Macaroni Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing
The perfect potluck summer salad. Made with elbow macaroni, bell peppers, celery, dill pickles, sweet peas, and cheddar cheese. Tossed with a tangy and creamy Greek Yogurt Dressing for an irresistible Macaroni Salad! Also a great make-ahead side!Jump to Recipe
When I think of Macaroni Salad, I think of my childhood days and church potlucks. Families would gather once a month for lunch after church and everyone would bring a dish to share. You were sure to find a big bowl of Macaroni Salad, usually with the name Wilma next to it.
There are many versions of classic Macaroni Salad. Some made with pimentos and shredded carrots, others made with hard boiled eggs and bacon. The dressing usually consists of mayo, vinegar and sugar, and I’ve even had ones with a bottle of ranch dressing tossed in. Seriously, they all taste wonderful and it’s fun to see what others create.
The base of my recipe has just a few simple ingredients which are easy to prep and make for a filling and flavorful pasta salad. The peppers, onions and celery add freshness, and the pickles, peas and cheddar cheese add great texture. The dressing is thick and tangy with a touch of sweetness.
Ingredients For Macaroni Salad:
- Elbow macaroni– This small tubular shaped pasta captures the creamy dressing making each bite that much better.
- Bell peppers- I use red, yellow, or orange bell pepper because it’s sweeter than green bell peppers, plus it adds great color.
- Red onion- This also adds a pop of color and gives it a nice bite.
- Celery- Adds great crunch and flavor.
- Dill pickles– Adds a mild dill flavor and saltiness.
- Peas- Thawed frozen peas add texture and color.
- Cheddar cheese- This is optional but I love the flavor of cubed cheddar in my macaroni salad.
Dressing For Macaroni Salad:
This dressing is mostly made with full-fat Greek yogurt but I do add a touch of mayo to smooth out the sauce a bit. You can omit the mayo all together and just use Greek yogurt.
- Full-fat Greek yogurt– Using full-fat is less sour and chalky than fat-free Greek yogurt. It also adds a boost of protein.
- Mayo– Optional but adds a nice smoothness and rich flavor.
- Dijon mustard- For a sweet and spicy flavor.
- Sweet relish- Adds a touch of sweetness.
- Pickle juice- This adds a briny flavor that pairs well with the tangy dressing.
- Red wine vinegar- Balances out the sweetness and richness from the yogurt and mayo.
- Spices- Garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Can I Substitute Other Pasta For Macaroni?
Yes! Other pasta shapes that work well with creamy Macaroni Salad are – Ditalini, Penne, Orecchiette, Fusilli, and Small Shells.
Can I Use Gluten Free Pasta?
Absolutely! My favorite Gluten Free pasta for Macaroni Salad is this one. I feel like it has the best texture and flavor.
Macaroni Salad Is Customizable.
Use ingredients you love. Add in or substitute any one of these ingredients.
- Crisp bacon
- Chopped hard boiled egg
- Shredded carrots
- Green onions
- Broccoli florets
- Chopped spinach
- Jarred pimentos
- Cherry tomatoes
How To Make Macaroni Salad:
- Cook pasta according to manufactures directions. Make sure to rinse well with cold water and drain.
- While pasta cooks, prepare veggies and thaw peas.
- When pasta is cooked, rinse and drain excess water, then make dressing.
- Add all the pasta salad ingredients to a large bowl and pour over all of the dressing. It will look like a lot dressing but as it sits the pasta with absorb a lot of it.
- It’s best to let set in the fridge (covered) for at least 30 minutes before serving. This gives the flavors time to blend.
Can I Make This Ahead Of Time?
Yes! Pasta salad is usually best after it has time to set. Make up to 1 day in advance and toss well before serving.
Make it a meal!
Add 2 cups of grilled or shredded chicken for any easy weeknight dinner. Use a store-bought rotisserie chicken for an even faster meal.
- Make sure that you rinse the pasta really well with cold water. If there is extra starch on the pasta, it will cause the sauce to thicken and be less creamy.
- Use a colander to rinse and drain the pasta, giving it a good shake every now and then. The tubular shaped pasta will capture some of the water, so make sure to move the pasta around after rinsing to release the extra water.
- Use an oversized mixing bowl to combine the pasta ingredients with the dressing. This will make it much easier to toss and coat well.
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy:
- Southwest Pasta Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing
- Bruschetta Pasta Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing
- Pasta Primavera
Rate The Recipe⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I appreciate your comments and reviews! Be sure to leave a comment or rating below for suggestions, questions, or if you make the recipe. I’d love to know how it turned out for you!
Macaroni Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing
For the salad
- 1 lb cooked, regular size macaroni, rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup red, orange or yellow bell peppers diced small
- 1/3 cup red onion, diced small
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles
- 1 1/2 cups frozen, thawed green peas
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, cut in 1 inch cubes optional
For the dressing
- 3/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayo optional- use 1/4 cup more Greek yogurt if not using mayo
- 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp sweet relish
- 2 tbsp pickle juice
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Cook pasta according to manufactures directions. Rinse well with cold water and drain.
- Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a small mixing bowl. Whisk until combined and creamy.
- Add the pasta to a large bowl and top with prepared veggies, dill pickles, peas and cheddar cheese. Pour dressing over the top and fold gently to combine, making sure all the pasta is coated well in the dressing.
- Cover with lid or plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Toss just before serving.
- Rinse pasta – Make sure that you rinse the pasta really well with cold water. If there is extra starch on the pasta, it will cause the sauce to thicken and be less creamy.
- Use a colander- Rinse and drain the pasta giving it a good shake every now. The tubular shaped pasta will capture some of the water so make sure to move the pasta around after rinsing to release the extra water.
- Use an oversized mixing bowl- This will make it much easier to toss and coat the ingredients well.
- Make it a meal- Add 2 cups of grilled or shredded chicken for any easy weeknight dinner. Use a store-bought rotisserie chicken for an even faster meal.
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9.5g||12%|
|Saturated Fat 4.4g||22%|
|Total Carbohydrate 50.3g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 3.1g||11%|
|Total Sugars 5.1g|
|Vitamin D 2mcg||9%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
|Recipe analyzed by|
Please note that some of the links on my website are affiliate links. Meaning, I receive a commission if you decide to purchase through my links at no extra cost to you! The product links at the bottom of my posts are products I’ve used and/or recommend.