Best-Ever Creamy Macaroni Salad

For backyard BBQs or any occasion, bring the best-ever macaroni salad… creamy, tangy and full of veggies!

Best-Ever Creamy Macaroni Salad – For backyard BBQs or any occasion, bring the best-ever macaroni salad... creamy, tangy and full of veggies! |

After the margaritas and burgers, I always make a beeline for the macaroni salad. It’s basically all that’s good in this world. Until recently, I never really cared to make my own because it was always there already. And when I say “there” I mean every BBQ, birthday party and casual get-together in the summer. As it should be!

Best-Ever Creamy Macaroni Salad – For backyard BBQs or any occasion, bring the best-ever macaroni salad... creamy, tangy and full of veggies! |

But, between all the fun little appetizers I like to bring to parties, I also love to keep it simple with classic dishes like this. After all, since I had never tried to make macaroni salad before, I wanted to see if I could make one that’s any good!

Well, the lovely Pioneer Woman saved the day again with another killer recipe. With a few modifications to make it just right, this scrumptious salad was perfect.

Best-Ever Creamy Macaroni Salad – For backyard BBQs or any occasion, bring the best-ever macaroni salad... creamy, tangy and full of veggies! |

This is absolutely the BEST macaroni salad I’ve ever had and I loved making it! So much so, I think I kind of overdid it by making enough for approximately 13,248 people that didn’t end up coming to last Saturday’s pool party.

I tend to not be able to cook for a small crowd. It’s a problem.

Best-Ever Creamy Macaroni Salad – For backyard BBQs or any occasion, bring the best-ever macaroni salad... creamy, tangy and full of veggies! |

This simple salad is perfectly creamy, tangy and full of flavor, with a little spicy-sweet kick from the Wickles pickles…. which, if you haven’t had before, are the BOMB. You just have to trust me. I mean, I’ve never loved a pickle so much. They have the best zesty, sweet flavor and you can find them at most grocery stores!

You’ll love this delicious, easy macaroni salad for backyard BBQs and any get-together that calls for heaping plates of saucy food and scrumptious side dishes. Bring a bowl-full and a big spoon, and you can be certain that it will be the hit of the party!

Best-Ever Creamy Macaroni Salad

Best-Ever Creamy Macaroni Salad

Yield: 12 (recipe can be halved)


  • 3 cups dry whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 15 oz. jar light or reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk, less or more, if needed
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice from sweet/spicy pickles, to taste
  • 4-5 whole roasted red peppers, chopped (or one 16 oz. jar)
  • 1 6 oz. can black olives, chopped fine
  • 15 sweet/spicy pickle slices, diced (3/4 cup diced)*
  • 6 whole green onions, sliced


  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Add macaroni and reduce heat; cook according to package directions (usually 6-8 minutes). Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside and let cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add milk and pickle juice, just enough to make the dressing pourable. Add chopped red peppers, olives, pickles and green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more of any ingredient you like, including pickle juice, if desired. Chill dressing while macaroni cools.
  3. Add cooled macaroni to bowl with dressing and toss. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Join the Conversation

  1. It looks absolutely delicious! Great party food and perfect for taking on a picnic or to a potluck.



  2. I’m the queen of over-catering so move over on the bench. :) Your macaroni salad wouldn’t last long in this house!

  3. Looks like a great recipe for mac salad Georgia! I can remember helping my grandma make mac & potato salad in giant plastic tubs when I was a little girl. She made such good salads she landed catering jobs just for her salads. I make a very close version today, and it’s the one thing my dad will ask me to make for him – nostalgia – lol!

  4. Where else but The Comfort of Cooking would you find the ultimate summer pasta salad done to perfection? Mmm! Looks fabulous! Every BBQ deserves the best in tasty traditional side dishes. (We’re on the same wavelength. I’m working on my killer baked bean post right now.) As always, beautiful styling and photography, girl! I’ve gotta try those Wickles Pickles! xo

  5. I think all i need is that bowl and the big spoon that’s in it!

  6. I adore macaroni salad… I would have half a plate of this and go for 2nds. :) Looks fantastic and creamy. :) Have a great weekend. ~ Ramona

  7. This really does look like the best ever macaroni salad- not just a clever name! I’ll have to try this.

  8. I LOVE these colors. The is the prettiest macaroni salad I have even seen. WOW!

  9. Love the pickles and pickle juice in your beautifully creamy macaroni salad!

  10. So creamy and delicious!

  11. Sometimes the simplest works the magic. This macaroni salad looks so good, I could have a huge bowl now.

  12. Georgia, I loveeee this! What a great recipe and pictures…ok I am drooling, and totally want this comfort today for my lunch! Amazing pictures! Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend!

