Macaroni Coleslaw Salad

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MACARONI COLESLAW SALAD I Two amazing summer side-dishes collide into one insanely tasty Macaroni Coleslaw Salad! Perfect for a potluck or summer get-together! I chelseasmessyapron.com

Macaroni Coleslaw Salad is what you get when two of the best summer side-dishes (coleslaw and macaroni salad) collide into one insanely tasty potluck salad!

Looking for more crowd-pleasing potluck favorites? This Raspberry FluffMediterranean Pasta Salad, or Potato Salad are always a hit!

 Macaroni Cole slaw Salad

Macaroni Coleslaw Salad

What is this concoction?! Essentially this salad is a mash-up of coleslaw and macaroni salad! You get the best of both worlds in one salad!

It’s loaded with coleslaw, macaroni noodles, veggies, and a quick homemade coleslaw dressing. And it’s tangy, sweet, and crunchy. Macaroni Coleslaw Salad is the absolute best thing to bring to a summer potluck or BBQ. 

QUICK TIP

This salad is especially tasty on the side of a BBQ Chicken Sandwich or Sloppy Joes!

Ingredient shot-- all the ingredients in this dish

Macaroni Coleslaw Salad Ingredients

  • Macaroni and apple cider vinegar. We highly recommend elbow macaroni for this recipe, but any short pasta shapes will work. The small size of the noodles provides plenty of nooks and crannies to ensure the dressing and small ingredients get trapped in and evenly dispersed throughout the pasta. We toss just a little bit of apple cider vinegar with the cooked pasta after it’s been drained to ensure the noodles don’t stick and clump together.
  • Coleslaw mix. Nothing fancy here — just a store-bought package of coleslaw works great here! Most coleslaw mixes are in the produce section of the grocery store near other packaged salad mixes.
  • Celery. This is a classic macaroni salad addition and adds a nice crunch!
  • Cucumber. We like English or Persian cucumbers (sometimes labeled as mini cucumbers best in this salad. Regular cucumbers lack sufficient flavor and texture. They also break down more quickly (they’re quite watery), which isn’t ideal in this salad.
  • Red onion. If you’re sensitive to the flavor of raw red onion, soak the diced onions in ice-cold, salted water for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly before using.  And just  FYI, the longer this salad sits and stores in the fridge, the stronger the flavor of red onion becomes.
  • Green bell pepper. This is another ingredient that adds a nice crunch and savoriness to the salad.

Process shots--cooking macaroni; draining and rinsing; return to the pot and toss with vinegar; add to a large bowl

Dressing Ingredients

  • Mayo. Mayonnaise is perhaps the most important ingredient in this recipe–it makes a huge impact on the flavor. We love Hellman’s/Best Foods® best (not sponsored). It’s creamy and isn’t too sweet. We like their regular (full-fat) mayo best in this salad — it yields the creamiest dressing.
  • Sugar. Most macaroni salads are intentionally sweet and this one is no exception. The sugar offsets the tang of the vinegar in the dressing and balances out the veggies. If you’re not a fan of sweetness, add sugar slowly and to taste.
  • Apple cider vinegar. The vinegar gives this salad some nice tang and balances the sweetness from the mayo and sugar.
  • Seasonings. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder are all small additions with big flavor repercussions. If flavors seem at all flat, the salad may just need an extra pinch of salt!
  • Fresh lemon juice. This acidic ingredient balances flavors and adds a bit more tang to the salad. This is an ingredient you may want to increase if you love fresh lemon juice! And we really think that fresh lemon is miles ahead of bottled. Seriously! Use fresh lemon juice for maximum results.

QUICK TIP

For the quickest prep time possible, pick up some fresh (refrigerated) coleslaw dressing (I like Marie’s® best; not sponsored). The refrigerated coleslaw dressings are typically found in the refrigerated area of the produce section, not with the shelf-stable dressings.

Process shots-- combining dressing ingredients; mixing until smooth; pour over the salad

Macaroni Coleslaw Salad Tips

  • Salt the pasta water. Since this pasta is served cold, the flavors tend to get muted. Make sure the pasta is well-salted as it cooks since this is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. Read about how to properly salt your pasta water here. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon of salt to every 4 cups of water.
  • The dressing may be a bit lumpy at first — don’t worry about it; the lumps work themselves out as the dressing gets tossed with the salad.
  • Chill for 30 minutes. While it’s fine to serve this salad right after you make it, it does taste better cold and after the ingredients have had a chance to meld a bit with the dressing.

Process shots-- toss noodles with coleslaw; add veggies; add dressing; toss to combine everything; chill

Macaroni Coleslaw Salad Storage

Assemble this salad right before eating.  We just said to chill the salad for 30 minutes, didn’t we? Well, that’s not the same as storing it for four or five days. This is not a pasta salad that sits well with the dressing beyond a day. The noodles continue to absorb the liquid from the dressing and bloat giving the salad an unpleasant texture. The veggies also get soft and the salad as a whole becomes watery. So please: chill for 30 minutes, as advised, but then pull it out of the fridge and serve!

If making it in advance, store the salad separately from the dressing and combine the two right before eating. Only dress meal-sized portions.

