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Macaroni salad

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A barbeque with in-laws coming up and I'm doing salads. I want to make macaroni salad, but they ( the in-laws, not the macaroni) are VERY white bread. I need a recipe that is similar to what you would buy in a supermarket, but something that I won't be ashamed to make. Does that make sense?

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  1. I make my macaroni salad with mayo, hard boiled eggs (yolk mashed for the dressing, white cut up in the salad), a little white vinegar, celery salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Many supermarket brands use a little of sweet relish in theirs but I personally don't like mine sweet. I use about 1 cup of mayo per pound of cooked macaroni and then add the other ingredients to taste. Make sure you chill the salad for a few hours before serving to incorperate the flavors !! Good luck and hope I helped.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jimbosox04

      That's just what I had in mind - the pickle relish part of store bought salads is a turn off for me.

      1. re: eimac

        I confess I like a bit of sweetness in a macaroni salad, but I wouldn't use pickle relish. I would say to chop up a couple of decent sweet pickles and add them. The larger chunks isolate the sweetness, unlike relish which tends to be overwhelming plus includes other flavors you might not want.

        I would also add a bit of chopped onion, and frozen peas (they will thaw in the hot pasta), and possibly a chopped up carrot (throw in with the cooking water at the end to blanch). Not a fan of garlic powder, though.

        1. re: coney with everything

          oh yeah, got to have tiny baby peas or it is just not right. I generally use some sweet gherkins, well drained so the sweetness comes in as an interesting note but does not over power the salad. I really love to use small shells for the macaroni they make it easy to scoop up the different bits in the salad. Small shrimp are also a welcome addition.

        2. re: eimac

          The deli I worked at used just the brine from the roasted pepper hulls and also the brine from either sweet pickles or relish rather than the real thing. More subtle that way.

        3. re: Jimbosox04

          My DH loves macaroni salad, so I make this often. My version is similar, use celery not the salt, mustard, good portion of sweet relish, red onion, mayo and lots of sliced hardboiled (11 minute) eggs so they are bright yellow, and then I drain a can of tuna that has been packed in water, and mix it through. Recently prepared the food for a friend's party, they loved the tuna and macaroni salad. And, leave the tuna out if you don't think they would like it...salt and pepper should be to your preference. I'm a bit heavy handed with salt and pepper, or any spice for that matter. If making a lot for large group, place lots of eggs around the edges, so everyone get one.

        4. I hear you. This one is great, but I would decrease the salt a bit.


          Another one that is good and much lighter is http://www.recipezaar.com/155858

          Either of these should fit in with your in laws.

          1. Just wanted to add that if you want another alternative that I sometimes make you can just cook the macaroni, chill it, then add a bottle of Italian Dressing and Pamasian/Romano Cheese, some cherry tomatoes and chopped veggies like, cucumber, celery, red onion, always a hit with my friends and family. The key is to use alot of CHEESE !!! Not too healthy but delicious.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jimbosox04

              You might add some blanched, chopped broccoli florets to this one.

            2. White trash mac salad - try this standby from a very old Betty Crocker - still my favorite and always gone in no time.

              Cook macaroni, rinse and cool
              Add vinegar and let sit while you do the rest
              Chop onions, celery, red (or whatever color) peppers and pickles of your choice - I like sweet
              Toss together

              Dressing - miracle whip and mayo combined with a salt and pepper

              Can add olives, cheese cubes, shrimp

              1. My mom makes a very white bread one; but I still love it.
                Celery, chopped onion, salt, pepper, celery seed, celery salt, Hellmans Mayo, bit of cider vinegar, macaroni. Mix it all together and let sit an hour before serving. Sometimes she uses dill pickle juice instead of the vinegar. Also tasty.

                1. .
                  Try this White Bread Recipe. It is a Copy Cat of the KFC recipe. How much better does it get ?

                  1 (7 ounce) box elbow macaroni, cooked
                  2 stalks celery, minced fine
                  1 tablespoon instant minced onion
                  1/3 cup diced sweet gherkins
                  1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip
                  1/2 cup mayonnaise
                  1/4 teaspoon black pepper
                  1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
                  1 teaspoon sugar
                  1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

                  1. Combine everything just as listed.
                  2. Refrigerate salad tightly covered several hours before serving.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Tony Theobald

                    I have a question - why mix Miracle Whip and mayonnaise? Is it for the sweetness in the Miracle Whip ( which I hate, but my husband loves, so I have to make two versions of any dish which calls for mayonnaise)

                    1. re: eimac

                      Somehow it is the sweetness of the miracle whip. My original recipe calls for all miracle whip which is offset by the vinegar at the beginning but I find that is sometimes too sweet so I switched to 1/2 and 1/2 with mayo.

