Vintage Macaroni Salad

There are recipes that take you right back to the past, and this Vintage Macaroni Salad recipe does that for me. One taste and I think of backyard barbecues, picnics, and wonderful holidays and sunday meals with family. We always ate macaroni salad year round, from the Fourth of July to Christmas to Easter and everything in between. As an adult, I realize why it made an appearance at every event. It’s easy to throw together, the ingredients are inexpensive — and everyone, young and old, loves it.

Dill pickle relish.

I know many people prefer a sweeter macaroni salad, but I like mine with dill pickles and just a hint of sweetness. In the recipe notes, you’ll find recommendations for substituting sweet pickle relish in place of the dill the recipe calls for. And yes, I use relish instead of cutting up pickles myself — although you’re most welcome to do that. I find using relish speeds up the salad making process and tastes just as good. Some people use pickles for crunch, but I add plenty of celery for that. The relish distributes itself really well throughout the salad so you get a little taste of pickle with every bite, which I love.

I make my macaroni salad with regular elbow macaroni pasta, but really any kind of dried pasta will work. The primary issue is finding a pasta shape that’s small enough to still give you the same delicious bite that always has bits of celery, onion, and egg at once. So I wouldn’t recommend a spaghetti or a penne. Smaller pasta shapes are best. In a pinch, I once used the alphabet pasta I keep for vegetable soup, so don’t worry too much about substituting.

Vintage Macaroni Salad

3 from 85 votes
Recipe by Add Recipes Course: Dinner, Sides
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Macaroni elbow pasta, dry

  • 4 Eggs, hard boiled and diced

  • 1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise

  • 1/2 Onion, fine mince

  • 4 stalks Celery, diced

  • 1/4 cup Dill pickle relish or fine minced dill pickles

  • 2 tablespoons Vinegar, white distilled

  • 2 tablespoons Mustard, classic yellow

  • 1 tablespoon Sugar, white granulated

  • 1 teaspoon Salt

  • Paprika to taste

  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions

  • Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain and set aside.
  • In large salad bowl, make dressing by whisking together mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and fresh cracked pepper to taste. When well combined, add dill pickle relish and minced onion; stir well. Allow dressing to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes for flavors to develop.
  • Add cooked and cooled macaroni to salad bowl. Toss thoroughly in dressing until evenly coated.
  • Add diced celery and stir until evenly distributed.
  • Carefully stir in diced hard boiled egg until evenly distributed.
  • Sprinkle top of macaroni salad with paprika and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Notes

  • Sweet pickle relish or sweet pickles may be used as substitute for dill pickles. Salad will be sweeter.
  • Sugar may be substituted with your favored sweetener or omitted altogether.
  • Red wine or white wine vinegar may be used as substitute for distilled white vinegar. Taste will be altered. Apple cider vinegar may be used as a substitute for a very different flavor.
  • Any prepared mustard, such as Dijon, may be used as substitute for yellow mustard — flavor will change. 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard may be used as substitute for prepared mustard.
  • Any small dry pasta may be used as substitute for macaroni, such as small shells or ditalini.
  • Any kind of onion can be used in this recipe: white, yellow, red, shallots, or green onions. Use your favorite. Or omit it altogether if you prefer. I suggest adding a teaspoon or two of garlic or onion powder to the dressing if you do.
Yellow mustard.

Mustard is an important component of any macaroni salad dressing. Yellow mustard, the kind you’d expect to find on a hot dog at a baseball stadium, is my preference for this recipe. To me, it tastes more like the classic macaroni salad I grew up with. There have been times that Dijon was the only mustard I had in the house and I’ve used it as a substitute. This salad is good with Dijon, and I’m sure it would be good with most prepared mustards, but I like the uncomplicated bite of yellow mustard best.

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