Southern Macaroni Salad Recipe + Video

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Southern Macaroni Salad is deliciously creamy, with the perfect crunch and the right amount of tang. Make this creamy macaroni salad recipe for a scrumptious BBQ side dish!

titled: Nana's Southern Style Macaroni Salad


This classic pasta salad is exactly what I think of when summer sides come to mind!

Passed down from my mom, we enjoyed this macaroni salad recipe with egg at every family gathering for most of my life, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you.

sliced onions

Southern Macaroni Salad

I shared stories of my mom with you when we shared her Southern Style Potato Salad recipe, which is so precious to me.

This is another of her famous recipes.  Her Southern macaroni salad was on our table at every summer gathering, right next to that potato salad.

Each bite contains a creamy dressing with hard-boiled eggs for richness, plus celery and onion for crunch.

Even better, you can whip up a batch of this old fashioned macaroni salad with tuna in less than 30 minutes!

In my opinion, this is hands down the best macaroni salad you’ll ever make, but I admit that I may be a bit biased.

Try a taste of the islands with a Hawaiian mac salad, or indulge your cravings with this version that has the flavors of a McDonald’s Big Mac!

Not a fan of creamy dressings? We have plenty of other pasta salad recipes made with vinaigrette or a light homemade dressing.

chopping hard boiled eggs

Creamy Macaroni Salad Recipe Ingredients

  • Pasta – It wouldn’t be a mac salad recipe without elbow macaroni!

    You could get away with rotini or small shells if needed, but I really recommend sticking with the classic shape.
  • Hard-boiled eggs – These add a delicious richness to Southern pasta salad, plus tons of flavor! Try my easy-to-peel air fryer method instead of waiting for water to boil on the stove.
  • Veggies – Celery and onion add plenty of crunch to this macaroni salad recipe with egg, plus they won’t water down the dish as other vegetables would.

    Adjust the size of your dice depending on your preference — larger pieces for more crunch or teeny-tiny bits for picky eaters.
  • Mayonnaise – Nana always used a blend of regular mayo and Miracle Whip. The latter is a bit sweeter and has extra spices mixed in.

    Watch the consistency as you mix everything up, since you may prefer to use less than the recipe calls for!
  • Seasonings – All you need for Southern macaroni salad is salt and pepper, but I sometimes like to add a little paprika for color and warmth.

    If you want a little more heat, try a dash of cayenne as well.
mayo in mixing bowl

Kitchen Tools You’ll Need:

chopped onion, canned tuna, and mayo in bowl

Southern Pasta Salad FAQ

How do you moisten dry pasta salad?

Be sure to use enough mayonnaise or dressing to thoroughly coat the noodles. It’s going to look like too much when you first make it, but the pasta does absorb some of it as it chills.

If your leftovers seem a bit dry after a day or two, simply stir in a little more dressing or mayo to liven them back up!

Why is my macaroni salad runny?

There are usually two culprits — not draining off wet ingredients and/or adding too many watery vegetables.

For this macaroni salad recipe with egg, cook the noodles first so they have plenty of time to drain. Remember to drain off the package of tuna as well.

Celery and onion won’t release too much liquid when diced, but you may need to reduce the amount of mayo if you add veggies like cucumber, pickles, or tomatoes.

Can I halve this creamy macaroni salad recipe?

Absolutely! This old fashioned macaroni salad with tuna serves 16, enough for any potluck or cookout. 

Feel free to reduce the amounts for a smaller batch, but you’ll definitely want enough for leftovers — trust me!

chopped celery and onions, canned tuna, and mayo in bowl

Prep Ahead Instructions 

Southern macaroni salad is best when chilled, and it tastes even better the next day!

Chilling overnight allows the flavors to meld, plus the noodles will soak up some of the dressing.

You can also prep all of the ingredients a day or two in advance to make assembling this dish even quicker.

Store the chopped veggies, hard-boiled eggs, and cooked pasta in separate containers in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.

stirring creamy macaroni salad in bowl

How To Store Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad With Tuna

Because of the mayonnaise, Southern macaroni salad needs to be kept well chilled to prevent it from spoiling.

Store it in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve, and don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than an hour or two.

Leftovers will last for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Keep the bowl tightly covered, or transfer the leftovers to an airtight container instead.

bowl of southern macaroni salad topped with fresh parsley

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southern macaroni salad in colorful bowl

bowl of southern macaroni salad

Southern Macaroni Salad + Video

Donna Elick
Southern macaroni salad is deliciously creamy, with perfect crunch and tangy flavor. Make this recipe for a simply delicious BBQ side dish!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 16


  • 2 pounds dried elbow macaroni
  • 3 large hard boiled eggs
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • ½ medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 3/4 cups mayonnaise, (a 30-ounce jar Hellman’s) divided (SEE NOTES)
  • 1 3/4 cups Miracle Whip, (1/2 of a 30-ounce jar) divided (SEE NOTES)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper


  • 6 ounces water-packed tuna fish, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika, for garnish


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente according to directions on the package.  Pour into a strainer to drain water and set aside (in strainer).
  • Meanwhile, dice onion and celery and chop hard-boiled eggs.  Add ½ of mayonnaise and ½ of Miracle Whip to the pasta pot.  Add tuna (if using), plus onion, celery, and chopped eggs.  Stir to combine.
  • Add drained pasta and stir until well combined.  Add remaining mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Taste for flavor and add more seasoning if needed.
  • Sprinkle with paprika (if desired).  Chill until ready to serve.


Donna’s Notes

  1. There are large amounts of mayo and Miracle Whip in this macaroni salad; you may want to reduce them.
  2. If omitting tuna, subtract 18 calories per serving from nutritional info shown.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 618cal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 888mg | Sugar: 5g | Fiber: 3g | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image collage southern macaroni salad

Originally published June 2014, last updated and republished April 2022

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  1. This is great especially in hot Summer with drained, canned salmon ….fresh tomato slices and crackers on the side!

  2. Hi, I'm in Scotland, we don't really have miracle whip??? is there something I could substitute for it? Not really sure what it even is 😀

    1. Miracle Whip is similar/ same as Mayonnaise but has a little tang to it like more vinegar. Not spicy hot at all.

    2. you could add a few Tablespoons or to taste of sweet pickle relish to regular mayonnaise equal to the amount of miracle whip

    3. You can order miracle whip off of Amazon. Or you can take your mayonnaise a cup of sour cream and a tablespoon of sugar and mix it with the mayonnaise it will work just as well.

  3. Please help! I’m trying to print this recipe. For some reason the link just brings me back to the same recipe. Can someone please fix the print button?
    Thank you

  4. My Mom-mom always made her macaroni salad with miracle whip. (She never wrote her recipes down 🙁 )
    I don’t recall her ever combining mayo. But the rest of the ingredients seem right. She used can tiny shrimp instead of tuna. To this day this is still my favorite food. Going to try this to see if it tastes like hers.

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