This Rainbow Macaroni Salad is the pot of gold at the end of your fork. This pasta salad with veggies is the perfect summer salad and one of the best potluck dishes you’re going to make this season.
Rainbow Pasta Salad
With its playful mix of colorful veggies and creamy dressing, rainbow macaroni salad is a celebration of flavors and a great kickoff to patio dining season.
After being cooped up indoors for months, the allure of an outdoor picnic is stronger than ever. The ever-improving weather only adds to the excitement. It’s time to find a serene, location to lay out the perfect summer feast, and don’t forget to include this refreshing macaroni salad in your picnic basket.
Related: Chicken Macaroni Salad
I personally love pasta salad with veggies – the vibrant assortment of vegetables adds a burst of color and freshness, creating a visually appealing and appetizing dish, while the combination of crisp, crunchy vegetables with tender pasta provides a satisfying texture contrast that keeps each bite interesting. And veggies contribute a variety of flavors, enhancing the overall taste profile and making pasta salad a delicious option for any occasion.
A Couple of Tips for the Most Flavorful Macaroni Salad
- Season the pasta water. Generously season the pasta water before cooking the noodles. This step ensures that the pasta itself absorbs the delicious seasoning, infusing it into every bite. The result is a delectable and well-seasoned base for your flavor-packed pasta salad.
- Don’t rely on just mayonnaise for creaminess. While good-quality mayonnaise or homemade mayo can be a great starting point, creating the most flavorful dressing for your salad requires a few sidekicks. In this recipe, I combine mayo, sour cream, vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, salt, pepper, and parsley. This dynamic combination of ingredients enhances the overall flavor profile of your dish.
- The best mouthfeel. If you want the best mouthfeel and overall flavor for your macaroni salad, use full fat mayonnaise and sour cream. Non-fat Greek yogurt can be used in place of the mayo and sour cream, for a lighter dressing, but just know it is going to change the overall flavor of this salad.
- Honey adds the best sweetness. While maple syrup or granulated sugar can be used for sweetness, honey really does add a nice flavor profile.
Prepping Macaroni Salad in Advance
Macaroni is guaranteed to soak up dressing as it sits, which adds flavor to the noodles, but also makes for a dry pasta salad. If you want to prep ahead, the key is to keep the ingredients separate until you’re ready to serve.
While the noodles are cooking, make the dressing. Once the elbow macaroni is cooked, cool in an ice bath and toss them with a modest amount of the dressing before refrigerating. This step is going to prevent the noodles from sticking together, as the oil in the mayonnaise acts as a barrier, while keeping the majority of the dressing separate ensures the noodles won’t absorb it all.
For added convenience, you can pre-cut the vegetables and parsley ahead of time, storing them separately in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the pasta salad.
When it’s time to serve, combine the noodles with the remaining dressing, ensuring they are thoroughly coated. Gently stir in the medley of vegetables and parsley. This final step brings together all the components, resulting in a harmonious and flavorful pasta salad ready to be enjoyed.
How to Serve Rainbow Macaroni Salad
For optimal enjoyment, this macaroni salad is ideally served at room temperature. I usually remove the salad from the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes before serving. It’s important to note that since this salad contains mayonnaise, it should not be left out for more than two hours to ensure food safety.
Store pasta salad leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.
More Pasta Salad Recipes, the Ultimate Comfort Food with a Twist
Pasta salad is the superhero of potlucks. Which one will you take to your next gathering?
- This pepperoni pasta salad is a unique way to satisfy your pizza cravings.
- Italian cold pasta salad is the undefeated champion when it’s time to pick a favorite chilled pasta salad.
- An incredibly tasty Greek pasta salad featuring a tantalizing homemade dressing that will leave you craving another bite.
- Indulge in the flavors of this antipasto pasta salad, accompanied by a tangy red wine vinaigrette.
- This show-stopping spicy pasta salad, boasts layers of flavor. Imagine creamy noodles, zesty pickled veggies, and vibrant fresh herbs coming together for a taste sensation that steals the spotlight.
- This rendition of ranch tortellini salad checks all the boxes, delivering simplicity and incredible flavor in every bite.
It’s Pasta-bly the Best Thing You’ll Taste
When you decide to embrace the rainbow and make a batch of this pasta salad, snap a photo and tag @NOBLEPIG and #noblepig on INSTAGRAM. You’ll find out how this vibrant salad is the culinary equivalent of a sunshine-filled day.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
How to Make Rainbow Macaroni Salad
Rainbow Macaroni Salad
- 1 (8 oz.) box elbow macaroni noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained
- 2 large hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 cup matchstick carrots, chopped
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
- Cooked boxed macaroni pasta according to package directions. Rinse pasta under cool water and drain. Set aside.1 (8 oz.) box elbow macaroni noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained
- Add cooled pasta, diced eggs, bell pepper, celery, carrots and red onion to a large mixing bowl.2 large hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced, 1 medium red bell pepper, diced, 2 celery stalks, diced, 1 cup matchstick carrots, chopped, 1/4 cup diced red onion
- In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. white or apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. honey, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- Pour the dressing mixture over the pasta and vegetables and toss until evenly coated.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste and transfer your pasta to a serving dish or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- If you are going to make the day before, see the above post for day before preparation tips.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.