This easy to make, veggie-loaded Chicken Macaroni Salad is creamy, quick, and makes a perfect lunch or a light dinner. In 25 minutes you can sit down to a big bowl or have a side dish prepared for later.
This recipe was originally published on August 27, 2014, and was republished in February 2023 to add better quality photos, re-test the recipe, and add more helpful tips.
Pasta salad is one of my go-to meals. It’s easy to make, has all the veggies of a green salad, but with the addition of noodles to make it filling and satisfying.
I’ve shared options like seafood pasta salad and broccoli, cheddar, cranberry pasta salad that are so good. But, this particular chicken macaroni salad has become one of the most popular recipes on the blog over the years. It has tender chicken, an array of colorful vegetables, and a creamy mayonnaise dressing that’s simple and delicious.
Plus it’s a great recipe to really make your own. If you’d prefer more or less of a particular ingredient, you can easily adjust it.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It can be a light meal or a make-ahead side for dinner, potlucks, and more.
- You only need 25 minutes to make it, start to finish.
- The ingredients can be adjusted and customized to you and your family’s tastes.
The ingredients for this recipe work together to create layers of texture, color, and flavor, from salty to crunchy to crisp. But the beauty of this recipe is that you can make it completely your own. I’ve shared my suggestions for substitutions if you don’t have something below.
- Elbow macaroni – This is traditional but not a rule. You can use any pasta, but I recommend one like bowties or penne that are about the same size as the other ingredients.
- Chicken – You can cook this fresh for the recipe, or use leftover chicken.
- Scallions – Chives also work.
- Red Bell Pepper – Orange or yellow are great alternatives as well.
- Celery – Something light and crisp like jicama, radish, or cucumber would work instead.
- Black Olives – I’d recommend green olives or capers if you need to swap these out.
- Dill pickles
The creamy dressing is a simple but flavorful combination of mayonnaise, milk, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper.
Start by cooking your noodles according to the package instructions. Make sure you salt the water beforehand to season the pasta as it cooks. When it’s done, drain, rinse with cool water, and set aside.
Cook the chicken if needed. Then whisk together the mayo, vinegar, milk, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper for the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then pour it over the rinsed noodles and toss it to combine.
Add the chicken and veggies to that. Stir it all together until everything is lightly coated in the dressing and dispersed throughout the pasta.
Serving and Storage
When it’s done, feel free to serve yourself a bowl right then and there. But it can also be stored for up to 3 days before serving. It makes this chicken macaroni salad perfect for those potlucks, barbeques, or busy weeknight dinners.
Keep it well wrapped or in a container with a lid, and serve cold when ready.
I hope you’ll check out some of my other pasta recipes on the blog while you’re here!
- Creamy Romanesco Pasta
- Kimchi Mac and Cheese
- One Pan Cheesy Pasta Bolognese
- Creamy Chicken Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta
Chicken Macaroni Salad
For the salad:
- 2 cups (8 oz. or 225g) dry elbow macaroni
- 1 cup cooked shredded chicken
- 1/4 cup grated carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions
- 1/3 cup diced dill pickles
- 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup finely diced celery
- 1/3 cup finely chopped black olives
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 5 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- In a large pot of boiling lightly salted water, cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper, and whisk until smooth.
- Place cooled macaroni in a large mixing bowl, pour dressing and toss. Stir in chicken, carrots, chives, pickles, bell pepper, celery and olives (you can always add more of any ingredient if you feel it’s needed). Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Enjoy!