Last Updated on
Creamy Picnic Style Macaroni Salad Recipe designed to serve a crowd. Easy to customize by changing up the add-ins. Make some for your next backyard BBQ.
This salad is something I grew up eating every summer at family BBQs and picnics. Perhaps that is how it got its name Picnic Style Macaroni Salad. It was as expected at a picnic as Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad was. It pairs well with all styles of BBQ, burgers, hot dogs, and even a ham.
You can make this one as moist as you want by adding more dressing mix. There is no vinegar or added white sugar in this recie, namely, because I do not like my macaroni sour, nor do I like it overly sweet. Using salad dressing and sweet pickle juice gives a bit of sweetness without being overpowering.
Celery, onions, pickles, and olives are all in this salad. You can leave any or all of them out and put into your macaroni salad whatever it is you like. The photos do not have onion in them. Just blame Larry. He gets blamed for just about everything, but really this time it is his fault.
You can even leave everything out except the dressing for a kid-friendly version of macaroni salad. Guess which version Larry will get next time?
The only real rule I have that I follow consistently is to thoroughly rinse and drain the elbow macaroni after it has cooked. All of the excess starch that is great for hot pasta dishes, is bad for cold pasta dishes. As the salad refrigerates it will absorb some of the dressing, any extra starch will cause more absorption.
You may need to make a bit more dressing to add to your macaroni salad before serving.
When I say to cool the pasta, I literally mean like an hour or more. Time can be trimmed off of this by placing the pasta into a bowl of ice water, I have done that. I just end up spending a lot of time picking out tiny ice nuggets that hadn’t melted. Rinsing with cold water and waiting is best.
In addition to cooling, it allows the pasta a bit of time to dry out so there is no extra water to dilute the dressing. Make macaroni salad the night before it is needed to give the flavors time to meld. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least 5 days.
I would not freeze this. It will have a weird texture after thawing.
The celery, onions, pickles, and olives can be diced as small as you like, or like said before, omitted. I leave all of my pieces just a bit larger so that folks who don’t like any particular thing in the dish have no problems plucking it out of their macaroni salad.
This recipe will serve a crowd, so if you aren’t expecting 16 or more people, you might want to cut the recipe in half. 18 cups is a lot of macaroni salad!
Seriously, we had a neighborhood party get rained out one summer and it was another year before I could bring myself to eat macaroni salad again. I have no doubt that Andy and Larry are tired of macaroni salad in their lunches. Bless their hearts!
More Recipes Perfect for Serving at Picnics
Picnic Style Macaroni Salad
- 1 pound small elbow macaroni
- 6 Boiled eggs cooled and diced large – about 2 cups
- 1 large can medium black olives sliced in half – about 1 ½ cups
- 1 small jar pimento stuffed green olives – about 1 1/4 cups
- 1/2 small onion diced finely
- 3 stalks celery cut into medium pieces – about 1 cup
- 10 to 12 small sweet gherkins or 4 to 5 sweet gherkins – about ½ cup
- 2 cups Miracle whip
- 1 tablespoons Mustard
- 3 tablespoons Pickle Juice from sweet gherkins jar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Boil eggs now if that has not been done. Cool, peel, and set aside to cool. Once cool, cut into pieces.
- Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.
- Drain pasta again and set aside to cool.
- When pasta is completely cool, add pasta to a large bowl with celery, onions, pickle pieces, and both black and green olives.
- Toss to combine.
- In a separate small bowl mix Miracle Whip, mustard, pickle juice, salt, and pepper.
- Add half of the mixture to pasta and mix well.
- Continue adding Miracle Whip mixture until macaroni salad is creamy.
- Set aside any leftover mixture for moistening macaroni salad later if necessary.
- Gently fold in egg pieces.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving to allow flavors to meld.
- Remove from the refrigerator and add any remaining dressing mix if needed.
- If more moisture is needed, add Miracle Whip 1 tablespoons at a time with ½ teaspoon of mustard and a splash of additional pickles juice.
- Additional boiled egg slices can be added to the top for presentation.
- This requires refrigeration time of 4 plus hours.
- Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.