Homestyle Macaroni Salad

This quick and easy lightened up homestyle macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for your Spring picnics and Summer barbecues! 

This quick and easy homestyle macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for your Spring picnics and Summer barbecues!

Is it time to start doing our long weekend happy dance yet?

I hope so because I’m doing it right meow!

For Paul and I, it means four glorious days free of work, appointments, email and errands. Instead we’re finally picking out paint for the upstairs rooms, painting our faces off, and sneaking in a little Raleigh road trip to get our Whole Foods and Trader Joes fix while we still can.

While we’re on the topic of Whole Foods (whole foods… whole paycheck… whole lotta delicious trouble!) let me take a moment to propose the most brilliant idea ever: Whole Foods should have a food blogger discount.

Actually, while we’re at it, they should have a frequent shopper discount too!

The sheer volume of stuff we buy there is a tad obscene. Sure we may frequent the farmers markets, discount grocery stores, and health-centric co-ops, but we still drag our butts into WF like a moth to a flame. Or really, like cookie monster to a double chunk chocolate chip cookie with sprinkles. Mabye they put something in the air there, or possibly lace the hot bar with opiates? I couldn’t quit that store if I tried, not even when my nearest one is over two hours away! 

Before this post turns into a love letter to Whole Foods (or a plea for them to give me my life’s savings back) let’s talk weekend barbecues!  

Bring on the macaroni salad!

Whether you’re hosting or attending one, I’ve got the macaroni salad covered! I’ve tested this particular one several times now and can happily squeal that I found the perfect creamy dressing to smother over pasta and veggies.

The greek yogurt adds protein and lightens up the dish’s nutrition stats a bit, while the eggy mayonnaise still delivers that good old-fashioned macaroni salad flavor that we all expect from the dish. Factor in the tangy mustard and vinegar and mix of herbs and spices and you have a super flavorful side dish to wow your friends with!

It’s also ridiculously quick and easy to make, so put down that preservative-packed container of store bought macaroni salad and make this instead! 

Homestyle Macaroni Salad

This sassy salad features a dressing with equal parts mayo and greek yogurt, for a tangy sauce that’s lightened up and wildly addictive!

 so . . . how was it?

Stellar! Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned southern macaroni salad in your arsenal and this one’s an absolute crowd-pleaser!  I love the mix of crisp, refreshing veggies, tender noodles, and creamy, tangy sauce.  I could yammer on about it, but I should probably just let you go so you can run to the store and pick up any of the remaining ingredients you need to make this.

This quick and easy homestyle macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for your Spring picnics and Summer barbecues!
5 from 12 votes

Homestyle Macaroni Salad

This quick and easy homestyle macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for your Spring picnics and Summer barbecues! 

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Macaroni Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 250 kcal
Author Jenn Laughlin - Peas and Crayons


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (or approx 1/2 of a 16 oz box)
  • 1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely diced celery (4 stalks/ribs)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced white or yellow onion
  • 2-3 TBSP chopped green onion to garnish
  • 1/8 tsp paprika


  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat or lowfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought mayo
  • 2 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 1 TBSP yellow mustard
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp of dried parsley
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of garlic powder (plus extra to taste)
  • any additional salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the noodles per package directions and drain in a colander.
  2. To make the dressing, whisk together above ingredients. Pour half the dressing over the salad and chill to allow flavors to meld. When you're ready to serve, pour the remainder of the dressing over the salad and dig in!

  3. Stir in your chopped veggies and pour over approx half the dressing, mixing well.
  4. Steal a taste and feel free to adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Extra garlic is common in this house as is lots of extra bell pepper and green onion - add whatever extra veggies/spices you'd like!
  6. Pop the entire bowl in the fridge, covered (along with a separate container of the remaining dressing) and allow to cool.
  7. Add the remainder of the sauce just before serving for maximum creaminess (otherwise those hungry noodles will absorb it all!)
  8. Dig in that very same day or up to four days later. This is a great potluck/party side dish that can be made in advance or whipped up and served fresh as a last minute addition! With pasta salads, anything goes!

