My mom has been making this macaroni salad since before I can remember and it has become her grandkids’ most requested dish at every single family gathering.
This macaroni salad recipe is an old school classic. There is nothing low carb, low calorie, or really all too healthy about it. It is creamy, tangy, and loaded with little bits of salty goodness that delight the tastebuds to the point of addictiveness. This will be a holiday staple for as long as our family continues to gather.
In honor of my mom, as the first recipe of the year and posted on her birthday, and dedicated to all of us who miss her so greatly, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family has over the years.Jump to Recipe
Great for any time of year, but especially in the Spring
This macaroni salad recipe is great for a crowd and can be enjoyed at any time of year, but it is especially nice in the spring when the radishes and spring onions are ready in the garden.
Aaannd, that is all I have for photos.
But… it is better than not posting anything. More photos coming soon!
Let’s get to cooking…
For starters, don’t overcook the pasta!
No one likes a clumpy mushy pasta salad. This mini seashell pasta, if cooked just right, has a really fun feel in your mouth like little round bits of pasta caviar that kinda ‘pop’. To get this effect, cook the pasta according to package instructions (in salted water) but be very careful to keep it al dente! I get there by starting to check the shells when they have about a minute to go. As soon as they no longer taste like raw pasta, pull it off the stove and drain the hot water. Rinse the shells with cold water to cool.
Don’t forget to salt the pasta cooking water!
Always salt your pasta cooking water. This way the pasta will take on the salt as it cooks. An Italian once told me that pasta cooking water should be salted enough that it tastes like seawater. So don’t be shy! A tablespoon or so of salt is about right when cooking a full one-pound box of pasta in several quarts of water.
Prep the other ingredients
While the pasta is cooking and then cooling, get your other ingredients together. Boil, peel and chop the eggs. Chop and saute the bacon until done but not too crispy. Chop and slice the radishes, green onions, and black olives and set all this aside.
Next step, just mix all the ingredients together with the Miracle Whip.
Yes, I said Miracle Whip
My mom always had a thing for Miracle Whip when I was growing up. It was the secret ingredient to her Classic Pasta Salad, her Classic Potato Salad, and yes, on sandwiches too.
Miracle Whip has since fallen out of fashion, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense! Technically, Miracle Whip is a ‘dressing’. I think the bottle actually used to say ‘salad dressing’.
Yes, you can still get the same taste with Mayo. Here is how…
If you would rather not use Miracle Whip. Or if you just want to use what is already in your pantry, simply throw in a little sugar and apple cider vinegar to your mayonnaise to give it that sweet, tangy flavor.
Whether you use this mayo-sugar-vinegar dressing subsitute or stick with the Miracle Whip, this is what gives the salad the flavor pop that makes it different. It introduces an acid element that elevated this salad from what otherwise would just be boring.
Lastly, finish with salt and pepper to taste.
If you want to add a special touch,
Decorate with a couple of extra eggs displayed as flowers on top of the macaroni salad.
To do this, after peeling the hard boiled eggs reserve two of the nicest looking eggs to create the garnish. Carefully cut the eggs in half lengthwise and set the halved yolks aside. Cut the egg whites again lengthwise, each half into three ‘petals’.
Arrange the egg pieces on top of the salad. Use the yolk, round side up, as the flower center. And place 5 or 6 of the white ‘petals’ around each yolk, like flowers. Eat any remaining bits with a little salt and pepper for a treat… you’ve earned it. 😉
This creates the perfect art deco touch for your Classic Macaroni Salad.
Grandma Raiann’s Classic Macaroni Salad
- 1 16 ounce box of mini seashell pasta cooked al dente
- 4 hard boiled eggs diced
- 2 additional hard boiled eggs for garnish (optional)
- 1/2 package bacon chopped and cooked into (not too crispy) bacon bits
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup Miracle Whip
(or ⅓ – ½ cup mayonnaise plus 1 teaspoon fine table sugar and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar)
- 1 bunch red radishes halved and sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 can black olives sliced
- 1/2 bunch green onions thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package instructions but be very careful to keep it al dente! Cook the pasta just until it is barely cooked, don't let it get mushy! Immediately drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to cool. Once cool, return the pasta to the cooled cooking pot to mix.
- Prepare the hard boiled eggs and bacon bits. You want the bacon to be cooked through but still on the chewy side, not too crispy.
- Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl and cover.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.