Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

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This old-fashioned macaroni salad recipe is a classic Southern side dish that’s super easy to make. It’s so flavorful and tasty, thanks to the combination of creamy mayo, spicy brown mustard, pimentos, and sweet pickle relish.

Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is one of my mother’s favorite dishes but I have to be honest here, until a few years ago, I had never tried it. ~waits for the collective gasp~ I know, I know, I’m a horrible person who has lived a wasted life. Thanks to my sister-in-law, Tina, I can now say that I am a card-carrying member of the macaroni salad fan club. I made this at her house in Georgia for the Fourth of July and I think I ate enough to get a few gold stars on that card, as well!

Reckon why Southerners take such a shining to this dish? Just look at the main ingredient: cheap and filling pasta. This is a traditional meal stretcher if there ever was one. This old-fashioned macaroni salad recipe is so simple and easy to make, which is another reason it gets my tick of approval. All you have to do is cook the macaroni noodles and mix all the ingredients together. It’s that quick and easy.

So, what are you going to find in my classic macaroni salad? Lots of tasty things, I assure you! We’re talking mayo, spicy brown mustard, pimentos, and sweet pickle relish. It’s so tasty, y’all. Just wait until your first bite!

Macaroni salad is a staple at summer gatherings and family reunions in the South. It’s served much like potato salad – cold and a perfect accompaniment to picnics and barbecues. Ready to give this great recipe a go?

Ingredients for Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Recipe Ingredients

  • Macaroni
  • Mayo
  • Spicy brown mustard
  • Pimentos
  • Sweet relish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Cook and rinse macaroni.

Cook elbow macaroni noodles according to package directions. Drain and run cold water over it to cool it down. This also stops the cooking process.

Shake it around a little so it all gets rinsed in the cold water.

Drain well.

Mayo and mustard in mixing bowl.

In a large bowl, place mayonnaise, mustard, and…

Add pimentos to mixing bowl.

Pimento peppers.

Mix ingredients together.

Stir that up really well.

Remember you left out the pickle relish and put that in next.

Add pickle relish to mixing bowl.

Add in your pickle relish.

Pickle relish (and that pickle juice) is the secret! 

The dressing for this salad is a mayonnaise base in combination with the pickle relish added to the salad. I always use sweet pickle relish but you can use regular pickle relish and it will still turn out great. If you don’t love pickles, you could substitute vinegar or lemon juice. Taste as you go to get the right balance. But for me, I love what the sweet pickle relish adds to the flavor.

Add macaroni and stir.

Add your cooked macaroni and stir.

Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Salt and pepper to taste, stir again, and chill well. I love storing in these Rubbermaid containers

(Sneak and eat a bowl of it now. I won’t tell). Enjoy the best macaroni salad ever!


Macaroni salad will keep for up to 5 days when stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. I don’t recommend freezing this salad.

This is a great salad to make ahead of time and chill in the fridge for an hour or two. Don’t leave it out in the heat though as it will be sure to go bad.

Recipe Notes

  • Here are some variations you can make to this classic macaroni salad recipe:
    • Add some veggies (1/2 cup of each), like diced celery, garden peas, green onion, grated carrot, olives, red onion, red bell pepper, or green bell pepper.
    • Use a different type of mustard, like Dijon mustard, honey mustard, or yellow mustard.
    • Add 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs.
    • Add onion powder or celery seed for added flavor.
    • Make cheesy macaroni salad by stirring in a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese.
    • Make it a bit more filling by adding diced ham (a great way to use up leftover ham from the holidays).

Recipe FAQs

What is Amish macaroni salad?

Amish macaroni salad is very similar. However, it usually includes boiled eggs and a dash of paprika, which you can easily add to this recipe.

What do I serve with macaroni salad?

Here are a few options…

You may also like these other pasta recipes:

Ham Pasta Salad With Ranch Dressing

Velveeta Bowtie Pasta Salad

Oven-Baked Mac and Cheese (Southern Plate Favorite)

Summer Squash Pasta

Baked Feta and Tomato Pasta

Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

This old-fashioned macaroni salad recipe is a Southern side dish featuring mayo, spicy brown mustard, pimentos, and sweet pickle relish.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: macaroni, salad
Servings: 4
Calories: 390kcal


  • 10 ounces dry macaroni
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard can use regular if you have it on hand
  • 2 4-ounce jars pimentos
  • 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
  • salt and pepper to taste I start with 1/2 tsp of each


  • Cook elbow noodles according to package directions. Drain in a colander and run cold water over it to cool.
    10 ounces dry macaroni
  • Mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Add cooked macaroni and mix well. Add more mayo if needed.
    10 ounces dry macaroni, 1/2 - 3/4 cup mayo, 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard, 2 4-ounce jars pimentos, 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish, salt and pepper to taste
  • Chill. Stir before serving.



Calories: 390kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


When life gives you lemons, put them in your sweet tea, and thank God you’re a Southern Belle!

Submitted by Southern Plate Reader, Jamie. To submit your quote (I always need more!), click here.

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  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! I’ve pretty much done the same except never have tried the pimento. I’m going to now lol. I’ve always thought the mayo plays such a huge factor on the outcome taste. I’ve tried Hellmans, Dukes, and Miracle Whip dressing. Do you mind sharing which you use so I can get a taste of the way you create it? Please and thank you!

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