Easy Classic Macaroni Salad with Peas
Enjoy and indulge in this delightful Classic Macaroni Salad with Peas that’s easy to make, goes great as a side to any main meal, and everyone will love it. This easy make-ahead side dish combines the flavors of macaroni, sweet peas, crisp vegetables, and cheddar cheese tossed together in a creamy dressing. It’s a classic side dish and a great recipe for any potluck, tailgate, or barbecue. I’m confident your family and guest will love this dish.
Classic Macaroni Salad is a staple and perfect side dish for any occasion. It’s easy to make, and everyone will love it. It takes several ingredients which you probably already have on hand. I’m confident your family and guest will make this dish time and time again.
When the weather warms up, activities move outside, and I am always looking for a simple recipe to fit the occasion. A cold salad is refreshing on hot summer days and served as a side dish at barbecues or other gatherings. Potato salad and Mexican Corn Salad usually appear on the menu when grilled food is served.
Why This Dish Is Fantastic
Cold pasta salads are always a great side dish to serve when the weather turns warm and more people gather outside for cookouts. This simple macaroni salad recipe combines tender pasta with fresh peas (or frozen- my choice) with a slightly tangy dressing that will feed a large crowd.
Easy to Make– This is truly an easy pasta salad to make. If desired, prepare this dish a day or two ahead of time- it keeps nicely in the refrigerator. Then, add more dressing to the salad before serving.
Versatile– This salad is easily customizable to your tastes. Add or subtract ingredients as you desire. If you don’t like something, leave it out. If you want more of something, add it.
Perfect for Dishes on the Go– This dish transports well for on-the-go dinners, parties, bbq’s, or tailgating.
Fresh & Tasty– Fresh vegetables and creamy dressing make every bite delicious.
Budget Friendly– No fancy ingredients are needed in this dish.
Creamy Macaroni Salad Ingredients
Simple ingredients are needed for this delicious macaroni salad—nothing fancy, just straightforward items from the refrigerator and pantry.
Celery- I add fresh celery for the crunch.
Bell Pepper- Green peppers are usually in my refrigerator, but a yellow or red bell pepper would work nicely.
Onion- Diced onion adds flavor and crunch. Use less if desired. I’ve used yellow, Vidalia, and even a red onion in this salad, and they all work fine.
Frozen Peas- I use frozen green peas because they are handy, and I often keep an extra bag in the freezer. They are so good in this salad.
Cheese Cubes- (Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Colby Jack)
Jalapeno- Remove the seeds, and it is not hot. The jalapeno adds flavor and spice. Leave out if desired.
Elbow Macaroni- Regular elbow macaroni noodles are easy to find and perfect for this salad.
Dressing (ingredients below)
Dressing for Macaroni Salad
This classic macaroni salad dressing is super simple to make and very tasty. It’s a mayonnaise-based dressing that adds creaminess and elevates the flavor. In addition, the dressing plays an essential role in enhancing and coating the noodles in a great way.
Pour the mayonnaise mixture dressing over the macaroni and stir to coat evenly. This macaroni salad dressing is super simple to make and very tasty. It’s a mayonnaise-based dressing that only takes minutes to prepare.
Mayonnaise– This is the base for the dressing. Add a cup of mayonnaise or more for extra creaminess. My personal preference is Duke’s Mayonnaise but use your favorite brand.
Mustard– Gives it just a kick of spice. I like Dijon mustard, but if you don’t have Dijon on hand, yellow mustard works as well.
Sweet Pickle Relish– Adds just the right amount of sweetness to the salad.
Vinegar– Mixes with the mayo and adds tang. I use white and sometimes apple cider vinegar. Both work for the pea salad dressing.
Sugar– Just a little sweetness.
Salt & Black Pepper– Simple is sometimes all you need.
How To Make This Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe
The best part about this classic macaroni salad is that you can make it a day or two ahead of time. If you are having a gathering, double up on the recipe, make it the night before and store it in the refrigerator. Honestly, it is better the next day. Just give it a good stir before serving.
For complete detailed instructions, see the recipe card below. This is the best macaroni salad recipe and the only one I use. Macaroni Salad is best served chilled so all the flavors can meld together.
This salad only requires basic steps from start to finish.
