pasta/ recipe/ salad

Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad

A bowl of Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad

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 up with BBQ 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 pasta salad recipe!

This Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad is a simple as they get.  The ingredients are readily available, and are often on hand, 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!

Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad {A Pretty Life}

Tonight I’m serving this with grilled chicken, but it would be great with hamburgers, kabobs or any BBQ meat that you like.  This recipe would also be great for potlucks or you could pre-make it and take it along on camping trips or picnics.

Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad {A Pretty Life}

And have we talked about this bowl yet?  We must.  I mean look at it…it’s turquoise and white and adorable!  I bought a set of 3 of these bowls from my friend Erin, and when I saw them I nearly fainted.  Ok, not really, but I did do a little happy dance.  They are vintage Pyrex and are in perfect condition…I love them.  And they’re perfect for this pasta salad…

Now on to this simple and delicious recipe.  I hope you enjoy it!

Recipe Tips:

  • This recipe calls for 4 cups of COOKED macaroni, which equals about 2 cups dried.
  • You can be tailor this pasta salad to your tastebuds.  Add broccoli if you like, or some cubes of cooked ham, or grape tomatoes.
  • Make sure to let this salad rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (1 hour or more is best), before serving.



Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad

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.

  • Author: Jo-Anna Rooney
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 6 people 1x
  • Category: Salad




  • 4 cups of cooked elbow noodles (about 2 cups dried)
  • 1 bell pepper cut into small chunks
  • 2 celery sticks cut into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1/23/4 cup cheddar cheese chunks

Salad dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp prepared mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper


  1. Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions. Cool and rinse with cold water.
  2. Blend together the mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream, vinegar, sugar and salt & pepper.
  3. In a serving bowl, combine the noodles and chopped vegetables, then toss with the dressing.
  4. Let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (1 hour or more is best).
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Keywords: cheddar macaroni salad, pasta salad

Recipe adapted from the Talk About Good Cookbook

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Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad {A Pretty Life}

More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes:

Have a delicious day!


Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad

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  • Reply
    Carlee @cookingwithcarlee
    May 17, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    Your pasta salad looks so pretty! I do love the versatility of pasta salads.

  • Reply
    Audra @ Renewed Projects
    May 17, 2015 at 8:32 PM

    Macaroni salad is one of my summer favorites. I’ve never thought about putting sour cream in it…will have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Lisa @ Fun Money Mom
    May 19, 2015 at 10:22 PM

    I love pasta salad and this looks delicious! It will be perfect for when we have friends over this summer! Thanks so much for linking up with #ShareTheWealthSunday!


  • Reply
    Debbie Caraballo
    May 21, 2015 at 10:13 PM

    Hi, love this pasta salad! So colorful, and lots of great flavors. I own the Talk About Good cookbooks, 1 and 2, if it’s the same one you’re talking about. Love them! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      jaye horvath
      June 18, 2020 at 5:41 PM

      Just made this and popped it in the fridge. Added a little fresh dill to the dressing.

  • Reply
    Kim @ The Baking ChocolaTess
    May 22, 2015 at 7:16 AM

    Love pasta salad and this one looks like a winner in my book! Pinning! Visiting from Home Matters Linky Party! Have a wonderful weekend.

  • Reply
    jessica knott (Swanky Recipes)
    May 22, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    This would make a great addition to summer backyard BBQ’s. Love how creamy it looks, pinned!

  • Reply
    Melissa Vera
    May 24, 2015 at 7:42 PM

    This salad looks scrumptious. Thank you for linking up on the #HomeMattersParty this week. Looking forward to seeing what you link up with next week.

  • Reply
    Tammy @ creativekkids
    May 25, 2015 at 8:02 AM

    I love summertime salads! Thank you for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I am finally getting around to pinning your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board.

  • Reply
    Tammay Ragan
    June 2, 2015 at 3:12 PM

    I have to try this salad. It looks yummy! Plus I love the bowl its pictured in! My late Mother has the same set of bowls which I used last week when I visited my Father. She bought them when I was a child. Thanks for the picture!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2016 at 6:29 PM

    This macaroni salad looks really good! It’s a must make for this summer! I want to also tell you how much I love those bowls! They are beautiful, I love vintage Pyrex. Might just have to search to find where I can buy a set! Thank you!

  • Reply
    May 5, 2016 at 4:56 PM

    When do you add the mustard?!? Thanks!

