Salmon Macaroni Salad

SaladQuick and EasyCanned SalmonMacaroni

Salmon Macaroni Salad with canned salmon, ready in 30 min! Quick and easy pantry dinner or lunch, good for making ahead too.

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.

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Although the excuse my father 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

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 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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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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57 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Susan Wakefield-David

    This is good enough to put on rotation. Used leftover wild salmon that would make me cry if wasted. Used mini shell pasta, reduced celery to 1 1/2 sticks chopped, herbed up to 4 Tbs fresh parsley, a sprinkle of dry marjoram as Im not a dill fan. I would back off a bit on the shallots for balance. Used green tobasco, about 30 drops. Dang! So good; I was flying solo so ate it warm off the stove. Packed the rest up for salad? Midnight at the reefer might come up? Mahalo Susan


  2. WenofSF

    I was planning on making a tuna mac salad and discovered that my husband had eaten all the tuna Grrr! Enter canned salmon! I found your recipe and wasn’t end expecting much, but boy was I surprised! The mac salad was delicious. We all loved the lemony flavor and the kick of dill. Thanks so much for sharing. This recipe will be made again & again at our house from now on. :)


  3. Christina

    I’ve made this 3 times now and I love it. I usually use bowties or shell pasta instead of the macaroni.


  4. Janet

    Have a lot of canned salmon in case of the zombie apocalypse. Good recipe. Didn’t follow it exact. Alterations – I used a whole pound of pasta, doubled the mayo, added 1/2 tsp of lemon pepper seasoning, doubled mustard, garnished it with Spanish olives. Pretty good. This recipe is a keeper and quick to whip up. I’d also classify it as a less naughty comfort food.


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  5. Rhea

    Maybe I used too much Mac for us?
    It was bland. But then Mac salad is bland to me. I’m going to taste the leftovers today, I’m thinking of adding celery seed to the mix, Italian salad dressing might perk it up, also.


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