Crunchy fresh vegetables and bacon are loaded into this easy Macaroni Pasta Salad recipe. It all comes together with a creamy dressing. This pasta salad recipe is the perfect side dish for your next picnic, cookouts and barbecues! You'll get rave reviews from family & friends!
Looking for another great pasta salad for your next get-together? Be sure and try this mayo-free Italian Bow Tie Pasta Salad next!
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
✔️ It's loaded with veggies and packed with bacon and cheese.
✔️ It's almost a meal in itself!
✔️ It's a quick and easy recipe. Perfect for a cook-out and it makes a great summertime side dish when you're grilling.
You'll love it, was. much as we do, I promise!
This is just the best macaroni salad recipe! For the exact measurements, please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- macaroni noodles are the classic choice. Any bite sized pasta or small pasta noodle will work in this salad recipe.
- bacon - salty ham would be a great substitution if delicious!
- broccoli, cucumber, tomato, carrot, celery, even red peppers and black olives - really any vegetables would be delicious!
- red onion - green onions would be a great substitute .
- extra sharp cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese is terrific as well.
- coleslaw dressing - store bought or homemade. It's easy to make with mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, a couple teaspoons sugar and a pinch of salt.
This is an overview of the instructions for the easy macaroni salad recipe. For the complete directions just scroll down to the bottom!
- Cook macaroni according to package directions to al dente, rinse with cold water and drain well.
- Toss the cooked pasta with olive oil and refrigerate.
- Cook the bacon, cool and crumble it, set aside.
- Dice the cucumber, onion and celery, slice the tomatoes in half, peel and dice the carrot. Cut the broccoli into the florets, cube the cheese.
- Combine the noodles, bacon, cheese and vegetables in a large bowl.
- Toss with coleslaw dressing and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
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- These mixing bowls - I have two sets and use them daily!
- I have two sets of measuring spoons. I like these because they fit in the spice jars.
- Every cook needs a good knife - this is the one I use. Be sure to keep it sharp!
Yes, rinse and drain well. Toss it with a tablespoon of olive to keep it from sticking together.
Absolutely! In fact, it will taste better if it's made ahead of time. Another option is to cook the pasta a day ahead. Rinse it well, toss with olive oil and store in a Ziploc bag or well-sealed container.
Cook the macaroni noodles until they are al dente, drain them in a colander and rinse with cool water to remove any excess starch.
Because if you add dressing when the pasta is warm or hot, it will soak up a ton of dressing, resulting in soggy pasta.
Refrigerated, it will last 3 to 5 days!
Looking for some other ways to doll up this Macaroni Pasta Salad Recipe?
- Substitute diced ham for bacon - salty & delicious!
- Chilled cooked shrimp is amazing in this recipe.
- Add a diced red bell pepper or green bell peppers. Dill pickles or sweet pickles would add a nice vinegary bite!
- 2-3 Chopped boiled eggs or is a great addition.
- If you'd prefer a creamier dressing use ½ cup mayonnaise and ¼ cup sour cream.
- Dice some refrigerator pickles to add to the pasta salad. That's a great edition!
- Don't overcook the pasta. Cook to al dente as per package instructions.
- Allow the pasta to completely cool before adding the salad dressing. If you add the salad dressing when the pasta is hot, it will soak it up, using twice as much. It will cause the elbow macaroni pasta to get mushy.
- The best way to chill pasta quickly is to first drain it well using a colander. Then place the colander in a bowl of ice water just for a minute or two, drain well, refrigerate.
- If it's too dry - stir it well right before serving. If the salad isn't creamy add additional salad dressing and combine. Check the seasoning.
- Adding a variety of bright colorful vegetables makes this even better.
- Don't skimp on the bacon!
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
I think grilled meat and macaroni pasta salad goes together so well! Here are some great recipes that I recommend! For a complete listing of all things grilled be sure too check out the summer grilling recipes!
- Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs - sweet, salty and char grilled until tender and delicious, served with Teriyaki Noodles - amazing!
- I'm sure you'll think this is the BEST Grilled Chili Lime Chicken - so much flavor with so little effort!
- Veggie Kabobs with Plum BBQ Sauce - this is perfect for a great meatless meal!
- Every summer BBQ should have grilled Beer Brats - so good and so easy with this simple recipe!
- BBQ Tri Tip Recipe - only 30 minutes to make! Thinly sliced, perfectly tender meat every time!
Here are more great salad recipes I think you'll really enjoy!
- Steakhouse Salad - this one has it all! Crispy pepperoni and tons of crunch from vegetables.
- Southern Style Ham Pasta Salad. it's an easy side dish and a family favorite.
- Southwest Salad - easy to make tossed in a delicious homemade dressing, you'll love this recipe!
- This one is one of my favorite light lunches! Tuna Pasta Salad in a creamy sauce, it's SO GOOD!
- Italian Bow Tie Pasta Salad - perfect for cookouts and bbq's because there's no mayo. It's tossed in a store-bought dressing and it's delicious!
- This is my Mom's recipe for Classic Potato Salad - we enjoy it all year long!
If you love this as much as we do, be sure to leave a five star rating below! I reply to every comment on the blog and I’d appreciate to hear what you think of this recipe!
If you make this, be sure to tag me on Instagram @bowl_me_over or use the hashtag #bowlmeover – that’s me!
Macaroni Pasta Salad Recipe
- 1 cups macaroni pasta noodles measure dry and cook to al dente
- 6-8 slices bacon cooked, drained and crumbled
- 1 head broccoli cut into florets
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- ½ cucumber diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1 carrots peeled and diced
- ½ red onion diced
- 1 cup cheddar cheese diced into small cubes
- ¾ cup coleslaw salad dressing start with ½ cup add additional salad dressing as needed.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Cook the macaroni noodles to al dente. Drain the noodles. Cool to room temperature. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together - refrigerate.
- Cook the bacon, cool and crumble the bacon.
- Prepare the vegetables - dice the cucumber, onion and celery, slice the tomatoes in half, peel and dice the carrot. Separate the broccoli into the florets.
- Cube the cheese.
- Combine the noodles, bacon, cheese and vegetables in a large bowl.
- Toss with about half the salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate. Right before serving, give it a good stir. Add additional salad dressing if needed. Enjoy!
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This recipe was originally part of a blog hop from and a recipe I shared from Aunt Bee's Recipes.
First published April 25, 2019 - updated April 26, 2022