    • Reply
      May 5, 2016 at 8:31 PM

      Hi Marissa! Mix it in at the same time as the mayonnaise! Sorry about that…I’ve fixed the recipe now! 🙂

  • Reply
    July 1, 2016 at 11:54 AM

    About how many does this feed? Thanks in advance!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2016 at 3:14 PM

    I just made this and it tastes awesome! I love adding another great salad recipe to my memory bank 🙂

  • Reply
    Sharon Thompson
    February 6, 2017 at 1:47 PM

    Love the old school bowl. My grandmother had those same bowls years ago (30+). Thanks for the yummy looking recipe. I plan on making it tonight. It might as well be summer in Dallas…it is 80 today.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2017 at 12:41 PM

      It’s my favourite bowl too, I just love the pattern! Enjoy your summer weather…we’re digging out of a giant snowstorm!!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2017 at 2:04 PM

    This salad looks delicious! And that bowl..instantly brought back memories. My mother had this very same one! Seeing it made me smile:)

    • Reply
      March 11, 2017 at 7:12 PM

      Thank you Michelle! And it makes me very happy to know that seeing this bowl in my post made you smile! 🙂

  • Reply
    cheryl mcc
    May 11, 2017 at 9:09 AM

    love the pasta salad,but I tried it with miracle whip and skipped the mayo and sour cream

  • Reply
    July 15, 2017 at 4:41 PM

    What do you mean by “2 tbsp cup chopped red onion” in the ingredients list?

    • Reply
      July 16, 2017 at 5:06 PM

      Hi Carson! Sorry, that should read 2 tbsp chopped red onion. I’ve corrected the recipe!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2018 at 8:28 AM

    This salad is wonderful. I’ve been looking for something just like this. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2018 at 8:33 AM

    5 stars
    I forgot to give it a 5 star rating. Tastes even better than the deli style offerings in my area.

    • Reply
      Jo-Anna Rooney
      June 7, 2018 at 1:53 PM

      Thank you so much Mark! I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe! Happy Summer to you

    • Reply
      September 10, 2018 at 12:36 PM

      I agree❗️

  • Reply
    Donna goodman
    June 17, 2018 at 11:05 AM

    5 stars
    My husband picked this out for his Father’s Day cookout. It is delicious! Wouldn’t change a thing.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2018 at 10:57 PM

    5 stars
    Made this but substituted sweet peas for the bell pepper. It is delicious!! Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Reply
      February 5, 2019 at 8:01 PM

      I love that idea! Thank you

  • Reply
    Caron Norton
    July 21, 2018 at 9:21 PM

    Does the recipe call for distilled white vinegar? Can another vinegar be substituted?

  • Reply
    September 10, 2018 at 12:39 PM

    5 stars
    I really enjoyed making this, I used your recipe as a guideline to make my own! very good ??

  • Reply
    July 3, 2019 at 5:40 PM

    Hi Jo-Anna,
    I made this for a gathering last summer and got lots of compliments on it. Can I make it the night before or would it not hold? Thank you for your awesome blog!

    • Reply
      Jo-Anna Rooney
      July 4, 2019 at 7:14 PM

      Hi Natali! You can definitely make it the night before. Just make sure to give it a good stirring before you serve it. Sometimes I will even keep a little bit of the dressing back and stir it in before I serve it.

  • Reply
    Helen G Omari
    February 13, 2020 at 2:53 PM

    Made the salad today and talk about delis, thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2020 at 2:32 PM

    Did you use white vinegar or cider vinegar?

  • Reply
    July 9, 2020 at 12:03 PM

    What kind of mustard do you use?

  • Reply
    July 12, 2020 at 12:32 PM

    I made this for my husband because Macaroni and Cheese salad is one of his favs. He loved it!! It is really creamy but with a slight sharp taste. Next time I may add a bit of Franks Red Hot in place of the vinegar just to kick it up a notch.

    • Reply
      Jo-Anna Rooney
      July 16, 2020 at 11:03 AM

      I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe! Great idea adding a splash of Franks Red Hot!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2020 at 2:25 PM

    Question–I have made this twice, and both times it was awfully dry…even when I added more mayo and sour cream. It does not look nearly as creamy as in the photo. Is the amount of measured macaroni meant to be 4 cups AFTER it’s cooked? People generally measure before cooking in order to know how much to cook, of course. I don’t normally have problems with recipes, but it seems that there just isn’t enough of the “dressing” component. I followed it exactly…

    • Reply
      Jo-Anna Rooney
      August 15, 2020 at 7:35 PM

      Hi Bonnie! In my recipe I state that it is 4 cups of cooked macaroni. Hope that helps.

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