Salmon Macaroni Salad

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I distinctly remember the tall cans of dark pink salmon that used to be in our pantry when I was a kid. Although we could any time open a can of tuna or sardines and eat to our hearts content without permission, the canned salmon was off limits.

Although the excuse my dad gave was, “it’s special” (followed by “keep your hands off”), I think the real reason was that he loved the stuff and always wanted to make sure there was a can or two in the pantry when he wanted it. Nothing lasted that long in the pantry of a family with six kids.

Salmon Macaroni Salad

One of my favorite things to do with canned salmon is to make a simple salmon macaroni salad with it, a riff off our family favorite tuna macaroni salad. You can choose to add sliced lettuce (iceberg works best) to the salad, but it works best as is, without lettuce, if you are planning to bring it to a picnic or have it last for leftovers.

Salmon Macaroni Salad Recipe

  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Tip: add the macaroni to the salmon mayo mixture when it is still warm. That way it will absorb the flavors better.

Prep the salad ingredients while the pasta water is heating and the macaroni cooking.


  • 1/2 pound (about 2 cups) dry macaroni pasta
  • Salt
  • 2 (7-ounce) cans salmon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (plus more to taste or for added smoothness)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots, red onions, or green onions (with onion greens)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Tabasco to taste (we used about 10 drops)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Boil the macaroni pasta: Bring a pot of water (2 quarts) to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp salt. Add the dry macaroni pasta and cook, uncovered, in a rolling boil for about 10 minutes, or until the macaroni is al dente (slightly firm). Remove from heat, drain, rinse briefly in cold water (macaroni should be still warm after rinsing) and drain again.

2 Mix salmon and other ingredients in a large bowl: In a large bowl mix the salmon, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix in the shallots, parsley, dill, and celery.

3 Stir in drained, warm macaroni: Mix in the cooked macaroni while it is still warm. Add Tabasco and freshly ground black pepper to taste. As the macaroni absorbs the mayonnaise, you may need to add some water to the salad to keep it from being dry. Adjust seasonings.

Chill before serving.

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Showing 4 of 27 Comments

  • Becca

    I made this salad today. I did omit a few ingredients. (Tabasco, garlic, and celery). This recipe is amazing and turned out better then I could have imagined. The best part, is my two picky sons love it! This is going in my recipe book for sure!

  • Donna

    I tried this pasta with red salmon and use ketchup instead of mayonnaise with freshly squeezed lemon and chopped cucumber…it was wonderful,my husband asked if j went out and got take out,won’t give away my secret,he loved it. I am from Jamaica.

  • Herb

    I found your site thru Google as I was looking for a salmon pasta salad recipe. You recipe is as good or better than any I’ve ever seen.
    I don’t care for the herbs or Tabasco, so I just leave them out.
    That’s part of the beauty of a simple recipe. You can add or subtract whatever you don’t care for and the basic recipe doesn’t change at all. Thanks you for having this site available to all the guys like me, who like to cook for their wives. Your recipes make it easy to impress my wife with new dishes all the time. We both enjoy this salmon recipe and it is delicious!

  • Alison

    Just made this — never tried salmon salad before. It is SO freakin’ good! Thank you!

  • Victoria

    Just tried this and it was so delicious. Surprisingly filing and customizable. A great base.

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