Four ingredient macaroni salad is a simple recipe that is the perfect combination of macaroni noodles, onions, celery, and creamy mayonnaise. It's the perfect side dish or a standalone meal.
If you are looking for a quick and satisfying side dish, this 4 ingredient macaroni salad is for you. It's a basic macaroni salad made with simple ingredients and the perfect blend of textures and flavor.
🤍Why you will love this recipe
- Flavor! With just four ingredients, you will be amazed at the flavor of this simple salad.
- Easy! This salad is so quick and easy to make. It's perfect for last-minute gatherings or backyard bbq.
- It's versatile! This 4 ingredient salad is os versatile, add more ingredients to enhance the flavor even more.
Here is what you will need
This is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make this recipe; scroll down for a printable recipe card with exact measurements and detailed instructions.
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- Elbow macaroni
- Medium Saucepan
- Cutting Board
- Chef's Knife
- Large bowl
How to make this basic macaroni salad
Prepare the ingredients: cook the macaroni noodles according to the package directions.
Dice the celery and onions and measure the mayonnaise.
Step 1. Combine the salad ingredients
Place the diced onions and celery into a large mixing bowl.
Step 2. Add elbow pasta
Once the elbow macaroni is cooked, drain it, rinse it under cold water, and place it into the mixing bowl.
Step 3.Add Mayonnaise
Stir in the mayonnaise.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Elbow Pasta -Almost any type of macaroni noodles will work in this salad. Elbows are the traditional style to use, but you can also use small shells, ditalini, or rings.
Onion - I prefer to use red onion to make salads because they add a nice color to the salad. You can use any type of onion such as yellow onions, green onions, or sweet onions.
This easy classic macaroni salad recipe tastes great as a simple side dish with grilled chicken, fried chicken, hot dogs or burgers. It's also a great addition to a buffet table with a crunchy romaine salad and potato salad.
How to store leftovers
Store leftover macaroni salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days.
You may need to add a little mayonnaise before serving it.
How to make this easy macaroni salad ahead of time
This easy macaroni salad recipe tastes better when it's been made ahead of time, and I highly recommend that it be made at least 30 minutes before serving.
In addition, the celery and onions can be diced a few days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until it's time to make the salad.
If you plan on storing it for an hour or more before serving, use only half of the mayonnaise and stir in the rest just before serving.
This four-ingredient macaroni salad serves as a canvas for endless variations, here are some suggestions.
Bacon and cheese - Everything tastes better with bacon! Stir in a few strips of crumbled cooked bacon and shredded cheddar cheese.
Fresh herbs - Elevate the flavor with the addition of fresh herbs. Chop some herbs such as parsley, dill or basil and mix them into the salad.
Spicy - Spice up your macaroni salad with diced jalapeno peppers or crushed red pepper flakes.
Sweet - Add sweet pickle relish or chopped sweet pickles to the salad for a tasty contrast of flavors.
Veggies and flavors - Add more veggies such as diced carrots, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, black olives, dill pickles or chopped radishes.
- If the mayonnaise is too thick, add 1 teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar, white vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out.
- Cook the macaroni al dente to create a firm and not mushy pasta.
- Use cold water to rinse the starch off after cooking and will also cool the pasta off so it will be ready for the addition of mayonnaise.
- Cut back on the mayonnaise and use ½ mayo and ½ sour cream or greek yogurt.
Yes, to make this recipe gluten-free, simply substitute the regular macaroni with gluten-free macaroni or pasta.
To make this salad vegan or dairy-free, use a vegan mayonnaise substitute or a dressing that is made from plant-based ingredients.
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Four Ingredient Macaroni Salad
- 1 ½ cups Uncooked Elbow Macaroni
- ½ cup Onion chopped (about ½ medium sized)
- 2 ribs Celery
- ½ cup Mayonnaise
- Cook the pasta according to package directions (al dente), drain and rinse in cold water.
- while the pasta is cooking,, dice the ½ cup Onion, 2 ribs Celery, and place them into a salad bowl,
- Stir in the mayonnaise. Adjust the flavor with sea salt and pepper if desired