Healthy Macaroni Salad

Fresh summer vegetables and a creamy sauce dress up this healthy macaroni salad. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any summertime meal.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total 1 hour 18 minutes

This classic summer recipe can be whipped up in no time by following these simple steps to make the perfect healthy macaroni salad.

Pasta salads are a favorite food item at barbeques, potlucks and picnics. 

healthy pasta salad in white bowl with gold forks in the back.

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  • KID FRIENDLY – Its a recipe that they whole family will love! My kids love to enjoy this pasta salad when we make it for summer time potlucks.
  • VERSATILE – We love it because of the fresh healthy veggies and versatility of the ingredients. And because of how easy it is to put together!
  • HEALTHY – This recipe is delicious, fresh, and easy to make. And best of all, it uses real food ingredients making a healthier option for your next summer gathering.
two white bowls stacked with healthy macaroni salad on a countertop.

Ingredients

This macaroni salad contains crisp fresh cucumbers and plenty of other good-for-you produce. It’s full of delicious and fresh flavors.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • elbow macaroni noodles – or other favorite pasta shape, you could even substitute with whole wheat pasta noodles
  • light mayonnaise – homemade is a great option or we love one with an avocado oil base from Thrive Market. You could also try to swap this out with a whole fat sour cream.
  • extra virgin olive oil – we love to buy good quality olive oil from Supermarket Italy — highly recommend looking for an authentic d.o.p. version if possible.
  • ground mustard
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • celery
  • red bell pepper
  • cucumbers
  • salt to taste

Other ingredients that go good in this pasta salad include red onions, green onions, tomatoes, and fresh dill. It is completely versatile in flavors and you can sub out your favorite veggies!

macaroni salad ingredients prepared in in small white bowls.

Instructions

We love how simple it is to put this summer salad together. Get the taste of a summer cookout with just one bowl.

Begin by preparing the pasta – cook and drain the elbow macaroni noodles in a large pot. Don’t forget to salt the pasta water! To do this, add 2 tablespoons of salt for 1 pound of pasta. Add the salt just as the water begins to boil and before adding the pasta noodles.

In a large bowl, stir to combine the noodles, mayo, olive oil, and spices. Use a wooden spoon to fold the ingredients together until the noodles are evenly coated in the creamy dressing.

cooked elbow macaroni noodles in a large bowl with mayo and seasonings on top.
chopped fresh veggies on top of the macaroni noodles.
veggies and creamy sauce combined with the macaroni noodles.

Add the celery, red bell peppers, and cucumbers. Fold the vegetables into the pasta mixture until they are evenly distributed throughout the salad.

Cover the bowl tightly and place it in the fridge for an hour to allow the salad time to get cold.

two separate white bowls filled with the healthy macaroni salad.

How to store leftover macaroni salad

Store leftover macaroni salad in an airtight container inside the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

FAQ (frequently asked questions)

Is macaroni salad healthy to eat?

When making a macaroni salad it is easy to make it healthy by adding fresh clean ingredients and not using a standard macaroni salad dressing. Instead use a healthier combination of light homemade mayo or an avocado based mayonnaise. You can also use whole wheat, gluten-free, or other clean ingredient noodles. And of course loading the macaroni salad with plenty of fresh vegetables!

How do you make macaroni salad flavorful?

The first step is to ensure you have a flavorful pasta salad is to salt the pasta water properly! To do this, add about 2 tablespoons of sea salt to 1 pound of pasta. Add the salt to the boiling water just before you drop in pasta noodles. Then adequately season the finished pasta with desired seasonings, sauce, and plenty of fresh veggies!

Want more recipes?

Check out the recipe index where you can discover more homemade recipes from my homestead kitchen!

Healthy Macaroni Salad

Fresh summer vegetables and a creamy sauce dress up this healthy macaroni salad. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any summertime meal.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Chill Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 18 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 105 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound pasta cooked
  • ¾ cup light mayo homemade or avocado oil based
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 1 cup red pepper diced
  • 1 cup cucumber diced
  • salt to taste & in the pasta water

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, combine the noodles, mayo, olive oil, and spices. Use a wooden spoon to fold the ingredients together until the noodles are evenly coated in the mayo.
  • Add the celery, red bell peppers, and cucumbers. Fold the vegetables into the pasta mixture until they are evenly distributed throughout the salad.
  • Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for an hour to allow the salad time to get cold.
  • Season with additional salt as desired, serve, and enjoy!

Notes

You can substitute the olive oil for avocado oil for a slightly healthier alternative. This does not have a noticeable impact on the flavor of the dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 105kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 454mgPotassium: 281mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 914IUVitamin C: 29mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 1mg
Keyword classic macaroni salad, healthy macaroni salad
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