A classic Macaroni Salad that is a hit for potlucks, parties and BBQs with both kids and adults. It’s quick, easy and delicious recipe which makes it the perfect side dish. We love using shell pasta but you can really use any type you want to mix it up. Our favorite ad-ins in the pasta salad are peas, cubed ham and shredded cheese but the options are endless depending on your taste buds.

A few of our favorite dishes to pair with this Macaroni salad are firing up the smoker and making our famous Honey Garlic Ribs, Grilled BBQ Tenderloin on the grill or Balsamic Steak Skewers. For your sweet teeth make sure to finish this meal out with Strawberry Upside Down Cake!

PIN IT FOR LATER!

 

Macaroni salad in white bowl

This Macaroni Salad comes straight for my husband’s family’s recipe box! Particularly his Mom’s, so I knew it was going to be a tried and true recipe that has been tested over and over. This simple and basic Macaroni salad has pasta, shredded cheese, ham and peas that’s covered in a mayonnaise sauce.

The hubby has requested this salad since were married I think. I had some leftover ham in the fridge after making One Pot Ham & Penne Skillet so I decided to attempt this recipe. It really wasn’t an “attempt” as it’s a pretty simple recipe, but this was round two on it!

The first time I made this I didn’t have his mother’s recipe and he just didn’t think it tasted right so after that I learned, always get the original! I bugged his sister and she delivered so I had the actual recipe this time.

Bowl with ingredients in it

What Do You Put in Macaroni Salad?

These are the ingredients you will need to make this!

  • Pasta – I used a shell macaroni, but any will be fine just prepare according to directions and cook until al dente.
  • Seasonings – This salad is seasoned with celery, onion and seasoning salt.
  • Dressing – We use mayonnaise and yellow mustard for the dressing with this pasta salad. If you prefer it a bit sweeter you can also use Miracle Whip. If you are looking for it to be lighter you can substitute half the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt, just be aware it will have a slight tang to it.
  • Cheese – I used a shredded cheddar cheese, but you can use whatever cheese you would like.
  • Ham – To make it quick and easy I grabbed a bag of pre-diced ham, but you could leftover ham also if you have it.
  • Peas – A bag of frozen peas make this quick and easy. Simply run the frozen peas under warm water to thaw them then add to salad.

How to Make Macaroni Salad

  1. Boil shell macaroni according to directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. Mix together celery salt, onion salt, Mayonnaise, mustard and seasoning salt in large bowl. Add noodles, cheddar cheese, peas and ham. Mix well. Chill until serving.

More great ad-ins for your salad!

  • Diced onion
  • Diced celery
  • Cubed cheese (instead of shredded)
  • Diced red pepper
  • Shredded carrots
  • Pickles
  • Pickle juice
  • Crumbled bacon bits
  • Diced hard boiled eggs

This would be perfect for all your summer grilling and time at the lake!

This has also became one of my favorite salads to serve at my kid’s birthday parties. The bowl is always cleaned out by the end of the party so it’s a staple in my rotation, plus my girls love to sneak into the fridge and grab some before the party even starts.

Spoonful of macaroni salad

How Long Can Macaroni Salad Sit Out?

This is a bit of a tricky question. Macaroni salad can sit out for up to 2 hours at room temperature, but there are factors that play into this. If it is sitting in the sun at an outdoor function it can spoil much faster.

Try to keep it in the shade when you are serving otherwise put a large bowl under the bowl with the macaroni salad in it and then put ice in that bowl to keep it cold longer.

How Long Can I Store Macaroni Salad in the Fridge?

You can safely store this macaroni salad in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store in an airtight container to maximize freshness.

How can I reduce sodium in this salad?

To lower the sodium content in this pasta salad you can skip the seasoning salt. You can also sub out the onion salt for onion powder, but only use 1/4 tsp or just skip it all together and add in fresh diced purple onions! Another easy way to reduce the sodium is to skip the celery salt and dice fresh celery and add that to the salad instead.

Can I substitute something for the mayo?

Yes! We recommended using half mayo and half non-fat Greek yogurt if you are trying to not use as much mayo. The flavor will change a bit but we think it’s still delicious!

More salad recipes for a crowd!

  • Taco Salad
  • Best Ever Potato Salad
  • Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
  • Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

What Should I Serve with Pasta Salad?

I love bringing this to potlucks and serving it at parties, plus it makes a great side dish to summer meals! Here are a few of my favorite recipes to pair with this Macaroni Salad.

  • Steak & Potato Kebabs
  • Whiskey Bacon Cheddar Burger
  • Southwest Pork Loin

WATCH THE STEP BY STEP VIDEO FOR THIS RECIPE BELOW:

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Try it and love it? Rate it, please!!! ?Seriously though a five-star rating below will make my day! If you snap a photo, please be sure tag me on Instagram at @julieseatsandtreats or #julieseatsandtreats so I can see your yummy treat!!

Picture of macaroni salad in white bowl


Macaroni Salad

Quick and easy pasta salad that is always a hit at parties, potlucks and BBQs. Tons of flavor from the pasta, peas, ham, cheese and seasonings!
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Macaroni Salad, Pasta Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 536kcal
Author: Julie Evink

Ingredients

  • 16 oz shell macaroni
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 2 c mayonnaise
  • 3/4 tsp prepared mustard
  • 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 16 oz pkg frozen peas, rinsed with warm water
  • 1 c. diced ham

Instructions

  • Boil shell macaroni according to directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  • Mix together celery salt, onion salt, Mayonnaise, mustard, seasoning salt in large bowl. Add noodles, cheddar cheese, peas and ham. Mix well. Chill until serving.

Notes

  • Macaroni salad can sit out for up to 2 hours at room temperature, but there are factors that play into this. If it is sitting in the sun at an outdoor function it can spoil much faster. Try to keep it in the shade when you are serving otherwise put a large bowl under the bowl with the macaroni salad in it and then put ice in that bowl to keep it cold longer.
  • You can safely store this macaroni salad in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store in an airtight container to maximize freshness.
  • To lower the sodium content in this pasta salad you can skip the seasoning salt. You can also sub out the onion salt for onion powder, but only use 1/4 tsp or just skip it all together and add in fresh diced purple onions! Another easy way to reduce the sodium is to skip the celery salt and dice fresh celery and add that to the salad instead.
  • If you would like to use something other than mayonnaise we recommended using half mayo and half non-fat Greek yogurt if you are trying to not use as much mayo. The flavor will change a bit but we think it's still delicious!
Great Add-In Ideas!
  • Diced onion
  • Diced celery
  • Cubed cheese (instead of shredded)
  • Diced red pepper
  • Shredded carrots
  • Pickles
  • Pickle juice
  • Crumbled bacon bits
  • Diced hard boiled eggs

Nutrition

Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 971mg | Potassium: 202mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 505IU | Vitamin C: 15.1mg | Calcium: 157mg | Iron: 1.4mg
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