No picnic is complete without this sweet and creamy Amish Macaroni Salad! This recipe is similar to Walmart’s Amish Macaroni Salad with a tangy dressing made of mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, and smoked paprika.
When I was in Ireland, I learned the first thing people think of when I tell them I’m from Pennsylvania is the Amish. Even when I was at Kate Voegele’s concert, her opening act was amazed she saw Amish people.
Pittsburgh’s side of the state isn’t really Amish country; it’s more towards the Lancaster area. However, I have seen Pennsylvania Dutch (dress like the Amish but believe in technology) near where I went to college and at the zoo on the carousel.
If there is one thing I’m glad they invented, it’s their macaroni salad.
Amish macaroni salad? What is that, you ask.
I have grown up eating this from the Walmart deli. Yes, I said Walmart deli. I have no clue if it’s only PA Walmarts or if all Walmarts sell it, but their macaroni salad is based off of an Amish recipe.
Now I make my own, which is really easy to do. Cook the pasta, whisk together the dressing, toss, and done.
And since typically macaroni salad makes tons of serving, I made small batch pasta salad, which makes about 4 servings or so.
What is Amish Macaroni Salad?
When I mention this recipe, I’m often asked the difference between Amish macaroni salad and regular macaroni salad.
Both versions use cooked pasta, hard boiled eggs, and a creamy mayonnaise dressing.
However, Amish macaroni salad has a sweet and tangy dressing. The ingredients are real mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip), yellow mustard, vinegar, sugar, and smoked paprika.
I love mayonnaise but hate Miracle Whip, which has less vegetable oil and isn’t qualified to be called mayonnaise (hence it’s called salad dressing).
I highly recommend using real mayonnaise, but if you prefer the taste of Miracle Whip, you can use that instead. Please note Miracle Whip is a bit sweeter than mayo, so you may need to taste and adjust the dressing.
Some people thought the sugar in the dressing was the right amount while others said I should cut back next time. It really comes down to how sweet your mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip) is.
As always if you’re unsure, start with a small amount, taste, and add more as necessary.
How To Make Amish Macaroni Salad
Making the best Amish Macaroni Salad is easy! First things first, start boiling the water for the pasta.
I personally don’t salt the water until after it boils and before adding the pasta. That’s because if you salt it first then get distracted, the water will reduce and become too salty.
While you wait for the water, to boil, whisk together the dressing and prep the vegetables. By the time the pasta is finished, everything is ready to assemble.
This is also the perfect recipe to use up those hard boiled eggs you may have leftover from Easter.
Make sure you leave enough time to chill! Refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop. However, if you’re in a hurry to serve, chill for at least 1 hour minimum.
How To Keep Pasta From Sticking
Typically when you drain pasta, you don’t rinse it because you’re serving it hot. Cold water would bring the temperature down, and you certainly don’t want to eat cold noodles for dinner.
However, you definitely want to rinse it under cold water when making pasta salad because you’re intentionally serving it cold.
Not only does this stop the cooking process, it helps keep the pasta from sticking together because it washes the starches away. When left unrinsed, the starch causes the pasta to clump together.
How do I keep macaroni salad from drying out?
Ever make pasta salad, only to have it absorb all of the mayonnaise and leave you with dry pasta salad?
You want to make sure the pasta is completely dry after draining and rinsing it. If there’s water left on the noodles, the dressing won’t coat it and instead get diluted and absorbed.
If you want to ensure a foolproof creamy macaroni salad, you can use the same method I do for my Caesar Macaroni Salad. Toss the pasta with half of the dressing then chill as directed. Right before serving, stir in the remaining half of the dressing.
Although it’s not a necessary step, it guarantees at least half of the dressing won’t be absorbed.
Storing your Amish macaroni salad in an airtight container also helps keep it from drying out in the fridge.
What Can I Serve With Macaroni Salad?
Getting ready to plan a cook out or a picnic? Here are more recipes you can serve with macaroni salad:
- Amish Potato Salad – Every picnic I’ve been to always has both macaroni and potato salad. Keep with the Amish theme and make this potato salad.
- The Pittsburger – Usually when there’s pasta salad, there’s also burgers. This hamburger with fries and coleslaw is a Pittsburgh staple.
- Greek Portobello Mushroom Burgers – Need a meatless option for your cookout? Check out these vegetarian mushroom burgers!
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) uncooked elbow macaroni
- 1 cup mayonnaise*
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper or celery
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a big handful of salt then add macaroni. Cook as directed on the package until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water. Let dry completely.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, mustard, vinegar, and paprika.
- Add the cooked macaroni to a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, carrots, green pepper, onion, and dressing. Dust with additional paprika on top, if desired.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until cold (24 hours is preferred to allow the flavors to develop).
*I highly recommend using real mayonnaise, but if you prefer the taste of Miracle Whip, you can use that instead. Please note Miracle Whip is a bit sweeter than mayo, so you may need to taste and adjust the sugar.