This easy, classic Southern macaroni salad is made with a light but creamy dressing and loaded with crunchy celery, black olives and pimento peppers. It’s easy to assemble and ready in just under 30 minutes. This great side dish is the perfect choice for holiday gatherings, family reunions or a potluck dinner throughout the year.
My family has been making this macaroni salad for as long as I can remember. And although we aren’t from the South, this recipe pretty much resembles typical Southern style macaroni salad. I love that it’s filled with crunchy and tangy ingredients, and that it’s creamy but not soggy. I can’t stand a soggy, overly flavored macaroni salad! Let me show you how easy it is to make this perfect side dish!
And if you’re looking for a great sweet salad that’s perfect for potlucks, check out my Ambrosia Salad made with sour cream or Cool Whip.
Why You’ll Love This Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad
- Filled with wonderful flavors and textures, from tangy pickles and pimentos, to crunchy fresh celery, it’s a great blend of ingredients that work well together.
- Perfect to feed a crowd! This is a dish you make to feed a group of hungry people at your next picnic or holiday celebration.
- Easy to make with simple ingredients
- 1 lb macaroni pasta – I prefer the short, straight “salad macaroni” pasta, but you can also use elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoon creamy mayonnaise – but feel free to use more to suit personal taste preference
- 2 tablespoon yellow mustard – again, add more to suit your taste. We prefer our macaroni salad on the drier side, so we keep the dressing ingredients to a minimum.
- 1 can olives, drained – definitely use black olives, and you can use sliced olives or whole olives and slice half the can, and keep half the can whole
- 2-3 stalks celery – chopped
- 1-2 dill pickles or sweet pickles – chopped. Many macaroni salad recipes call for sweet pickle relish, but I much prefer frespickles instead. Feel free to use whichever you wish though.
- 1 12 ounce jar pimentos, drained well – I like to set in a colander over the sink and drain while preparing other ingredients
- 3-4 stalks of green onion, sliced, using white and part of the green stem
- 3-4 hard boiled eggs – sliced in half
- Paprika – just to sprinkle on finished salad
How to Make This Recipe for Macaroni Salad
Begin by cooking the macaroni noodles according to package directions, in salted water. Drain, rinse with cold water and place pasta in a large mixing bowl. Allow the pasta to come to at least room temperature. You don’t want to mix in the remaining ingredients while the pasta is hot.
While the macaroni is cooking, drain the pimentos and chop up the celery, pickles, green onions, olives and eggs.
Once cooled, add in the mayonnaise and mustard and mix till well combined. Add in more mayo and mustard if you prefer your salad a little more on the wet side.
Gently mix in remaining ingredients, except the hardboiled eggs. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, and then top finished salad with hardboiled eggs and a dash of paprika. I like to chill the salad for a couple of hours before serving, but that’s up to you.
Tips for Making the Best Macaroni Salad
- Make sure to thoroughly drain the jarred pimentos, so your delicious pasta salad doesn’t become soggy with residual liquid.
- Store this in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve, so it doesn’t dry out.
- Feel free to add in other fresh vegetables like red bell pepper or red onion.
This cold pasta salad is such a great recipe when you want to serve something easy, tasty with plenty of Americana vibes. It is truly one of our favorite recipes for family gatherings, and my mom makes it several times a year!
Serve Creamy Southern Macaroni Salad With These Dishes
Southern Macaroni Salad
- 1 stock pot
- 1 collander
- 1 lb Macaroni pasta sub elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoon Mayonnaise use more if needed
- 2 tablespoon Yellow mustard use more if needed
- 1 can Black olives drained, half the can sliced and half the can leave whole
- 2-3 stalks Celery chopped
- 1-2 Dill pickles chopped
- 12 ounce Jar pimentos drained well
- 3-4 stalks Green onions sliced, using white and part of the green stem
- 3-4 Hard boiled eggs sliced in half
- Paprika sprinkle on finished salad
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the macaroni noodles according to package directions, in salted water. Drain, rinse with cold water and place pasta in a large mixing bowl. Allow the pasta to come to at least room temperature.
- While the macaroni is cooking, drain the pimentos and chop up the celery, pickles, green onions, olives and eggs.
- Once cooled, add in the mayonnaise and mustard and mix till well combined. Add in more mayo and mustard if you prefer your salad a little more on the wet side.
- Gently mix in remaining ingredients, except the hardboiled eggs. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, and then top finished salad with hardboiled eggs and a dash of paprika.
- Cover and chill before serving.