Here are my secrets to the best Classic Macaroni Salad - ever! You'll never know it's lightened up because it tastes even better than the original. Lots of colorful, crunchy veggies, a fresh, creamy dressing, and the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Perfect for summertime barbecues and picnics!
The dressing is light, fresh and creamy, not heavy and gloopy. Classic Macaroni Salad has two cups of mayonnaise per pound of macaroni. I've replaced 1 ¼ cups of mayo with yogurt. I use full-fat, regular yogurt, not Greek yogurt. This keeps the dressing fresh, a little tangy, and not too thick. You can adjust the ratio to your liking. A one to one ratio of mayo to yogurt would also be good. For the very best flavor I use Homemade Mayonnaise - when it's such an important part of the sauce, only the best will do. If you don't use homemade mayonnaise, use a good brand, like Hellman's.
This Classic Macaroni Salad has lots of colorful, crunchy vegetables - carrot, celery, and red pepper - the standard vegetables for the macaroni salad that you grew up eating. Not just a few specks for color. This salad is delightfully crunchy! I use about one and a half cups of each vegetable.
The dressing has the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. I use three tablespoons of sugar for sweetness and 2 tablespoons of apple cider for tang. A little mustard and sweet pickle relish add just the right flavor. Of course, you can adjust the balance to how you like it.
The onion is soaked in water for 10-15 minutes before adding to the salad. Onion adds a nice kick to the salad, but it can also give a harsh bite. Soaking the onion in water makes it nice and mild.
I toss my cooled macaroni with a little oil before adding the sauce. For one, it lets me keep the macaroni waiting without getting sticky until I'm ready to add the other ingredients. I think it also prevents the sauce from being absorbed into the macaroni which can dry up the sauce.
- 1 lb macaroni
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ red onion, about a half a cup
- ¾ cup mayonnaise, (5.8oz, 165g) click here for Homemade Mayonnaise
- 1 ¼ cups full fat yogurt (10.9oz, 310g)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (or regular)
- ¼ cup sweet pickle relish (2.5oz,70g)
- salt and pepper to taste (I use about 2 teaspoons salt)
- 1 ½ cups carrot, cut in pea-sized dice
- 1 ½ cups celery, cut in pea-sized dice
- 1 ½ cups red bell pepper, cut in pea-sized dice
For the macaroni:
- Cook the macaroni in salted, boiling water until al dente.
- Drain and rinse with cold water until macaroni is cool.
- Toss macaroni with vegetable oil.
For the sauce:
- Chop onion small, put in a small bowl, and cover with water for 10-15 minutes. Drain.
- In a large bowl, whisk mayo, yogurt, sugar, vinegar, mustard, and relish. Add salt and pepper to taste. I use about 2 teaspoons salt.
- The flavor will be a little stronger now and will mellow after mixing with macaroni.
- Add chopped vegetables, including onion, to sauce and combine.
- Add cooled macaroni to sauce and stir thoroughly.
- Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
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