This Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad is the perfect summer pasta salad. It’s loaded with peppers, celery, onions, chunks of cheddar cheese and elbow noodles, all covered in a tangy sour cream dressing. Simple, quick and so delicious!
When I think about summer foods and dishes served with barbecued meats, I immediately think of pasta salads. Pasta salads are the quintessential summer side dish. I love the flexibility of the ingredients you can add to them, I love that they’re easy and quick to make, and you can’t beat the fact that most people happily eat them. I know whenever there is a pasta salad on the table my family is guaranteed to eat it.
A classic macaroni salad recipe
This Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad is a simple as it gets. The ingredients are readily available, you probably have them already, making it a great last minute side dish. And like I always try to promote, this dish can be tailored to your tastebuds. Add broccoli if you like, or some cubes of cooked ham, or grape tomatoes. Experiment and enjoy!
Tonight I’m serving this with grilled chicken, but it would be great with steak, hamburgers, kabobs, ribs or any barbecued meat that you like. This recipe is great for a backyard BBQ, potlucks, picnics, and camping (just make it ahead of time and bring it with you).
Macaroni Salad Recipe Tips
- Pasta: This recipe calls for 4 cups of COOKED elbow macaroni pasta, which equals about 2 cups dried pasta.
- Make it your own! Add your favourite pasta salad ingredients. Here are some examples: chopped broccoli or cauliflower, cubes of cooked ham, grape tomatoes, pickles (dill pickles or sweet pickles), sliced boiled eggs…the possibilities are endless!
- Mayonnaise: Real mayo is what I usually use, but Miracle Whip is tasty too!
- Mustard: I like to use regular prepared yellow mustard, but if you love the taste of Dijon mustard, feel free to use that instead.
- Vinegar: I prefer to use regular white vinegar, but if you love the flavour of apple cider vinegar, feel free to use that. Option! If you have sweet pickle juice, you can use that instead…it makes for a sweet and tangy dressing that’s delicious!
- Bell Peppers: You can use any colour of pepper: red bell peppers or orange, green or yellow.
- Sour Cream: I use sour cream for this recipe, but it can also be substituted with Greek yogurt.
- Let it rest! Make sure to let this salad rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (1 hour or more is best), before serving. This allows for the flavours to come together. And it’s also handy to be able to make it ahead of time.
- MAKE AHEAD TIP: You can make this pasta salad the night before you wish to serve it (just make sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator). Just make sure to give it a good stirring before. I like to keep a little bit of the dressing back and stir it in right before I serve this salad…so for example, keep about 1/3 back and stir it in later. If the salad seems too dry, stir in a little milk.
Recipe adapted from the Talk About Good Cookbook
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I hope you enjoy this recipe, it really is the best macaroni salad recipe! Have a delicious day!