Macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for casual summer eating. This easy creamy curried macaroni salad recipe is a twist on an old classic.
Macaroni salad/Noodle salad/Pasta salad. Whatever you call it, I love it. Any pasta salad reminds me of my childhood and hot summer days spent with family. I’m pretty sure my mom was the queen of all summer salads when I was young because hot damn, that woman knew how to knock them together. And because of that, macaroni salads were a staple at pretty much all of our braais (barbecues/cook outs/summer gatherings).
This creamy curried macaroni salad is an amalgamation of two of my favourite childhood salads. My mom’s pasta salad and her curried rice salad. Rice salads are an odd thing to me. I could never totally wrap my brain around them but my mom always made her curried rice salad for Christmas day and slowly but surely I fell in love with it. The flavors of my mom’s rice salad might seem odd to a lot of people but I promise, it just works.
Condensed milk and canned peaches?
Afrikaans people have a special talent for working sweetened condensed milk into savoury foods. It’s very weird. But in this salad, it is genius. The condensed milk adds serious creaminess and just the right amount of sweetness to the curried salad dressing. (So no need to add honey or other sweeteners usually used in mayo-based dressings.)
Another weird ingredient in this salad? Canned peaches. Again, Afrikaners have this way of adding fruit to everything. Something I usually don’t agree with, but again, here it just works. The peaches (feel free to use fresh if you want) compliment the aromatic dressing so well and the bell pepper, cucumber and celery add serious crunch. (If the thought of fruit in a macaroni salad gives you the heebie-jeebies, just leave it out or replace with orange bell pepper.)
So I took my mom’s old school rice salad and replaced the rice with al dente macaroni and you guys. It is so delicious. I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t eat most of this bowl by myself. It’s honestly such a great salad to take to pot luck dinners and will be the star of the show at any of your summer parties (um, hi 4th of July)! Also, keep a little to one side because this salad is unbelievably good the next day.
Can you freeze macaroni salad?
Macaroni salad really is best served on the day it is made or a day or two after. Macaroni salads don’t freeze well because their creamy dressings split once defrosted and pasta can become watery or mealy once frozen.
How long does macaroni salad last?
Depending on the ingredients (meat, boiled eggs, etc), macaroni salad can last up to 5 days in the fridge, covered well. If you have meat or boiled eggs, it should be safe to eat for up to 3 days if kept chilled and covered.
Do you rinse macaroni for macaroni salad?
Rinsing pasta is usually a big no-no as the starch that clings to the pasta is what allows the sauce to cling to the pasta and is often used to emulsify the sauce. However, with pasta or macaroni salad that isn’t such a big concern so rinsing is perfectly fine. It also helps to rinse cooked pasta for salad as the pasta will stick to each other less when rinsed.
Pasta salad recipes
- Mexican street corn macaroni salad
- Sundried tomato pesto pasta salad
- Greek orzo salad
- Asian noodle salad with peanut ginger dressing
Easy creamy curried macaroni salad
- 500 g/1lb macaroni cooked
- 2 red bell peppers chopped
- 1 cucumber peeled and seeded, chopped
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 3 celery sticks finely chopped
- 1 x 400g/14oz can peaches drained and chopped
for the dressing
- 1½ cups mayonnaise
- 4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- 1-2 teaspoons curry powder to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- pinch of cayenne pepper optional
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice to taste
- salt & pepper to taste
- Combine the cooked macaroni with the remaining salad ingredients.
- Stir together all the dressing ingredients.
- Pour ¾ of the dressing over the salad and mix well. Reserve the rest of the dressing.
- Place the macaroni salad in the fridge and allow to chill for an hour (alternatively, you can make this the day before. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.)
- Just before serving, pour over the remaining dressing and mix well.