A simple, creamy macaroni salad loaded with pasta, peas and ham. It’s perfect for parties, family dinners, and potlucks!
There are a few salad recipes that I always make in the summertime, including this Macaroni Salad! My favorite savory salad is probably Egg Salad, and my favorite sweet salad is by far Ambrosia Salad!
Quick + Easy Macaroni Salad
In search of a great pasta salad dish to bring to your next family dinner? This easy macaroni salad is it! It’s also great for picnics, BBQs, showers, brunches, and all of the holidays. I like to make a big batch of this macaroni salad because it always serves a ton of people. It’s super yummy served on the side of other main dishes or it can be served by itself as a lunch or dinner dish.
Pasta Shape: Aside from the different mix in options you can also use different pasta shapes. Anything that is bite sized and has grooves that will cling deliciously to the dressing will work. Some ideas include:
- Shell any size
- Wagon wheel
- Bow tie
How to Make Macaroni Salad
MACARONI. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in the noodles of your choice and the salt. Cook until the macaroni is tender and then drain the pasta.
MIX. In a medium sized bowl, add the drained macaroni, peas and ham. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, mayo and ranch dressing together. Add the sauce to the pasta and mix until everything is coated. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
- Making this for a crowd? I would plan for ½ cup which is about 5oz per person.
- Rinse the noodles after draining: this helps cool them off and keeps them from clumping together.
Variations + Additions
Mix Ins: I like to keep my macaroni salad simple especially when I’m serving it for a large crowd. However, there are so many delicious mix in ideas that you can use for your family. You can even have the mix ins on the side for people to add themselves.
- Diced celery
- Diced pickles
- Chopped red onion or scallions
- Boiled egg
- Cheese chunks-cheddar is yummy
- Diced tomatoes
- Diced bell peppers
- Sliced radishes
Keeping it cool: Macaroni salad is perfect picnics and potlucks, but this means often leaving it out for awhile and sometimes in warm temperatures. It’s not recommended for any food to be left out for longer than 2 hours at room temperature and less in the heat. Here are a couple tips to help when serving:
- Only set out a little at a time and leave the rest in a cooler with ice.
- Set the bowl of macaroni salad inside a large bowl with ice in it.
Storage: Macaroni salad can be made ahead of time. In fact, I like to make mine the day before and let all the flavors blend. If you do make this the day before I suggest leaving a little dressing out so that you can freshen it up if it gets a little dry.
Leftovers can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days. If it gets dry, mix up a little bit more dressing and retoss.
Complete Your Picnic:
- Chicken Salad Sandwich
- Turkey Cranberry Sandwich
- Mini Fruit Tarts
- Strawberry Lemonade
- 15 minute Picnic Blanket
For more Pasta salad recipes, try:
Macaroni Salad Recipe
- 24 oz macaroni
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 1/2 cup ham cubed
- 1 bag frozen peas
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup ranch dressing
- salt, pepper, paprika to taste
- Add noodles and salt to a boiling pot of water. Cook until the macaroni is tender. Drain
- In a bowl add the drained macaroni, peas and ham.
- In a separate bowl mix the milk, mayo and ranch dressing
- Add the sauce to the pasta and mix until coated.
- Season with salt, pepper and paprika