You’ve Been Making Macaroni Salad Wrong All These Years


Food Wishes / YouTube


Macaroni salad: probably one of the most iconic and delicious summer side dishes ever.

I remember as a kid I would fill my plate entirely with macaroni salad at backyard barbecues. I loved it so much that everything else that was served at the barbecue would be my second plate.


One of my favorite food YouTubers, Chef John of Food Wishes, always makes the most amazing recipes, so when I saw his macaroni salad recipe, I knew I needed to give it a try.

As per usual, Chef John’s recipe was flawless. Here’s what you’ll need to get 12 portions done:

  • 1 pound (4 cups) elbow macaroni, cooked in well-salted water
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, plus an extra spoon as needed
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 or 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup green onions, white and light green parts
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper (he uses poblano and jalapeño)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot

To get the perfect macaroni salad, make your dressing first. Combine the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mix together until it forms a uniform dressing.

Then, take all of your diced veggies– celery, onions, peppers, and carrots–and mix them into the dressing. Once everything is mixed well, place it in the fridge to prepare your macaroni.

Fully cook your elbow macaroni in generously salted water. Drain well and do not rinse the pasta.

Toss the macaroni without the dressing until the macaroni is fully cool and sticks to your hand when touched. This ensures the pasta won’t melt the dressing and will hold on to it better instead of making it greasy.

Mix in your dressing with the cooled macaroni, then wrap it and leave it in the fridge overnight. The dressing should have absorbed, so add another spoon of mayonnaise and a few tablespoons of water if necessary.

Taste for seasoning and add whatever you feel it needs, and that’s it, you’re done!

Be sure to check Chef John’s tutorial below. His videos always have very corny jokes, and he’s just as entertaining as his recipes are delicious.