The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe

This is my Grandma’s recipe and the BEST Macaroni Salad, ever. It has everything you want: Ham, bacon, cheese, eggs, veggies, and a creamy dressing!

If bananas are nature’s perfect food, Macaroni Salad is man’s perfect food.

I mean, it contains ALL the food groups and nothing could be more fun to eat.

I have a special place in my heart for macaroni salad. The best one I ever ate was from the long-gone Al’s Town and Country Market in Oxford, a tiny Wisconsin town with a population of 400 or fewer.

This is my Grandma's recipe and the BEST Macaroni Salad, ever. It has everything you want: Ham, bacon, cheese, eggs, veggies, and a creamy dressing!

Al’s macaroni salad was just the right balance of juiciness and chew with carefully selected ingredients that just made my heart sing. Whenever we went to Oxford, we would get a small carton of Al’s macaroni salad and fight over who got the egg, the tomato, whatever it may be.

My second favorite macaroni salad, ever, is from my Grandma. Hers is also spectacular, and that’s the one I’m sharing with you today.

It has everything you might want and expect in The Best Macaroni Salad recipe: Ham, bacon, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, lots of veggies, and a sweet and tangy, cream dressing. And of course, plenty of macaroni!

This is my Grandma's recipe and the BEST Macaroni Salad, ever. It has everything you want: Ham, bacon, cheese, eggs, veggies, and a creamy dressing!

The dressing is a lot like the one on Piggly Wiggly Salad, another Midwestern classic side dish. It’s mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar. Can’t go wrong with that!

This Macaroni Salad recipe is best served the day it’s made. I reserve a small amount of dressing in the fridge so I can “freshen up” the salad if it needs it. The dressing tends to soak in after a while, and you want this macaroni salad to be, as my Grandma puts it, juicy.

Although I recommend eating it the day it’s made, all the components can be prepped and stored separately in the refrigerator the day before (even the dressing).

This is my Grandma's recipe and the BEST Macaroni Salad, ever. It has everything you want: Ham, bacon, cheese, eggs, veggies, and a creamy dressing!

If you have leftover ham, here’s a great way to put it to use. Otherwise, you can probably buy an 8-ounce package of diced ham at your grocery store (in the meat section, near the bacon), which means you don’t have to limit this creamy macaroni salad to post-Easter and post-Christmas.

I hope you enjoy the recipe! It’s a staple at all events in our family, from holidays to birthdays to lunch and brunch.

And it always reminds me of Al’s Town and Country Market.

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The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe

Yield: 20 servings

Prep Time:20 min

Cook Time:20 min

Total Time:40 min

This is my Grandma's recipe and the BEST Macaroni Salad, ever. It has everything you want: Ham, bacon, cheese, eggs, veggies, and a creamy dressing!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or other small pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces ham, diced
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 5 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
  3. Pour pasta into a large bowl. Add cheese, ham, bacon, eggs, celery, broccoli, pepper, and scallions. Stir to combine.
  4. Add most of the salad dressing and toss until evenly coated, reserving a small amount to refresh the salad if it needed.
Notes:
  1. All components (including the dressing) can be assembled ahead of time such as the night before. Just toss everything together in a large bowl right before serving.

6 comments

  1. This is my first time making this recipe. I doubled the dressing and it still seems too dry for our liking. The flavor is great and I love all the ingredients. 

    • Hi Kathy, sorry about that!! My Grandma used to thin her dressing with water or milk so I will experiment with that and updated the recipe. Nothing worse than dry macaroni salad. Thanks for the info!

  2. It says bow tie pasta in recipe but picture shows macaroni?

    • Hey Jenn! I’m such a genius. My grandma always uses bow-tie pasta but I like elbow. Clearly I wrote down her recipe without adding that change. :) I’ll fix it right now. It should really say, “Elbow macaroni or other small pasta” because it doesn’t really matter what you use. Thanks for letting me know about the typo!

  3. If you make ahead, do you wait to put the dressing on until ready to serve? Your comment was a little vague

    • Sorry about that Catherine. I would mix the dressing ingredients together (make the dressing) but do not add it to the salad. So, the flavors of the dressing can start to blend with each other, but don’t add it until right before serving. Basically make the dressing and prep all the rest of the ingredients and keep everything separate, then toss it all together right before serving. I’ll re-write my note on that so it actually makes sense! Thanks and I hope you love the salad.

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