Recipe Notes

macaroni measurements: a typical 16oz box of dry elbow macaroni will deliver around eight 1/2 cup servings once cooked. If you use half the box (8oz =1 + 3/4 cups of macaroni]) you'll wind up with 4 servings. This will help if you're trying to calculate how much you need for an intimate group. If you're feeding a crowd, by all means make the whole box and skip measuring entirely. Just make sure you whisk together some extra dressing and add extra veggies.

For the peppers, you can use all one color or grab bag of multi-colored sweet mini peppers and get your rainbow on! I did this for the batch pictured in the photos.

Nutrition Facts below are estimated using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Adjust as needed and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Homestyle Macaroni Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 250 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 7mg2%
Sodium 223mg10%
Potassium 186mg5%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 682IU14%
Vitamin C 25mg30%
Calcium 32mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nearly all the delis here in the South add a teaspoon or so of sugar to their dressing to add a bit of sweetness to compliment the tanginess of the mustard and vinegar, feel free to follow suit and add this as well!  I’ve tried it both ways and can’t decide which I prefer most! I kept tweaking the ingredients with each batch until I wanted to lick the bowl.

Also, we need to talk ratios here, people.

I’m willing to bet if you’re a regular around here you know what’s coming. ALL. THE. VEGGIES.

This quick and easy homestyle macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for your Spring picnics and Summer barbecues!

This quick and easy homestyle macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for your Spring picnics and Summer barbecues!

special diets and swaps

  • vegansaurus chefs you could try using vegan mayonnaise for the sauce or a combination of veganaise and vegan sour cream as well!
  • t-rex chefs hard boiled eggs, cubed ham, and/or bacon are common macaroni salad mix-ins if your guests insist on it. I added a teeny bit of smoked paprika to one batch of this sassy macaroni salad and the first thing P said upon tasting it was “is there BACON!?!?”  Silly rabbit.

If you get a chance to try this lightened up macaroni salad recipe recipe, let me know! Leave some love in the comment form below or tag your photos with @peasandcrayons on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creation! I can’t wait to see what you whip up!

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Recipe Rating


  • Natalie

    5 stars
    This macaroni salad is SO good!! I may have missed it somehow but what is a serving size of this? 1 cup? I probably ate at least 3 yesterday!

    • I’m so glad you’re loving it Natalie, than you! Whenever I make it I usually end up clocking the full bowl at around 7-8 cups so approx. 3/4-1 cup will be a serving.

  • Karen Nelson

    5 stars
    Loved this salad! Going to be our “go to”!

  • Amanda

    5 stars
    Delicious and always a summer hit at BBQs.

  • Jennifer Farley

    5 stars
    This homemade version is delicious and just perfect for all the BBQs that will be happening soon!

  • Chrissy

    5 stars
    So funny I stumbled across this recipe today – it’s my hubby’s bday and I’ve been trying to figure out what to make him. He’s a huge macaroni salad fan AND I already had everything I needed in the house to make this! Saving it to eat with him tonight but of course I already snuck a bowl and it is DELISH.

    • Ahhh yay! So happy to hear it Chrissy – thank you!

  • 5 stars

  • Jocelyn

    I am thoroughly in love with your blog. My husband and I transitioned to a vegetarian diet last March, and have grown into a little bit of a slump when it comes to variety. I am so excited to try all of these recipes, seriously!

  • Anonymous

    5 stars
    I used the dressing with a mac salad of my own, with garden tomatoes, red onion, celery, peas, eggs and chopped dill pickle. The dressing is a great tangy compliment. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    We don’t do yogurt of any kind in this house. Is there a substitute item I can use?

    • Absolutely! Simply sub with extra mayo. You’ll use 1 cup total in this recipe instead of half mayo half yogurt and it will still taste amazing 🙂 hope that helps! Xo

  • 5 stars
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, tried out a good few of your recipes and loved every one of them. Made this one this weekend to take to a party, and I’m seriously in love. I would have never thought to try adding greek yogurt, but the flavor makes it really tangy and interesting. It was just wonderful and it look really pretty with all the red from the peppers and the green from the celery.

    I regret not putting the extra dressing on the side and mixing it up when I got to the party, but between the tiny microfridge at work, and the lack of counter to mix things on at my friends house I figured it’d be easier to just do it at home while I was already mixing. It was still delicious, but the pasta definitely absorbed the dressing.

