Easy Classic Macaroni Salad

By Rena |

This classic macaroni salad is a healthy, easy-to-make, and comforting vegetarian side dish recipe that everyone will love. Perfect for any occasion and great to add to your kid’s lunches. Ready in under 30 minutes.

top view macaroni salad in a white bowl

Skip the mayo and use greek yogurt for your macaroni salad. Yes, mayo tastes great and hard to resist but this homemade macaroni salad tastes just as great with a Greek yogurt dressing. It is easy to make and makes for a perfect side dish you can serve your family or take to a potluck. This healthy macaroni salad recipe is served cold with loads of crunch and perfect creamy texture and flavor. It can easily be made vegan-friendly by using dairy-free yogurt.

why you will love this recipe

  • Quick and easy: this classic macaroni salad recipe is super easy to make and ready in just under 30 minutes. Cook the pasta, prep the veggies, make the dressing, and toss!
  • So tasty: you will love how tasty this macaroni salad is. Creamy with the right amount of crunch. So good!
  • Versatile: macaroni salad is best served cold and thus it’s great for meal prepping. It works well as a side dish as well and great to take to parties and family gatherings.
top view macaroni salad in a white bowl

Ingredients you will need

whole-wheat elbow macaroni
red bell peppers
celery stalks, ribs
red onion
pickles
green onion
smoked paprika
plain greek yogurt
white vinegar
dijon mustard
chopped parsley or 1/2 tsp of dried parsley
garlic powder
salt and pepper

top view of ingredients to make macaroni salad

How to make macaroni salad from scratch

Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Prep all the veggies for the salad.

Once the pasta is done, drain and quickly rinse in cold water to cool.

Transfer to a large bowl, and add in the veggies and dressing. Toss well to combine.

Enjoy!

cooked pasta in a bowl
chopped veggies for the macaroni salad

Recipe notes and tips

  • Pasta: use your favorite kind and shape. 
  • Veggies: We love adding some crunch into the pasta salad. You may add finely chopped carrots. If you like peas, you may add them as well,
  • Greek yogurt: the idea is to skip the mayo. So use any plain yogurt you have handy. Use a dairy-free option for a vegan-friendly option.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Do not overcook the pasta. Cook it close to al dente if possible. 
  • Rinse out the pasta with cold water to stop it from cooking. You do not want a mushy pasta salad.
  • optional: for a hint of sweetness to balance out the acidity, try adding a tablespoon of honey.
top view macaroni salad in a white bowl

What to serve with macaroni salad

side shot of macaroni salad

Frequently asked questions

How do you keep the macaroni salad from drying out?

The key is cooking the pasta just right. If you undercook the pasta it wont retain moisture from the dressing and thus drying out. Overcooking the pasta will lead to mushy pasta salad. So you need to cook the pasta just right.

Should you rinse pasta before making macaroni salad?

Yes. It is important to rinse the pasta if you are making a cold pasta salad since you want the pasta to be cold. Rinsing the pasta with cold water will not only cool the pasta down, it will stop the cooking process.

Can I leave cooked pasta in water?

Leaving your cooked pasta in the hot water you cooked it in is not a good idea because it will continue to cook the pasta even after you turn off the heat and you will end up with overcooked pasta. You may leave pasta in cold water yes.

How to store macaroni salad?

Store leftover macaroni salad in a tightly sealed container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Macaroni salad is best served cold and does not need to be reheated.

close up macaroni salad in a white bowl

More Pasta Salad Recipes

close up top view of macaroni salad

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top view macaroni salad in a white bowl

Easy Classic Macaroni Salad

This classic macaroni salad is easy to make, made with whole wheet pasta, and tossed in with a healthy greek yogurt dressing.
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Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 166kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 2 red bell peppers chopped
  • 4 celery stalks finely diced, ribs
  • 1/2 cup red onion finely diced
  • 2-3 green onions chopped
  • 1 cup pickles chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley or 1/2 tsp of dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of garlic powder

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Prep all the veggies for the salad.
  • Once the pasta is done, drain and quickly rinse in cold water to cool.
  • Transfer to a large bowl, and add in the veggies and dressing. Toss well to combine.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Pasta: use your favorite kind and shape. 
  • Veggies: We love adding some crunch into the pasta salad. You may add finely chopped carrots. If you like peas, you may add them as well,
  • Greek yogurt: the idea is to skip the mayo. So use any plain yogurt you have handy. Use a dairy-free option for a vegan-friendly option.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Do not overcook the pasta. Cook it close to al dente if possible. 
  • Rinse out the pasta with cold water to stop it from cooking. You do not want a mushy pasta salad.
  • optional: for a hint of sweetness to balance out the acidity, try adding a tablespoon of honey.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 367mg | Potassium: 262mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1141IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 2mg
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