Funfetti Macaroni Salad is a classic pasta salad that’s perfect for entertaining! Delicious served immediately, and gets even better as it rests.
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Growing up, one of my favorite side dishes was macaroni & cheese. But not the boxed stuff…I never ate it at all until I was about 30 years old, and since then maybe 5 times. My mom’s theory was you could make the real thing in the same time as the box. My all-time favorite is my mom’s Baked Homemade Mac and Cheese, and it was the first recipe she taught me before I moved out. I make it all year long, and it’s a huge hit with my friends. But in the summer, I love to eat pasta salads like my Tuna Pasta Salad and my Blackened Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad. My newest favorite is Funfetti Macaroni Salad
KEY INGREDIENTS IN FUNFETTI MACARONI SALAD
You hear “classic” macaroni salad a lot, and most macaroni salads have the same basic ingredients.
- Use your favorite short-cut pasta. I’ve used Elbows and Cellentani, but one of my favorites for Funfetti Macaroni Salad is Radiatore. The ridges hold onto the dressing really well, and it’s just a fun shape to use.
- Red bell peppers are used most often, and have the most vibrant color. Green or orange are great substitutes.
- Matchstick carrots, celery and red onions. Yellow onions are fine in a pinch, but red onions are sweeter and have that vibrant color
- Hard boiled eggs. I still haven’t been able to master making my own hard boiled eggs, so I just buy them from the store.
- I added Sundried Tomatoes because I saw them in the fridge when I was pulling everything else out. If you like sundried tomatoes, you’ll love the subtle flavor. If you don’t like them, leave them out.
FUNFETTI MACARONI SALAD DRESSING
The dressing might be the best part of Funfetti Macaroni Salad. I recommend making it 30 minutes before you add it to the salad, to allow the flavors to combine and develop
- I use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo, to save calories. It is just as delicious as regular mayo, with a wonderful, silky flavor. When I’m feeling indulgent, I use Duke’s Mayonnaise. You could also do half and half
- I use Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt because that’s what I have in the fridge. Greek yogurt has a wonderful tang, and the bite works so well with the mayo
- I use Red Wine Vinegar because that’s what I have, but you could also use White Wine Vinegar. Red vinegar adds a little more bite than white, and I also use less red wine vinegar so it doesn’t change the color of the dressing
- I have all kinds of mustard in the fridge, but I like Spicy Brown Mustard to add subtle heat
- Raw Honey adds such a wonderful, subtle sweetness. The first time I heard about adding honey I thought it was crazy. One taste and I was sold
- I add garlic to pretty much everything I eat. Raw garlic is too harsh for the dressing, so I use roasted garlic. I was a little worried that the garlic would be too strong, but the sweet roasted garlic practically melts into the dressing. And once the dressing rests, you can’t taste any garlic at all
EAT FUNFETTI SALAD IMMEDIATELY, OR LET IT REST?
When I make my Broccoli Salad with Homemade Dressing, I don’t add the dressing until about 30 minutes before serving, so it doesn’t weigh down the broccoli. With Funfetti Macaroni Salad, I add the dressing immediately. Of course, I have to taste the Funfetti Macaroni Salad as soon as it’s all done, to make sure the seasoning is right and that it’s dressed properly. And then I can’t help but eat some right away. But it tastes even better after it rests in the fridge for a couple of hours. If you do add sundried tomatoes, that flavor will mellow even more as the salad rests.
The key is, if you serve Funfetti Macaroni Salad at an outdoor party, do not leave it out for too long! You can put the serving bowl in a larger bowl of ice to keep it colder, and that will extend the amount of time that it can safely sit out. If it’s not chilled, 2 hours is the maximum it should be out. When I’m serving it at a party, I keep it in the fridge as long as possible, and bring it out as guests arrive.
Funfetti Macaroni Salad is delicious on its own, or perfect as a side for steak, pork, or chicken.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 8 ounces short-cut pasta (I use Radiatore, Elbows, or Cellentani)
- 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 3/4 cup celery, diced
- 1/3 cup red onion, diced
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, diced
- 1 cup matchstick carrots, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and diced (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (full fat or avocado oil mayo)
- 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt (I use vanilla)
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
- 3 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 clove roasted garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, red wine vinegar, spicy brown mustard, honey, garlic, and black pepper. Mix to combine, and put in fridge to rest for 30 minutes
In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain pasta, and allow to cool for a few minutes
In a large bowl, add pasta, bell pepper, celery, red onion, egg, carrots, and half of parsley. If using sundried tomatoes, add those too.
Add about 2 tablespoons of dressing at a time, mixing together each time. You can always add...you can't remove! Add remaining parsley and combine well again.
Allow Funfetti Macaroni Salad to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. The longer it rests, the better it tastes!