QUICK TIP

Because pasta is made of starch, it absorbs liquids and can become dry. To combat this, I usually add quite a lot of dressing to pasta salads. Instead of adding it all at once, add most of it when you mix the dish, and then gradually add more as needed to re-moisten the salad. If serving this salad at a potluck, stir it every 30 minutes or so, adding more dressing as it starts looking dry.

Macaroni Coleslaw

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Macaroni Coleslaw Salad

5 from 5 votes
Macaroni Coleslaw Salad is what you get when two of the best summer side-dishes (coleslaw and macaroni salad) collides into one insanely tasty potluck salad!
Print Recipe

Macaroni Coleslaw Salad

5 from 5 votes
Macaroni Coleslaw Salad is what you get when two of the best summer side-dishes (coleslaw and macaroni salad) collides into one insanely tasty potluck salad!
Course Salad, Side Dish, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword macaroni coleslaw salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 14 -16 side salad servings
Calories 326kcal
Author Chelsea, highly adapted from Taste of Home
Cost $8.65

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 cups (300g) elbow macaroni, measured when dry
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 English cucumbers, cut into half moons (2 cups; 260g)
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped (1 cup; 135g)
  • 2 regular celery ribs, finely chopped (3/4 cup; 93g)
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped (1 cup; 135g)
  • 1 package (14-16 oz; 454g) coleslaw mix Note 1

Dressing

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) mayonnaise recommended: Best Foods/Hellman's
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar Note 2
  • 1/4 cup (57g) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon (17g) fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • MACARONI NOODLES: Prepare the pasta according to package directions. (Cook only 2 cups, not the whole package.) Make sure to generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon to every 4 cups of water), or the whole salad will taste underseasoned. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water, and pour back into the (dry) pot they cooked in. Toss with apple cider vinegar and then allow the noodles to fully cool.
  • VEGGIE PREP: Meanwhile, prepare the veggies. Remove about an inch of each end of the English cucumbers (this part is bitter). Slice each cucumber in half and then cut the halves into moons. Finely chop the green pepper and red onion.
  • ASSEMBLY: Once the noodles are completely cooled, add to a very large bowl. Toss with the coleslaw mix. Add the cucumbers, green pepper, celery, and red onion on top.
  • DRESSING: Meanwhile, add all of the dressing ingredients to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. If serving all of this salad the same day (See Note 3): pour over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are well coated. Cover tightly and allow to chill thoroughly in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before serving. Toss right before serving and taste for additional seasonings if needed. Once dressed, salad is best enjoyed the same day.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Coleslaw mix: Not prepared coleslaw; just a store-bought package of coleslaw (shredded cabbage and carrots) Most coleslaw mixes are in the produce section of the grocery store near other packaged salad mixes.
Note 2: Sugar: If you're worried about sweetness, start with less and gradually add more to taste preference.
Note 3Storage: This is not a pasta salad that sits well with the dressing beyond a day. The noodles continue to absorb the liquid from the dressing and will bloat, giving the salad an unpleasant texture. The veggies also get soft and the salad as a whole becomes watery. If making it in advance, store the salad separately from the dressing and combine the two right before eating. Only dress meal-sized portions.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 248mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 93IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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25 Comments

  1. You have the yummiest dishes! Love this new Macaroni Coleslaw Salad recipe you just shared. Perfect for those hot summer days!

  2. What a great idea and combination! I always use red and yellow peppers instead of green. I can’t wait to try. Thanks! I have saved many of your recipes!

  3. You state best if served same day, how long is the salad good for? I am planning to take for lunch for 4 days, would it be good that long? Thanks!!!!

    1. I’d recommend just adding the dressing to individual servings to prolong how good it is. 🙂

  4. Macaroni is my son’s favorite food. I often make mac and cheese for him at home.
    Yours looks nice, try it soon.
    Thank you, Chelsea.

  5. 5 stars
    This is delicious! Since there’s just two of us I cut the recipe in half and only dressed half of what I made, saving the rest to dress and eat in a few days. The only change I made was to seed the cucumber and cut it into smaller pieces. I had stopped making pasta salad because of medical issues that require a very low sodium diet, and this recipe allows us to enjoy pasta salad again! Thank you so much! This is definitely a keeper!

    1. I’m so thrilled to hear this was a hit and you were able to enjoy a pasta salad again — yay! 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment and review Ellen 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    Awesome recipe, i didnt remeber to separate dressing fir another day, however, i took left over for lunch, hopefully i get to enjoy the rest, thank you!

  7. This is delicious i made it today!! You mention its not the healthiest but i think it sort of is…lots of good veggies in there…i also use organic sugar and 1/2 mayo and 1/2 plain greek yogurt…thanks for a great recipe ?

    1. Thanks Jill! And those substitutions sound awesome! I’m so glad you enjoyed! Thanks! 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    I added some chickpeas and made this a complete meal. Perfect for the hot days we’ve been having in south Florida. I don’t even like regular coleslaw but this salad is addictive!! I went for a second bowl.

    1. Love your addition! So happy to hear this was a hit 🙂 Thanks for the comment Ashley!

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