May 23, 2018

Picnic macaroni salad

Finished bowl of macaroni salad

This picnic macaroni salad is a perfect classic cookout dish to bring to a summer party or family barbecue. It's full of flavorful and color and is easy to put together.

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Grilling, picnic, and cookout season is upon us and that means more eating outdoors and more eating with family and friends. Pasta salad is pretty standard at all of our family's cookouts and summer picnics. 

This recipe is a great one because it has a lot of texture and flavor in it from the celery, bell peppers, green onions, and hard boiled eggs. Mayonnaise is used in this salad along with a touch of Dijon mustard, garlic powder, and paprika.

This picnic macaroni salad is not a sweet macaroni salad - there is no sugar in the recipe. It goes perfectly with pretty much any cookout or grilling food- hot dogs, burgers, sausage, barbecue chicken, ribs, and more.

Top view of a bowl of picnic macaroni salad with a serving spoon.

As with many cold salads, this pasta salad is best made the night before or at least a few hours ahead so it can chill and the flavors can all get happy together. Then before serving, give it a stir and add a bit more mayonnaise to moisten it up again. 

Top the salad with reserved sliced green onion tops and some paprika for a lovely garnish of color before serving. 

Give this picnic macaroni salad a try at your next cookout or bring it to a potluck this summer. It's always a hit with our family and friends.

Serving bowl of picnic macaroni salad.

Yield: 10 servings

Picnic Macaroni Salad

Picnic Macaroni Salad

Whip up a batch of this macaroni salad for your next cookout or picnic. Bell pepper, celery, and green onions add flavor, color, and crunch.


  • 3 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup (approximately) mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (approximately) salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin


How to cook Picnic Macaroni Salad

  1. Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. While the pasta cooks, stir together the mayonnaise (1 cup), mustard, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper (use to taste - start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more if desired) in a large bowl. Stir in the vegetables, reserving some of the green onion tops for garnish. Fold in the eggs and cooked pasta. Cover and refrigerate until serving (if serving right away taste for seasoning and add garnishes below).
  3. Taste for seasoning. You can add more mayo if it looks a little dry. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with remaining 1/4 teaspoon paprika and reserved green onion tops.
Created using The Recipes Generator

I hope you give this macaroni salad a try! Let me know in the comments below.

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Serving bowl with a spoon to serve picnic macaroni salad.

This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated in 2022 with new text and more to improve reader experience.

Check out these other cookout side dish recipes:

Creamy Carrot, Raisin, & Pineapple Salad

Broccoli Stem Slaw w/ Cranberries

Dill Pickle Potato Salad

Easy Creamy Grape Salad

Green Bean & Red Potato Salad


  1. Very delicious and definitely perfect for picnic!

  2. I don't always feel like preparing food for my blog, but I'm always interested in eating. :-) So when I fall into the blahs -- and we all do -- I usually am able to snap out of it in a few weeks just by trying different dishes. Not things I necessarily want to blog -- just new tastes. Anyway, this salad is lovely. And perfect for the season! Thanks so much.

  3. this sounds so good!! i love that there isn't any relish in this salad...we never have that around and i hate to buy a jar just for a few tablespoons. and i totally feel you on the recipe rut. i'm there too! :)

  4. I know what you mean with blogging and inspiration, but you have a great excuse ~ those 2 year olds. Sometimes I slow down and think I'll stop blogging and then a couple of days later, I'm back at it. Your salad is great, perfect for the holiday weekend! Thanks!

  5. Don't you just love a picnic!?! It brings back memories of carefree childhood days - of course that was when I didn't have to make the salad!!! But I love making memories with my loved ones and this salad sounds like a great make for a wonderful picnic! Thank you for sharing at Friday Frenzy.

  6. oh, i hear ya about lacking inspiration! i only have one babe and i can barely scrape together a blog post--i don't know how you do it! this salad looks so tasty and full of great textures--bravo. :)

  7. This definitely does look perfect! The paprika on top looks lovely :) Pinned!

  8. I'm all over a macaroni salad that looks as good as this that paprika!!!

  9. Your timing is perfect! I've been having a craving for a pasta salad and yours looks wonderful!

  10. I love this classic dish-perfect for all those summer cookouts!

  11. I agree with you about making macaroni salad the day before for a better taste. I've not put egg in mine before (I do in potato salad) so thanks for the inspiration.


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