Looking for a twist on your classic macaroni salad? With its fresh herb, citrusy dressing and smoky bacon, this summer salad boasts a flavorful new take on a traditional favorite side dish. Serve this easy-to-make herbed bacon macaroni salad at your next grill-out and your guests are in for one delicious summer meal.
I'm not hating on classic macaroni salad. When I see a big bowl of macaroni covered in creamy mayo with crunchy add-ins at a summer gathering, I don't hesitate to take an extra big scoop, but at the end of the day, it's still just macaroni salad -- tasty but not necessarily memorable.
But that's all about to change with this bacon-loaded macaroni salad. Sure, we still use a creamy dressing, but fresh herbs and lemon juice give this dish a welcomed brightness while the bacon adds a depth other macaroni salads lack. And, yes, this means we're incorporating a few extra steps when making this salad, but they're simple and take hardly any extra time.
So let's walk through how to make the world's best macaroni salad, shall we?
To start, we need macaroni. Obviously. While we cook our macaroni, I like to take this time to multitask and cook the bacon. While it's still an extra step, it doesn't actually add any more prep time.
I like to cook my bacon in the oven, but feel free to cook it in a skillet if you prefer. For thick bacon, I place it on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes in a 400-degree oven, flip the bacon and bake for another five minutes.
And now for our herbed dressing. We add mayonnaise with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, parsley, basil, chives, honey, salt and pepper to a food processor and give it a whirl until smooth like so.
If you don't have a food processor, you can simply mix together the ingredients. With this method, measure the herb leaves first and then finely chop.
From here, we add our macaroni, dressing, bacon, celery, red onion and crumbled hard-boiled eggs to a large bowl.
We simply mix everything together, and all the prep work is done. Easy, huh?
Now serve with some salmon-avocado burgers or smoked whole chicken, and you have yourself one perfect summer meal! Lucky you.
Bonus: For more side salad recipe ideas, try this roasted broccoli salad from Eating Works or this summer squash pasta salad from The Floured Handprint. Some of my Burrata and Bubbles favorite side salads include this pesto tortellini salad and Hawaiian potato salad.
Can You Make Ahead of Time?
You sure can. If you plan on serving it the same day, go ahead and store covered in the refrigerator for several hours.
However, if you'd like to make this macaroni salad more than several hours before serving, I recommend storing the cooked macaroni, dressing and crunchy add-ins in separate containers, and then you can mix them all together before serving. For the crunchy add-ins, I recommend keeping the chopped celery in water to help it stay crisp, though you can store the chopped onion, eggs and bacon in one container.
As the macaroni salad sits in the refrigerator, the pasta will absorb some of the dressing, so it won't be as creamy if it sits mixed in the refrigerator for too long, though a few hours is fine. This ensures your macaroni salad will be the creamy delight everyone loves.
I'm a huge fan of a bubbly hefeweizen with this macaroni salad. With a hefeweizen, we get plenty of citrus that highlights our fresh herbs, and it comes with enough body to stand up to our creamy dressing. Plus, there's nothing like a hefeweizen on a hot summer day -- that beer is made for summer gatherings.
If you prefer wine, try a refreshing chardonnay. I love how the butteriness from the chardonnay works with the dressing, and like the hefeweizen, a chilled chardonnay is perfect for patio sipping on warm nights.
For your next summer barbecue, I hope you try this gourmet take on everyone's favorite side dish.
Looking for More Summer Side Dishes?
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Herbed Bacon Macaroni Salad
- Mixing bowl
- 1 ¾ cups dried macaroni
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup torn basil leaves
- ½ cup parsley leaves removed from stems
- 2 garlic cloves minced or grated
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 3 hard-boiled eggs chopped
- 1 celery stalk finely chopped
- ½ cup red onion finely chopped
- ½ cup cooked bacon crumbled, about 6 slices
- Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to help cool the pasta.
- In a food processor, add the mayonnaise, basil leaves, parsley leaves, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, chives, honey, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
- Add the macaroni to a large mixing bowl and pour mayonnaise dressing on top. Add the hard-boiled eggs, celery, red onion and cooked bacon. Stir until it becomes one cohesive mixture. Refrigerate for a few hours to chill and serve. Enjoy!
- For full tips, please see blog post.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Love the fresh herbs going into the macaroni salad. I can have the whole bowl to myself!
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
This mac and cheese is such a delicious and tasty dish! The family and I really enjoyed this for dinner the other night. So yummy and full of flavor! I’ll definitely be making this recipe again!
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
That’s so great to hear, Beth! Thank you for sharing.
My go-to macaroni salad recipe! I especially love the fresh herbs and dijon!