Macaroni Salad

This deli-style creamy macaroni salad with cheddar and dill is perfect for summer! It’s easy to make and can serve a crowd!

Macaroni salad is one of our favorite side dishes for BBQs and gatherings. If you like pasta salads too, try Summer Pasta Salad or Zesty Italian Pasta Salad.

Macaroni Salad with cheddar and dill

Deli Quality in 30 Minutes!

I’m not afraid to admit that I love pasta salad. Any way you make it, I’ll eat it. Now that the weather has been warming up, I’ve been whipping up all sorts of salads… mainly because they’re easy and we can enjoy the leftovers for days, but also because it means I don’t have to turn the oven on!

This macaroni salad is one of my new favorites- it’s creamy, tangy and loaded with fresh dill and chunks of cheddar cheese.

You know the kind of macaroni salad you get at a good deli? Yep, this is exactly like that. And it’s crazy easy to make! Like I could do it blind folded if I needed to. All you need is a handful of simple ingredients and just 30 minutes!

Macaroni Salad in a serving dish

How to Make Macaroni Salad

PASTA. To start you’ll want to boil the macaroni. I like to use large elbows, but smaller ones will work too… or even ditalini! Really the shape doesn’t matter, I just like something that will hold in a little bit of the creamy sauce.

DRESSING. While the pasta is cooking, in a large mixing bowl whisk together some mayo, half and half, yellow mustard, dill pickle juice (trust me on this one), sweet relish, minced dill and a bit of salt and pepper.

Note: Just so you know, you can play around with the fat content of the mayo and half and half. Sometimes I even sub part of the mayo (I use light) with a bit of plain Greek yogurt. The tanginess works perfectly!

OIL. Once the noodles are al dente, drain them, rinse them in cold water and toss them in olive oil. The olive oil will help coat the pasta and will prevent it from drying out over time. If you plan on serving/eating all of the macaroni salad the same day you make it, you can omit the olive oil or reduce it by half.

COMBINE & CHILL. Mix the cold pasta together with the dressing, toss in the cheddar and it’s ready to go! I like to chill mine for at least an hour, but usually 2. 

Variations/additions 

Try adding any of the following ingredients. Just ensure the larger items are chopped down into bite-sized pieces or smaller.

  • Diced red bell pepper
  • Diced red onion 
  • Peas
  • Chopped celery
  • Yellow or dijon mustard? Dijon mustard has more of an intense mustard flavor compared to plain yellow mustard.

Scooping Dill Macaroni Salad with a wooden serving spoon

Making Ahead & Storing

Since it holds up well, you can make it a few days ahead of time. The more time the flavors have to meld together, the better!

Keep leftover macaroni salad STORED in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Serve cold! Do not leave it at room temperature for longer than 2 hours!

For more side dishes, try:

Creamy Cheddar & Dill Macaroni Salad

Creamy Macaroni Salad Recipe

This deli-style creamy macaroni salad with cheddar and dill is perfect for summer! It's easy to make and can serve a crowd!
4.37 from 11 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Salads & Sides
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 534kcal
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni - (large or small noodles)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise*
  • 1/3 cup half and half - (low-fat, fat free or regular)
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp dill pickle juice
  • 3 tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tsp fresh dill - minced, I do a heaping tsp
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup medium cheddar cheese - cubed

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot full of water set over high heat to a boil. Cook macaroni according to the package's instructions, drain and rinse with cold water. Toss the noodles with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • While the pasta is cooking, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the mayo, half & half, mustard, pickle juice, relish, dill, salt and pepper. Pour the cold pasta (that has been tossed in the olive oil) into the bowl and add the cubed cheese. Stir with a spatula to combine. The mixture may be a bit runny, but as it chills it will soak up the moisture. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Notes

*You can sub out half of the mayo for plain Greek yogurt. It will be slightly more tangy but I think it goes nicely with the dill/mustard/cheddar combo.

Nutrition

Serving: 6g | Calories: 534kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 821mg | Potassium: 225mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Calcium: 236mg | Iron: 1mg

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Comments:

  1. THIS is amazing!!!! I’ve never made a pasta salad like this before. I will be making it over and over again this summer. 🙂

  2. Made this tonight.  It was wonderful!   I added onion and green pepper though and left out the mustard!

  3. If I’m going to make a day ahead and chill would you recommend I wait to add the cheddar until the day of? I’m worried it might get slimy and overly soft.

    1. Yes, I would add the morning of, but that’s me. You can add right before & it would be great, too!

  4. 5 stars
    OMG….the pickle juice instead of using plain vinegar = GENIUS. Also, I love the little chunks of cheese in this! It was so good, I almost ate the whole bowl by myself, lol.

    1. I feel like the pickle juice is the secret ingredient. 😉 I’m so glad you liked it!

  5. 5 stars
    Served this with dinner last night and it does not disappoint! So creamy and delicious; the perfect side dish for summer, indeed!

  6. 5 stars
    I was in search of grandma’s recipe as no one knew what she would add or how much. This came very close, perhaps even exactly. Was a hit with the family, none was leftover. Awesome recipe.

    1. Wow, what a thrill to find a recipe like grandma’s! So happy for you and your family!