When you have a week straight of over 100°F temps, you start looking for cooler things to make. My mother makes this macaroni salad all summer long. She whipped up a batch earlier this week and I think I ate half of the bowl.
Think macaroni and deviled egg have a love child, and you'll be in the vicinity of this macaroni salad. There is a hard boiled egg, some roasted red bell pepper, chopped spring onions, a generous amount of mayo, and seasoning with sweet paprika. It's a perfect salad for a summer BBQ or picnic.
VIDEO: How to Make Macaroni Salad
Tip: Add Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted red peppers aren't a typical addition to macaroni salad, but trust me, they're great! They add a sweet, lightly smoky flavor, making this macaroni salad deliciously unique.
There are two ways of going about obtaining roasted red peppers for this salad. You can buy them, or you can make them:
- Store-bought roasted red peppers: Many retailers, Trader Joe's included, carry jarred roasted red bell peppers packed in oil and vinegar. We usually use these in recipes calling for roasted bell peppers.
- Roast your own: Alternatively, you can roast a fresh bell pepper by blackening it over an open flame on a gas range or broiling until the skin blisters on all sides. Remove from heat source, place in a bowl, cover the bowl, after a few minutes remove from the bowl and scrape off the blackened bits. Discard seeds and stem. You can find more instructions about this in our Marinated Roasted Bell Peppers Recipe.
Suggestions and Substitutions for Macaroni Salad
- Swap out the macaroni for fusilli, ditalini, cavatelli, orecchiette, or any small-shaped pasta
- Add chopped pickles or pickle relish (you can also put some pickle juice in the dressing!)
- For some crunch, swap the roasted red peppers with fresh red bell peppers
- For even more crunch, add chopped celery
- Swap the spring onions or green onions for shallots or red onions (soak them in a little water with lemon juice or vinegar for a few minutes to soften their bite)
- Add fresh or frozen peas
- Add diced cooked chicken, ham, bacon, shrimp, or tuna for a heartier salad
This recipe serves four, but is easily doubled or even tripled for a larger party. Just scale all the ingredients up.
How Long Does Macaroni Salad Keep?
Macaroni salad is best served the same day it's made. If you're serving this at a picnic, be sure to only let the salad sit out for a maximum of two hours.
Refrigerate all leftovers; the leftovers will get a little dried out, but will still be good for 2 to 3 days. We do not recommend freezing this salad.
Love Pasta Salads? Here Are 5 More
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Tuna Macaroni Salad
- Shrimp, Bacon, and Avocado Pasta Salad
- Salmon Macaroni Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
Mom's Easy Macaroni Salad
- 2 cups (about 1/2 pound) dry macaroni pasta (use rice or gluten-free pasta for gluten-free version)
- 1/4 cup chopped spring onion or green onion
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
- 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- A generous amount of mayonnaise (1/3 to 1/2 cup)
- Several pinches of paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook the pasta:
In at least 2 quarts of salted water (1 1/2 teaspoons of salt per quart of water), cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente—still slightly firm. Remove from heat, drain and rinse with cool water until the pasta reaches room temperature.
Soak the onions:
While macaroni is cooking, put the chopped onions into a small bowl and sprinkle the lemon juice or vinegar, and a little water over them. This will take the edge off the onions.
Assemble the macaroni salad:
Combine cooked macaroni, onions, and all other ingredients in a large serving bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste.