Everything You Need To Know To Make The Best Tasting Macaroni Salad

IMAGE Patrick Martires

It's the -ber months already, and the holiday celebrations have already started! With the sounds of the bells and the festive decorations already lining shelves, you may be ready to start thinking about what you're going to be making for Christmas dinner. 

There are so many dishes you can make for Christmas. One of the most iconic dishes has to be the macaroni salad. This cold pasta salad is made of macaroni, chicken chunks, pineapples, pickle relish, and sometimes, a little finely diced onion, small cubed sweet bell peppers, and the occasional water chestnut. To bring it all together, the mayonnaise-based dressing is sweet, creamy, a little tangy, and very flavorful. It's all of the flavors and textures Pinoys love in their food! 

That's why it's so easy to make macaroni salad. It's an instant crowd-pleaser no matter when and where it's served. 

What's so great about a long celebration, such as the Christmas season, is the fact that we also have a long time to prepare for it, too. That means we can actually practice making the dishes we will eventually want to serve for any of the many handaans, reunions, and other Christmas parties that are sure to be a potluck event.


Make the macaroni salad the recipe you master this year, and you'll have a hearty and delicious offering at every party. We even have ideas on how you can make it the best you'll ever make and taste, too.

Photo by Patrick Martires
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1 Choose your pasta shape. 

While elbow macaroni is the classic pasta to use for a macaroni salad, you don't have to stick to that shape alone. There are so many pasta shapes to choose from! Not only that, there are vegetable-infused pasta, too, that gives the pasta its color as well as a little flavor. You'll love that the shaped pasta are really the best ones to use since its shape allows the dressing to adhere to the nooks and crannies of the pasta. 

Boil salty water first before adding the pasta.
Photo by Pixabay

2 Undercook the pasta. 

There is one trick to making a great pasta salad: undercooking the pasta. Why? Cold pasta is actually firmer than a hot pasta, so when you make pasta salads and add pasta that's beyond the al dente stage, you'll have soft, limp pasta that won't be able to handle the weight on the dressing as well as the other ingredients in your salad that will eventually cling to it. Since pasta becomes firmer when cooled down, undercooking the pasta just at the al dente stage is perfect. 


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Photo by Patrick Martires

3 Make more dressing than you think you need. 

One of the newbie mistakes one can make when making macaroni salad is thinking that there is enough dressing. It's a big mistake to assume you have enough until you toss it all together and give it a taste. That's because, with all the ingredients added to the macaroni mix, the flavors will become muted when mixed together. 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

4 Season it more than you need.  

When making the dressing for your macaroni salad, make sure that you taste your dressing as you go. Not only that, make it more flavorful than you need it to be. It shouldn't taste "just right" because once you add in the macaroni, you'll mute the taste of the dressing since macaroni is a neutral flavor. Plus, there are the other vegetables and fruits you'll want to add in too that might overpower the flavor of the dressing, too. You may even want to add some additional flavor to your salad by making a basil oil or even using some pesto to drizzle over or stir into your macaroni salad, too. 


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5 Add crunch!

Many of us know that you should add chicken chunks, pineapples, and pickles to our macaroni salad for it to taste right. However, people also forget that sometimes, what makes a dish isn't just about taste. It's also about texture. That's why it is a pleasant surprise sometimes when you bite into something that you thought would be soft and it turned out to have some crunch or chew with it, too.


That's why we should also think about textures when we making any dish, including a macaroni salad. We think some roughly chopped peanuts, cashews, or even glazed pili nuts would go well in a macaroni salad as well as maybe some actual chunks of pickles, slivers of carrot, and the occasional apple would not be unwelcome in your macaroni salad. 

Need other ideas on how to make your macaroni salad even better than ever? Read on. 

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