Lemony Macaroni Salad

Our little “staycation” is almost over, but thankfully the weather has been really nice since yesterday morning – the humidity seems to be dying off a bit and the sun has come out, so Kramer and I are determined to spend as much time outside, enjoying the roof access and grill, before we go home to Williamsburg (sans barbecue – sigh). It’s been a lot of fun having a dog around, too, although I don’t think I’m quite ready to take on the responsibility of getting one for myself. I was worried that Mia would miss Valerie and Tom too much to want to cuddle up with Kramer or myself, but she’s really taken to us and I’ve had a great time waking up to a sleeping puppy right next to me.

I made this lemony macaroni salad for a party a few weeks ago, and I thought it was just delicious. I’m a big macaroni and pasta salad fan in general, but I prefer mine to be much less mayonnaise-laden. I like a macaroni salad that is light but still big on flavor, so I figured, why not add some fresh lemon to the mix? The result was bright and summery, but still filling. I used red onion and cayenne pepper for a bit of a bite, then celery, carrot, and parsley to mellow it out a bit, along with some lemon zest for an extra punch of citrus that really picked up the entire dish, I think. I like to serve this nice and cold alongside some piping hot barbecue (ribs? burgers? anyone?) and maybe a big salad or grilled veggies, and you can make a large batch of it to use for the entire weekend, like we did. The flavors only become more pronounced as you let it sit in the fridge, so feel free to make it ahead to lighten your cooking load and enjoy this macaroni salad all summer long.

Mia snuggled up in Tom’s tauntaun sleeping bag (that I now need).

The beautiful roses that Val and Tom sent over last night, because they are quite literally the best.

Giving poor Mia a bath on Tuesday after taking her on a walk down by the water.

Lemony Macaroni Salad
Your ingredients.

Lemony Macaroni Salad
Mince all of your vegetables.

Lemony Macaroni Salad
Then toss them together with your cooked macaroni, mayo, milk, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and pepper. Allow to sit in the fridge for at least an hour, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

Lemony Macaroni Salad

Lemony Macaroni Salad
  • 1 lb. macaroni, cooked and cooled
  • 3 stalks celery, minced
  • 3 large carrots, minced
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • ⅓ cup parsley, minced
  • ⅓ cup light mayonnaise
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. First, cook your macaroni, then when it's done, drain the water and rinse the pasta under cold water so that it stops cooking. Set aside.
  2. Mince your celery, carrots, red onion, and parsley, then toss them with the macaroni, mayonnaise, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Let sit for at least 1 hour, covered, in the refrigerator, then taste and adjust seasonings again. This will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

16 Responses

  1. RK says:

    I love macaroni salad….reminds me of my childhood. Like you, I hate too much mayonnaise so am looking forward to trying your recipe. Looks delicious!

  2. Becky says:

    Your blog is too cute! As much as I love the recipes your stories and photos are always fun. Mia has lots of personality :)

  3. Lynna says:

    looks like summer! & i agree, sometimes too much mayo isn’t good! :) I also lovee lemons, so I’m extremely happy you’ve shared this recipe!

  4. Megan says:

    oh god, i’m usually all about potato salad but this is looking delish.

  5. Megan says:

    oh god, i’m usually all about potato salad but this is looking delish.

  6. […] Lemony Macaroni Salad – Since it’s official summer, you might be in the mood for a macaroni salad. If you’re like me, you might even more in the mood for a macaroni salad that doesn’t just taste like mayo-slop. This looks like the trick. (@ Crepes of Wrath) […]

  7. Sarah says:

    I mixed lite sour cream & mayo I didn’t have enough mayo so I had to figure out something quick and used that. Everyone loved it. The next day the girls came over for a gab fest and lunch I added the left over chicken that I had beboned and had grilled the day before and some granny smith apple, some toasted spicy pecans, grape tomatoes, and some diced summer squash. With cold watermelon slices. Everyone totally loved it.
    Thank you for another great dish

  8. Love the idea of a little less mayo, a little more lemon! Will have to give this a try for the summer BBQ’s! Thanks:-)

  9. I absolutely love the blooming lemon flavor in this! I can’t wait to make this for my next BBQ or picnic. And btw, cute yellow bowl – I have the same one! :)

  10. libby says:

    I had to improvise as I was out of celery and carrots, but had jalapeno and red peppers growing in the garden. really great flavor! love the lemon in it a lot. very light and refreshing taste. Added some red pepper flakes too just because. lol

  11. Deb says:

    Just love the idea of less mayo! It’s not just the calories, but the overly rich creaminess that is just too heavy for spring and summer. Splendid post!

  12. Jacqueline says:

    Lemon in anything is so refreshing. I make a salad with lemon juice and BBQ sauce in it and love it so I know I would love yours. Have to pin it!

  13. Giovanna says:

    Yum! This looks delish! I need to try it out!

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  14. I love macaroni salad and this looks superb. Thanks for sharing!

  15. It’s nice to definitely dig up a web site where the blogger is clever. Thanks for creating your site.

  16. […] my brain was begging me to stop before my stomach exploded. Pair this smoked brisket with some lemony macaroni salad and juicy watermelon, and you’ve got yourself a winning summer cook […]

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