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southern macaroni salad with tomatoes, cheese and celery

Southern Macaroni Salad


Southern Macaroni Salad is a staple down south, and this classic recipe is the best you'll find for your next picnic or cookout! It's made with elbow macaroni, fresh veggies, mayonnaise, seasonings, and a pinch of sugar for good measure.




  • 16 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup cocktail tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onion, diced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar


  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp. dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add macaroni and cook 10 minutes.
  3. Drain and cool down by rinsing with cold water. 
  4. In a separate bowl, mix celery, cheese, tomatoes, onion, mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar together. 
  5. Add seasonings and mix well.
  6. Place macaroni in a large serving dish and pour dressing over top. Mix well.
  7. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  8. When ready to serve, add a tablespoon of mayonnaise to the salad to loosen it up. Add salt and pepper to taste. 


Serve Southern Macaroni Salad over lettuce as a main dish, or as a side for barbecue, burgers or hot dogs.

Only boil macaroni for 10 minutes. Cooking longer will cause it to be mushy.

Adding extra mayonnaise just before serving will loosen up the salad that has absorbed most of the dressing. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Refrigerate: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Salads
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Southern

Keywords: southern macaroni salad, classic macaroni salad, pasta salad