- Boil the noodles. Fill a large pot with cold water and follow the package directions to cook elbow macaroni. Cook them al dente, drain them in a colander, and rinse with cool water. Let the cooked pasta cool.
- Prepare the vegetables. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked pasta noodles. Then add diced celery, onion, bell pepper, peas, jalapeno, and cheese.
- Make the dressing. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or Mason Jar. The recipe calls for one cup mayonnaise, but add more if you desire. I sometimes do it to make it extra creamy.
- Mix everything and refrigerate. Chill the creamy macaroni salad before serving for the best results and great flavor. You may need to add additional dressing before serving. The noodles seem to drink up the sauce.
Easy Greek Pasta Salad is loaded with fresh vegetables and topped with a tasty dressing. Simple and incredible.
The creamy dressing, the veggies’ crunch, and the pepper’s heat make this dish irresistible. It is pure comfort food in every bite. You can’t go wrong with a big bowl of macaroni salad, barbecue from the grill, and a tall glass of lemonade.
How to Store this Easy Classic Macaroni Salad
Store this salad in an airtight container (or cover the bowl with plastic wrap or foil) in the refrigerator for up to a week. You may need to add more creamy dressing to the salad before serving; The noodles will drink up the dressing.
What’s nice about this easy macaroni salad is that you can add in just about anything you wish and make it to suit your taste. Get creative and make it unique. A few of my favorite add-ins are:
(diced) leftover ham
Seasonings- celery salt or onion powder
*Make sure noodles are cooled before adding the other ingredients. You don’t want your cheese to melt.
*Jalapenos are optional. If you are serving this dish to heat-sensitive guests or children, leave out the peppers.
*I used Cheddar. Try Pepper Jack Cheese for the added kick or feel free to use your favorite.
* Don’t overcook your noodles. You want them firm, not mushy.
* Any small pasta noodles will work for this recipe. If you do not like elbow macaroni, any small shell pasta noodles will work just fine.
*Make a day in advance if time allows. You can certainly serve this salad the day you make it, but it is so much better the next day.
*If serving the next day, stir in another big spoonful of mayo or ranch dressing to the salad. The noodles absorb all of the creamy dressing while chilling in the refrigerator.
*Double the recipe if serving to a crowd.
For More Easy Salad Recipes, be sure to check out:
Side dish salads go perfectly with any main dish. Some of my favorite salads are:
What to Serve with Macaroni Salad?
This classic pasta salad goes well with so many main dish foods. This dish goes well with backyard barbecue food and pairs well with chicken, pork, beef, and fish.
More Summer Side Dishes
Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw– Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw- slaw mix, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. So easy and taste fabulous! This slaw recipe is most definitely a keeper. This goes great with everything from BBQ to fish to tailgating food. Try it, and I bet it will be a hit!
Southern Tomato Pie– Southern Tomato Pie is the ultimate comfort food made with fresh garden tomatoes, bacon, caramelized onions, fresh basil, and topped with a gooey cheese mixture.
Grilled Corn on the Cob– Grilled Corn on the cob with Parmesan screams summertime. Sweet, smoky, charred, and crunchy. As the weather gets warmer, the corn just gets sweeter. Does it get any better?
Baked Bean with Ground Beef– Simple Baked Beans with Ground Beef is a hearty side dish for your next cookout, potluck, or gathering. A side dish perfect for any occasion or holiday.
Cheesy Stuffed Jalapenos– Only 5 ingredients are needed to make these Cheesy Stuffed Jalapenos–jalapeno peppers, cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and bacon all come together to make a tasty treat.
Classic Macaroni Salad
- ½ cup celery diced
- ½ cup bell pepper diced- red, green, or yellow
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup cheese cubes Cheddar, Pepper Jack or Colby
- 1 jalapeno (optional) finely chopped with seeds removed
- 1 pound (16 oz.) elbow macaroni dried
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- Cook the noodles according to package instructions, then drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. Shake well to remove all water and allow the noodles to cool for about 15-20 minutes. Then add to a large bowl.
- Add the diced celery, onion, bell pepper, peas, jalapeno, and cheese to the pasta. Stir well.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or Mason Jar (with a tight fitting lid) until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the dressing over the macaroni and stir to coat evenly. Keep the salad covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.