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Macaroni salad is a staple on the summer grilling menu. The ingredients are simple: elbow pasta, hardboiled eggs, onion, and cheese. All of these are held together with a tangy and slightly sweet mayonnaise dressing.
It’s a simple enough list, but easy to mess up. The dressing needs the correct ratio of mayonnaise so that it’s not overpowering and is balanced with some sweet acidity. The eggs, onion, and cheese are important, but also have to work well with the pasta.
Together, the creamy dressing and cooked pasta are a perfect match to go with burgers, brats, and hot weather.
The ingredients in this macaroni salad
- Elbow macaroni is traditionally the pasta of choice for a true macaroni salad. The pasta is cooked in salted water to ensure the macaroni is seasoned well. Cook the macaroni fully so that it isn’t mushy and has some texture.
- Hardboiled eggs are sliced up and added to the pasta. The eggs work to add a rich and creamy component.
- Scallion is diced and added to provide a sweet onion flavor without being too strong. Dice up both the white and light green parts.
- Cheddar cheese is cubed into small bite-sized pieces. To stay true to a traditional salad, choose yellow cheddar. Or if you want to mix it up, use whichever cheese you prefer.
- Mayonnaise is the base for the dressing. I use homemade but use whatever you keep in your refrigerator and prefer to eat.
- Greek yogurt balances out the mayonnaise-rich flavor with a lighter bright flavor, helping the dressing not be too heavy.
- Honey lends a bit of sweetness, which is needed in macaroni salad. But if you’ve made a macaroni salad recipe before, you’ll notice that this dressing does not have the copious amount of sugar an older recipe would have.
- Pickle relish gives the dressing that classic pickle flavor. I use a slightly sweet bread and butter-style relish but any relish will work.
- Yellow mustard adds the acidity and creamy yellow color needed to truly make this a macaroni salad. Make sure to use the prepared yellow mustard here instead of Dijon.
There are endless recipes for macaroni salad. Ingredients can range from celery, peas, carrots, or any number of add-ins. I opt for a streamlined, simple ingredient list with only what is necessary.
Watch how to make this macaroni salad recipe
Easy Macaroni Salad
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ cup pickle relish
- 4 large hardboiled eggs shelled
- 3 scallions (white and light green parts) diced
- 8 oz cheddar cheese cubed
- 2 tbsp chopped dill
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the macaroni. Boil the macaroni until the pasta is fully cooked, 6-8 minutes. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside to cool.1 lb elbow macaroni
- While the pasta is cooling, prepare the dressing. In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, honey, mustard, salt, pepper, and pickle relish. Whisk to combine.1 cup mayonnaise, ⅓ cup Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp yellow mustard, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, ¼ cup pickle relish
- Add the slightly cooled macaroni and stir to combine the dressing and pasta. Add in the chopped hardboiled eggs, scallion, dill, parsley, and cubed cheese. Stir and serve immediately.4 large hardboiled eggs, 3 scallions (white and light green parts), 8 oz cheddar cheese, 2 tbsp chopped dill, 2 tbsp chopped parsley