Quick n Healthy Macaroni Salad

Quick n Healthy Macaroni Salad

This macaroni salad has all the appeal of the old-fashioned, mayo-dressed version but with a few updates to make it taste brighter and better.

Macaroni salad is a staple at summer picnics, BBQs, and potlucks. I call this one “better” because it’s got all the appeal of the old-school, mayo-dressed version but with a few updates—namely, sour cream, Dijon mustard, fresh basil, and loads of crisp, crunchy veggies—to make it taste brighter. Cutting the traditional all-mayo dressing with sour cream and mustard makes the salad slightly tangy, while the basil and veggies add fresh summer flavor.

The key to the perfect creamy texture is thinning the dressing with a bit of water, so it coats the pasta without getting too clingy. However, keep in mind that the dressing thickens and gets absorbed by the noodles as the salad sits, so while all the components can be prepared ahead, it’s best to wait until right before serving to toss everything together.

Servings: 8 to 12

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 40 Minutes


1 pound macaroni, cavatappi, farfalle, or fusilli pasta

1 cup mayonnaise,

1 cup sour cream

3½ tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup water

1¼ teaspoons salt, plus more for cooking the pasta

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¾ teaspoon onion powder

½ cup finely diced or grated carrots, from 1 to 2 carrots

¾ cup finely diced celery, from 2 to 3 celery stalks

1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, finely diced

6 scallions, light and dark green parts, finely sliced

¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until tender (about 1 minute past al dente). Drain and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, mustard, vinegar, water, salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Add the cooked pasta, carrots, celery, bell pepper, scallions, and basil to the bowl and stir until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve the salad immediately or let it sit for up to an hour at room temperature before serving. (Keep in mind that the dressing will thicken and get absorbed by the noodles as the salad sits.)

Make-Ahead Instructions: The dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated; the pasta, vegetables, and basil can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Before serving, bring all of the components to room temperature. Add the dressing to a large bowl and whisk to loosen, then stir in the pasta, vegetables and herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, and serve.


Per serving (12 servings)

Calories:336Fat:19 gSaturated fat:5 gCarbohydrates:35 gSugar:6 gFiber:2 gProtein:6 gSodium:268 mgCholesterol:17 mg



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