    Cant wait to try it again(and follow the instructions). 🙂

    • ahhh yay! Glad you liked it Angela!!! Pasta is absolutely a dressing hog so hopefully you’ll be able to steal some extra for yourself next time haha =) Thanks so much for stopping by and making the recipe! And the glowing review too! You rock!

  • April

    5 stars
    I just made this not 5 minutes ago and I’m resisting the urge to eat the dressing with a spoon. Hopefully this also gets the approval of the picky eaters in this household. Delicious!!

    • ahhhh! I just squealed outloud! =) I’m thrilled you liked it! Let me know how it fares with the picky eaters! <3

    • April C

      5 stars
      I may or may not have eaten two servings myself. Send help. And you will be happy to know that the pickiest eater (sadly the husband, not the 4 year old) approved and the slightly less picky eater also gave it a thumbs up. Next time I’m going to try it with a little bacon! 🙂

  • Purabi N

    5 stars
    Couldn’t take my eyes off the picture!! Now this is something really really delicious!! I loved this recipe. This good, old-fashioned southern macaroni salad ROCKS!

  • Cheri

    5 stars
    I made this today for the son, his GF who does not like macaroni salad was eating it! Thank you for a wonderful recipe! Even the hubs who does not eat “salads”. Was eating it :-). Thank you!

  • Mmm. I have always loved macaroni salad, but once I switched to healthier eating, I tried to stray away from it! I never thought of using a Greek yogurt base. I must give this a try. It’s just in-time for my Memorial Day BBQ!

  • I love that this recipe uses Greek yogurt and homemade mayonnaise! It looks delicious.

  • Ohhhh Whole Foods!! How I love thee!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the recipe. Sounds delish and I may make for a BBQ I’m hosting next wkend!

  • I’m honestly not a huge fan of macaroni salads. They’ve always been too thick and bland for me, but I think this version with the greek yogurt mixed in might work. A little lighter, some tang from the yogurt, and I know all of your recipes have great flavor so bland wouldn’t even be an issue. Although I still want to try your pasta salad too. Good thing summer is long, and I’ve got plenty of time to make all the recipes.

  • Anna @ Your Healthy Place

    Ooh yum – I may borrow these dressing ingredients and put them on potato salad instead. Sounds so good!

  • Yum this looks delicious! I’ve just found out I can’t eat wheat or gluten so I need to try and find a good pasta alternative so I can make this one!

  • mmmm this looks delicious!!

  • I’ve never been a hug fan of the “southern” pasta salad, I’ve always gone the Italian Dressing route… You may have just converted me.

    And I totally feel your pain on the Whole Foods front. Whole Foods: 1,000,000 Ashley’s Bank Account: 0. I’d be completely with you on the Food Blogger Discount!


    This looks amaaaaaaaay-zing. I love pasta salads, and I’d be all over this one. Get in mah belly! 🙂

  • Yes! Whole Foods could show some love… I like the idea of the frequent “buyer” miles. Or maybe a Chairman’s club for those of us who spend a certain amount on the average each month.

    Sadly, that’s the beauty of having a great product (or store). You don’t NEED to do it and we still are in love. That’s why some douchecanoe from Chik Fil A can make an Ahole statement and yes, there’s a wee bit of backlash but the company isn’t hurting because the product is so darned delicious and people flock.
    Speaking of… a lemonade sounds so good right now. (0:

  • can i just eat the dressing, with a spoon? 😉

  • Anonymous

    Would love a post on what you stock up on at Whole Foods!

  • I live very nearly directly over the Manhattan bridge from the WF I met you and Paul at. (pardon my grammar)…I’ll actually be there in like 20 minutes. I’m hopeless.

  • Hahahaha poor Paul 🙂 Bacon aside this looks delicious (and like a perfect GF option for me to bring along to my family’s cookout this weekend!)

  • Looks delicious! My middle child and my youngest both have birthdays this weekend so we are having a joint birthday party. Expecting 60 people with almost 30 kids. Yikes!

  • I NEED to stop reading these at 8 in the morning before I’ve had breakfast. Macaroni salad in my face. NOW.

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