Macaroni Salad Recipe and Recipes for Labor Day Picnics

Pasta, Seasonal Recipes, Side Dish, Side Salads, Summer Recipes | 13 comments

A Macaroni Salad Recipe is the perfect addition to any picnic or BBQ celebration during warmer months. Luckily for us, Labor Day BBQs and Picnics are just around the corner. We last shared this recipe for Macaroni Salad on the 4th of July and I sure wouldn’t mind a dish of this recipe one more time before summer is on it’s way out.

Labor Day kind of feels like summer’s last hurrah before we can start preparing for the change of seasons. I’m certainly looking forward to fall, but I don’t mind celebrating such a fun summer one last time. It certainly was one worth remembering for us. Pasta salad recipes are some of my favorite dishes to serve at picnics.

This Macaroni Salad Recipe is easy to make, but a little different than traditional. It’s colorful with additions like sliced black olives, diced red bell pepper, and bright green sugar snap peas. I also like to add a small bunch of thinly sliced radishes for a little extra crunch, but feel free to customize the vegetable additions to the recipe as you see fit.

macaroni recipe for picnics how to make macaroni salad

If you like a more traditional approach to Macaroni Salad for your Labor Day Picnic this year, start with the base recipe as listed in the printable recipe area. Then, choose any additions that you see fit or just keep it simple if you prefer. Do you like diced Hard Boiled Eggs in your salad? Be sure to check out my Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs method.

More Recipes for Labor Day Picnics:

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Do you need a little inspiration for your Labor Day Menu? Check out these suggestions:

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Macaroni Salad

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Recipe Base:
1 pound elbow macaroni
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons Dijion mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 celery rib, minced
2 tablespoons red onion or shallots, minced
2 tablespoons sweet relish

3/4 cup sugar snap peas, cut into thirds
1 - 3 ounce can sliced black olives
1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced
6 slices center cut bacon cooked and crumbled bacon


Cook the pasta according to package instructions for "al dente pasta." After cooking, drain and rinse with very cold water to speed cooling and prevent continued cooking. Spread the macaroni out on a layer of paper towels. Pat dry.

In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, mayonnaise, sour cream, dijion mustard, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk until combined. Stir in cooled and dry pasta until evenly coated. Add the relish and onion, stirring to combine.

Prepare all of the vegetables, then add them and any remaining ingredients except bacon to the large bowl with the pasta. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Chill for 1 hour, or up to 24 hours before serving.

Prior to serving, sprinkle the top of the salad with the crumbled bacon.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Carrie @ Bakeaholicmama3 - August 31, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    Love the idea of putting bacon, radishes and sugar snap peas in it. I normally do tuna, eggs, carrots, bell pepper and red onion. Its nice to change it up a bit I’ll have to try this recipe!


  • 2
    Sukaina - August 31, 2011 @ 7:57 am

    Katie…..what a simple and yummy recipe. Our picnic and barbeque season is JUST starting here in Dubai so this will be bookmarked for then. Love that you added radishes to this as well.


  • 3
    patricia - August 31, 2011 @ 8:36 am

    I can imagine this as a great tasting macaroni salad and so colorful too with the addition of those vegetables that also add more nutrients to it. I think i’m going to follow your recipe to the end. Thanks for sharing.


  • 4
    Amanda - August 31, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    SO beautiful Katie! I would love to try this… its been ages since I had a good macaroni salad!


  • 5
    Shaina - August 31, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    I love a good, snappy salad. Can we plan to get together for Labor Day? We could meet somewhere in the middle.


  • 6
    Rebecca ~ Sweet Baby Yams - August 31, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    Great idea of adding radishes!


  • 7
    Baking N Books - August 31, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

    A picnic sounds so dreamy. Wish I’d do that for myself and not feel guilt over time wasted…:(

    Lovely site. Love the comforting color scheme for sure.

    Off to check out that blackberry muffin recipe now!


  • 8
    Wenderly - August 31, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

    Mmmmmmmmmm, colorful & with a crunch, what’s not to like! YUM!


  • 9
    Bev Weidner - September 01, 2011 @ 8:36 am

    Uh yes, I could seriously eat my way through that and be happy in life.


  • 10
    Tracy - September 01, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

    This salad looks lovely! Would love to have this on my table for Labor Day!


  • 11
    Aimee @ Simple Bites - September 01, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

    Talk about making me hungry! And I’m crashing the party of you and Shaina get together on the weekend.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — September 1st, 2011 @ 7:39 PM

      You wouldn’t be crashing it, because we’d love to have you!

  • 12
    topholidayrecipes - September 04, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

    What a nice little salad. I made this recipe today for our little family get together, everybody loved it! I added the bacon, pepper, and radishes, but I hate olives and sugar peas. I used green pepper, and added some diced up tomato instead.


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