                    2. re: Tony Theobald

                      Pretty much what I use, but only mayo. Can't stand Miracle Whip.
                      And I like some mashed hard boiled eggs, give texture and flavor and just always made it
                      that way.
                      And I used real onion, 1 small onion fine chopped
                      And I used 1/8 cup pimentos diced

                    3. Just struck me: are cole slaw (on a simultaneous thread) and macaroni salad recipes basically the same, save cabbage vs macaroni?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Could you be thinking of potato salad?

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          not even close, no pickles or celery in cole slaw that I know of, it could be a fusion salad of the future maybe.

                        2. My favorite pasta salad is with radiattore, cooked very al dente. Lots to chew on. I add lots of chopped carrots, chopped roasted red peppers, chopped green peppers and a handful of peas. Then I add small cubes of sharp cheddar. I dress it with a dressing made with white vinegar, EVOO, S&P and dijon mustard. The key ingredient is the radiattore. Your in-laws would hate it but it's really good!!!!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: southernitalian

                            True - but I think it's going to be on my menu for tonight - I just bought some red pepper/corn sausages at Costco which I was going to grill and that salad will do the trick! - do you use the jarred red peppers or roast your own? (I also bought a bag of red peppers) Regular white vinegar or white wine vinegar?

                            1. re: eimac

                              Jarred red peppers and whatever white/light vinegar is on hand. It would be delicious with grilled sausages. grilled anything. If the grill is on and you have an ear of corn, you could grill that and then slice it off the ear and into the salad. That would be tasty AND pretty.

                              1. re: southernitalian

                                Oh yeah. Warm sliced sausage on top of your macaroni salad with some parm shredded over the top is wonderful. The hot/cold contrast is great.

                          2. I make it with a box of barilla wheat pasta, 6 boiled eggs that you slice and then smash into the pasta once it's done, raw diced white onion, raw diced tomato, green/red peppers if you like, cup or so of mayo, half cup dijon mustard, salt, pepper, celery salt, a little pickle relish, minced garlic, maybe some red pepper flakes, and a little basil. Just keep tasting it while you add ingredients until you like it! Definitely chill it for a while afterwards before serving.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: food_eater79

                              This recipe is a variation of a recipe I found online. They had way too much sugar in it but this is the closest I have found to deli style macaroni salad. It has become the family favorite and now I have to make it all the time. It's very creamy. Richie

                              16 oz. box uncooked elbow macaroni
                              5 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
                              1smallonion,chopped finely diced carrots (I buy the shreeded in the bag and pulse them in the food processor
                              1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
                              3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
                              1 30 oz. jar Hellmann’s’ mayonnaise
                              2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
                              1/4 cup white sugar
                              3 tablespoons white vinegar
                              1/2 teaspoon salt
                              1 1/2 teaspoon celery seed

                              Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain, and set aside to cool.

                              In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, onion, celery, red pepper, and relish. In a small bowl, stir together the salad dressing, mustard, white sugar, vinegar, salt and celery seed. Pour over the vegetables, and stir in macaroni until well blended. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

                            2. I love the Amish Macaroni Salad recipe from allrecipes.com as a starting point. I sub Tillamook extra sharp cheddar for the hardboiled eggs, add peas, and use less sugar in the dressing. And sometimes I use Barilla plus rotini instead of macaroni. It is pretty traditional, but packs in a lot of veggies with celery, onion, and red bell pepper.

                              1. My grandmother used to make a mac salad that I loved as a kid. Elbow macaroni, onions, sliced green olives, mayo ( not a lot of mayo) and cubed cheddar sheese.Was a childhood staple in the summer. Haven't had it in ages- may make a batch this weekend!

                                1. Yes, I've learned that home cooked anything is way better than store bought. I ate a whole large pot of my mac salad over the course of 3-4 days. Leftovers are always better the next day or 2 IMO.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: food_eater79

                                    Actually just made some new mac salad out of a 14 oz box of whole wheat ziti pasta (barilla plus), used 1.5C mayo, 1/2C dijon, ground sea salt and ground peppercorn, 2 roma tomato diced and 1/2 purple onion diced, few pinches of basil, touch of cilantro, 2 TBspoons red pepper flakes, some celery salt, couple tsp sweet relish, 6 hard-boiled eggs, couple handfuls of washed baby spinach that I chopped, and tomorrow will add some black olives (forgot). It's great and it'll last a few days in the fridge.

                                  2. Not much like anything from a supermarket, but I like to make it half salad macaroni, half shredded napa cabbage, sliced green olives with pimientos, and green onions. Then I make a mixture of mayo, sour cream and dijon mustard. Nice and crunchy.

