Is there anything more summery than a big bowl of macaroni salad? This recipe is unlike most macaroni salad recipes because it is sweet & creamy. If you’re looking for an easy, make-ahead pasta salad this recipe is perfect and is a true crowd-pleaser!
Our deliciously tangy and sweet macaroni salad contains an ingredient that you would probably NEVER associate with macaroni salad – sweetened condensed milk. Yes, it sounds VERY weird but I assure you that if you make this recipe a day before eating, (it needs to set and absorb the flavors) you will have the yummiest mac salad around!
This sweet macaroni salad is a perfect side dish for cookouts and potlucks. And, it’s always a hit with kids and adults alike. Plus, it is made with simple ingredients. Make it once, and enjoy it all week this summer!
Why this Recipe Works
- Cheap to put together
- Can make it ahead of time
- Perfect for a main meal or side dish
- Pot luck and BBQ crowd-pleaser
How to Make Sweet Macaroni Salad
Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. I usually add a teaspoon of salt to my water for one pound of pasta. Drain and rinse cooked pasta in cold water making sure there is no excess water left behind. Once pasta is drained, and cool to the touch, add it to a large mixing bowl.
Add vegetables, vinegar, sweetened condensed milk, spices, and mayo; mix thoroughly.
Cover the pasta salad with an airtight lid, or double layers of plastic wrap and place in the refridgerator to allow the flavors to meld for at least 12 hours, but a full day is best!
Have different items on hand that you might want to use in this recipe? That is okay! Here are some swaps you can make with equally desirable results.
Pasta – Mini shells, penne, rigatoni, ziti- pretty much any smaller-sized pasta will work for this recipe.
Vinegar – White distilled vinegar, apple cider, rice wine, or champagne vinegar will work.
Vegetables – I had mini peppers on hand so I chopped those up for this recipe, but normally I use bell peppers. I always prefer the red, yellow, or orange kind. However, green also works. You can also use Vidalia sweet onion instead of red onion if that is all you have on hand.
Why is my macaroni salad so watery?
This recipe will produce a very thin dressing once the vinegar is added. That is why it needs 12-24 hours to marinate and soak to absorb the flavor and liquid. After that, with a quick stir, it will simply be creamy.
Will the vinegar overpower the salad?
After you first add the vinegar the salad will smell strongly of it but don’t worry because that is just temporary. You should however cover it very tightly before placing it in the fridge to chill. Once it has 12-24 hours to marinate and absorb the flavors, the overpowering vinegar smell and flavor will subside.
More Pasta Salads to Try Today
- Greek Pasta Salad with Feta Cheese
- Chicken Bowtie Pasta Salad
- Crab Pasta Salad Recipe
- Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad
- Classic Tuna Salad with Peas
Deliciously Sweet Macaroni Salad
- 5-quart stockpot
- Measuring cups & spoons
- cutting board & chef's knife
- large mixing bowl
- 1 (16) ounce package elbow macaroni
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 1 cup red and orange bell pepper chopped *can use green, red, yellow, or orange for sweetness.
- ½ cup carrot chopped, or grated.
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 (14) ounce sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup vinegar *can use distilled, or cider variety
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. I usually add a teaspoon of salt to my water for one pound of pasta. Drain and rinse cooked pasta in cold water making sure there is no excess water left behind. Once pasta is drained, and cool to the touch, add it to a large mixing bowl.1 (16) ounce package elbow macaroni
- Add vegetables, vinegar, sweetened condensed milk, spices, and mayo; mix thoroughly.1 medium red onion, 1 cup red and orange bell pepper, ½ cup carrot, 2 cups mayonnaise, 1 (14) ounce sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- Cover the pasta salad with an airtight lid, or double layers of plastic wrap and place in the refridgerator to allow the flavors to meld for at least 12 hours, but a full day is best!
- Serve chilled