A Tasty And Kid-friendly Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad

Recipe Pin
2 hours 15 minutes
10 servings

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure policy.

I’m quickly getting my party groove on with all new backyard barbecue foods like A Tasty And Kid-friendly Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad.

A Tasty And Kid Friendly Sweet Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad
What Is The Best Macaroni Salad Recipe For Gatherings?

Pickle Macaroni Salad! Let’s face facts, macaroni salad is always one of the best sides found on the picnic table at backyard barbecues. Let’s also recognize that not all macaroni salad recipes are created equal.

Everybody’s partial to their grandma’s macaroni salad or the classic pickle macaroni salad recipe conspicuously found on the back of the Hellmann’s jar. But then there are all of those “additions” that just seem to scare the heck out of kids, and frankly some adults, too!

Surprisingly, the pickle macaroni salad recipe with the least amount of add-ins seems to work the best for my gatherings, especially because kids are eating, too. The day I began to cut back and cut out, was the day my macaroni salad began to get real popular with not just the kids, but MANY of the adults, too!

This very basic sweet pickle macaroni salad may be made using chopped whole pickles or a jar of your favorite sweet pickle relish. I go easy and purchase a deli-style sweet pickle relish complete with pimentos and mustard seed. Not only is it tasty, but unconsciously, it’s identifiable to eaters when they see it as “pickles.”

Add-ins are up to you because only you know your eaters. Start with this recipe, chill it, and then dive in. I am just betting that by itself, you will not feel the urge to add, nor will you be stuck with too much leftover to have to put away. A good rule of thumb for how much to make for a crowd is about 1/2 a cup per person.

Want To Save This Post?

Enter your email below and get it sent straight to your inbox!

A Tasty And Kid Friendly Sweet Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad

So, it’s been a damn minute since I last entertained friends at the house. So I’m trying some new recipes in preparation for that day that we all start to move around safely again. Pickle macaroni salad was among the first recipes on my list to fool with and to scale back.

I am quickly getting my party groove on with all new backyard barbecue foods like A Tasty And Kid-friendly Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad. This is a simple pickle macaroni salad recipe meant to not only be outstandingly delicious, but also keep kids (and picky adults!) from shying away from America’s number one grilling side dish!

Right about now, you’re thinking to yourself, “if she’s a food blogger, shouldn’t she have a handful of classic macaroni salad recipes?” Well, that answer is ‘yes,’ yes I do. BUT…and this is when I tell you to put your time machine hats on and think waaaay back. When was the last time YOU made a classic pasta salad only to have a good deal of it leftover at the end of the soiree? Yep…just like I thought you’d say.

Do You Have What’s Needed To Make A Tasty And Kid-friendly Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad? Check The List!

elbow macaroni
deli-style sweet pickle relish
pickle juice
sweet onion such as Vidalia
distilled white vinegar
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

optional add-ins
red bell pepper
fresh sweet peas
hard boiled eggs
chopped ham
shredded cheese
red onion
flaked tuna

How This Recipe Came About…

Too often during past parties, I was stuck with macaroni salad leftovers. Since our parties are kid and adult inclusive, I wondered who actually was or was not eating the salads I worked to prepare. Watching was a lot easier than wasting money for the next cookout with friends.

I was stunned to see only a few of the women and maybe one dude heaping the pasta salad onto their plates. Kids? Nope. The other adults? Not so much. Why not? I think my ‘classic macaroni salad’ was just too busy, had too much going on. And you add one identifiable ingredient that people don’t jump up and down for, and they cruise right past your macaroni for Aunt Mary’s Jell-O salad. But how to make this better?

A Tasty And Kid Friendly Sweet Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad

What Are The Ingredients In Macaroni Salad?

MOST macaroni salad recipes consist of boiled elbow pasta, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, relish, and sometimes mustard. I like to purchase a jar of sweet pickle relish with pimentos, or a jar of sweet pickles which I chop myself and a jar of diced pimentos which I will then add to the chopped pickles.

Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…

Then, there are add-ins. These are the ‘above and beyond’ ingredients that you can add or omit. For my purposes (gatherings), I omit add-ins. But for just my family, I consider ham, peas, red onion, bell peppers, chopped hard boiled egg, and occasionally, I swap the sweet pickle relish for dill.

For my last barbecue prior to the shutdowns, I served a cold macaroni salad with drained pineapple, shredded carrot, and scallions to complement my grilled drumsticks.

A Tasty And Kid Friendly Sweet Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad

How Do You Make Macaroni Salad?

Macaroni salad is an easy pasta salad with a delicious dressing comes together in mere minutes while the pasta cooks. And once your elbows are drained, everything gets tossed well to coat and refrigerated until ready to serve, at least 3 to 4 hours, but best if overnight.

How Much Macaroni Salad Should I Make For A Crowd?

Macaroni Salad is a fantastic choice for large parties because it’s FILLING. The more basic the recipe, the better the chance you have of watching your eaters actually EAT what you’ve prepared. For macaroni salad, a good rule of thumb is about 1/2 per person. Yeah, there’s always going to be that guy who goes back for thirds, but hey, that’s a compliment, right?

What Do You Eat Macaroni Salad With?

Honest to Pete, anything and everything grilled, sandwichy, picnicy, and pot luck-ish! My family loves this served alongside my Smoked Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches, easy Oven Baked Deep South Barbecue Ribs, and Perfectly Perfect Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks.

A Tasty And Kid Friendly Sweet Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad

A Tasty And Kid-friendly Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad

Jenny DeRemer
I'm quickly getting my party groove on with all new backyard barbecue foods like A Tasty And Kid-friendly Pickle Relish Macaroni Salad.
4.78 from 9 votes
Servings: 10 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 283 kcal


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 8 ounce jar deli-style sweet pickle relish drained slightly, reserving pickle juice for adjusting taste
  • ½ cup sweet onion chopped, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
  • 4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • pinch Kosher salt
  • pinch freshly cracked black pepper


  • Boil macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is completely cool.
  • Soak the onions in warm water for about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • Whisk the vinegar and the granulated sugar, Kosher salt, and black pepper together until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Whisk the vinegar mixture together with the mayonnaise, in large bowl. TASTE for seasoning and add additional sugar or mayonnaise or vinegar as required.
  • Pour the dressing over the cooled macaroni. Add the jar of relish and the drained onion and toss well to coat. TASTE for seasoning and add additional reserved pickle juice from the relish if necessary. If using any add-ins, incorporate now.
  • Place into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Stir well before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 283kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 6gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 338mgPotassium: 125mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 33IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 14mgIron: 1mg
Did you love this recipe?Leave a comment and Let me know how it was!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. I was worried this might not be fancy enough to take to our Bunko and game night cookout, but boy was I wrong – this salad was full of flavor and I didn’t bring ANY home! I have referred at least 3 players to this recipe on your site. Thanks for this!5 stars

    1. Leonora, glad to read this from you! It ‘looks’ like a lot less without colorful veggies and tuna, but it’s tasty as heck with the sweet ‘n tangy dressing it gets in addition to – you guessed it – sweet pickle relish! Thank you for your kind comment! Jenny