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Simply Deli Salads: 28 Best Recipes for Potato Salad, Macaroni & More

It's potluck season once again, and we've gathered together the perfect potluck dishes for any party: deli salads! This FREE eCookbook has all you need for your next get-together.

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Basic Macaroni Salad

(51 Votes)
Updated August 18, 2017
Basic Macaroni Salad
SERVES
8
COOK TIME
15 Min

Our easy recipe for Basic Macaroni Salad is a potluck staple. No frills in this recipe, and that's what makes it aboslutely perfect! Simple, delicious, classic flavors make this "basic" macaroni dish an absolute work of art.  This has become one of our favorite go-to dishes, and we know you'll feel the same about this flavorful childhood favorite!

What You'll Need:
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 5 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
What To Do:
  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook macaroni over high heat for 7 to 9 minutes, or just until tender. Drain, rinse, and let cool.
     
  2. Place macaroni in a large bowl, add remaining ingredients, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Notes

Make it Your Own! Chances are, you've probably enjoyed many different kinds of macaroni salad throughout the years, especially at potlucks, picnics, and barbecues. Macaroni salad is almost an American summer tradition, and like with any "traditional" food, each part of the country has their own way of making it. For example, in a Southern recipe for macaroni salad you might find lots of mayonnaise or a similar salad dressing spread, with sweet pickles or relish. For people on the West Coast, the best macaroni salad might be something more like our Southwest Macaroni Salad. Truth is, there's no right or wrong macaroni salad recipe - it's up to you! We think our Basic Macaroni Salad is great as-is, but we also invite you to get creative and change things up to suit your family's tastes. Then, share what you did differently in the comments below!

Ratings & Comments

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Gotta have bell pepper and pimentos in mine

I, too, thin the mayo (salad dressing for me), but I use vinegar to do so. My mother always used the vinegar from a jar of sweet pickles which gives it a little kick.

I make it with tuna fish added to it.

This is a good go-to basic recipe, but I add a little water to the mayo so it's thinner and creamier. It stays creamy and doesn't clump up when you add it straight as is. I was always adding more mayo after making it and refrigeration it until I started thinning the mayo some before mixing in. Another tip is to pull the tough outer strings off the celery before chopping.

I was taught to add pickle juice to the mayo.

I put the eggs with the noodles ,this way you only have one pot to clean and the noodles are done the eggs are also hard boiled. I do the same with my potato salad. I hope this will help other cooks.

Good tip!

very easy and delicious to prepare. left out the eggs, added a diced green pepper and used yellow onion not red, (didn't have one). My bowl came home from family BBQ clean.....

This is my basic recipe, but I also add 1/4/cup chopped green olives with pimentos. If I want too make this as a lunch meal I also will add a small can of drained, flaked Tuna fish. YUMMMMMMM

This recipe is delicious....good old fashioned salad...nothing fancy but oh so tasty!

Adding seasoned salt really sparks up the flavor of macaroni salads.

I thought it was bland, had to add spices. Maybe with whats left will add pickle relish

Instead of Mayo, I use Miracle Whip but not fat free and I sprinkle some white vinegar on the Macaroni after they cool down and also add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Mustard

Would it work mixing western dressing with Mayo mirclewhip.

What's western dressing and mayo mirclewhip?

Sounds so simple and yummy....now I know to add more eggs.

I'm going to try them, look good.

Very good!

I added three tablespoons of sweet pickle relish and it was wonderful.

This is really delicious! One word of caution however-use a good quality mayo like Hellman's or Best Foods. No low-fat, light, or yogurt.

Maybe it's just me, but I really can't taste the difference between regular and light mayo. (Fat-free, of course, tastes terrible.) Then again, I ONLY use Hellman's/Best, so that could be the reason.

my boys don't like any kind of onion so use onion powder for taste. add carrots, celery, cukes for crunch. add black olives to mine for just me. it sounds great will definitely try it your way

This macaroni salad was the best ever. I've never used garlic powder before in macaroni salad but I will from now on! The red onion instead of sweet onion made a difference too.

My Mom taught me to make mac salad and to always mix the mayo and other herbs together in a bowl before adding to the cooked mac. You can then substitute and or add more mayo, or yogeart or sour cream, milk, whatever you want or have and taste it before mixing in with the mac. Also you can add chopped celery for added crunch.

Oh, by all means do NOT omit celery! P

I tried this the other day and it was very good. I like the hard boiled eggs which I did cut down to half the amount and used 1/2 mayonnaise and 1/2 greek yogurt. Nice and creamy. I might add a little milk to the mixture to thin out the mixture. I also added some chopped red pepper for more crunch. Will be making again!!

The best BASIC macaroni salad ever....I add a can of small shrimp and green and red peppers diced......soooo good!!

I love this recipe because my husband doesn't like macaroni salad so this way I can add all the stuff he doesn't care for like cucumbers, all colors of peppers, etc.

