Sweet Macaroni Salad

by Erin

This classic sweet macaroni salad is a must have for any backyard BBQ or cookout this summer. Don’t let the ingredients deter you!

Mom's Sweet Macaroni Salad #BBQsidedish

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Today is the start of #BBQweek! I’m virtually gathering with 19 other bloggers to share all the recipes you’ll need for hosting a fantastic backyard BBQ. First up it a recipe I got from my mom – sweet macaroni salad.

Never had sweet macaroni salad before? Prepare yourself for this ingredient list:

  • Macaroni
  • Carrots
  • Green bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar

Never would I have thought to add sugar, let alone sweetened condensed milk, to mac salad. My mom gave me this recipe in 2009 from who knows what source, but this was actually the first time I made it. Bob threw me a BBQ birthday party with our vaccinated friends so I took the opportunity to whip this up for the first gathering we’ve hosted in over a year.

Mom's Sweet Mac Salad Ingredients

Mom's Sweet Mac Salad DIrections

Do you need to make it the day before?

It’s not required, but I did taste it both immediately upon mixing and after an overnight rest and there really was something magical about the flavors after they slept in the fridge overnight. I found it to be too sweet at first, but once the flavors married it mellowed out and tasted like a classic old school mac salad.

And the proof is in the pudding because this vat of mac salad did not last long at our BBQ party! But if you’re still not convinced, another great option is my BBQ pasta salad.

Mom's Sweet Macaroni Salad

Monday #BBQWeek Recipes

Appetizers and Drinks

Side Dishes

Main Dishes


Be sure to follow our Pinterest board for more summer BBQ ideas. Thank you to Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures and Ellen from Family Around the Table for hosting the event.

Mom's Sweet Macaroni Salad #sidedish

Four years ago: Braided Apple Ginger Danish

Five years ago: DoorDash Review

Nine years ago: Italian Dressing Mix

Ten years ago: Pineapple Chicken Kabobs

Mom's Sweet Macaroni Salad #BBQsidedish


Yield: 16 Servings Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat


  • 16 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red onion*, diced
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions, but 2 minutes past al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a large bowl combine macaroni, carrots, pepper, and onion.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour sauce over the macaroni mixture and toss to evenly coat.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled.


* My mom liked to use yellow onion

Did You Make This Recipe?
I want to see! Tag me on Instagram at @TheSpiffyCookie and hashtag it #TheSpiffyCookie.

Source: My mom

Did you make this recipe? I want to see!
Tag @THESPIFFYCOOKIE on Instagram and hashtag it #THESPIFFYCOOKIE

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Bob Nuñuz November 23, 2022 - 6:04 pm

It’s as bad as it sounds, peeps. Save yourselves. 🤣

Erin November 25, 2022 - 8:22 am

Ha, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it! Was a hit at the BBQ party. But it is definitely different from the usual Mac salad, so not for everyone.

Radha June 5, 2021 - 11:57 am

Love the flavors and would love to try this interesting recipe.

Rebekah R Hills May 11, 2021 - 7:50 am

This is an old fashioned FAVORITE of mine but I’ve never made it at home before – summer cooking says it’s time to give it a try!

Erin May 11, 2021 - 11:45 am

Sounds like a plan!

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