Macaroni Salad with Ham and Cheese: The best easy classic macaroni salad recipe. With a tangy, lightly creamy dressing, it pairs with nearly any meal!
Macaroni Salad with Ham and Cheese
Summer is officially over at our house, as our girls are back to school today. Hatti’s a senior, taking classes at both the high school and a local community college. And Tessa’s a seventh grader, with volleyball starting up this week as well.
I’m not one of those parents who can’t wait to skedaddle their kids off to school each fall. Never have been. I like them too much. So it’s certainly bittersweet for me, wanting most of all to watch them grow and learn and thrive, while the momma heart strings are aching to just pull them on back.
I keep reminding myself to find all the ways to create and enjoy all the special moments. And food is a huge part of that for me. It’s one of my love languages, for sure. Pair that desire with a special family recipe, and it’s like the locking of two puzzle pieces.
My mom’s Macaroni Salad with Ham and Cheese has been a part of my life since I was a kid myself. This dish is nostalgic and fun and delicious, all in the same bite. And it fits in perfectly with all those casual gatherings, year-round. It’s about time I officially placed this macaroni salad recipe in these archives!
Classic Macaroni Salad
This is a classic macaroni salad. You might already have a recipe in your box that’s quite similar, in fact.
It seems that every family has their own special formula, but the basics are the same.
There’s pasta dressed with a simple creamy, tangy dressing. Plus ham, cheese, and some fresh crunchy nibbles.
And if you’re lucky, there’s peas.
Ahhhh, yes. I do love me some macaroni salad with peas!
How to Make Macaroni Salad
First, pick a pasta. Mom mostly uses small rings or small shells for this easy macaroni salad, so I often grab one of those. I used cavatappi this time because it’s one of our girls’ favorite noodles. I also like regular ‘ol elbow macaroni and the cuteness of ditalini.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the macaroni salad ingredients.
You’ll need to cube some ham and cheddar cheese. Dice up green bell pepper and red onion. Thinly slice a bit of celery, for some extra crunch factor. Add a big spoon of sweet pickle relish. And don’t forget the beloved green peas.
I like to use a large stainless steel bowl for mixing salads such as this. It gives me plenty of elbow room to fold all those glorious ingredients together, without spilling over the edge. And for a super casual meal, I serve salad straight from this bowl. We received two large stainless steel bowls as wedding gifts – I use them all the time. Here’s a link to one that’s about the same size.
Creamy Macaroni Salad Dressing
The dressing for this pasta salad is sweet and tangy, consisting of mayonnaise (if you’re a Miracle Whip fan, use that – it’s what my mom uses), sweetened condensed milk, and white vinegar. It contrasts with the savory/salty ham and cheese quite delightfully.
Although the dressing is creamy, it’s not goopy or gloppy. It simply coats the salad in a lightly creamy way.
Macaroni salad is the chameleon of salads, fitting into nearly any meal. But I especially recommend it alongside most anything hot off the grill – think super casually with grilled burgers, hotdogs, and brats.
This salad also goes well with grilled fare such as:
- chicken thighs and drumsticks slathered in barbecue sauce
- a crispy-skinned whole beer can chicken
- pork chops (super easy, delicious recipe!)
- turkey tenderloin with brown sugar and whole grain mustard
- sriracha honey mustard beef kebabs.
And beyond the grill, I like to serve Mom’s macaroni salad with:
- slow cooker sloppy joes
- mustard pork loin roast
- slow cooker island pulled pork.
Like this recipe? Save it to Pinterest!
Here are a few more pasta salad recipes you might like:
- Farfalle Pasta Salad with Lemon and Basil from Foodness Gracious
- Greek Pasta Salad from skinnytaste
- Bacon Cheddar Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad from Buns in my Oven
Please see more list about Ham and cheese macaroni salad