So sorry to hear about hubby

More for you, right? LOL

Made this yesterday and I was fantastic. I have never added garlic powder but it works. I did add a bit of yellow mustard and celery salt. It was fantastic.

Try adding a blue cheese (I use gorgonzola) to the recipe especially if you add chicken as well. I like to add red grapes along with the chicken and gorgonzola. It is soo good this way.

Add thawed frozen peas and a can of tuna and shredded cheddar cheese.

There is NO way anyone can goof this up. Like the recipe says, this is BASIC mac. salad. Add what you/family like, such as other veggies, spices, meat/chix/seafood, dressings, cheeses. Be creative!!

i have always used this recepe with 2 small additions. i add about 2 tablespoons of gulden's spicy brown mustard and i add some milk to the ingredients which i whisk to gether.

I had mac salad once that had cheese in it and it was delicious. Does anyone think it go well in this recipe?

A little shredded cheddar cheese would probably go well in this recipe. The beauty of these recipes is you can add or leave out whatever you like. Unless of course you are baking, then you need to be more aware of ingredients. Play with the recipes, have fun!

Normally i put cheese cubes in my mac salad, prefer sharp cheddar

I add cheese cubes in mine, too. I cut them very tiny, less than a quarter inch, and use both cheddar and jack. One I had only pepper jack, and that provided a little kick which was surprisingly delicious!

Instead of mayo, I use Miracle Whip and add some chopped sweet pickle and some of the juice, a dash of celery seed . . . I DON'T use garlic though . . . if you want more flavor, DO make this a day ahead so the flavors have time to "meld" - SOO good!

THat's how my mom always made it too.

I like to make this a day ahead. I adfd diced green and red pepper and some frozen sweet peas, thawed if you''re going to serve it right away.

Im making it today but going to add ranch dressing, bacon bits and pimentos

I add grated sharp cheese and parm. cheese to mine. Makes it even better!

I like this one

I am long in the tooth and have tried many recipes, but this one is a keeper. I now know that mayonnaise is the "key". The only change I made was to add a few chopped radishes for color and crunch. No more experimenting for me!!!

Here's the recipe for Tuna Tarragon. 1 tablespoon salt 5 cups small shell pasta 1 1/4 cups penne pasta 1 cup spinach fettuccine (3-inch pieces) 2 tablespoons canola oil 2 (6 ounce) cans tuna in water 2 cups sweet pickle juice (small jar contains about 1 cup) 1 3/4 cups mayonnaise 1 1/2 cups sweet pickles (diced) 1 cup celery (diced) 1/2 cup sour cream 1 1/2 tablespoons dried tarragon leaves 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon white pepper For the pasta: In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a full boil. Add pastas and cook for about 10 minutes until al dente. Immediately strain pasta and cool by running cold water over pasta in strainer. Drain pasta completely and place in a bowl. Coat pasta with canola oil to prevent sticking. For the dressing: Place tuna in a large bowl and break down into small pieces. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and thoroughly whisk to combine. Combine the dressing and cooked pasta and mix thoroughly. ALLOW SALAD TO MARINATE FOR 8 HOURS! After 8 hours, top with more pickle juice and salt and pepper to taste. This was found on Food.com

I have made this and vary according to what I have on hand. Use light mayo. Add bell pepper or pimentoes for color. Haven't used cucumbers or tomatoes but it would be good. I don't like tuna but canned chicken is good added.

Important to use only Hellman's or Best Food Mayo. And tuna in macaroni salad? Ick!

Why add more stuff? This is why its called "basic Macaroni salad. Its Basic. And good!

Yes it is good jusy like it is!

I find that adding some chopped cucumber, diced tomatoes and a bit of sweet pickle relish really vamps up the basic macaroni salad's taste. sunflower10

I find that you MUST add tuna, otherwise it is rather tastless! Also, let the flavors marry overnight, for best results!! This is my standard recipe!!

I made this for a graduation party and everyone liked it. I will make it again!

Since I am a Miracle Whip person, I would use it then I'd add, sliced black olives, diced pimneto's for color!!!

Great! I like to add very small (Lesure) peas and for a complete summertime meal, I also add shredded cheese and/or canned tuna! You could also try canned or grilled salmon or chicken.

I never tried it with canned tuna or peas thats sounds really good!

Le Sueur peas are the best, they are always small, crisp, and have a perfect flavor. Most canned or frozen peas are too mushy and/or can taste woody.

I made this dish for a Thanksgiving dinner event - for picky eaters. I made the good stuff for the adults Shrimp Linguine also found on Mr. Food, yum!

hello I wonder if any one knows the recipe from (soup plantation) the Tuna Tarragon macaroni salad TIA

I WOULD ALSO LOVE TO HAVE THAT RECIPE!!!

I made this once for a pot luck at work. It was well received and then requested for the next pot luck. The second time I added a couple of small cans of tiny shrimp. My taste tester (my husband) insisted I leave some home for him and co-workers wanted to know why I hadn't made more. Never had to worry about what to take to future pot lucks.

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