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.

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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38 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. KimC

    When I have a hankering for a mac salad, this is the one I go to. Only addition, sweet bell peppers. Don’t leave out the Tabasco, it adds flavor, not much heat. Thanks, Elise, as always two thumbs up!


    Show Replies (1)
  2. Paula

    Yum ! This is a wonderful summer dinner. Thank you.


  3. Frank

    I used some frozen Coho salmon I baked last week.
    The salmon is so mild compared to canned, its hard to tell its salmon.
    Thanks, new spring go to.


  4. Christina

    I added grapes (cut in half) to mine. And didn’t add the celery or tobasco. I also added chopped dill pickles.


    Show Replies (1)
  5. Brent Rice

    Used whatever pasta I could find, substituted whole milk Greek yogurt for the mayo since I didn’t have any and tossed in a tbsp of cider vinegar to make up for it. Other than that I pretty much followed the recipe. My new go to after a workout, may try it with sardines or mackeral next time. Great!


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