Creamy Cheddar-Macaroni Salad: Perfect for Potlucks!

Are you in search of a dish that’s both simple and satisfying? Look no further than this creamy, mouth-watering Cheddar-Macaroni Salad Recipe – the perfect side dish for any occasion!

With its effortless preparation and classic flavors, this salad is a real crowd-pleaser. Whether you’re attending a summer barbecue, hosting a potluck, or simply whipping up a weeknight meal, this cheddar macaroni salad recipe is sure to satisfy.

The combination of fluffy elbow macaroni noodles, tender red onions and crunchy celery blended together with delicious sour cream cheddar pasta salad dressing make for a creamy and irresistible bite that will leave your guests impressed.

Plus, with versatile ingredients that can be adjusted according to your personal taste preferences, this macaroni salad allows for creativity and experimentation in the kitchen – so feel free to get creative! From broccoli cheddar pasta to Mediterranean pasta with shrimp, the possibilities are endless.

So what are you waiting for? Grab all of the essential ingredients and get ready to create an easy and overwhelming success – This creamy cheddar macaroni salad that will leave everyone satisfied!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Cheddar-Macaroni Salad
Cheddar-Macaroni Salad

Listen to me, folks. You might think that macaroni salad is just a boring side dish for your summer picnics and barbeques, but let me tell you something: this cheddar-macaroni salad recipe will knock your socks off!

First of all, who doesn’t love cheese? This recipe calls for not one, not two, but three cups of creamy cheddar cheese. We’re talking about real chunks of cheddar in every bite. And don’t worry, it’s not just cheesy – with the addition of diced onion, green bell pepper and celery, this salad has the perfect balance of savory goodness.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “But Stephen, isn’t macaroni salad just loaded with mayonnaise?” Sure, some recipes might call for a whole jar of mayo – yuck! But fear not my friends because this recipe is different. It uses a combination of sour cream, mayo and milk to create a light and creamy dressing that won’t make you feel weighed down.

Not only is this salad delicious AF (that’s what the kids are saying these days, right?), it’s also super easy to make. Just boil some elbow macaroni according to the package directions, dice up some veggies and cheddar cheese, and whip up the dressing. Mix it all together and voila! You’ve got yourself a dish that will impress all your guests.

So if you’re looking for an easy-to-make and crowd-pleasing dish for your next summer gathering, look no further than this cheddar-macaroni salad recipe. Trust me on this one – your taste buds will thank you.

Ingredient List

 A bowl of comfort -Macaroni Salad!
A bowl of comfort -Macaroni Salad!

Let’s gather together all the ingredients and get started with making the Creamy Cheddar-Macaroni Salad recipe. Check out this list of items you’ll need to make this delicious dish:

Elbow Macaroni

  • 1 (16 oz.) package elbow macaroni


  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced


  • 2 cups cubed cheddar cheese


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Additional Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine these simple items together to make a pasta salad that will become your favorite summer staple.

The Recipe How-To

Now, it’s time to get our hands dirty and start cooking this creamy, crunchy Cheddar-Macaroni Salad! Here’s how to make it:


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions, rinsed and cooled
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp light mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Step 1: Prepare the dressing

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, olive oil, and light mayonnaise until well combined.

Step 2: Combine all ingredients

Add the cooked macaroni noodles, diced celery, diced red onion, chopped green bell pepper, cubed cheddar cheese, and the thawed frozen peas into the bowl with the prepared dressing.

Step 3: Mix it up

Stir everything together until all ingredients are coated with the dressing.

Step 4: Chill and serve

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or until ready to serve. Stir well before serving.

Quick Tip: You can add up to 1 tablespoon of milk if you prefer your macaroni salad a little more on the creamy side.

For a Vegan option: Use vegan mayonnaise instead of regular mayo and non-dairy sour cream instead of regular sour cream.

That’s it! This recipe is perfect for backyard barbecues or summer picnics. I hope you enjoy this deliciously easy dish, as much as I do.

Substitutions and Variations

 Macaroni salad with a cheesy twist!
Macaroni salad with a cheesy twist!

You know what they say: variety is the spice of life. And when it comes to cooking, that couldn’t be more true. There are countless ways to put a spin on this classic cheddar-macaroni salad recipe. Feeling adventurous? Give some of these substitutions and variations a try:

– Broccoli Cheddar Macaroni Salad: Swap out the green bell pepper for 1 cup of chopped broccoli florets and 1 cup of cubed cheddar cheese. You can use fresh or frozen broccoli, depending on your preference.

– Mediterranean Pasta Salad: Use tri-color rotini pasta instead of elbow macaroni and add chopped cucumber, cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and sliced kalamata olives. Toss with a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.

– Southwest Macaroni Salad: Add 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans and 1 can of corn kernels (or 1 cup of frozen corn that has been thawed) to the basic recipe. Replace the mayonnaise with light sour cream and use a zesty Italian salad dressing.

– Bacon Avocado Macaroni Salad: Cook up 6 slices of crispy bacon until they’re golden brown and delicious. Crumble the bacon into small pieces and set aside. Cut a ripe avocado into small chunks and add them to the salad in place of the green bell pepper. Toss everything together with a creamy ranch dressing.

Whether you’re in the mood for something easy and healthy or rich and indulgent, there’s a variation out there that’s sure to suit your tastes. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make this cheddar-macaroni salad recipe your own!

Serving and Pairing

Picture this: the sun is shining, birds are chirping, and the smell of this creamy cheddar macaroni salad is wafting through the air. This dish is perfect for a backyard barbecue or potluck, and you’ll love how it pairs with all your favorite summer foods.