                                    1. Something about this old-fashioned macaroni salad is indeed utterly comforting and picnic-perfect. Just this summer my mom and I hunted for a good recipe for the classic, and she found this one:


                                      Here, for a pound of elbows, I thought the recipe went really light on the veggies, so I triple or quadruple it. That way I can eat more :O without feeling guilty pangs. So to the lb of pasta, I added one whole red pepper, a small red onion, and about 3 1/2 stalks celery, all diced, and some olives. Dressing is so easy too. Now it's chilling out in the fridge b/c we all know how much better it tastes a few hours later.

                                      I've tried all the fancy-schmancy takes on pasta salads, and sometimes I enjoy those, but I find this recipe is PERFECT for a picnic, nice and mellow to complement some creamy slaw, mustardy potato salad, a delectable sandwich, salt and vinegar chips, and some homemade lemonade, iced tea, or (best!) rhubarb Italian sodas with my own homemade rhubarb syrup. Mmmm-mmm. We hike a lot, and I wrap up tiny containers of the salads in our cooler. YUM!

                                      1. Important tips: Cook slightly (but only slightly) al dente, then chill with cold water and drain thoroughly before dressing (I'm talkin' at least 10 minutes).

                                        Pickles: maybe, but certainly minced (not 'food-processored' or grated) raw carrot, sweet red and green peppers. A bit of minced fresh or (given the tastes of the anticipated recipients) dried parsley wouldn't be amiss.

                                        1. MIRACLE WHIP
                                          SOUR CREAM
                                          GULDENS MUSTARD
                                          RED WINE VINEGAR
                                          SWEET PICKLE RELISH
                                          SLICED BLACK OLIVES
                                          RED ONION
                                          RED BELL PEPPER
                                          5 HARD BOILED EGGS
                                          GARLIC POWDER
                                          S & P

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: scottysauce

                                            No matter what the salad, slaw, macaroni, or potato....I like to make my own homemade mayo flavored to taste.....depending on what type of salad I am making. For the oils I use half extra virgin OO and half canola oil. Also, usually add sour cream to the dressing mix.

                                            Most ready-made salads from the deli counters are way, way too sweet ! And always a disappointment when I get lazy enough to try bought again.

                                            1. re: Lisbet

                                              Ew, I am so with you on the store bought...too yucky sweet. Thanks for the recipes all!

                                          2. Anyone have a macaroni salad that uses BBQ sauce in the mac salad?

                                            1. Well white bread or not, check out Dunkleys famous mac salad--I have never met anyone that doesnt like it..but you may want to play with it a bit

                                              1. I know I responded to this years ago, but here is my new take on things.

                                                There is a BBQ near me that I would sell my soul to get their recipe. And it is the most simple thing. There are finely diced green peppers and carrots, which I used at my deli, and the dressing is a mix of mayo but very thin, which I'm sure is vinegar since everything they make is vinegar extreme. I also used to put pickle juice and/or red pepper hull juice from the B&G jars so maybe a bit of that too. Some seasoning but nothing you can really identfy. The more I jazz up my macaroni salad, the worse it goes over. So no more tuna, olives, celery, tomatoes etc etc. That is a pasta salad, not macaroni as it is known to the general public. The way I like it, is just the macaroni and dressing, then toss the peppers and carrots on top for decoration and mix in just before serving.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: coll

                                                  Years ago while waiting in line at a latin meat market, I was casually watching an employee mixing up something using cans of sweetened condensed milk, cider vinegar, and white sugar. There may have been something else such as pepper or salt, but not while I was watching. The consistancy looked thin when it was poured into a pitcher. I didn't make the connection until months later where I seen a container filled with their mac salad and some of this sauce drizzled into the container. I assume that was to compensate for the absorption of the prepared salad in the pan. I tried some and it tasted quite good actually. The salad was nothing more then mac with some finely chopped pimentos added. Nothing else but the sauce. Perhaps this might give you a clue. If this is an old style Q joint in the south, they may be tainting their vinegar with hot peppers.

                                                  1. re: DawnT

                                                    Thanks! I think I'll put it on the menu for Labor Day and see what I can come up with. Definitely sugar and vinegar, just a bit of mayo, and something spicy like hot pepper brine. White pepper and salt and not much else.

                                                    At our deli, we'd make the salads (potato, mac and slaw) in the early AM with brine only, and then add the mayo when putting it out in the case later. Maybe that's the secret, marinading. Why are the simplest things the hardest? And why didn't I write that recipe down, guess I thought I had it memorized!

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      I just read over my post and realized I forgot to list mayonnaise in that mix. It was mayo,condensed milk,vinegar,and sugar that made the dressing. From what I remember, the mac salad was already tossed in the dressing in the case, they just added a bit more from the pitcher after packing it into a container. I wouldn't call this marinading, just replacing some of the dressing that the salad took up because it was so thin.

                                                2. 1 8 oz box of cooked elbow macaroni, minced green/red pepper, onion, celery, cucumber, and sweet relish to taste. Combine all with a combo of mayonnaise and ranch dressing.