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Summer Cookouts and a Dish to Pass

Hooray! My favorite part of the Summer season is when I get invited to a cookout. I love the smell of the grill, the juicy hamburgers and the endless buffet covered with an array of sides that each attendee has lovingly crafted in their own kitchen. For me, it’s all about the food! I see this as my chance to try new things and sneak some new flavors onto my kids’ plates. 

Though I love to cook, I sometimes stress when people ask me to “bring a side.” I can get a meal on the table most days without much thought, but a side takes a bit more planning. For most side dishes, I have to make a special trip to the store for ingredients, which requires some forethought as to the recipe I will be preparing. Whereas when I make dinners, I can usually just grab what’s in the pantry or freezer and make due.

Each Summer I am eager to try something new, but my husband convinces me to make my signature side dish (I think it is one of his favorites, too). I have even had friends request it by name! And surely if it is getting requests, it must be pretty good. This recipe is a hand-me-down from my Grandma. It has been a staple at every picnic, cookout, and outdoor party I attended growing up. I would always take big heaping portions from the serving bowl and put it on my plate.  And if I ever went back for seconds of anything, it was always this side. When I moved out of my parent’s house and attended my first “grown-up” cookout, all by myself, this is the side dish I brought. It received rave reviews and I have been making it ever since. The great thing about this recipe is that I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.

I am sure you are getting curious as to what this magical side dish could be. Well, the wait is over. The side dish that I get requested to bring is… macaroni salad. But wait! This is no ordinary macaroni salad. It is not yellow in color, soupy and tasting of mushy mustardy noodles. This macaroni salad has way more going on. It begins with elbow pasta cooked to an al dente state, nestled among bits of celery, onion, and hard boiled egg. All swirled together with salt, pepper and mayonnaise. The presentation is super cute with little round egg slices laid on top of the macaroni salad and a few sprinkles of paprika. Now, I’m not going to lie, this macaroni salad takes effort (i.e. time) but it is well worth it. Check out the recipe below and be sure to make enough for leftovers. Did someone say midnight snack?

Grandma's Macaroni Salad
Serves 8
A yummy "dish to pass" that will surely please!
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
181 calories
24 g
152 g
5 g
9 g
2 g
100 g
100 g
2 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 181
Calories from Fat 47
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 152mg
Sodium 100mg
Total Carbohydrates 24g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 2g
Protein 9g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 8 oz elbow pasta
  2. 6-7 eggs
  3. 3 ribs of celery, diced
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. salt and pepper to taste
  6. mayonnaise (to taste)
  7. paprika (for dusting)
  1. Follow the directions on the box to cook the pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot covered with cold water to stop the cooking.
  2. While you are cooking the pasta, hard boil the eggs. Drain the eggs and put them back in the pot with cold water to cool them down to make them easier to handle. *see note below
  3. Once the pasta has cooled, drain and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Season the pasta with salt and pepper. Add the diced celery and onion.
  5. Peel the shells off the cooled eggs and dice 5 of them. Add the 5 diced eggs to the pasta mixture. Gently mix the pasta, celery, onion, salt, pepper and the 5 diced eggs. Add mayonnaise to taste. I usually add 2 heaping serving-spoonfulls. Some people like it really mayo-y. If that is your preference, just add more.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  7. Slice the remaining 1-2 eggs width-wise so that you end up with sliced circles. Arrange the circles on top of the serving bowl and sprinkle/dust with paprika for color. Serve immediately and enjoy! Put in the fridge as soon as possible as this is a mayo-based dish.
  8. This can be made in advance, just put in the refrigerator as soon as you are done preparing it and take it out just before serving.
  1. You can always hard boil the eggs a few days in advance and leave them in the fridge until you are ready to use.
  2. This recipe is for a small crowd of 6-8 people with big appetites. It can easily be doubled for a big crowd.
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