If you like quick and easy cold pasta salads, you're just going to love this sweet and tangy Amish Macaroni Salad. It's one of our favorite recipes for parties, picnics, and potlucks.
Perfect as a cold side dish salad for dinner or as a cold salad addition. No matter, this macaroni salad is a real crowd-pleaser.
Why We Love This Macaroni Salad Recipe
Flavor and Texture - It's all about great flavor and texture. Sweet and tangy flavors are combined for ultimate enjoyment. Tender macaroni pasta is combined with crunchy veggies and a creamy salad dressing. In my opinion, this recipe makes the best macaroni salad.
Summer Time - This salad is delicious all year long but it really reminds me of summer picnics and potlucks. It's a summer staple that you'll make again and again.
Easy - This is a great recipe and making it is a breeze. Cook the pasta, boil and peel the eggs, chop a few veggies, and combine everything with a creamy tangy dressing. It really doesn't get much easier than that.
Make-Ahead - This salad can easily be prepped a day in advance. In fact, I might argue that this recipe tastes even better the next day.
For a detailed ingredient list please look for the printable recipe card below.
Pasta - Of course, we'll need elbow macaroni for this recipe. Make sure to cook the pasta al dente. You'll want tender pasta but not overcooked noodles. I like the small elbow macaroni noodles (link below in the recipe card).
If you need to make a gluten-free version of this recipe look for the gluten-free Barilla elbow pasta.
No matter what pasta you'll choose, make sure to drain it properly after cooking. You don't want to mix steaming hot pasta into the dressing.
Bell Peppers - You can use any color combination. I like red, green, and orange because it gives the salad a nice summer picnic look.
Eggs - Two to three hard-boiled eggs are perfect for this salad. It adds that extra bit of protein and creaminess.
Mayonnaise and Sour Cream - I like a 50/50 ratio for a delicious creamy base.
Sweet Relish - Adds sweetness and flavor to the salad.
Mustard - You can use yellow mustard or honey dijon.
Lemon Juice - A few tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sugar - classic white sugar works best for this recipe.
Variations, Additions, and or Substitutions
Onion - I used to make this salad with red onions. But some people don't like salads with raw onions in picnic or party salads. So I've stopped using it and find the salad just as delicious.
Celery - There's another option you might enjoy. It's celery! Celery is less pungent but adds an extra bit of crunchiness. Just make sure to cut the celery stalks into small pieces.
You'll want the celery to complement your salad but not overpower it. 2-3 stalks of celery will be plenty.
Shrimp - If you want to make this recipe extra special you can easily turn it into a Shrimp Macaroni Salad.
Simply add two cans of small tiny shrimp (the same ones I'm using in my Easy Shrimp Chowder). Just make sure to drain the extra liquid.
Of course, if you want to go all out you can also use fresh shrimp.
RELATED RECIPE: Shrimp Salad. Learn how to make perfectly cooked shrimp every time.
Tuna - Have you ever heard of Amish Tuna Macaroni Salad? Use two cans of your favorite canned tuna, drain the excess liquid and mix it into the salad. In fact, this version is quite similar to my own sweet and savory Tuna Pasta Salad.
Vinegar - If you don't have fresh lemons on hand you can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead.
How To Make This Recipe
- In a large bowl whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, sweet relish, lemon juice, sugar, and yellow mustard until creamy and well combined.
- Add the cooked elbow macaroni, chopped eggs, and diced bell peppers and combine well with the creamy dressing.
Recipe Success Tips
At this point, I want to touch on the 'mayo controversy'.
I didn't know this until I became a food blogger but people have very strong feelings about mayonnaise. While some people swear by Miracle Whip others feel strongly about using only real mayonnaise. I'll be honest, I think it's all very yummy!
If you're uncertain what you and your family like best, split the ingredients in half and make two dressings. One with real mayonnaise and one with Miracle Whip and see which one everybody prefers.
But what's the difference between a traditional Macaroni Salad and an Amish Macaroni Salad anyway?
The difference is in the dressing! For an Amish Pasta Salad, we'll make a creamy mayonnaise-based combining sweet and tangy flavors. For a traditional macaroni salad, you'd look for just savory flavors.
Put any leftovers in an airtight container. You can store the pasta salad for up to 3 days in the fridge.
More Perfect Potluck Salads
Italian Pasta Salad - easy pasta salad with fresh tomatoes, salami, and mozzarella balls
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad - get everybody to eat their veggies with this delicious salad
Creamy German Potato Salad - potatoes, eggs, mayonnaise, and pickles are all you need to make this addicting German side salad
Coleslaw - crunchy with a sweet and tangy dressing
Broccoli Slaw - a fun twist on a traditional coleslaw salad
Amish Macaroni Salad
- Cook pasta according to the package instruction.
- Boil two eggs for 9 minutes. Transfer the cooked eggs into a bowl of ice water and chill for one minute. Peel and roughly chop the eggs.
Making The Salad
- Whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, sweet relish, lemon juice, sugar, and yellow mustard in large bowl until well combined.
- Add diced bell peppers, chopped eggs, and the cooked elbow pasta. Combine well with the dressing and season to taste with salt.