Cajun Macaroni Salad, a spicy Southern twist on a classic side dish for summer, this creamy Creole pasta salad will have everyone back for seconds! The perfect side dish for backyard BBQ's and potluck gatherings.
When tasked to bring a side dish to a summer gathering, do you lean towards potato salad? baked beans? maybe a pasta salad? I'm not sure where I stand, but right now I'm really liking this classic macaroni salad with a Cajun twist. So good!
Gah, the lowly and lonely macaroni salad, I kinda think it gets a bum wrap. Not sure why but maybe most people have had it pre-made from a deli. Not that it can't be good that way, but let's face it, it's not ideal.
Homemade anything is always better in my book. This macaroni salad is so EASY and has just the right kick with the Cajun seasoning. And, chef's kiss, Creole mustard.
Okay, I accidentally once made it with all cayenne red pepper instead of Cajun seasoning... that happens when one doesn't have their reading glasses on, which are usually perched on top of one's head. That's way too spicy!! But this rendition has just the right balance.
What is Cajun seasoning?
Cajun seasoning or Creole spice mix is a blend of several herbs and spices. You'll often see Cajun and Creole used interchangeably, but they basically cover the same flavor profile ~ garlic, onion, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano and thyme. I use an unsalted local store blend or you can easily make your own. Here is an easy recipe from Immmaculate Bites for making your own Creole Cajun Seasoning.
Does macaroni salad have hard boiled egg?
Well, mine does! Totally optional, I say. But I love hard boiled egg in summer salads like potato salad, and I always put it in tuna mac salad, the kiddos insist!! Your preference, you're the boss, apple sauce!
This Cajun Macaroni Salad is so easy, just three steps really:
- Boil the macaroni, rinse with cool water, toss with olive oil.
- Mix all the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
- Add sauce to macaroni, toss to coat, and serve! Easy, amirite?!?!
Can I make it ahead of time?
Yes, but... like all pasta-type salads, it will "dry out" after refrigeration or sitting for a while. Just add some water to loosen it up and bring it back to life. No worries!
Okay, I think you're ready to make your new favorite summer side dish. You are gonna love this, trust me, I went back for thirds and ate the leftovers for days ~ no complaints. Happy summer, good times and all that jazz ~ Kelly🍴🐦
Looking for more summer sides for your next gathering? I've got you covered!
- Sour Cream Dill Potato Salad
- German Potato Salad
- Calico Beans
- Grilled Corn Salad
- Napa Cabbage Salad
- Cheesy Potatoes
- Cool Peanut Sesame Noodles
- Instant Pot Country Green Beans
- Instant Pot Collard Greens
- Bread and Butter Pickles
Cajun Macaroni Salad
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ sweet onion, minced like Vidalia
- 4 ribs celery, small dice
- 2 hard boiled eggs, small dice
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning preferably no salt blend
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon freshly, cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, OPTIONAL if you want a little more heat!
- 1½ cups good quality mayonnaise I like Duke's Mayo for this, it's a Southern thing!
- 3 tablespoons Creole mustard can use any whole grain mustard, or yellow mustard
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce preferably Louisiana-style like Crystal or Tabasco
- Kosher salt and freshly, cracked black pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley, sliced hard boiled egg, for garnish. Totally optional but it looks pretty!
- Bring a pot of water to boil and season generously with salt. Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, repeat and transfer to large bowl. Toss with olive oil and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in another bowl. Use a whisk to combine all remaining ingredients except celery, onion and egg. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons of water to start, up to ¼ cup water. When combined, stir in celery, onion and egg. The sauce should be on the thinner side, not too thick.
- Taste sauce for seasoning and adjust salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Add to cooked elbows and toss to combine. Serve immediately with fresh parsley and/or hard boiled egg slices, or refrigerate until serving, adding a little water to loosen up and make shiny again if needed.
- I eyeball the amount of water, it really is a judgement call. Start with just 2 tablespoons, that may be enough. If too thick, add a little more.
- I cannot stress enough to watch the salt!! I use a NO SALT blend and can adjust to taste. If you use a blend with salt, do not add additional salt!! I'm trying to do a pre-emptive strike here before my comments are loaded with "too much salt" ?
* Adapted from Louisiana Kitchen & Culture