Pioneer Woman’s Best Macaroni Salad. Because we all need a perfect macaroni salad recipe! This one will get you through every Summer pot luck and BBQ thrown your way.
About This Recipe
We’ve been enjoying Summer-like temperatures in Colorado and before July melts into August, I wanted to share a recipe I found over at Pioneer Woman. She calls it the “best macaroni salad ever” and to me, it just may be perfect.
I first made this last Winter as a test and a warm up for Summer grilling season and served it with one of my favorite easy rib recipes, Crockpot Country Style Ribs. And I knew it would be a perfect side dish for any main course you can dream up this Summer.
Summer food! Burgers, tomatoes, steaks, cucumbers, chicken kabobs, sweet corn…what am I missing? How about a cold beer to swill it all down with?
Pioneer Woman’s Best Macaroni Salad = a Keeper
Ree Drummond takes her macaroni salad seriously. And I love this quote from her on the subject:
“I love, love, love, adore, and love macaroni salad. I’m also picky, picky, picky, particular, and picky about macaroni salad. No joke. Macaroni salad is a religion to me.”
If that doesn’t inspire you to give this pasta salad recipe a try …
Potlucks and back yard BBQ parties are a great way to know if a recipe is a keeper or not. I’ve taken this macaroni salad recipe to a couple of neighborhood parties over the past couple of weeks, and let me tell you, I should have doubled the recipe.
It was very popular and many folks asked me for the recipe.
Always a grand compliment, right? It seems this macaroni salad is filled with just the right things and the balance of those “things” work so well.
And it’s perfect for any pot luck because it travels well and can be made ahead. You have to love a good make-ahead pot luck macaroni salad.
Noteworthy Ingredients for this recipe
- Elbow Macaroni: I always choose American Beauty brand. A classic choice. Why? Because they are an American pasta company and only use high quality wheat from American farmers. And being a third generation Kansas wheat farmer, that means a lot to us.
- Roasted Red Bell Peppers. Of course you can roast your own fresh sweet bell peppers, but make it easy on yourself. Purchase a jar from the condiment aisle at the grocery store, or even better yet, grab a couple from the olive bar. I think they have more flavor.
- Sweet Spicy Pickles. The pickles are important in this recipe, so you may be asking, what pickles are best for pasta or macaroni salads? Choose a quality sweet and spicy pickle for optimal flavor. Famous Dave’s makes a great tasting spicy pickle. And they are easily found on our grocery store shelves. I’ve also used these homemade spicy pickles made from store bought dill pickles. They’re sweet and they’re jam packed full of flavor. It’s by far our favorite homemade pickle recipe and one of the most popular recipes on my site. Give-em a try, even if you don’t use them for this recipe.
- Sliced Black Olives: Make it easy on yourself. Purchase a can of pre-sliced ripe olives for this recipe.
- Red Wine Vinegar: Yup, red wine vinegar is made from red wine. That means the secondary flavor of this vinegar is fruity. Making it punchier, vibrant and robust. I love it in this macaroni salad recipe.
- Sweet Onion: Milder in flavor than white or red onions, sweet onions are my choice for most every recipe. And better yet if you can find Vidalia onions. Green onions are also a good choice here.
- Mayonnaise: Always choose consistent quality brands. Best Foods, Hellman’s or Dukes.
- Milk or Half and Half: My vote is for half and half for this recipe. Why mess with fat calories at this point. After all, you’re after the creamiest macaroni salad you can make.
- Sugar: Somewhat of the backbone of this recipe. It balances the tangy flavor of the vinegar. Don’t skip it.
Flavor Profile for this Best Macaroni Salad Ever.
Why is it so good?
- Not too heavy with mayo
- Just right with red-wine vinegar
- Tangy, sweet and spicy in a perfect way
- There are black olives involved
- There are pickles involved
- Elbow macaroni – perfect Summer comfort pasta
I’ve tweaked her recipe every so slightly, substituting green onions with Vidalia, reducing the vinegar and adding a little it back in until it tasted right to me.
Recipe for Pioneer Woman’s Best Macaroni Salad
This simple salad is creamy, full of flavor and absolutely divine. I’ve never used red wine vinegar for a pasta salad before and I truly love the unique robust flavor it brings.
I truly believe you’ll love every single bite. As will your back yard BBQ pot-luck-lovin guests.
I hope you give this recipe for Pioneer Woman’s Macaroni Salad a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating. And please leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you have a favorite Summer macaroni salad recipe, let me know, I’d love to give it a try.
More Summer Macaroni and Pasta Salad Recipes
- Creamy Smoky Mozzarella Pasta Salad Whole Foods recipe with baby spinach, roasted red bell pepper and an outstanding Parmesan cream sauce.
- Old Fashioned Lancaster Macaroni Salad An authentic Amish pasta salad recipe that’s bold in flavor, sweet and creamy.
- The Best Pasta Salad Ever No really, it’s that good. cheese tortellini with a fresh crunch of broccoli, colored with red tomatoes, with a creamy sweet unique dressing.
- Classic Macaroni Salad, This is a recipe for a creamy macaroni salad combining mayonnaise and vinegar for that good old-fashioned sweet tangy flavor.
Related Recipes: Summer potluck potato salad recipes are always a hit:
- Loaded Baked Potato Salad Loaded with bacon and sour cream. Everyone will say “Yes Please”. There’s bacon and cheese involved.
- Bacon Blue Cheese Potato Salad The flavors of blue cheese and bacon flavor this potato salad that’s great for any pot luck, back yard BBQ or picnic. A creamy and delicious potato side dish that will wow your crowd.
- Classic Southern Style Potato Salad Creamy with mayonnaise, tangy with mustard, crunchy with celery and onion, and with a surprise of green olives, this is an old-fashioned classic Southern potato salad recipe.
And if you’re looking for even more side dishes for picnic style gatherings, don’t miss this line-up of Summer cook-out sides. I’m positive you’ll find something you love.
Pioneer Woman’s Best Macaroni Salad Ever
- 4 cups elbow macaroni
- 3 whole roasted red peppers chopped
- 1/2 cup sweet and spicy pickle diced
- 1/2 cup black olives sliced
- 1/2 cup sweet onion diced
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar adding more to taste, up to 3 tablespoons
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- plenty fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup half and half or milk
- 2 teaspoons pickle juice
- Cook macaroni in lightly salted water till done. Drain in a colander. Set aside.
- Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, milk and pickle juice in medium sized bowl.
- In large bowl place cooked macaroni. Add about 3/4’s of the mayonnaise mixture to the macaroni.
- Next add the peppers, pickles, olives and onions. If needed, add the remaining dressing.
- Add a splash of pickle juice to the salad. The salad dressing will thicken up after refrigeration.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
Pioneer Woman’s Best Macaroni Salad Ever …It’s what’s for a Perfect Summer Side.
Janet Sommer says
Question: is that 4 cups uncooked macaroni or cooked?
Lea Ann Brown says
Hi Janet. It’s 4 cups of uncooked macaroni.
Just made it, Lea Ann, and had a little taste before letting it sit until dinner. Yummy! I halved the recipe – it’s only Bob and I. Happy summer!
I love the black olives and who thought of putting milk in a pasta salad! 🙂
I’ll just have to make some to check out Ree’s claim 🙂 I love the sound of the peppers and pickles in this recipe!
Hi Lea Ann, going to a pot luck this week-end, will be taking this salad, looks delicious!!!
Lea Ann Brown says
Hope you like it. Let me know. We thought it was perfect.
Brad Cunninghajm/Dundee Manor B&B-Oregon USA says
Hey Lea Ann—This is great and we enjoyed it at the B&B as a snack appetizer—funny I had all the ingredients
at the INN –Love all the recipe’s on your site—Hope you keep them coming and have a great Summer–Greetings from Dundee Manor and the Oregon Wine Country!!
Lea Ann Brown says
It is always so good to hear from you Brad. Thanks for the input.
OK – I’m buying the ingrdients tomorrow when I’m at Whole Foods. Sounds delicious!
Lea Ann Brown says
Let me know what you think of the recipe Barb.
Best ??? ever is always a pretty big brag but if you say it then it must be so. I like all of the ingredients in it but can’t imagine eating it from that piled high bowl without having it all over the table. See you soon. Larry
Lea Ann Brown says
That’s Pioneer Woman’s claim Larry. But I have to admit, I think it’s really quite perfect. And, as Julia Child said, if your food comes out looking perfect, it means that someone’s hands have been all over it. 😉