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The Best Macaroni Salad (+Video)

The Best Macaroni Salad recipe starts with macaroni noodles, peppers, onions and radishes and is mixed with a secret-ingredient creamy dressing!


Over the years, as more and more people have made this recipe for macaroni salad, it has become one of the most loved and popular recipe on my site! It’s so simple but so delicious!

Mom's Macaroni Salad served in a white bowl with radishes shown on the side of the bowl.


What ingredients are in macaroni salad?

I keep it basic but delicious: elbow macaroni, mayonnaise, chicken stock, salt and pepper, green peppers, onions and radishes.
I love that pepper-y crunch of radishes and you don’t often see them in pasta salad so it’s a nice crunchy surprise. You could also add red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, onion or even green peas.

Why is my macaroni salad not creamy?

Sometimes when you go to serve your macaroni salad, you’ll notice that the noodles have absorbed a lot of the dressing. This happens and is totally normal. Some folks prefer it this way. But if you like your salad to be super creamy, all you need to do is mix up a small bowl of a bit of mayo and a little more chicken stock or milk. Whisk it together then stir into your macaroni salad. Give it a taste to make sure it has a good balance of salt and pepper, then serve.

Should you rinse macaroni after cooking?

For pasta salads I do. I want to rinse off any extra starch that might get in the way of my noodles soaking up that delicious dressing.

About how much macaroni salad is a serving for one person?

I always estimate about one cup per person. So if you are doubling this recipe or even tripling this recipe, you would want to use that estimation in helping you figure out how much to make and then add an additional 8 servings to be on the safe side. There’s always someone who will take more than one serving in a buffet setting.

Can macaroni salad be frozen?

I don’t recommend it. The mayonnaise in the sauce does not hold up well to freezing. When you go to thaw out the salad, the mayonnaise will separate and become pretty gross and you’ll also lose the creaminess.

Can macaroni salad be made a day ahead?

Absolutely! It needs to be kept covered and refrigerated, of course. Also, use my above tips to add additional creaminess if you find your macaroni has soaked up a lot of the dressing.

Why is chicken stock added to macaroni salad?

If you have a pasta salad recipe that calls for just mayo, consider adding a touch of chicken stock to your dressing. It helps smooth out the mayo and keeps the salad from getting too “goopy” while adding a bit of extra flavor. You can also use milk instead of chicken stock but the chicken stock is going to give that aded flavor.

Secret Ingredient Macaroni Salad recipe from The Country Cook. Macaroni salad shown in a small white bowl.


  • elbow macaroni
  • mayonnaise
  • chicken stock
  • green pepper
  • radishes
  • red onion
  • salt and pepper
mayonnaise, chicken stock, elbow macaroni, radishes, green pepper, red onion, salt and pepper.


Prepare macaroni according to package directions. Drain macaroni well, and rinse with cold water until pasta has cooled.

rinsing cooked macaroni in a strainer.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine mayonnaise with chicken stock.

mayonnaise, chicken stock, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Whisk together well and season with a bit of salt and pepper. I do enjoy about a tablespoon or so of freshly ground black pepper in this.

whisked creamy dressing mixture in a bowl.

Add in drained pasta along with green pepper, radishes and onion.

cooked macaroni noodles, green peppers, radishes, diced onions and cream mixture in a bowl.

Stir well until combined. Cover with plastic wrap.

creamy macaroni salad in a bowl.

Now, this next step is really important. You need to put it in the refrigerator and let it cool for at least 3 hours.

plastic wrapped covered bowl in refrigerator.

This really helps the flavor come together and give the pasta a bit of time to soak up the mayonnaise mixture.

Mom's Best Macaroni salad in a bowl with a fork.


The Best Macaroni Salad recipe

The Best Macaroni Salad (+Video)

The Best Macaroni Salad recipe starts with macaroni noodles, peppers, onions and radishes and is mixed with a secret-ingredient creamy dressing!
4.89 from 34 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8



  • Prepare macaroni according to package directions. Drain macaroni well and rinse with cold water until pasta has cooled.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine mayonnaise with chicken stock and salt and pepper to taste (about a teaspoon of each to start).
  • Add in drained pasta along with green pepper, radishes and onion.
  • Stir well until combined. Give it a taste to see if you would like more seasoning.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Stir again before serving.


YouTube video
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American


Calories: 601kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 42g | Sodium: 373mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

Did you make this recipe?Share it on Instagram @thecountrycook and mention us #thecountrycook!

