This Southern Macaroni Salad is easy and a perfect addition to your next BBQ cookout or picnic. It’s cool and creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness and tanginess, packed full of fresh chopped veggies!

Looking for a new recipe to make for the Fourth of July or next potluck? You’re sure to love this easy macaroni salad recipe.

There’s nothing better than a nice day and a cookout, so if you’re looking for a quick and simple side dish, you won’t be disappointed with this cold pasta salad. It has a few additional ingredients that only enhance that flavor.

Some helpful tips to making macaroni salad

  • use room temperature or cold pasta: this will help prevent your dressing from becoming oily
  • rinse your pasta: this will help bring down the temperature and keep the pasta from sticking
  • make ahead of time: refrigerate your pasta salad overnight (or at least 2-4 hours) for all the flavors to meld together, you’ll be delighted with the flavor difference
  • use the juice: instead of vinegar, simply use the pickle juice to add tang
  • salt your pasta water: avoid bland macaroni salad by salting the pasta water

This recipe for creamy macaroni salad has capers. It adds a little extra salty tang. Feel free to leave this out and substitute with your favorite additions like black olives, green onions, or red peppers.

Check out some more recipes for your next get together

Some other great additions or substitutions is the classic ingredients for macaroni salad such as celery, onion, and yellow mustard. You could even replace a portion of the mayo with sour cream for a little more flavor and creaminess.

Southern Pasta Salad Ingredients

What are the ingredients for macaroni salad? Personally, not a fan of celery and onion in my pasta salad. They are both very bold flavors. For this macaroni salad, we use milder flavor veggies but keep the tanginess, as well.

  • Elbow macaroni, of course
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Dill pickles and pickle juice
  • Capers
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sugar
  • Salt & pepper

How long can you keep macaroni salad?

Not only is this fresh and creamy macaroni salad better the next day, but you can store it in a covered container for up to 5 days. It gets better each day, too! If you do plan to keep it as leftover, be sure it stays cold. Serve on top of a tray of ice at your BBQ. It will stay nice and fresh.

This summertime side dish is a perfect addition to your next cookout, BBQ, or picnic.

I hope you enjoy this Southern Macaroni Salad recipe. Let me know in the comments if you tried this recipe. Be sure to tag #ladleandgrain on facebook and instagram!

Southern Macaroni Salad

Recipe by DiannaCourse: Recipes, SidesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



This Southern Macaroni Salad is easy and a perfect addition to your next BBQ cookout or picnic. It’s cool and creamy with fresh veggies, pickles and capers.


  • 1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked al dente in salted water and cooled

  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

  • 1 tomato, diced

  • 1 cucumber, diced

  • 1/3 cup diced pickles

  • 2 tbsp pickle juice

  • 2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tbsp salt and pasta. Cook al dente, drain and set aside.
  • Combine mayo, mustard, pickle juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Let sit a few minutes to allow sugar to dissolve. Stir in diced tomato, cucumber, pickles, and capers.
  • Rinse and quickly drain macaroni before folding pasta until combined.* Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but better overnight.


  • Rinsing the pasta once more before adding to the dressing will help keep the macaroni salad creamy.

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