Yankee Doodle Macaroni Salad
Updated: Mar 5
Who hasn’t encountered macaroni salad at some point or another? For me at least, macaroni salad is one of those things that no potluck or BBQ can be considered complete without. And as I’m finally starting to watch the snowpack outside my window melt into spring showers, I’ll admit that I’m starting to look forward to warm days spent outside in my hammock loosely monitoring whatever deliciousness is happening in my smoker. But you usually need something to go with those assorted slabs of meat and that’s what we’re going to be discussing.
A quick look around the internets will reveal almost countless recipes and styles of macaroni and it’s cousin pasta salad with almost every different manner of add-in and dressing that you can imagine. And I must admit, I’m not a super adventurous Viking when it comes to my macaroni salads. I’ve definitely encountered more than my fair share of mass produced store bought versions that were, at best, not much to get excited over and at worst barely edible. Some monsters even add raisins!
But fear not, without too much trouble, you too can be a potluck power-player with this simple and easy recipe. Oh, and I’ll also tell you the best way I’ve found to make your own mayonnaise for the dressing. I promise it’ll be way better than anything you can buy at the store.
Bubble bubble and hopefully no trouble
6 large eggs
8oz macaroni elbows
½ Yellow onion, finely diced
There really isn’t too much to say about this part of the preparation. We ultimately want hard boiled eggs, softened onions, and slightly al dente macaroni at room temperature.
I previously shared my method of hard boiling when it came to making deviled eggs. Long story short, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Carefully add your eggs and plastic color changing egg timer. Then wait until the timer indicates that you have hard boiled eggs. Once done, I usually shock them in an ice bath to prevent the unpleasant gray layer from forming around the yolk. If you have a better way that works for you, feel free to do that!
Peel your eggs, halve them, and separate the yolks and whites. We’ll be using the yolks in the dressing and the whites will accompany the macaroni.
If you’re trying to be less wasteful, you can even cook the macaroni in the same salted water that you boiled the eggs in! I went this route because the water was already hot and boiling water takes forever on my weathered old gas stove.
Add the macaroni to your boiling water and once it reaches al dente, drain it and shock with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down. Trust me, you don’t want to add a mayonnaise based dressing to hot macaroni. Drain completely and set aside. Make sure to stir a few times as it's cooling down to make sure that the macaroni doesn't stick to itself.
Finally get a frying pan or skillet and apply some medium-high heat to the onion with a little bit of butter until it looks translucent and smells delicious. Then set aside to cool.
The macaroni, eggs, and onions can be prepared up to a day ahead of time, if needed. However, I’d recommend against peeling and halving the eggs until you are ready for final assembly.
The Mayo Clinic
1 large egg
1 cup neutral oil (NOT olive oil)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt
Few grinds black pepper
I’ve tried making mayonnaise from scratch a number of different ways over the years, with varying levels of satisfaction with the result. Turns out that the immersion blender with a milkshake style cup method that I found through J. Kenji López-Alt produces the quickest, easiest, and best result. And that makes me happy, because I’ve been waiting to figure out a really good use for my immersion blender.
Basically you just put everything in the blender cup. Then, with the blender against the bottom, start blending the mixture until an emulsion forms. Slowly move the blender up and down a few times to emulsify the rest of the mixture and boom, mayonnaise. No drizzling, no whisking, no cleaning your food processor.
Of course, if you have another way to get perfect mayo, do that! Otherwise, just picking some up from the store is going to be serviceable. But homemade is always going to be better.
½ Onion, minced and softened
1 Medium carrot, shredded
1 Cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp white vinegar
Dill Pickles, minced
Sun Dried tomatoes
The best way that I’ve found to get everything well combined is to make the dressing first with all the goodies that we’re going to add in and then mix it together with the macaroni and egg whites.
Start by breaking up the yolks into little bits, then add in your mayo and vinegar. I like to use a whisk for this to make sure that there aren’t big chunks of yolk in the dressing. Whisk until relatively smooth and then add in your onion, pickles, carrots, and delicious sun dried tomatoes that we first discussed for gnocchi purposes.
Mix until well combined and then add some salt and pepper to taste.
Time for final assembly! With a spatula, mix the dressing with the macaroni and egg whites until well combined and delicious looking. I like to make a fun little game out of smashing the egg whites into little pieces with my spatula. If you’re not into gamifying your macaroni salad, feel free to slice up the egg whites into appropriately sized pieces before adding your dressing.
That's it right?! Almost. You’re going to want to wait a little while before you eat this so that the flavors can fully combine and develop. (Just like how chili is always better the second day.) Ideally, I’d recommend letting it sit, covered in the fridge, overnight. However, 3-4 hours of resting should be sufficient in a pinch.
One last note. When you’ve been patient letting it rest and finally go to serve this you can always add a little more mayonnaise, vinegar, or just a touch of plain water to loosen it up and brighten up the flavors a bit.