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 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.
I hope you enjoy this easy macaroni salad recipe!
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.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Resting Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 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
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup cheddar cheese chunks
Creamy Macaroni Salad Dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp prepared mustard
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- In a large pot, boil the elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain in a colander, then rinse with cold water.
- Blend together the mayo, mustard, sour cream, vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine the noodles and chopped vegetables, then toss the macaroni salad ingredients with the dressing.
- Let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (1 hour or more is best).
- Serve and enjoy!
Keywords: cheddar macaroni salad, pasta salad, macaroni salad
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!
Your pasta salad looks so pretty! I do love the versatility of pasta salads.
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!
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!
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!
Just made this and popped it in the fridge. Added a little fresh dill to the dressing.
Love pasta salad and this one looks like a winner in my book! Pinning! Visiting from Home Matters Linky Party! Have a wonderful weekend.
This would make a great addition to summer backyard BBQ’s. Love how creamy it looks, pinned!
Thank you Jessica!
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.
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.
Thank you Tammy!
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!
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!
When do you add the mustard?!? Thanks!
Hi Marissa! Mix it in at the same time as the mayonnaise! Sorry about that…I’ve fixed the recipe now! 🙂
About how many does this feed? Thanks in advance!
I just made this and it tastes awesome! I love adding another great salad recipe to my memory bank 🙂
Awesome! I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe!
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.
It’s my favourite bowl too, I just love the pattern! Enjoy your summer weather…we’re digging out of a giant snowstorm!!
This salad looks delicious! And that bowl..instantly brought back memories. My mother had this very same one! Seeing it made me smile:)
Thank you Michelle! And it makes me very happy to know that seeing this bowl in my post made you smile! 🙂
love the pasta salad,but I tried it with miracle whip and skipped the mayo and sour cream
What do you mean by “2 tbsp cup chopped red onion” in the ingredients list?
Hi Carson! Sorry, that should read 2 tbsp chopped red onion. I’ve corrected the recipe!
This salad is wonderful. I’ve been looking for something just like this. Thank you for sharing.
I forgot to give it a 5 star rating. Tastes even better than the deli style offerings in my area.
Thank you so much Mark! I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe! Happy Summer to you
Thank you Jennifer!
My husband picked this out for his Father’s Day cookout. It is delicious! Wouldn’t change a thing.
Made this but substituted sweet peas for the bell pepper. It is delicious!! Thanks for the great recipe!
I love that idea! Thank you
Does the recipe call for distilled white vinegar? Can another vinegar be substituted?
I really enjoyed making this, I used your recipe as a guideline to make my own! very good ??
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
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!
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.
Made the salad today and talk about delis, thanks for the wonderful recipe.
I’m so happy you enjoyed it Helen!
Did you use white vinegar or cider vinegar?
Hi Raven! I use white vinegar. Enjoy!
What kind of mustard do you use?
Hi Trish! I just use regular yellow mustard.
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.
I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe! Great idea adding a splash of Franks Red Hot!
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…
Hi Bonnie! In my recipe I state that it is 4 cups of cooked macaroni. Hope that helps.
I typically don’t care for cold pasta or mayonnaise sauces but this salad is really good! I was very pleasantly surprised. I particularly enjoy how the slightly sour sauce brings out the sweetness in the crunchy veggies. Both my daughter and I give this recipe 4.5 stars.
I made this today. I used miracle whip light, added some celery seed, ground mustard and fresh ground pepper. I put tuna fish with it. This was a great hit in my house. Thank you. Mary
I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Great idea to add tuna!