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The Best Macaroni Salad

The Best Macaroni Salad is a staple for every cookout, holiday dinner or special occasion at our house. We love this macaroni salad with a sweet dressing that goes with just about every meal. 

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The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe with Sweet Peppers

Have you ever had a rich and creamy macaroni salad with a sweet dressing? I have to say that sounds all the way crazy, but it totally works. I think many people call this Sweet Macaroni Salad.

I picked this recipe up from my mother in law’s recipe box and we seriously make this more than any other side dish. It’s everyone’s favorite.  I don’t even dare making any other macaroni salad.

The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe in orange bowl

It’s okay to make my Easy Pasta Salad, but don’t go using elbow macaroni or calling it Macaroni Salad… My kids are so funny or maybe just weird.

The secret ingredient to the sweet dressing is sweetened condensed milk. Crazy? Crazy delicious! This macaroni salad is also packed with crunchy vegetables and lots of cheese.

Bowl of The Best Macaroni Salad with sweet peppers

I keep the ingredients for what we call The Best Macaroni Salad on hand and it’s perfect for holidays and summer cookouts. It makes a big batch to feed a hungry crowd.

How to Make The Best Macaroni Salad (Sweet Macaroni Salad)

  • Boil macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool down. Drain well.
  • Chop celery, carrots, sweet peppers and red onion.
  • Shred Cheese.
  • Mix sweet condensed milk, mayonnaise and vinegar together.
  • Mix macaroni, vegetables, and dressing together until well combined.
  • Stir in shredded cheese.
  • Cover and refrigerate.

This macaroni salad is easy to make a day in advance and is good for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Close up Bowl of Sweet Macaroni Salad

I have changed the original recipe by leaving out the sugar in the dressing. Seriously,with a whole can of sweetened condensed milk, you’ll never miss it.

I’ve made this so many times that I don’t even have to look up the recipe card anymore. If you haven’t tried it, you have to add this one to your list for your next cookout.

It is absolutely amazing with grilled burgers and hot dogs. I bet it will be the first to disappear at any summer barbecue.

Sweet Macaroni Salad with peppers, carrots and red onion

We are counting down the last two weeks of school and then hello swimming pool and cookouts! We are going to try to get the pool going this week. I think the cold nights are finally behind us.

Pool maintenance is my new nemesis but I do love that pool, it’s totally worth it. We have plans building a patio with a fire pit out by the pool this year. I can’t wait, it’s the perfect place for our family get togethers and hanging out.

Overhead Bowl The Best Macaroni Salad

Our busy time on the ranch is also fast approaching. We have had a super late spring but it will be time to start putting up hay before we know it. Those are usually really long days without many breaks. I love this make ahead macaroni salad for those busy days.

It goes great with a sandwich or even as a snack. It’s one of the best ways to get my boys to eat their veggies too.  My guys love it so much, they have been known to eat it for breakfast! I’m not even kidding.

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The Best Macaroni Salad Photo Collage



Close up Bowl of Sweet Macaroni Salad
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4.58 from 7 votes

The Best Macaroni Salad (Sweet Macaroni Salad)

The Best Macaroni Salad is a staple for every cookout, holiday dinner or special occasion at our house. We've been making this macaroni salad that has a sweet dressing that just goes perfectly with just about every meal. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 -12
Calories: 304kcal
Author: Milisa


  • 16 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1 sweet pepper diced
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 1 carrot diced or shredded
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese


  • Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until cooled. Drain well.
  • Add macaroni, sweet pepper, celery, onion and carrot. Mix to combine.
  • In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk and vinegar.
  • Pour over macaroni mixture and stir to combine. Add cheese and mix well.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 279mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g







Thanks to Fiesta for the gorgeous Poppy Bistro Bowl that makes my photos so colorful and pretty!

This recipe has been updated with new photos and text, originally published in October, 2010.



  1. Like all the ingredients for your salad. Know my family will enjoy this for our next cookout. Plus I can make it ahead of time. It is so pretty!

  2. Love this salad, with potato chips, sounds crazy,but don’t knock it until you try it. 😁

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