Love macaroni salad, me too! This creamy macaroni salad is easy to make and absolutely delicious. You won’t even be able to tell that it’s actually a little lighter than a traditional macaroni salad. Rather than using lots and lots of mayo (even though I love the stuff!), I use a blend of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise to make it richer, tangier and a bit healthier. So even though this is called a healthy macaroni salad, don’t be afraid to switch it up and try this version instead. Your tastebuds will thank you, I promise.
Macaroni Salad is the MOST Nostalgic (and retro) & I love that
If there is one dish that reminds me of my mom, it has to be her macaroni salad. She was known for it. And she pretty much had to make it for nearly every spring/summer and even fall occasion. We all loved it. As I got older, I remember watching her make it and seeing the copious amounts of mayo and Miracle Whip make its way into that big bowl of macaroni salad. And being someone who was always a little obsessed with food and my body, I swore I wouldn’t eat it. It was too fattening I thought, after reading the nutrition info on the labels. But, I was pretty much impervious to her macaroni salad and I just had to eat it.
And I’m SO glad I did. My mom passed away when I was 26 and I miss her and that macaroni salad immensely. I’ll never forget the first time I was responsible for making her macaroni salad for the first family gathering. I had zero idea how to cook, so my chopping skills needed work to say the least. And even though I followed her recipe, I couldn’t get it to taste the same. I think that’s the thing about recreating someone you loves recipe. No matter what, it won’t taste the exact same. So I’m embracing that this version is different, but it still brings back all those memories and it tastes delicious in its own way.
What do you think? Have you ever tried to recreate a recipe from someone you loved, did it taste the same (even if you followed their recipe)?
Macaroni: the star of the show! To keep things classic, go for some elbow macaroni. Use gluten free or whole wheat if you want.
Pepper: for colour and crunch, plus lots of vitamin C too! Use any colour pepper you want.
Red Onion: I love red onion in here, diced very small.
Celery: for more colour and crunch.
Greek yogurt: to help bring more creaminess to the macaroni salad and provide some tang too. I opt for full fat Greek yogurt.
Lemon: for acidity
Honey: just a small amount to help balance the flavours.
Dill: I love adding dill to this because dill is delicious, feel free to use dill or another fresh herb you like.
Green onion: a few stalks for more colour and flavour.
how to make
The best part about this simple macaroni salad may just be how easy it is to make. This is probably why it’s always such a staple at BBQ’s and picnics. It also holds up really well and actually improves in flavour as it sits and the flavours can come together more.
First, you’ll want to cook your macaroni. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl. You can add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to help it from sticking together if you want.
Next, chop up the veggies. You want a very fine dice on all the veggies, so it’s time to show off your knife skills. Add them to the bowl of macaroni. Also chop up the dill and green onions and set that aside.
Time to make the dressing. In a small bowl, add the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon, honey and salt and whisk. Season with pepper to taste.
Pour the dressing on the macaroni salad and stir well to combine. If you find it’s too dry, go ahead and add more mayo and Greek yogurt in. See my tips for the ratio you’re looking for.
Last, add the dill and green onion in and give it a final stir. Let it sit in the fridge for about 1-2 hours to get cold before serving. See tips for making ahead of time.
what to serve with macaroni salad
Macaroni salad goes with so many summer dishes, especially anything made on the BBQ. Check out these other recipes to see what to serve it with.
- My best ever Veggie burgers (these hold up well and taste AMAZING!)
- Jerk salmon skewers (swap out the mango slaw for this macaroni salad, or have both!)
- Salmon burgers with wasabi aioli
- Air Fryer Mexican style chicken wings
- Falafel burger
- Air fryer coconut shrimp
- Hot honey chicken thighs
- Harissa chicken lettuce wraps
Make this macaroni salad work for you by making any of the following swaps.
- Make it vegan: use vegan mayonnaise and no Greek yogurt. I don’t think a coconut yogurt would work here as it will impart a coconut flavour. Perhaps an unsweetened and plain yogurt such as cashew or almond will work, but using solely vegan mayo would be my first choice.
- Gluten-free: use any gluten-free macaroni pasta, I used corn here.
- No dairy: omit the Greek yogurt and use all mayo instead.
- No honey: use another sweetener instead, it’s such a small amount, you won’t taste it much, it just helps balance the flavours.
- Dill: if you don’t like dill or don’t have it, swap it for another herb such as parsley, or omit it.
- More protein: add chopped hard boiled eggs or tuna to this healthy macaroni salad.
Storage & tips
This will keep in the fridge for up to 5-6 days.
Keep this healthy macaroni salad tasting it’s best by following these tips:
- Ratio: the ratio I find that works best for this is 1 part mayo to 1/2 part Greek yogurt.
- Let it chill: let it sit in the fridge for at least a few hours before serving. This allows for the flavours to come together more and makes for a better tasting macaroni salad.
- Make this ahead of time: this is one of those salads that tastes better as it sits. You can prep this one day in advance. Before serving, add a little more dressing to it as it soaks up the dressing quite easily.
- Make more dressing: as you’re whisking up the dressing, you can easily make more to add to it as needed. Just store it in a separate container in the fridge.
Is macaroni salad healthy?
This will depend on what you deem as healthy. To me, yes, this can be a healthy and enjoyable side dish. I think it also depends on the ingredients you use. This is why I opt for a mayo made with avocado oil over canola as it’s less processed and better for your health.
Everyone is different in their approach to health and healthy eating. My version is going to be different than someone else’s. Personally, being healthy also means being able to enjoy the foods I’m eating. So although I may make a few swaps with ingredients, the food is never compromised and still tastes delicious.
If you can’t find or don’t want to purchase avocado oil mayo (hey, it’s expensive!), use regular. Or you can even make your own mayo too, it’s actually quite easy to do. Either way, don’t stress it!
Ready to make this? Let’s get to it!
If you make this healthy macaroni salad recipe please share with me, by tagging me on Instagram or leave a comment and/or review below. I truly love seeing and hearing form you!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only share products and services I have personally used and love. Disclosure here.
Healthy Macaroni Salad
A simple and delicious healthy macaroni salad made with a combination of mayo and Greek yogurt.
- 10 oz macaroni
- 1/4 red onion finely chopped
- 4 stalks celery finely chopped
- 1 orange pepper finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh dill chopped
- 4 stalks green onion both green and white parts, sliced on the bias
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp raw honey
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl. You can add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to help it from sticking together if you want.
Finely chop up the veggies and add them to the bowl of macaroni. Also chop up the dill and green onion and set that aside.
In a small bowl, add the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon, honey and salt and whisk. Season with fresh pepper to taste. Feel free to make extra dressing here to add to the pasta later. Keep it stored in a separate container in the fridge.
Pour the dressing on the macaroni salad and stir well to combine.
Add the dill and green onion in and give it a final stir. Let it sit in the fridge for about 1-2 hours to get cold before serving.