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Easy Macaroni Salad

Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe Lightened Up

  • Author: Elizabeth Rider
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Boil, Mince
  • Cuisine: American


Macaroni salad is a classic American summer side dish. This delicious version is lightened up with tangy veganaise and comes together in about 20 minutes. Macaroni salad is best when it has a few hours to marinate in the refrigerator before serving, so make it a few hours ahead of time if possible. Enjoy!


Units Scale

For the salad:

  • 1 pound elbow noodles (or small cut pasta like small shells or ditalini; see note*)
  • 1/2 cup minced celery (about 3-4 ribs celery)
  • 1 cup minced red bell pepper (about 1 small bell pepper)
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup minced sweet pickles (or 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish)
  • 1/4 cup minced black olives
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons minced parsley or chives for a little green color


  • 1 cup Veganaise (or mayonnaise of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar + 2 tablespoons pickle juice from the sweet pickle jar (or 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar if you don’t have enough pickle juice)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar (honey also works)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt (I use Redmond’s Real Salt)
  • a few spins of freshly ground black pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon)


  1. Prepare the noodles according to the package instructions. Immediately drain and rinse them under cold water for a few minutes to cool them off. Drain well for 5-10 minutes until no excess water remains.
  2. While the noodles cook, prepare the dressing by whisking all of the dressing ingredients together in the bottom of a large mixing bowl (I do this in the bowl I plan to serve the macaroni salad in).
  3. Mince the veggies. Aim to make them all about the size of the noodles or smaller for the best macaroni salad texture.
  4. Add the cooled and drained noodles and veggies to the dressing. Toss to coat.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Refrigerate until it’s time to serve.
  6. Macaroni salad will keep in your refrigerator for up to three days, but it’s best served within 24 hours of making it.


Noodle Notes*:

  • Macaroni salad is best made with elbow macaroni noodles. Extra small shells or ditalini (small tubes) also work.
  • Make this macaroni gluten-free by using gluten-free noodles.
  • Make this macaroni salad vegan by using Veganaise.

Keywords: macaroni salad, healthy macaroni salad, pasta salad