Everyone needs this Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad recipe on hand to make for barbecues and potlucks. This is a great, classic macaroni salad recipe. It’s the best!
Watch the video showing you how to make this recipe, then scroll to the bottom of this post to print out the complete recipe and make it at home.
Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad
For as long as I can remember, my mother has been making a similar version of this simple, classic macaroni salad recipe. It has always been my favorite. I don’t want anything fancy in my macaroni salad, so the simplest version works best for me.
You must begin with the small noodles with the hole in the middle (otherwise known as ditalini). I suppose you could use small elbows too, but I personally love the little guys.
I toss my macaroni salad with a mixture of mayo, mustard and onion powder. I mix in a small amount of chopped celery and green onions. Chopped hard-boiled eggs are folded in at the end.
I could seriously eat loads and loads of this stuff. Since that’s not such a good thing, I like to make this salad when we have company coming over. It needs to be devoured so I’m not tempted by a large bowl of leftovers!
What makes this the best macaroni salad?
Have you ever tried the macaroni salads that they sell in the deli section at your grocery store? They’re over-slathered with a thick mayonnaise dressing, and the flavor is just not there. It tastes like it is mass-produced because it is! Yuck.
Making this Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad at home is infinitely better. You can control the amount of dressing you add to the salad. It’s totally your preference whether you like it heavily dressed or not. And it turns out 100% more delicious than store-bought macaroni salad.
And just for the record, Mom never would add celery and green onion to her macaroni salad. She doesn’t care for anything crunchy. But I chop them up quite small… they just add a little something extra to the recipe. This salad is always a big hit- gobbled up quickly and hardly ever any leftovers (yahoo!)
What can you serve with macaroni salad?
My Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad is perfect to serve at a party or barbecue. It makes an excellent side to to burgers and hot dogs, as well as grilled chicken and steak. Add some sliced watermelon and corn on the cob, and you have a super easy complete meal!
How long can you keep macaroni salad in the fridge?
Macaroni salad will be fine when kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Then it’s probably time to throw it out. Be careful when serving at room temperature. It’ll be fine at room temperature for a couple of hours unless it is in a very hot environment. Be sure to toss your macaroni cheese if it’s been left out at a party for more than 2 hours. It likely won’t be safe to keep for leftovers.
Here are a few more salad recipes that would be great for a party or barbecue:
- Fresh Corn, Zucchini and Tomato Salad
- Pizza Pasta Salad
- Tomato- Quinoa Salad
- Triple Berry Salad with Sugared Almonds
- Waldorf Salad
- All American Potato Salad
Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad
- 2 cups macaroni (I use ditalini)
- 1½ cups mayonnaise
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 4 whole green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
- 1½ tablespoons mustard
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 4 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- paprika, for garnish
- Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and set aside to drain well.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, celery, green onion, mustard, onion powder, salt and pepper.
- Place the drained, cooled pasta in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise mixture and stir into the pasta until well combined. Gently stir in the chopped egg. Sprinkle with paprika, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least a couple of hours before serving.
I substituted the green onion for Gherkin’s (finely diced) for my girlfriend’s preference.. I love your recipes.
I was just wondering what brand of mayonnaise that you use? They all have a different taste. Thanks
I use Best Foods/Hellmans.
My family loved this recipe. It was my first time making it. So easy. Will make it again.
We make this same recipe but add mrs dash and celery salt
Thank you very, very much for making a macaroni salad WITHOUT bell peppers. Seems like every recipe uses bell peppers. They are dominant in flavor and I don’t like them in recipes. I want to taste the other ingredients, NOT BELL PEPPERS. Again, thank you for making a great salad without bell peppers.
We all loved this salad but I was uncertain about the amount of macaroni. Do you start with 2 cups dry macaroni & then cook it?
yes, 2 cups dry… then cook.
So simple but seriously good! I thought the Tbsp of onion powder might be a mistake but it’s not and the flavor is perfect. Everyone asked for the recipe.
This is the best macaroni salad ever!
My sister made this for our family b.b.q.s love it.
How many boxes of old fashion Mac like you show. For 50 people.
Question about the number of green onions…..is it 8 single green onions or 8 of the entire thing (they usually have 3-4 growing on one).
Hi Amber- the recipe calls for 4 whole green onions. Those are the long, single green onions.
When you note mustard in the recipe, is that the condiment mustard orthe spice mustard? TY!!!!!
About the same as my Moms recipe with extra pepper and some dill relish!
Happy to find a recipe without all the pickles and sugar. This basic recipe is just like my moms and I love it. Never used a recipe before so glad to have some guidance on amounts
I made this for a family BBQ because I was asked to bring a “classic macaroni salad” and everyone loved it. I did add chopped dill pickle because I had a special request. I will be making this again.
The first time I made this I was looking for a macaroni salad recipe to make with the ingredients I had on hand and found this one. Is now it’s a favorite!! Thank you for sharing!
It’s so very good !
How can you half this recipe
Awesome as presented! Wouldn’t change a thing.
It was delicious. I normally don’t like celery but I liked the crunch. I wasn’t sure about that much mustard so I only did one tablespoon. It worked and what I ate out of the bowl was perfect. My only complaint was after chilling it for like half hour it turned an ugly yellow. My husband looked grossed out but he said it tasted good. Thoughts? I used ball park mustard.
Matter of preference? I don’t remember my mac salad being an ugly yellow color. What you see in the video is the color it should be, so I’m not sure about what happened to yours!
This recipe is just like my Nana except I also add pickles and black olives. I just needed measurements so thanks its a big hit at our summer bbqs
I am constantly amazed that people will ‘rate” a recipe when changing it entirely. I tried to respond to Deborah, but the site wouldn’t let me do it.
