and just use mayo if desired)
- sweet pickle brine (this refers to the liquid that is in the pickle jar and it adds such a fun element to the dish because it introduces a subtle flavor component and sweetness to the salad, but it can be omitted if...check the notes of this recipe to see how)
- petite peas (I think frozen works great, but you could also use fresh peas)
- red onion
- honey (just a touch, since sweet pickle juice is already added)
- yellow mustard
- paprika + salt + pepper
Storage and Leftover Tips
As stated above, macaroni salad is one of those dishes that improves the next day (or sometimes even on the 3rd day!) so feel free to make this dish a day ahead of time if you are planning to bring it to a BBQ or potluck.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Leftovers would be great to serve with some protein like tuna, chickpeas or shredded chicken for a lunch or easy dinner.
More Side Dish Recipes
Making the recipe? Be sure to leave a comment with a star review on your experience! Have a question? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!Print
Creamy Macaroni Salad
- Prep Time: 00:15
- Cook Time: 00:10
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6
- Category: Sides
This simple and nostalgic macaroni salad recipe has all the classic elements you'd expect and a few fun twists. Delicious on the first day it's made, but even better on the second, this Creamy Macaroni Salad is the dish to bring to your next bbq or picnic.
- 16 ounces macaroni
- 1-½ cups petite peas, frozen
- ¾ cup greek yogurt
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sweet pickle juice (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
- Ground black pepper
- 2 celery ribs, minced
- 1 cup carrots, grated (about 2 medium carrots)
- ½ cup minced red onion
- Parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, adding the peas to blanch in the last two minutes of cooking. Rinse well under cool water and drain.
- Meanwhile, whisk together greek yogurt, mayo, sweet pickle juice, honey, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Add in the cooked pasta and peas, celery, carrots, and red onion and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Garnish with parsley and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. Pasta salad will keep for 2-3 days.
Keywords: Classic Macaroni Salad
Does the salad use special mayonnaise?
Nope. Whatever mayo you like.