  13. This pasta salad sounds delicious! I never want pasta salad much during the rest of the year but come summer? I’m all over it!

  14. pasta salad is my weakness and i can eat this all day long :)

  15. This does look like the best ever mac salad!!! I’ll take a huge bowl of this right now!

  16. Oh girl… I want to down that entire bowl! Looks incredible!!!

  17. This looks so face plant worthy!

  18. Oh my! That macaroni salad is a looker. It won’t last long in my house for sure. Have a great weekend Georgia!

  19. Georgia – I could live on this! It seems I always make too much pasta salad, but I’m starting to realize it may be a Freudian “thing.” Guess who gets grazes on the leftovers….? This looks wonderful, especially for summer, but I could enjoy this any day of the year. Thanks for the wonderful post, wishing you a nice weekend!

  20. Such a perfect salad for summer picnics/BBQs!

  21. I can absolutely see why you call it “best ever”. I would love this!

  22. It looks divine! I love macaroni salad and yours looks amazing. I’ll be on the lookout for the Wickles pickles.

  23. Oh this pasta makes me so hungry!!! Love the shots too.

  24. This looks mouthwathering and good !

  25. I love macaroni salad and your version looks so pretty and wonderful. I love the colorful pepper and green onions. That adds some pretty color and flavors.

  26. YUM, Macaroni salad is so delicious. I have never made one but always love eating it when at picnics or barbecues. Nice recipe!

  27. Looks wickedly good, Georgia! There probably weren’t much leftovers despite how much you made. I like that you use whole wheat macaroni – it can definitely stand up with all those great flavors.

  28. This macaroni salad looks incredibly creamy and amazing! Perfect summer salad for parties and gatherings – yum!

  29. The salad looks lovely and delicious and great for parties.

  30. Only you could make a macaroni and cheese look so appetising – so delicious :D
    The beautiful colours, so summery!


  31. So flavorful and colorful!! I need to try macaroni salad someday :)

  32. I share the same problem of not being able to cook for a small group! I always make way too much food. But that’d be OK with this terrific looking salad – leftover macaroni salad is wonderful. Breakfast, anyone? ;-) Really nice – thanks.

  33. Believe or not I have never made macaroni salad before. This looks rather creamy and yummy and I love that you choose to make it with whole wheat macaroni :-)

  34. This looks so delicious… when I was little I used to beg my mom to buy me macaroni salad… remember those ‘cottage cheese type” containers.. potato salad and mac salad… so good. tangy and creamy.

  35. I’m such a sucker for macaroni salad. I could make dinner out of this!

  36. Glad that we are not the only ones with that problem. We somtimes have so much food eft over that we can literally have another party the next day and probably still have left overs.. lol

  37. I love macaroni salad in the summer; you can take a great basic recipe like this one, add in any vegetables, meat, fish or beans and make it a whole meal. I always think I’ve made too much, and then I turn around and it’s all gone.

  38. I love all of the miscellaneous salads too! I do favor potato salad, but I love me some macaroni salad as well! This looks so delectable – a scene-stealing side dish! :)

  39. I’m so glad I found this recipe. I’ve always enjoyed the mac salads that you find at great BBQ restaurants but often find they have a strange tangy flavor that can clash with other foods and drinks at the table. When trying to recreate them I would avoid ingredients that I thought would give the salad that tang, but then my salads would sometimes be bland. I’ve even resorted to the boxed mixes and tried to doctor them up with fresh veggies etc. Nothing ever had the right mix of sweet. spice and vinegar. Well, I made this today and I LOVE IT!!! I think that the combination of a small amount of vinegar mixed with the pickles, peppers and olives gives this salad a great flavor, a litte sweet, little spicy and just the right tang. THANK YOU!!!

  40. Other than the Margaritas – I love a great Macaroni Salad. This definitely looks like a fantastic one! Gotta make this when the snow melts. LOL. :)

  41. Do you use the Wickles pickle slices, they also had a relish… I could only find one jar of slices but they don’t say sweet and spicy. Is that just what they are?

  42. Yes, I used the pickle slices. The jar may not state “sweet and spicy” but those are the ones you want!

  43. This was delicious! Really good, went down well at a party too

  44. Shelly Gallegos says:

    We made this this weekend and it was soooo good, I didn’t need to add any milk it was creamy enough, I also added some cayenne and red pepper to spice it up, Yummm.

  45. Emily Freeman says:

    There use to be a different recipe here with red and yellow bell peppers, celery, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and I think brown sugar. What happened to that recipe? I made it quite a few times and it was delicious but my phone died with the screenshot of the recipe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Comfort of Cooking © Copyright 2024. All rights reserved.
Skip to Recipe