The Best Macaroni Salad

Truly The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe | ASpicyPerspective.comThe Best Macaroni Salad Recipe we’ve ever made. Silky, perky, and sooooo addictive!

The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe |
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How to describe this macaroni salad…. Well, it’s like crack.

Once you start, you just can’t stop.

The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe Ever |

In all honesty, I’m usually not a fan of macaroni salad. Most of the recipes I’ve tried over the years have been too sweet, too mayonnaise-y, too bland, or too dry and clumpy.

Best Darn Macaroni Salad Recipe Ever |

However, recently I was at a barbecue restaurant and decided to give the macaroni salad a taste. I was pleasantly surprised by the zesty flavor and silky texture. It still wasn’t life-changing for me, but it did inspire me to come home and make a version.

Making The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe |

Today’s “The Best Macaroni Salad” might be better titled “The Only Macaroni Salad” because it is truly the only macaroni salad I’ve ever tasted or made that I get excited about.

In fact, it’s hard not to eat it right out of the serving bowl.

How to Make The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe |

So what’s the secret?

The right blend of ingredients to create a salty-slightly sweet bite, that is balanced in spice and tang.

Best Macaroni Salad Recipe |

Along with the traditional mayo-based dressing, I like to add roasted red peppers, sweet pickle relish, scallions, cooked bacon, garlic, hot sauce and KALE.

Let me explain…

The Best Darn Macaroni Salad Recipe |

A little hot sauce, scallions, garlic, and rich fatty bacon balance out the tendency for macaroni salad to be too sweet.

The roasted red peppers, pickle relish, and kale offer intense flavor and color that has stay-power, making The Best Macaroni Salad a marvelous make-ahead and leftover.

Look at the kale. It’s a pop of color that doesn’t wilt down like most fresh herbs.

Truly The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe |

The texture of The Best Macaroni Salad is creamy-smooth, with little pops of crunch mingled throughout.

My family is nuts over The Best Macaroni Salad. It’s a side dish they ask for again and again. I bet yours will too!

The Best Darn Macaroni Salad Recipe Ever |



The Best Macaroni Salad

Yield: 12+ servings

Prep Time:15 minutes

Cook Time:10 minutes

5 / 5 (3 Reviews)
Did you make this recipe?   Leave a review »

The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe – Classic southern macaroni salad with surprise ingredients to give it perky flavor.


  • 1 pound dried macaroni
  • 12 ounce jar roasted red pepper, drained and chopped
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (could be low fat)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Franks RedHot)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions, usually 7-10 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a medium bowl mix the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, hot sauce, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper.
  3. Pour the macaroni in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the top. Then add the chopped roasted red peppers, kale, bacon, pickle relish, and scallions.
  4. Toss well to coat. Then refrigerate until ready to serve. *Can be made up to 4 days ahead.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 12+ servings, Serving Size: 12

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 317 Calories
  • Total Fat: 12.8g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.3g
  • Cholesterol: 14mg
  • Sodium: 516mg
  • Carbohydrates: 42.8g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Sugar: 8g
  • Protein: 7.5g
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20 comments on “The Best Macaroni Salad

  1. Euniceposted August 4, 2017 at 11:55 am Reply

    Hi! Could I substitute the mayo with olive oil? Or would that be disastrous?

  2. Boyan Minchevposted June 30, 2017 at 5:17 am Reply

    This macaroni salad looks so delicious, I will cook this for my girl tonight. Thank you for sharing this nice recipe.

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  4. Tammyposted March 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm Reply

    This salad was delish!! I would have used kale if my hubby didn’t see the recipe, haha but added celery for an added crunch! Used a little more Franks too because we love that on a lot of things! Def a keeper!

    Rating: 5
  5. melissaposted September 9, 2016 at 10:54 pm Reply

    looks so yummy, and I just love kale.. cant wait to try this recipe out..

  6. Mariaposted July 5, 2016 at 6:36 pm Reply

    Really dislike pickle anything. Can I leave it out or would I need to substitute it?

    • Sommerposted July 10, 2016 at 5:48 pm Reply

      Hi Maria! You can leave it out. Then if you feel the macaroni salad needs a little acidity, add rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it taste right to you. :)

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  8. Coleen Allersposted June 30, 2016 at 10:56 am Reply

    Sounds delicious, however, can I substitute Spinach instead of Kale?
    My husband hates Kale.

    • Sommerposted July 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm Reply

      Sure! You can substitute spinach or parsley. Although, one of my kids hates kale as well, and never detects it in this recipe. ;) ;)

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  10. Betty Lynneposted June 26, 2016 at 9:31 pm Reply

    omg…made this tonight and it was unbelievable! Never thought I would say that about pasta salad. Very different and silky and full of flavor with the kale and bacon and peppers. So so good! Made it with grilled chicken and a side of your zesty onion rings and this was a dinner to remember! Thanks!

    Rating: 5
    • Sommerposted July 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm Reply

      Thanks Betty Lynne. So glad you liked it!! :)

  11. Kevin @ Closet Cookingposted June 23, 2016 at 10:07 am Reply

    A perfect pasta salad for summer meals!

  12. Gaby Dalkinposted June 22, 2016 at 5:21 pm Reply

    Sounds like the perfectly balanced macaroni salad!

  13. Jenny Flakeposted June 22, 2016 at 3:33 pm Reply

    LOVE macaroni salad in the summer!  So good!

  14. Mavsposted June 22, 2016 at 10:42 am Reply

    Best Macaroni Salad. Ingredient: Franks Redhot sauce – what can I use in the UK??

    Rating: 5
    • Sommerposted June 22, 2016 at 5:52 pm Reply

      Hi Mavs! Can you find cayenne pepper sauce in the UK?

  15. Julie @ Table for Twoposted June 22, 2016 at 9:44 am Reply

    this looks incredible!!!

  16. Andiposted June 22, 2016 at 8:05 am Reply

    I like to use Japanese mayo with regular dill pickles because I dislike sweet pickle relish. Other than that, I do it very similar, just no bacon.