Grandma’s Macaroni Salad

Do you love classic, creamy macaroni salad? Then you’re going to love this recipe. It’s slightly updated for modern tastes but still the old-fashioned side dish everyone loves.

large blue bowl of macaroni salad.

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It’s a classic! This creamy macaroni salad is mayo-based with a touch of sugar, salt, and black pepper. It’s perfect for a summer potluck or cookout.
  • There are plenty of veggies included. Peas, onions, and peppers add flavor and color.
  • It’s easy to make. The dressing has just a few ingredients, and the whole thing mixes up in just a few minutes.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients on white counter.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy, make-ahead side dish:

  • mayonnaise
  • sugar
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • ground mustard
  • elbow pasta, slightly undercooked
  • frozen peas
  • celery
  • diced red bell pepper
  • diced red onion
  • A large spoon or spatula
  • Mixing bowl


Step One: Make the dressing

dressing for salad in blue bowl.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sugar, salt, black pepper, and ground mustard.

Step Two: Add the pasta and veggies

macaroni salad with veggies on top.

Cook the pasta and rinse it under cool water. Then put it in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the top of the pasta. Add the veggies and mix everything together well.

Step three: Chill

finished macaroni salad with peas.

Let the macaroni cool for at least 2 hours. Serve cold.

🥫 Storage instructions

The macaroni salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.

This recipe does not freeze well.

🔍 FAQs

Can I substitute miracle whip for the mayonnaise?

I do not personally like it, but you can. Leave out the sugar.

Do I need to thaw the peas?

Nope! Just add them frozen.

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, you can. Any short cut pasta will do. Ditalini is a good choice too!

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Cook the pasta to be slightly undercooked. It will keep softening in the fridge.
  • You don’t need to let this sit overnight. I like to serve it just a few hours after mixing it up.

📘 Related Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

Having a summer get-together? Make these recipes too:

mixing bowl with wooden spoon.

📖 Here’s the recipe

macaroni salad with peas, red pepper, and onion.

Grandma’s Macaroni Salad

A classic, creamy macaroni salad that still has just enough flavor, color, and crunch. This potluck-friendly side dish is easy to make and easy to love.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 27 minutes
Serving Size 8 servings


  • Large mixing bowl


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 8 ounces elbow pasta (half. a box) slightly undercooked
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup diced fresh celery
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced red onion


  • Make the dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, sugar, salt, black pepper, and ground mustard in a small mixing bowl.
  • Add the pasta and veggies. Place the cooked, cooled pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour the. Dressing on top. Add the veggies and stir well.
  • Let the macaroni chill for at least 2 hours. Serve cold.


You can, of course, substitute any color onion or bell pepper in this recipe.
The peas do not need to be thawed before adding them. 
I cook the macaroni for 1 minute less than the box recommends.
Grandma\'s Macaroni SaladGrandma\'s Macaroni Salad

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I made this as a quick side salad to go with our grilled hamburgers and everyone loved it!! The ladies asked me to share the recipe with them. Delicious!