This creamy pasta salad is perfect for summer BBQs, a special occasion, or even just a recipe to add to your favorite lunch recipes!
You may also love this curry chicken salad recipe!
Chicken Macaroni Salad
This is one of the simple pantry staple side dish recipes and salad recipes that you’ll want to hang on to. With the chicken in it, it could also easily be considered one of the easiest and lightest main dish recipes you could make for summer!
It’s a simple creamy dressing tossed with tender pasta, chicken, celery, and onion that’s done in a flash.
How ready are you all for summer food? I adore any kind of pasta or macaroni salad, especially when the weather is warm, and I’m hoping you all feel the same way.
This recipe is incredibly easy so beginner cooks will love making it and experienced cooks will love how something so easy, tastes so delicious!
You only need a few ingredients to make this easy chicken macaroni salad recipe. Here’s everything you need:
- Pasta (we use macaroni noodles but feel free to use whatever pasta you prefer!)
- Classic yellow mustard
- Seasoned salt
- Black pepper
- Chicken (We use boneless chicken breast, but you can use canned chicken to make it even easier!)
I’m betting you already have everything you need on hand to make this macaroni salad.
What kind of pasta to use for macaroni salad
I chose to use elbow macaroni to keep it looking classic but you can use whatever short cut pasta you have in your pantry.
And if you don’t have seasoned salt, don’t fret. You can use kosher salt in its place and it will still be delicious. I prefer the seasoned salt here because it just gives it that extra little interest and flavor.
Cold pasta will help keep the mayonnaise from absorbing in to the noodles. So a good thing you can do is either refrigerate the pasta after cooking, or you can simply run cold water over the noodles while in a colander until the past has cooled off.
Macaroni salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, if stored in an air-tight container.
You can eat it cold or hot but most of the time it’s served cold.
How to Make Chicken Macaroni Salad
I love using rotisserie chicken in recipes like these for a few reasons. First, it’s super easy. It’s already cooked and ready to go so all you have to do is dice it.
It’s also often cheaper than buying raw chicken and taking the time to cook it. For a busy mom, it’s kind of a no-brainer.
You can even find it pre-shredded now at your grocery store or Costco.
Or, using any leftover chicken in the refrigerator is always a great idea! When you know you’re going to be making this, cook two extra chicken breasts with dinner the night before or while you’re meal prepping so that assembly is a snap.
Assembling this easy macaroni salad recipe
Mixing up this Chicken Macaroni Salad couldn’t get easier.
- First thing, while the pasta is cooking, whisk together the mayo, mustard, seasoned salt, and pepper. Set that aside while you prep the onion and celery.
- Thinly slice a large stalk of celery and dice ½ cup of onion. You can use a sweet onion for a milder flavor or a red onion if you love that pop of color. Any variety will work here. Mix the chopped veggies into the dressing and it’s ready for the pasta.
- Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, rinse it with cold water and drain it well. You don’t want to add hot pasta to a cold, mayo-based dressing.
- You can serve it right away or refrigerate it and serve later. However, it’s recommended to make it the day of, so that creamy mayonnaise dressing won’t soak in too much!
What do you eat macaroni salad with?
Macaroni salad pairs really well with so many dishes but here are some of our favorites:
- hot dogs
- pork steaks
- smoked chicken
- fried shrimp
- beef tenderloin
- chicken wings
- oven baked steak
- chicken tenders
- chicken legs
- pork tenderloin
- oven roasted turkey
- venison steak
- bbq ribs
- pulled pork sandwiches
- burnt ends
- smoked meats
More pasta add-in ideas
If you want to experiment and add in other items to this pasta salad, here are some great ideas to try:
- chopped bell peppers
- cheddar cheese
- chopped carrots
- chopped hard boiled eggs
- sweet pickle relish
- sour cream
- chopped green onions
- Fritos (Yeah! Wouldn’t that add a fun crunch?)
- liquid smoke (but just a drop! It’s very overpowering if you add too much.)
- fresh basil leaves or fresh parsley
You’ll Also Love:
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Italian Chopped Salad
Chicken Macaroni Salad
- 16 oz. elbow macaroni
- 1 cup mayo
- 4 tsp. yellow mustard
- 1 tsp. seasoned salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup sliced celery, about 1 large stalk
- 2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook elbow macaroni according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, seasoned salt, black pepper, onion, celery and chicken. Set aside.
- Rinse elbows in cold water and drain very well. Add to the bowl and stir until well coated. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.