The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe we’ve ever made. Silky, perky, and sooooo addictive!
How to describe this macaroni salad…. Well, it’s like crack.
Once you start, you just can’t stop.
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.
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.
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.
So what’s the secret?
The right blend of ingredients to create a salty-slightly sweet bite, that is balanced in spice and tang.
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…
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.
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 Macaroni Salad
Yield: 12+ servings
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
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
- 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.
- In a medium bowl mix the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, hot sauce, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper.
- 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.
- Toss well to coat. Then refrigerate until ready to serve. *Can be made up to 4 days ahead.
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
Making this recipe? Why not take a quick shot and share it on Instagram! Make sure to tag it #ASpicyPerspective so we can see what you're cooking!