Summer Macaroni Salad

This recipe was kind of an accident. I think that’s okay though, because it was a pretty delicious accident.

Last week I was having a serious craving for macaroni salad, which isn’t something I can recall ever craving before, but I guess it was something about this sudden onset of hot summer weather we’ve been having.

Luckily for me, Oliver’s parents were grilling out Saturday night. When his mom called him to invite us to join them, I could overhear the words “grilling out” and all I could do was enthusiastically nod my head and mouth to Oliver the words, “YESTELLHERIWILLBRINGMACARONISALAD.”

In case you’re not as good as Oliver is at interpreting my mumble-jumble of food excitement speech, in regular English that translates to “Yes. Tell her I will bring macaroni salad.”

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Nevermind the fact that I’d never actually made macaroni salad before. Whoops. But it didn’t seem like it could be that hard. I could make a homemade mayo. I could cook macaroni. I could chop vegetables. I could throw in some vinegar for that pleasantly tangy taste. Easy enough, right?

This is the part where you’re probably expecting me to say, “WRONG” and then tell you about the crazy things that happened when I tried to take macaroni-salad-making into my own hands, likely involving mayonnaise bits flung across the kitchen onto the fridge, some kind of pickle chopping crisis involving a trip to the ER, and a stuck-together mass of overcooked macaroni on the floor with the cat gnawing away at it while I softly cry in the corner.

You might also like: Summer Veggie Tortellini Salad

This would be untrue though. Making macaroni salad was altogether a smooth process, and the result was just what I expected it to be. The moral of this story: Macaroni salad is just not that difficult. Maybe try it sometime?

For a list of even more summer side dish ideas, check out 8 Easy Summer Potluck Recipes!

A creamy macaroni salad recipe dressed with homemade mayonnaise & tangy vinegar, tossed with bell peppers, dill pickles, and red onions, and topped with fresh herbs

If you try Summer Macaroni Salad at home, I’d love to hear what you think! Share pictures with me on social media by tagging @thesavvyplate on Instagram or Twitter or by mentioning my page The Savvy Plate Blog on Facebook!

Summer Macaroni Salad

A creamy macaroni salad recipe dressed with homemade mayonnaise & tangy vinegar, tossed with bell peppers, dill pickles, and red onions

Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Author Savannah


for the homemade mayo (may be replaced with 1 1/4 cup store-bought mayo)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup olive oil

for the rest of the macaroni salad

  • 1/2 red onion (finely diced)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups dry macaroni
  • salt
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 3/4 cup dill pickle (diced)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • fresh herbs for topping


  1. Begin by making the homemade mayo. If you'd prefer to use store-bought mayo, move on to the next step. Add the egg to the bottom of a small jar or plastic container (you'll need it to have a wide enough mouth to fit an immersion blender). Add the lemon juice, dijon, salt, and finally olive oil. Insert the immersion blender. Keeping it low in the container and avoiding movement, turn it on and blend for about 15 seconds, until white mayonnaise begins to come together at the bottom of the container, THEN begin to move the immersion blender around until everything is incorporated.

  2. Add the finely diced red onion to a small bowl, and cover with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Allow it to macerate for about 45 minutes, which basically means you're going to let it sit there and let the acid soften the bite of the onion a little.

  3. Cook 2 cups of dry macaroni according to package instructions. Liberally salt the pasta water for more flavorful macaroni. When cooked, drain and rinse well in cool water. Let the macaroni chill before continuing. I find that rinsing it in cold water for 30 seconds cools it off well enough.

  4. Combine mayo with red onions and the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar you soaked them in. Mix in white pepper and coriander, then combine with macaroni, bell pepper, and pickles.

  5. Chill until ready to serve, and top with fresh herbs if desired. I used cilantro because I had some on hand, but I think dill or chives would also be delicious.

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