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Deli Style Macaroni Salad

This deli style macaroni salad recipe is the perfect side dish for backyard BBQs and holiday celebrations like Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July!

macaroni salad on a grey plate

Do you ever eat something at a restaurant – maybe a unique salad or a spectacular sandwich – and all you can think about afterwards is eating it again?

Maybe you go back to the restaurant soon so you can partake in it again, savoring each bite while wondering how they do it.  Or maybe you try your hand at recreating it at home so you can have it again and again. And again.

I am having this same predicament with the deli style macaroni salad that they sell in our local grocery store’s deli section.

I was purchasing pints of their macaroni salad every week when I went grocery shopping.  And it’s time to stop.

I took a little look at the ingredient list (not hard, since it’s printed on the label) and tried my hand at making a copycat version of it.

Ladies and gentleman, I feel your pain if you’ve ever tried to recreate a recipe. Especially a restaurant’s dish where you’re guessing at the ingredients.

macaroni salad recipe in a glass bowl

Deli Style Macaroni Salad Recipe

Even if you have an ingredient list to work off of, that doesn’t necessarily help.  Celery – that part was easy.  But peppers?

The genus Capsicum of the nightshade family (peppers) consists of 20-27 varieties.  Each of these varieties has its own varieties called cultivars.  Ugh.  I found this list of hot peppers which doesn’t include ANY of the sweet peppers, if you want to truly know how difficult my search was.

After trying a few kinds of peppers, including bell peppers and roasted red peppers,  I created this deli style macaroni salad that is simple and delicious but very different from what my deli makes.  I found a jar of pimento peppers that when drained were an awesome edition to the celery and mayo.

It is similar enough that I am still calling it deli style, but not calling it a copy-cat.  I don’t think I’ll ever get it exactly the same without asking them for their recipe thanks to my pepper conundrum.

deli style macaroni salad on a wooden spoon

What can I add to macaroni salad?

The options are endless! These are my favorite additions:

  • vegetables like bell peppers, peas, and carrots
  • meat like tuna, cubed ham, bacon, or small shrimp
  • diced boiled eggs
  • cheese cubes

How long can you keep homemade macaroni salad in the fridge?

You can keep homemade macaroni salad in a refrigerator for 3-5 days. This makes it a great side dish to make ahead of time.

How long can you keep macaroni salad at room temperature?

It is recommended to keep side dishes like macaroni salad at room temperature for no longer than 2 hours. If you think you’ll need to keep it outside longer, I suggest placing the bowl inside of a second bowl full of ice and water (an ice bath.)

What do you eat with pasta salads?

I almost always serve my macaroni salad recipe when I grill. That being said, grilled meats like burgers, and hot dogs or brats are great as the main dish. 

If you’re not a griller, serve macaroni salad with fried chicken or ribs.

Looking for more recipes, fit for a barbecue? Try these recipes:

macaroni salad pinterest image
macaroni salad on a grey plate

Macaroni Salad

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This deli style macaroni salad recipe is perfect side dish for backyard BBQs and holiday celebrations like Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July!


  • 8 ounces of macaroni noodles, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 cup diced pimento peppers (if in liquid, drain liquid first)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup low fat mayo
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • additional salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well.
  2. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours prior to serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 85Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 304mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

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This deli style macaroni salad is perfect for backyard BBQs and holiday celebrations like Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July!

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