That said, this is a great basic macaroni salad recipe — very much like my grandmother’s recipe which I have used for decades.
I make mine entirely different. I use elbow macaroni. I chop up a 1/2 of a medium to large cucumber. I get the small grape sized red tomatoes & cut them in half. Chop up a 1/2 cup of purple onion. I add salt, pepper, paprika & mayo and it’s ready to eat! My mouth is watering for it..,,,think I’ll make a batch this weekend!
Hi. Just want to confirm that you mean yellow prepared (ballpark) mustard, not dry mustard, right?
My family loves it, Thank you
Omg! Awesome! Made exactly as instructed but I think I will add some chopped left over Easter ham, just cause. I had to get it out of the freezer so once thawed I ‘ll throw it in. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
This has become a favorite recipe at our house!! We add just a little pickle relish.
I love how easy this is to make! Perfect for family get-togethers.
Yum this was delicious! Thank you!
Seeing this recipe just got me excited because it means summer is approaching! Looks delicious; I’ll have to make this with some bbq!
This is one of our favorite salads for potlucks! Everyone loves it.
Thank you so much for this. My wife loves it. I added a tablespoon of sweet pickle relish, a tablespoon of honey, a Squirt of Worcestershire sauce, and a little bit of Sriracha. It was surprising how much the honey added some extra flavor without adding much sweetness. Of course, the recipe is awesome on its own. It is now my go-to from here out. Looking forward to trying your other recipes. Outstanding site.
I usually add some chunked up ham or flakes of ham to the recipe as well.
Just made this tonight. Very quick and easy. It was delicious. Thank you!!!
Terrific…fabolouse flavors…a real crowd pleaser…thankyou for sharing your recipe !!!
This is THE BEST! Just like my mom used to make.
I put peppers, vinegar and pickle juice in mine. Will swap out eggs for tuna depending on who I am feeding.
I like peas in it, and cheese sometimes. We also make it with small shrimp at times. Such a great recipe that can be made so many ways! Thanks for sharing.
I love those ideas!
Why have I (almost) forgotten the long lost homemade mac salad!! We always made this when I was growing up. Time to get back to the basics and start enjoying it again.
This was amazing! Thank you for sharing!
If I use the entire box of ditalini, do I double the sauce and veggie recipe?
Well, you’d need to measure it out. The recipe calls for 2 cups dry… so if a whole box is 4 cups, then yes.
So good!! I made it for a family party yesterday and everyone loved it! I could eat the whole batch! ????
What kind of mustard do you use?
I use regular yellow mustard in this recipe.
Can you use miracle whip in place of mayo?
I don’t like Miracle Whip at all, so I wouldn’t recommend it. But if that’s what you prefer then perhaps you should try it!
This was absolutely wonderful tasting; however, after reading the reviews it was stated use 2 cups DRY macaroni which I measured & used. I now see where the confusion lies with the macaroni amount. Measuring 2 cups dry does not work, recipe should say 16 oz. dry which is equivalent to 1 standard size box. I’m not a new cook but the recipe amount is deceiving. Hope this helps others because the recipe is SO GOOD!
I use 2 cups dry (8 ounces)… probably best to add in the dressing a little at a time until you get the texture you want for the salad. Did you use 16 ounces (4 cups) of dry ditalini pasta for the recipe?
My mom always made the best macaroni salad. This one looks really yummy! I’m going to have to give this recipe a try.
If you like your salad soopy than use the above measurements. way too much mayo . the whole thing turned out soopy. Way too much mustard. the whole thing tasted like only mustard. had to cut the tanginess with honey. bad measurements on this recipe. this certainly wasnt old fashioned.
Did you use two cups of cooked pasta or two cups of dry pasta? Sounds like you measured it already cooked… which would definitely result in too much dressing being added. Use two cups of dry- cook according to package directions (which should give you lots of pasta!), and the dressing added should be just right.
I will make this on the coming weekend for a party. The only thing I will add is a bit of cubed cheddar cheese. Thanks for the great recipe!
I love cheese in macaroni salad! Peas too!
How much would you say is in each serving? I’m guessing just over 1/2 cup?
I’d say that’s about right.
Thanks a million was just thinking about making some yesterday. I can eat tons of it as well. I also like to add a bit of Velveeta cheese into the mix as well. 🙂
is it 2 cups of dry or cooked noodles?
2 cups dry- then prepare as directed on the package.
Hi Lori, I made this salad for the Memorial Day weekend and it is delicious. Thank you for sharing. My husband said I need to make it again this weekend!
I am making this today for Memorial bbq. It looks delicious and I cannot wait to heap some on my plate! Thank you!
This looks perfect! I could go for a spoonful right now!
What a classic! I’d add green onions and celery too.
Salads like this one are my summer guilty pleasures! I can’t wait to give this one a try!
I go half and half with mayo and sour cream. Love the extra richness the sour cream gives. Also use diced pickle.
This is very similar to my grandmother’s recipe, except she added diced sweet pickles and a little sweet pickle juice in the dressing, and no onion powder. I don’t use celery, but do add celery seed and sliced black olives in mine. Oh, and I’ve used all kinds of pasta, even the curly kind. Always a hit!
This looks so good, Lori! Definitely a summer backyard party staple – I can’t wait to try your recipe! 🙂
I get tired of potato salad and having a good macaroni salad recipe is nice.
This is PERFECT because I actually don’t have a good macaroni salad to bring to BBQ this year. I know, terrible food blogger I am. But, you did the hard work for me and this looks so creamy and deeeelish! Pinned!