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A delicious mash-up of two summer classics – macaroni salad and coleslaw. This Macaroni Coleslaw is loaded with texture and great flavor!
What says summer more than classic macaroni salad or a big bowl of coleslaw to serve along with those grilled burgers and dogs? Instead of choosing one or the other you should absolutely get this Macaroni Coleslaw on your menu.
This salad is all about texture with lots of crunch from cabbage, carrots, red onion, cucumber, celery, bell pepper, and water chestnuts. Then comes the tender cooked pasta and sweet, creamy dressing and it’s pretty much impossible not to go for seconds.
How to Make Macaroni Coleslaw
Cook your elbow pasta according to the package directions and then drain and rinse it well with cool water. I like to use a pasta pot with a strainer to avoid having to transfer the pasta to a colander. Once it is really well-drained, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the bagged coleslaw mix and all the diced and chopped veggies and toss it well to combine.
The dressing consists of mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, a little fresh lemon juice, salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Just a quick whisk and it’s ready to go. Pasta has a tendency to absorb dressing as it sits in the fridge so I like to hold back a little to add just before serving the salad.
Cover and refrigerate the salad and any reserved dressing for at least 1 hour or for up to 8 hours before you are ready to serve. This recipe makes a good amount which makes it perfect for serving at a summer cookout or to take along to a potluck.
- Mayonnaise vs. Miracle Whip – Many other recipes for Macaroni Coleslaw call for Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise and whole lot more sugar than I use but that combination is a bit too sweet for our taste. If you’re a fan of Miracle Whip, it would work well here but will definitely yield a sweeter result. Taste the dressing and only add more sugar if you think it needs it.
- Pasta – I like elbow macaroni for this salad but ditalini or shells both work really well too.
- Coleslaw – Use bagged coleslaw to save you a good amount of prep time. A 14 ounce bag is the perfect size.
- Cucumbers – English cucumbers come shrink-wrapped from the store and they are an excellent choice for salads like this. They have thinner skin and smaller seeds which makes them sweeter (less bitter) than other varieties. They are also very firm with much less moisture so they hold up well and don’t let off a lot of liquid.
Looking for more summer side dish inspiration? Check out my Kielbasa Baked Beans, Lemony Tortellini Broccoli Salad, and my Orzo Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Spinach and Feta.
Check out my entire collection in my side dish archives for even more!
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 14 ounce package tri-color coleslaw mix
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium English cucumber, chopped
- 8 ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
- 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar, to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Immediately after cooking drain and rinse in cold water until cooled. Transfer the well-drained macaroni to a large bowl and add the coleslaw mix, onions, celery, bell pepper, cucumber, and water chestnuts.
- Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, 3 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and add additional sugar if you want a sweeter dressing. Pour about ¾ of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate the salad and remaining dressing separately for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
- Just before serving, toss with as much of the remaining dressing as you feel it needs.
Adapted from Taste of Home