The Best Macaroni Salad
The Best Macaroni Salad has ham, bacon, eggs, cheese, and plenty of colorful veggies in a sweet and creamy dressing.
Servings 20 servings
For the dressing:
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta salad:
- 1 pound elbow macaroni or other small pasta (see note 1)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (see note 2)
- 8 ounces ham diced (see note 3)
- 4 hard-boiled eggs sliced
- 6 slices cooked bacon
- 5 ribs celery sliced
- 1 cup broccoli chopped (see note 4)
- 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded and diced
- 4 scallions sliced
To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper).
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
In a large bowl, add pasta, cheese, ham, bacon, eggs, celery, broccoli, pepper, and scallions. Drizzle with dressing to taste and stir to combine.
- Elbow macaroni: Or substitute rotini, farfalle, penne, or any small other pasta.
- Cheese. Shredded cheese means less work for you, but cubes of diced cheese are great too.
- Ham. Leftover ham works great; just dice it up into bite-sized pieces. Or buy an 8-ounce package of diced ham at the store.
- Broccoli: If you'd like to blanch the broccoli (optional), bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add broccoli and cook until just tender and bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
- Yield: This recipe makes a lot: at least 20 servings.
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Make ahead: The dressing can be made up the day before and stored covered in the refrigerator. The pasta can be cooked, drained, rinsed, and cooled up to 1 day in advance. The ham, bacon, and vegetables can be prepped the day before and stored separately in the refrigerator.
- More mix-ins: Get creative with diced tomatoes, frozen peas, julienned carrots, black olives, diced cucumbers, or leftover turkey.
- Food safety: Any mayonnaise-based pasta salad that has been left out at room temperature for 2 hours or longer should be discarded, just to be on the safe side.
Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 377mg | Potassium: 182mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 461IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg