Southern-Style Macaroni Salad

Picture this: a bowl of creamy, excellent southern-style macaroni salad, its short, tubular noodles cradling crisp, freshly grated carrots and onion. Flecks of vibrant yellow from chopped hard-boiled eggs and tangy, bright, roasted red pepper bits mingle throughout, promising bursts of flavor with each bite.

Southern-style Macaroni Salad in a small bowl

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Southern Macaroni Salad is perfect for a potluck, barbecue, or family gathering. Perfectly pairs with burgers, crispy and tender pernil, and vegan puerto rican rice

What is Southern Style Macaroni Salad?

Southern-Style macaroni is inspired by Southern Macaroni Salad, traditionally from Italy, and made with fresh green peppers, mustard, and sugar.

As a kid, this was my favorite recipe growing up. My mom was inspired by the traditional recipe and added a few twists.

The dressing in this southern-style macaroni salad is a silky, smooth blend of mayonnaise, lemon, and vinegar,  balancing rich creaminess with tangy acidity and a hint of piquant spice.

Each forkful is a symphony of textures and tastes, the tender macaroni giving way to crunchy vegetables and the gentle tang of the dressing. It’s the perfect side dish for any occasion – a backyard barbecue, a picnic in the park, or a potluck with friends.

Southern-style Macaroni Salad in Bowl
Southern-style Macaroni Salad in Bowl

FAQs

Why is my macaroni salad not creamy?

I highly recommend chilling the pasta before adding the mayo. Warm pasta will cause the mayonnaise to turn translucent because it cooks it just so slightly.

Pasta will absorb some of the mayo, and if you’re making this pasta salad the night before, I recommend adding mayo and mixing it before serving.

What can I add to the macaroni for flavor?

Cook the macaroni or pasta of your choice in really salty water. Salty water is the best way to season pasta.

Do you put the pasta in or before the water boils?

You should always put the pasta in the water after it boils, unlike root vegetables or potatoes, which are placed in the water before it boils.

Top Tips

Pasta

Slightly undercook the pasta or to al dente, drain with a colander, and stop the cooking process by adding ice and allowing the pasta to cool much faster, preventing the pasta from overcooking.

Once at room temperature, add the ingredients and mix well. Then cool.

Remember that the pasta will continue to cook, so slightly undercooked pasta is ideal.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Southern-Style Macaroni Salad

Overcooking the pasta is a common mistake when making pasta salad, and it can result in mushy and unappetizing pasta. Instead, cook the pasta until it is al dente or firm to bite.

While dressing is essential to pasta salad, adding too much can make it soggy and overpower the other flavors. Start with a small amount of mayo and add more as needed.

Pasta salad should be served chilled, so refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving. Cooling the macaroni salad will allow the flavors to meld together and the pasta to absorb the dressing.

Finely Chopped Onions

Finely chopped onions will add the kick the recipe needs without an overbearing onion flavor.

Homemade Mayo with avocado oil in a jar
Homemade Mayo with avocado oil in a jar

Ingredients and Substitutions

Macaroni

While the pasta type (southern-style macaroni salad) is in the name, other pasta shapes can work with this recipe.

Instead of macaroni, pick pasta with a scoop or spiral shape.

Bow tie or farfalle

Fusilli

Rotini 

Cavatappi

Rotelle

Eggs

If you prefer southern-style macaroni salad without eggs, remove eggs from the recipe by swapping the mayonnaise with sour cream and substituting the hard-boiled eggs with a different protein.

Vinegar

I will typically add the vinegar from the roasted red pepper jar because it’s tangy and has all the flavor from the roasted red pepper.
Add apple cider vinegar to make the roasted pepper from scratch.

Storage and Reheating

Storage

Store in the refrigerator in a glass container for up to 3 days.

Serve and enjoy!

Reheating

Reheating is not required.

Try this Pasta Salad

Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad

If you want to try mayo from scratch, try this homemade mayo with avocado oil recipe.

Southern-style Macaroni Salad in a small bowl

Southern-Style Macaroni Salad

Olga Muñoz
Delicious Southern Pasta Salad
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Brunch, Lunch, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people
Calories 483 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lbs Macaroni
  • cup Mayonnaise
  • ½ whole Onion
  • 1 Whole Egg
  • 1 Whole Carrot
  • 1 Whole Roasted Red Pepper
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice

Instructions
 

  • Step 1
    Fill the large pot with filtered water and add salt, so the water is salty. Salty water will ensure the pasta will absorb a bit of flavor.
  • Step 2
    While you wait for the water to boil, let's prepare the remaining ingredients.
    Finely dice half the onion and chop the roasted red pepper.
    Clean and finely shred the carrot.
  • Step 3
    Now that the water has come to a boil, add the macaroni and egg.
    Cook the macaroni to an al dente consistency. Drain the macaroni and cooked egg. Add a few ice cubes to the pasta to stop the cooking process.
    Allow the macaroni to cool.
    Peel the egg and chop.
  • Step 4
    In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, shredded carrots, finely chopped onions, roasted red pepper, egg, lemon juice, and mayo.
    Then add the oregano, salt, and black pepper to taste and mix well.
  • Step 5
    Cover the mixing bowl and place in the fridge for an hour, and serve!

Notes

The dried oregano is optional.

Nutrition

Calories: 483kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 7gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 0.5mgSodium: 391mgPotassium: 138mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 15IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Macaroni Salad, Pasta
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a delicious take on this salad. I loved the smoked red peppers and the combination of mayo and vinegar.

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