The Best Macaroni Salad for BBQ

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This simple, zesty, and delicious macaroni salad is the ideal side dish for your next tailgate or BBQ.

It’s a creamy take on a classic pasta salad that goes well with grilled and smoked meats.

The Best Macaroni Salad

The Best Macaroni Salad for BBQ

This macaroni salad is a pasta salad version that is more akin to creamy sides like potato salad and coleslaw than to regular pasta salad.

There are various regional versions of the meal, but this recipe is a traditional one loaded with fresh peppers, onions, and sour pickles.

While it is difficult to pinpoint the origins of macaroni salad, it is often assumed that it was invented by European immigrants.

Creamy mayonnaise and mustard-based side dishes were popular in the United States in the early to mid-1900s, and macaroni salads first appeared in American cookbooks in the 1920s.

It’s simple to prepare and remains fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days, making it a perfect deli counter and barbecue restaurant staple.

How to make macaroni salad

1. Cook the pasta

Cooking the macaroni is the first step in creating macaroni salad. You may use whatever kind of pasta you choose, but I feel that a basic elbow macaroni is the ideal vessel for the creamy and wonderful sauce.

When cooking pasta, you want it to be slightly under al dente. This will prevent the pasta from becoming clumpy and mushy as it rests in the fridge after the dressing has been applied. Simply follow the directions on the package of macaroni and deduct one minute from the required cooking time for al dente.

Once your pasta has finished cooking, strain it in a colander and rinse it well with cold water to halt the cooking process.

Drizzle some olive oil on top to prevent the spaghetti from sticking together and set it aside to cool at room temperature.

2. Prep your veg

I love carefully chopping the veggies in my macaroni salad, but a rough chop would do if you want heartier bits. It all comes down to personal choice.

The most crucial ingredients in a macaroni salad are onions, peppers, and pickles, but you may experiment with other combinations.

If you want a more southwest flavor, replace the red bell pepper with poblano pepper. To reduce the acidity, use a white or sweet onion for the red onion. If you don’t like pickles, replace them with sliced cucumber for a more refreshing taste profile.

Once the pasta has cooled to room temperature, combine all of the other ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss well.

3. Make the dressing

This creamy dressing is simple to make and packed with flavor. It may also be used to make a dressing for other foods like potato salad or coleslaw.

In a medium-sized mixing basin, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until thoroughly blended. It should have the consistency of blue cheese dressing.

Pour the dressing over the macaroni salad and mix until everything is fully covered and integrated.

Refrigerate it, covered, for 2 hours before serving to allow it to cool and all of the flavors to mingle.

What to serve macaroni salad with

Here are some terrific BBQ dishes to go with this macaroni salad:

  • Smoked Meatloaf with Homemade BBQ Glaze
  • Whole Smoked Chicken
  • Brisket Grilled Cheese
  • Competition Style Pork Butt
  • Competition Style Pork Ribs


What’s the best store bought macaroni salad?

With six types in the Top 10, Heinen’s dominated the top slots in our rankings.

Why does my macaroni salad not stay creamy?

If you don’t cook it long enough, the pasta will lose its grip on the dressing and dry up. If you overcook the pasta, it will become mushy and disgusting. If you cook the pasta correctly, your macaroni salad will remain deliciously creamy.

Why does Hawaiian Mac salad taste different?

Hawaiian mac salad, unlike its Anglo cousin, avoids vinegar and mustard; it also avoids sugar and MSG (which some older recipes contain), instead opting for Best Foods (also known as Hellmann’s) mayonnaise.

What’s the difference between macaroni salad and pasta salad?

The major distinction between the two is how they are clothed. Macaroni salad is often served with mayonnaise, while pasta salad is typically served with vinaigrette. A macaroni salad is a sort of pasta salad. Macaroni salad is usually prepared using elbow macaroni in the United States.

Which macaroni brand is the best?

Experts’ Picks for the Best Pasta Brands
Rao’s. Rao’s is well renowned for their tasty sauce, but they don’t stop there.
Cecco’s name. De Cecco is another excellent option owing to bronze dies! … Barilla.
The Molisana.

What are the five mistakes to avoid pasta salad?

5 Pasta Salad Making Mistakes to Avoid
Using the incorrect size and form of pasta.
The pasta may be overcooked or undercooked.
Not seasoning the pasta enough.
While the pasta salad is still warm, avoid seasoning it.
Making your pasta salad too far ahead of time.

Should you rinse pasta before making macaroni salad?

Pasta should never, ever be washed before serving heated. The starch in the water is what makes the sauce stick to the pasta. Only rinse your pasta if you’re intending to use it in a cold dish, such as a pasta salad, or if you’re not going to use it right away.

Why does mayonnaise disappear in macaroni salad?

Because the starch in the pasta absorbs the liquid, the mayonnaise will vanish from the pasta salad. The pasta starch binds to the fat in the mayonnaise and is absorbed by the pasta.

How do you keep macaroni salad from soaking up mayonnaise?

How can I prevent mayonnaise from seeping into the macaroni? It’s that easy! Chill! Chilling your macaroni and other salad components before combining them can help limit the absorption of mayonnaise.

Why does my macaroni salad taste bland?

One of the reasons homemade macaroni salads might be boring is due to one of the following factors: 1. There was not enough salt in the boiling water. In this recipe, the salt in the water should be considered as an actual ingredient.

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