Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Classic Macaroni Salad – Delicious is In the Details

I can’t believe I’ve never posted a video for my take on summer’s most iconic pasta salad. Whether it’s sitting next to some smoky ribs, or just a humble hot dog, this deli-style macaroni salad will always be a crowd-favorite, as long as you pay attention to a few key details.

The most important things are to not rinse the macaroni, and to let it cool before adding the dressing. If you add it while the pasta is too hot, the mayo sort of melts, and you get a greasy salad. By letting it cool, while tossing, the macaroni gets nice and tacky, and will grab the sauce a lot better.

I mention in the video, I don’t put as much sugar as many of the web’s most popular versions call for. For this much dressing, a half-cup of sugar is not uncommon, which for my taste is way too much. Since we’re adding all those sweet veggies, just a spoon or two is all you should need.

As long as you follow the technique shown, you can tweak the vegetables and dressing ingredients to your liking, but no matter what you put in, try to let it sit overnight before serving. The flavors will develop, the macaroni will fully absorb the dressing, and all you’ll need to do is taste, adjust, and serve. I hope you give easy salad a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 portions:
1 pound (4 cups) uncooked elbow macaroni, cooked in well-salted water
For the dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise, plus an extra spoon as needed
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 or 2 tbsp white sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup green onions, white and light parts
1 cup finely diced celery
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green pepper (I used poblano and jalapeno)
1/2 cup grated carrot

35 comments:

TakeDeadAim73 said...

Un-believable. i was literally just searching youtube and google looking for a pasta salad recipe for next weekend. The whole time thinking g-dammit why hasn't chef john put one of these up. the rest suck. That'a a great tag-line for this site btw: Foodwishes.com "the rest suck". Thanks for the recipe.

TakeDeadAim73 said...

Un-believable. i was literally just searching youtube and google looking for a pasta salad recipe for next weekend. The whole time thinking g-dammit why hasn't chef john put one of these up. the rest suck. That'a a great tag-line for this site btw: Foodwishes.com "the rest suck". Thanks for the recipe.

Chris K. said...

YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS MACARONI SALAD WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR A DAY

gibbygoo56 said...

I'm making this!

Jason Smith said...

I couldn't believe that both you and Dan Gritzer (Serious Eats) posted MONUMENTAL pasta salads at the same time O_0. Too funny!

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Thank you. I look forward to making this.

Anthony Vaiana said...

TOO MUCH MAYO!!!

Sandra McMahon said...

Looks delish! I'm making this for sure!! Love your site!!! Thank you!!

Chris said...

Did I see packaged creme fraiche in your fridge?! After all that encouragement for us to make our own, im shocked and chagrined :P
Seriously though, thanks for the recipe, it should work well in my endeavour to show-up my in-laws at family gatherings, lol (been quite successful so far, thanks to you).

Unknown said...

Just saw the video and thought to myself hey... I have all these ingredients just sitting at home. I'm typing this as I'm boiling my macaroni! Can't wait to try it.

Luisa said...

Same as the commenter above I already had most of those ingredients at home. I'm very a much a "use what you have" cook so I've made some adjustments. I am using penne, rice wine vinegar, sweet and hot mustard, yellow onion, and for the peppers only red and jalapenos. I'm so excited to see how it comes out!!!

Luisa said...

I'm a use what you have type a girl so I made some minor adjustments based on what I have on hand. I used rice wine vinegar, sweet and hot mustard, red and jalapenos for the peppers, and a yellow onion....also a olive oil based mayo. So excited! I wish it was dinner time tomorrow! Thanks for the recipe!

Some One said...

The written recipe says white wine vinegar but in the video you say distilled white vinegar. Is one better than the other for this recipe? Thanks!

Chef John said...

Yes, it is supposed to be distilled white vinegar! Thanks!

Fortuna said...

You gotta be kidding! Do you think it even made it to the fridge? It is out of this world! If I want to make it more meal-like I will add some diced ham.

Unknown said...

Great recipe, Chef John! Do you think you can recommend a recipe for Ginger Chicken Tacos in the near future?

Hollis K. Lee said...

The science of a really good Mac Salad...from the Greatest Food Comedian.

Many Thanks

Ed Adams said...

Thanks again Chef. Made this for a BBQ this past weekend and got great reviews from everyone. Unfortunately, there was none left for me to bring back home and enjoy :(

Justin Davies said...

Definitely wait the full 24 hours,it was really good a few hours after but the next day it was amazing. Its worth the wait.

linds1986 said...

Made this for a potluck BBQ and it was great! Simple and delicious. Thanks Chef John!

Claire Newton said...

It was delicious! Even better when it's left in the fridge overnight!!!

Chris K. said...

BTW please tell me what was in the covered sauce pan in your refrigerator. It's killing me.

Chef John said...

I wish I could remember! Probably a stock.

K said...

This recipe is DELICIOUUUS !!! Truly ! I added sriracha in the sauce to make it extra spicy and I loved it, everybody did !
At first when I saw the recipe, I thought "how weird... mayo, vinegar, mustard, sugar ?!" But it turned out sooooo fffff-ing gooooooooood !
I even asked everyone if they can tell the ingredients in the sauce, but they couldnt exept for mayo ! hehehe
Thanks chef ! You and your recipes are the best  <3 :D

Grant Palmer said...

Made this tonight, taking to family cookout tomorrow. Looking forward to the results! Will post comments and feedback from fam. Thanks Chef John, the wife and I look forward to your videos every week!

Grant Palmer said...

Many compliments from the fam Chef John! Was a hit!

Carole Tice said...

How about adding some crumbled bacon!!!!

Carole Tice said...

How do I print recipes?

Military MaMa said...

Been Looking for a Macaroni Salad Recipe to Make for My Dad & This One Rocks With the Jalapenos!!!
...I Made it for Easter & Used Orange, Red & Yellow Peppers for The Colors & It Was GREAT!!!
...I Call it My Mac~Daddy Salad!!!
THANK YOU!!!

Amanda Patino said...

So tasty! Have made it twice already. First time for my relatives and they loved it, had my aunts and cousins asking for the recipe.2nd time was for my boyfriends relatives and they loved it as well. Now his cousin wants me to show her how to make it :D :D

Cherio said...

Have made this, absolutely awesome! Making it again adding shrimp to it. Thanks chef John!

cookinmom said...

Ohhh man! I keep coming back to this good old faithful every summer! I just adlib and still can't go wrong. I love that recipes are a reference point and not written in stone. I dumped my fridge of all veggies and added brocoli, peas, parsley, basil, yogurt, ww pasta... All veggies & herbs were from the garden! Tks John...keep um' comin'!

Orcophant said...

Made this for the second time around. And it is unfucking belivably good!
Best. Pasta salad. EVER. EVER!

Alexis Betancourt said...

The technique is what makes this salad standout. Thabks for the great vid, always funny and informative. I do have a request but have you ever made Hawaiian mac salad? Like the one served at Ono or L&L. I've tried to make it dozens of times but I'm definitley missing ingredients. Thanks.

George Thomas said...

Great recepi but I find it very difficult to print off the page. Can you put a print button on the page somewhere? Thank you.