The cool and creamy texture of this salad makes it ideal for hot summer days. I suggest serving it with grilled meats such as chicken, burgers or steaks, making for a delicious complement to your main course. Mac and cheese lovers will go wild when they try a scoop of meaty chili on top of their creamy cheddar pasta salad; it’s simply scrumptious!

You can also pair it with other salads like a classic Caesar or Green Salad to offset its creaminess, or keep things classic by adding fried chicken on the side! For those in the mood for something vegetarian, try pairing it with a roasted vegetable platter or stuffed peppers.

This macaroni salad also pairs well with light white wines including Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. For those who prefer red wine, such as Zinfandel, a delish peperroni or caprese pizza would be amazing to serve on the side. But lets not stop here! Don’t forget about other beverages like homemade lemonade, iced tea or even beer!

Overall, this cheddar macaroni salad has many different pairing options which makes it easy to bring to any party or serve at any event. No matter how you choose to serve it up, get ready for people to come back asking you for the recipe!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Perfect for potlucks, picnics and parties!
Perfect for potlucks, picnics and parties!

Now listen up, folks. If you’re planning to throw a party, you can always make this cheddar macaroni salad ahead of time. In fact, I encourage you to do so. It’s like preparing for a siege – an armor that you bring out of the fridge when it’s time to get down and dirty.

After making the salad, store it in a safe place inside the fridge. Ideally, a large container with an air-tight lid works best. Make sure that you keep it cool at all times to avoid spoilage.

When reheating or serving the dish, take note that it tastes best when served at room temperature. So if you intend to serve it right away, let the salad sit on the counter for about 20-30 minutes before putting it on the table.

For those who want it hot, transfer servings into individual bowls and microwave for short bursts until warm enough to your liking. Don’t overdo it though – this is not soup we’re cooking here!

This dish can be enjoyed for several days if kept properly cold in an airtight container, though that’s only if there’s any left!

Tips for Perfect Results

Listen up, folks. I’m about to give you some tips that would take your cheddar-macaroni salad game from amateur hour to gourmet in seconds. Take notes because it’s about to get lit.

First things first, do not skip the celery and green bell pepper. These two veggies add so much crunch, flavor, and texture to the dish that makes it a star. Plus, they are super healthy, so move over keto.

Now here’s a pro tip for prepping the veggies. When dicing them up, cut them small enough to fit on a fork easily. Trust me; you don’t want your guests struggling to eat your delicious salad with big chunks of veggies falling off their forks.

When cooking the macaroni noodles, cook them in salted water according to package directions. Rinse them under cold water and let them cool down completely before adding any dressing. This would keep the noodles firm and prevent them from turning into mush when mixed in with the dressing.

The key here is not overdressing your salad, leading to a gooey mess. Always start by adding less dressing than you think is needed and work your way up from there. Remember, it’s easier to add more dressing than to take away.

Speaking of dressings, have you ever tried substituting traditional mayonnaise with sour cream or light mayonnaise for healthier options? Because you should! Feel free to play around with the amount of sour cream and mayonnaise that works best for you.

For added texture and flavor, try cubing some deli cheddar cheese or mixing in some frozen peas in the salad, trust me on this one – it’s delish.

Lastly and most importantly, give your salad ample time to chill in the fridge after mixing all ingredients together. A minimum of 2 hours will allow all flavors time to come together nicely.

So there you have it – my top tips for creating a perfect cheddar-macaroni salad that will impress both friends and foes alike at your next party. You’re welcome!

Bottom Line

So there you have it – my scrumptious Cheddar-Macaroni Salad recipe that will wow your taste buds in every bite. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new substitutions and variations to make this recipe your own. Whether you’re hosting a summer BBQ or a potluck dinner, this salad is the perfect dish to bring to the table.

Remember, the key to a successful and satisfactory dish is all about having the right ingredients and following through with precise instructions. Make sure you have everything on hand before you begin cooking, and don’t skimp on the recommended portions. Trust me, with every scoop of creamy cheddar pasta salad, your guests will be begging for more.

Thanks for reading my recipe article. I hope you feel inspired to step into your kitchen and cook up a storm. The beauty of this salad is its flexibility: you can customize it to make it healthy or add some bacon for an indulgent twist.

So what are you waiting for? Get ready to make a killer Cheddar-Macaroni Salad that’ll be a hit at any party. Remember, the key is in the elbow macaroni, creamy sauce, and bold cheddar cheese bits – just be sure to follow my tips for the perfect results. Happy cooking!

Cheddar-Macaroni Salad

Cheddar-Macaroni Salad Recipe

This is from Better Homes and Gardens. I love macaroni salad, but cheese makes everything better! 🙂 Prep/cook time does not include chilling time. Can easily be doubled for larger get togethers.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 304.1 kcal


  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1/2 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or 1/4 cup salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish


  • Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain macaroni and rinse with.
  • cold water. Drain again.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine cooked macaroni, cheese, celery, green bell pepper, peas, and onion. Stir gently to combine.
  • For dressing: Mix mayonnaise or salad dressing, sour cream, milk, pickle.
  • relish, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss dressing with macaroni mixture.
  • Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. If necessary, stir in a small amount of additional milk.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 84gCalories: 304.1kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 10.6gFat: 15.6gSaturated Fat: 7.1gCholesterol: 34.6mgSodium: 340.5mgFiber: 2.2gSugar: 6.2g
Keyword < 15 Mins
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