Classic Macaroni Salad

5 from 3 votes

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It’s true, this summer time Classic Macaroni Salad will always be on the menu because it’s quick to prepare using cooked macaroni pasta, freshly diced vegetables like bell peppers and celery all tossed in a creamy tangy dressing. I add a little tarragon and it’s amazing! 🙂

close up of Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad

I remember eating this as a kid every summer with ribs fresh from the grill, slathered with BBQ sauce and all kinds of other salads and desserts on the picnic table outside.

Sure you had to shoo the flies away, everybody wanted in on the grub!

Well I’ve changed my family recipe from the heavy mayonnaise dressing to a healthier Greek yogurt base, used apple cider vinegar and added some tarragon in the dressing.

ingredients for Classic Macaroni Salad

What is in a Classic Macaroni Salad?

Cooked pasta, typically elbow style pasta. Lots of diced, colored bell peppers, red onion and celery. The salad dressing uses Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, sugar and salt and black pepper. To add some herbal flavor, I like to sprinkle in some dried tarragon. It adds a wonderful dimension!

Should I rinse the pasta?

Yes you can to help stop the cooking process and cool it down quicker. This will be a chilled salad. I do not recommend rinsing your past a if its a hot meal, plus the starches in the residual cooking water assist in thickening your sauce!

Classic Macaroni Salad in a black bowl

How do you store Macaroni Salad?

This macaroni salad will stay good refrigerated for up to 3 to 5 days. Just cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or store in an airtight container.

What to serve with this salad?

  • Southern Fried Chicken
    My Southern Fried Chicken recipe starts with a hot sauce, buttermilk brine, and a well seasoned, flour and cornstarch crust for maximum crunch! This is a true family favorite and delivers on crunch, flavor and juicy chicken on the inside.
  • Kansas City Style Ribs
    These are typically characterized by the thick, sticky sauce brushed on in the last 30 minutes of cooking. The dry rub and sauce are on the sweet side using a brown sugar base, but are balanced with chili powder and pepper, producing some truly finger licking good ribs.
  • BBQ Smoked Meatloaf 
    Smokey sweet, tender and with little effort on your part, you can deliver this BBQ Smoked Meatloaf made right on your grill and not heat up the kitchen!
  • Old Fashioned Cherry Crisp
    Bing cherries covered in a simple flour, sugar, oat and egg crumble that gets melted butter poured on top and baked to a golden brown.
  • Gramma’s Easy Berry Cobbler
    A tasty, buttery batter that gets poured over fresh seasonal berries of choice is baked to a golden brown and is ready for a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.
  • Easy Apple Crisp
    For me, this has to be the easiest apple crisp recipe and it’s all thanks to my Gramma. Made using peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples, this has a crunchy, buttery cinnamon topping all made from using basic pantry items

overhead photo of Classic Macaroni Salad in a black bowl


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overhead shot of a bowl of macaroni salad

Classic Macaroni Salad

5 from 3 votes
It's true this summer time Classic Macaroni Salad will always be on the menu because it's quick to prepare using cooked macaroni pasta, freshly diced vegetables like bell peppers and celery all tossed in a creamy tangy dressing.
Servings: 8
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 27 minutes


  • Ingredients
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup each red, orange and yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced



  • Instructions
  • Cook macaroni in heavily salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until completely cool. Let drain very well.
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, vinegar, mustard, sugar, tarragon and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add drained, cooled macaroni to a large mixing bowl along with bell peppers, celery and red onion.
  • Pour dressing over top and toss mixture to evenly coat. Chill covered for 1 hour in refrigerator. Toss to mix again before serving. Season to taste.


  1. White wine vinegar can be substituted for the apple cider vinegar.
  2. To add a bit of a kick, feel free to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the dressing, too.


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 121mg | Potassium: 168mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 649IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Western
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    Picnic fare extraordinaire right here, Kevin! Love that you’ve lightened it up a bit with Greek yogurt!

  2. 5 stars
    A classic is a classic for a reason and I love a good macaroni salad! Love the addition of tarragon! Our garden is growing like crazy with the stuff right now too 🙂