Originally published: June 2013
Updated & republished February 2022


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Recipe Rating


  1. I look forward to trying this. My mom’s recipe uses celery and peas, but those are on my allergy list. I was miss those textures, so I’m excited to try different veggies for the flavors.

  2. 5 stars
    Usually do not rate until I try a recipe as noted first. Then I tweek to our taste buds. But this one sounds almost like Mom used to make. Never could get recipe since she added a “pinch” of this & a “dab” of that- which was never the same 2 times. Tried to get Pop’s Hamburgs In Sauce” once cause they were so yummy. Literally sat at counter top & wrote as he added stuff to make them. But alas – mine did not come out like his. For years after getting married I had to have a recipe to cook & Mom was surprised since most of her generation cooks never used them unless they had a new recipe or one different than she cooked. Just found your site today and spent several hours in very pleasant checking things out. Will be back – thanks for giving me a nudge to get back into cooking and baking. Husband will wonder what happened to me – chuckle.

  3. 5 stars
    Did salad for yesterday’s supper myself & hubby said it was the best salad we ever had.i think it was the chicken stock mix with the mano is what but the flavour .never ever use chicken stock before until I seen this recipe.going to make this again for our b.b.q outing when my brother gets home.thanks for sharing

    1. This made my day Pauline!! Thank you so much! It seems like such a small addition and you don’t think it would really add anything to the salad but it adds a certain depth of flavor that’s kinda hard to describe. So, so thrilled y’all loved it!!

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! Only difference is I added diced celery and grated my radishes (because I often cut myself) I only used a few so I could introduce it to my picky eater.

  5. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for your mom’s mac salad recipe. I made it according to directions Sunday night for family gathering the next day. Everyone loved it! I’m finishing off the last of it today for lunch by adding a small can of tuna.

  6. 5 stars
    I just finished putting my macaroni salad in the fridge when I read about yours. Only difference is I added some chopped celery and cayenne pepper. When I serve it Saturday, I will garnish with celery and poppy seeds. I used rotini instead of elbow just to mix it up this time.

  7. 5 stars
    Soooo happy I found this recipe!!! Our favorite macaroni salad and the only one I’ll make from now on!!! I think the addition of chicken stock really makes a difference!!

  8. 5 stars
    Have a empty nest now. Just myself. One of my 3 children was soooooo picky, so I would have to cook according, a lot of times…dang it!
    Now I am "free" to make anything I want… and I am enjoying it. Radishes….YES…I love them!!! Their going in next time. My Mom use to wash them and cut off ends and put them in a bowl on the dinner table. A sprinkle of salt…YUMMY. Same with sliced red onions and green peppers's. Looking forward to trying your recipes…Thank-you, Cindy

  9. I make macaroni salad in some form all the time, and your recipe is quite similar to mine. I've never heard of adding radish, and probably wouldn't because I don't like them. Some things that I do different, is to add diced celery. I also thin my mayo, either with milk, or with some Marzetti's southern recipe sauce. I also like to throw in a little parmesan and dill for flavoring. Sometimes I will even add a dash of garlic powder. I probably don't make it the same way twice, LOL! But it always gets eaten, and I get a lot of compliments. I love your recipes!

  10. I mix half mayo and half Miracle Whip and thin it out with peppercorn ranch. This really makes a very creamy and flavorful dressing.

  11. 5 stars
    I love to cook and have found your website to be a real jewel. I like that you have pictures that show each step. This is a great thing for a beginner cook and is even helpful for us older cooks.

  12. 5 stars
    I made this today as a lighter, out-of-the-potato-side-dish-rut to go with our burgers and beans tonight. My fiance' and I did some "quality control" sampling before I put it in the fridge to "schmiel" (as he says). Boy, was it a hit! The proportions of dressing to ingredients is spot on, and I agree, a tablespoon of fresh ground black pepper was perfect! Took me about 4 radishes to finally get the hang of dicing one, but I'll be ready for next time. And there WILL be a next time! Thanks again!

  13. I like the idea of using chicken stock, since I don't like mayonaise.I use more chicken stock than mayo when I make chicken salad. And speaking of things that never taste like Momma's.I can never cook turnip greens like her. I do them the same way she did. but they never taste like hers . She passed a way 12 years ago and I still can't get them right. I'm the same way about my mil's sweet potato cobbler. I've just about got it right but not exactly