CHICKEN MACARONI SALAD {Budget Friendly!}

Simple and easy to make, this classic Chicken Macaroni Salad makes a perfect dinner, side dish, or light lunch. Packed with tons of flavors and textures and mixed in a creamy dressing, it’s the filling and budget friendly. Did I mention is absolutely delicious?!

bowl of chicken macaroni salad

If you’d rather skip my essential cooking tips and tricks and get straight to this delicious recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.

Chicken Macaroni Salad is a creamy pasta salad that’s packed with protein and crisp vegetables. Made with leftover chicken, it’s easy to make and even easier on the budget.

This salad is the perfect mixture of traditional chicken salad and your favorite pasta salads and is amazingly versatile!

I use rotisserie chicken that I picked up on sale at the deli but you can use precooked chicken you might have leftover or tucked away in the freezer. You can also use canned chicken for even more savings.

Whip one up in no time for the next cookout, potluck, or portion out for a few days of lunches.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.
labeled picture of macaroni salad ingredients

CHICKEN MACARONI SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • macaroni pasta
  • chicken
  • celery
  • red onion
  • bell pepper
  • pickles
  • hard boiled eggs
  • mayonnaise
  • mustard
  • salt & pepper

Macaroni – I like a small shaped pasta noodle to keep everything roughly the same size. It makes it easier to eat that way. Cook macaroni al dente and rinse in cold water to keep it from getting mushy.

Chicken – This recipe uses chicken breast meat from a rotisserie chicken I grabbed on salt at the deli.

Hard Boiled Eggs – I like to buy already hard boiled eggs for ease of use, but if you want to save money, hard boil them at home. Here is a tutorial on how to cook easy peel hard boiled eggs.

Mayo – Feel free to use Miracle Whip, low fat, or fat free mayonnaise. You can also substitute a portion of the mayo for sour cream or plain yogurt. Don’t replace it all though.

Mustard – Whole grain mustard is used in this recipe but you can try Dijon mustard instead if you prefer.

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HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN MACARONI SALAD

ONE: Cook the macaroni al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

TWO: Dice the other ingredients so all are roughly the same size for easier eating.

THREE: In a large bowl, combine the cold macaroni and remaining ingredients. Toss to combine.

FOUR: Chill for at least 30 minutes for best results. Serve and enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

three bowls of macaroni salad

HOW DO YOU KEEP MACARONI SALAD FROM GETTING WATERY?

Don’t over cook the pasta. It will be mushy and release water along with the other ingredients.

WHY DOES MY MACARONI SALAD DRY OUT?

If you undercook the pasta too much, it won’t absorb the dressing and it will dry out. Cook the macaroni until is tender on the outside yet slightly firm to the bite on the inside.

HOW LONG CAN MACARONI SALAD SIT OUT?

Because of the mayo, I do not recommend letting it sit out for more than 1.5 hours. Anything longer than 2 hours, and you should throw it out.

HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days!

CAN I FREEZE IT?

As with most pasta, I don’t recommend freezing it. If you want to make it ahead, prepare all the ingredients and keep them separate in the refrigerator. Combine about 30 minutes before serving.

close up of salad

WHAT DO YOU EAT CHICKEN MACARONI SALAD WITH?

I like this with burgers, chicken wings, BBQ chicken, hot dogs, and even a nice steak!

TIPS FOR NO LEFTOVERS

  • I love to use seasoned rotisserie chicken, but you can also use canned chicken in a pinch!
  • A mixture of sweet and dill pickles add even more flavor.
  • Use relish if you don’t have whole pickles.
  • Cook the pasta al dente, or to the tooth, to keep it from getting too soft.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving but I find it at it’s peak after 1 hour.
  • Keep a little of the mayo in reserve and stir it in just before serving to keep it extra creamy.
  • Top with cooked crumbled bacon just before serving for a crispy smoky treat!
fork of salad

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

bowl of pasta with text "chicken macaroni salad"

Packed with tons of flavors and textures, this creamy pasta salad with chicken, is budget friendly and great for any occasion! Oh, and it feeds a crowd!

MORE EASY RECIPES

CHICKEN MACARONI SALAD RECIPE

overhead picture of salad bowl

Classic Chicken Macaroni Salad

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Simple and easy to make, this classic Chicken Macaroni Salad makes a perfect dinner, side dish, or light lunch.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces dry macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (diced small)
  • 1 red bell pepper (stemmed, seeded, diced)
  • 1 small red onion (diced small)
  • 2 celery ribs (diced small)
  • 1/2 cup diced dill pickles
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (peeled, diced small)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

Cook the pasta

  1. In a large pot, bring 6 quarts water to a boil.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon salt (*optional).
  3. Add pasta noodles and cook until al dente (according to package directions)
  4. Drain and rinse in cold water until cool.

Prep the remaining ingredients

  1. Dice the onion, celery, red pepper, pickles, hard boiled eggs, and chicken into small, bite-sized pieces.

Assemble the chicken macaroni salad

  1. In a large bowl, combine cooked and cooled pasta, chicken, onion, bell pepper, pickles, celery, hard boiled eggs, mayo, and mustard.
  2. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  3. Chill for 30 minutes and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

*If you love this recipe as much as I do, please leave me a comment and rate it 5 stars. Thank you!

Recommended Products

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 316mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 9g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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5 Comments

  1. This reminds me of the salads my dad used to make the cremette brand of elbow pasta growing up. He would add chicken to it and it was amazing. Other times he’d swap out the chicken for canned tuna…just as yummy.

  2. Awesome idea to add chicken to your macaroni salad! Yum!

  3. Now I’m craving this. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a macaroni salad and I don’t know why!

  4. Your Chicken Macaroni Salad looks so very tasty and it is such a great idea! I love all the ingredients too!

  5. Such a perfect side dish! My family loves pasta salads and I don’t make them enough!

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