Potluck Macaroni Salad

A great addition to any potluck dinner!

Have you ever wonder why there are so many differ shapes of pasta?

Well, I have always wondered that because growing up I knew macaroni and spaghetti and I think that is about it. We never had homemade noodles; we had homemade dumplings.

In case you are still wondering about the pastas, maybe it all started in Italy and homemakers got tired of the same old spaghetti day in and day out and they started experimenting with different pastas. OR, maybe the different pasta shapes serve a different purpose.

There are small pastas like orzo which looks like rice but cooks very quickly in just a few minutes and fit perfect in spoons for small bites. There are hallow pastas that work great for thick sauces to get into the crevices. There are pasta shells like manicotti or shell pasta shapes that one can fill with wonderful savory fillings. There are pastas shaped like little ears and even sombreros (I call those Pinocchio hats). There are thin noodles like angel hair pasta that are so delicate for light sauces and then there are thick noodles like linguine or lasagna that can stand up to just about any kind of sauce. Take something like ziti and penne and the difference is the cut end and how it affects how much sauce gets inside the pasta.

To think that pasta is nothing more than flour, salt, and egg is amazing in that we get so much enjoyment from eating it. To Italians pasta is the main event and the sauce just the condiment. I think Americans think in reverse and this recipes proves just that.

My sister gave me this recipe quite a few years ago. A friend of her’s shared the recipe with her and I made a few changes and came up with this version. The original version called for about 1/2 cup of sugar. With the can of sweetened condensed milk you really don’t need any sugar at all. So feel free to omit the sugar from the recipe. I scaled the sugar down to 1/4 cup but you can easily skip it all together. I think the addition of green peas and the dill work great with this salad and it will make a great side dish during the holidays with ham, turkey or just about anything or sit on the recipe until next summer and take it to a bar-b-q.

Veggies all chopped up and peas thawing.

Such a pretty and delicious salad.

Potluck Macaroni Salad


  • 1-16 oz. pkg. macaroni cooked and drained
  • 1-10 oz. pkg. frozen green peas thawed
  • 1 1/2 c. red onion chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. red and yellow bell peppers chopped (1 of each)
  • 1 c. grated carrot
  • 1-2 Tbsp. fresh dill or 1 Tbsp. dried
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 c. vinegar more if you want a little tarter
  • 1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c. sugar less, or skip all together


  1. Cook the macaroni as directed and drain. Mix sauce ingredients and all other vegetables and dill. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours. The sauce will be absorbed into the pasta. Garnish with fresh dill sprigs.


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    December 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    You’re right. For how simple and basic pasta is, we love it! I could eat pasta everyday, if my pants would let me. Love this macaroni salad.

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