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Side shot of a big bowl of old fashioned macaroni salad on a dinner table with salt and pepper shakers in the background
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5 from 6 votes

Southern Macaroni Salad

An easy Southern macaroni salad is the perfect make-ahead side dish for your next potluck, cookout, or family gathering.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword classic macaroni salad, macaroni salad, old fashioned macaroni salad, southern macaroni salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 28 minutes
Servings 8 cups
Calories 157.2kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 6 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni pasta (about 1 ½ cups uncooked, or 3 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • ½ teaspoon minced, pressed, or grated fresh garlic
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  • Cook macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • While the pasta cooks, chop the onion, celery, bell pepper, eggs, and parsley.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, pickle relish, and garlic until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, combine cool pasta, onion, celery, bell pepper, eggs, and parsley. Toss with dressing and refrigerate until ready to serve.



  • Rinse the pasta under cold water to help it cool down, stop the cooking, remove the starches, and prevent the noodles from sticking together.
  • Give the salad plenty of time to chill in the refrigerator before serving. It's a great prep-ahead dish, because it just gets better as it sits for a few hours and the flavors come together.
  • If your macaroni salad looks dry, it's probably because the pasta has absorbed a lot of the dressing. Just stir in a couple of extra dollops of mayonnaise right before serving, if necessary.
  • Use any short pasta, such as elbow macaroni, mini shells, ditalini, or rotini.
  • Add cooked, diced chicken, ham, shrimp, or tuna to the salad.
  • If you like a sweet burst of flavor, try adding peas to your macaroni salad.
  • Omit the hardboiled eggs if you don't care for them.
  • Instead of sweet pickle relish, use chopped sweet pickles, chopped dill pickles, or dill pickle relish.
  • A hint of garlic in the background adds another layer of flavor. You can omit this ingredient altogether if you don't care for raw garlic in your salad, or substitute with a pinch of garlic powder.
  • Add cheese, such as diced cheddar or mozzarella.


Serving: 1/2 cup | Calories: 157.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.6g | Protein: 3.5g | Fat: 11.3g | Saturated Fat: 1.8g | Cholesterol: 38.7mg | Sodium: 111.8mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 2.2g