Easiest Macaroni Salad Recipe

Deli-Style Macaroni Salad


(makes 12 portions)
1 pound elbow macaroni, boiled in salted water
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup white vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoon white sugar or as per your taste
2 tablespoons mustard
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
½ cup green onions
1 cup diced celery
¾ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced green pepper
½ cup grated carrot


One of the important step for making a great macaroni salad is to prepare the dressing first.

Start with mayonnaise in a bowl.


Add mustard to the mayonnaise.

Dijon mustard

Now we are going to add vinegar to the bowl. It is recommended to use plain white distilled vinegar. Although, you can use different vinegar but this is just used here for the acidity, so its best to use vinegar that has neutral flavor.

Now season it with cayenne pepper.

Add freshly ground black pepper.

Add some salt.

Now whisk the mixture which is going to serve as the base for this macaroni salad. Except for one controversial ingredient, sugar. It is certainly true that true classic macaroni salad use a lot of sugar for a sweet dressing. But they use way too much, like half a cup of sugar. One or two tablespoons of sugar is enough and gives plenty of sweetness, especially considering that we are going to use a lot of sweet vegetables.

Add sugar to dressing

Keep mixing it until sugar is fully dissolved and it has a fine texture.

Finished whisking

Add finely diced celery to the bowl.


Now add grated carrots.

Grated Carrots

Now add onion to the dressing mixture.


Add your peppers. You can use different kind of peppers.

Mix it all up with a spatula and your dressing is complete. Now put this mixture into the refrigerator and keep the spatula in the bowl which will later be used to mix the salad up.

Finished dressing.

It is important to prepare your dressing first before cooking pasta. The main reason is to rest your vegetables in the mixture which will become pickely. Salt, sugar and acid will pull the liquid out of the vegetables which is going to firm the texture.

Now its time to cook your macaroni. Put macaroni in salted water and cook it as per directions given on its packing.

Fully drain the macaroni and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Keep tossing the macaroni after regular intervals so that they don’t stick together.

Not put the cooked and drained macaroni in a bowl.

We are not going to add any dressing until macaroni has cooled down. Just use the dressing laced spatula from the dressing bowl you put in the refrigerator and toss the macaroni until its fully cooled down. If you put dressing on hot macaroni, it will result in a very greasy salad.

With the tossing and cooling with your spatula, a very fine layer is going to form on each piece of the macaroni which has been proven to better hold on to mayonnaise based dressing.

When macaroni is at room temperature, add dressing.

Mix it well. Do note that it will look like too much dressing at this time. Do not worry, but the time you serve this dish, all the liquid will be fully absorbed by the macaroni.

Now wrap it up super tight and put it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, but overnight will give better result.

This is how it will look like after you put it in the refrigerator overnight.

All dressing should be perfectly absorbed

Take your spatula and mix it thoroughly.

While you can definitely serve it like this, but to give it a nice texture, it is recommended to add some more mayonnaise and little bit of cold water (a tablespoon or two).

Now mix it up.

While this step is not going to significantly change the characteristics of this salad, but it will give it a fresher look.

End result

Now give your salad a taste and test for seasoning, you can adjust your seasoning if you wish so.

Transfer it to a serving dish and enjoy.