You'll love my grandma's Creamy Pasta Salad Recipe! It's filled with crunchy veggies, tender pasta, and bacon. Topped with a creamy dressing, this old-fashioned macaroni salad is perfect for your next picnic, cookout or barbecue! You'll get rave reviews from family and friends!
Looking for another great pasta salad for your next get-together? Be sure and try this mayo-free Italian Bow Tie Pasta Salad filled with fresh veggies!
❤️ Why you'll love this great recipe
✔️ Creamy pasta salad loaded with veggies and packed with bacon and cheese. Need I say more?
✔️ It's the perfect side dish, 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, as much as we do, I promise!
Please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the exact measurements.
- macaroni noodles are the classic choice. Any bite-sized pasta, like bow ties or small pasta noodle will work in this salad recipe.
- crispy bacon - salty ham would be a great substitution and delicious!
- broccoli, cucumber, tomato, carrot, celery, red peppers, and black olives - most vegetables would be delicious!
- red onion - green onions would be a great substitute.
- extra sharp cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese is terrific as well.
- coleslaw dressing - store-bought or homemade. This tangy dressing is easy to make with mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, a couple of teaspoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt.
This is an overview of the instructions for the easy macaroni salad recipe. For complete directions, just scroll down to the bottom!
- Cook macaroni in a large pot of water. Cook to al dente. Drain macaroni and rinse with cold water, draining 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 mixing 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?
- Chilled cooked shrimp is amazing in this recipe.
- Add diced red bell peppers 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. You'll love the tangy flavor. Or add a splash of white wine vinegar.
- Don't overcook the pasta. Cook to al dente as per package instructions.
- Allow the pasta to cool completely before adding the salad dressing. Adding the salad dressing when the pasta is hot 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 drain it well using a colander. Then place the colander in a bowl of ice water for a minute or two, drain well, and 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.
More great salad recipes
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!
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad - all the flavor and perfect for bbq's and cookouts.
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 to 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!
- Air Fryer Hot Dogs - I love a great dog!
- Veggie Kabobs with Plum BBQ Sauce 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!
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 hearing 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 pound macaroni pasta noodles cooked to al dente, drain, cool completely
- 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
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- 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 and a recipe I shared from Aunt Bee's Recipes.