Sweet, bright, creamy, satisfying: There’s just something about macaroni salad done right that’s impossible to explain to pasta salad haters. But we’re okay with that — it just means more for us!
When a recipe knocks it out of the park, as this one does, it delivers all the flavors you want at once: Creaminess thanks to dollops of sour cream and mayonnaise, a bit of brightness from sweet pickles, a dash of umami thanks to pimiento-stuffed olives, and earthy freshness from snipped chives and celery. There’s even protein—tucked alongside the elbow macaroni—in the form of two hard-boiled eggs. Mustard gives the whole thing a welcome kick, and chopped white onion delivers crunch.
It makes sense, if you think about it, that at least three people show up bringing pasta salad to the picnic or potluck. It’s that good.
Here’s our tip: Just make sure yours is the best one there by showing up with this version:
Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad with Sweet Pickles
- 3 cups (10 1/2 oz./330 g.) elbow macaroni
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml.) mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g.) sour cream
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1-2 tsp. sweet pickle juice
- 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
- 3 celery ribs, finely chopped, leaves reserved and finely chopped
- 3 sweet pickles, finely chopped
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
- 1/2 bunch fresh chives, snipped
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the macaroni, and cook until tender, according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water and set aside to drain.
To make the dressing, in a serving bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, pickle juice, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to mix well.
Add the onion, celery and pickles and stir to mix again. Add the macaroni and turn to coat. Add the hard-cooked eggs, green olives and celery leaves and turn once again. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the snipped chives, and serve. Serves 6.
Find more creative and colorful salads in our cookbook Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan.