Spicy Macaroni Salad

Spicy Macaroni Salad

This simple macaroni salad has a spicy and tangy dressing with just enough mayo! Add a bunch of crunchy veggies and this is a great BBQ side dish!

You want to know how much I love Sriracha chili sauce? I put it on everything as a condiment but it’s the main ingredient in this Spicy Macaroni Salad! 

I realize there is a Sriracha shortage right now, but if you have some in the pantry this is the side dish for your next backyard BBQ. 

I will occasionally go through a phase where I’ll put Sriracha on pretty much anything. Soups, salad, meats, whatever. It’s just delicious. But, it’s in short supply right now so I limit my sriracha use to key recipes. This is one of those! 

You can customize the macaroni salad to your liking after the sriracha goes in. I like some crunchy veggies and a light mayo dressing! It’s an easy side dish that’s perfect for a summer meal.

Substitutions for Sriracha

Sriracha is more of a type of chili sauce rather than a brand. I’ve noticed a few other competing brands pop up recently besides just the classic “rooster” Sriracha sauce. You can use any and all of these for this macaroni salad. 

You could also play around with other hot sauces, but if you substitute a more standard hot sauce I would also add something a little sweet like honey as sriracha has a little sweetness to it. 

What I don’t like about store-bought macaroni salad

When I was shopping for the ingredients for this macaroni salad recipe I noticed that my local grocer carries pre-made macaroni salad in the deli section. What I loved about it is that you could barely even tell it was macaroni salad. Good thing it was labeled!

It was basically just pasta swimming in a sea of gloppy sauce with a few small chunks of veggies. It was more soup than salad.

If you’re going to make real macaroni salad, the two things that you need to get right are the macaroni and the mayo.

How to cook perfect macaroni for this salad

The macaroni salad nightmare is overcooked pasta. I find that mine cooks faster than the package says, so keep an eye on it. It shouldn’t be soggy at all. Al dente is the technical term.

Cooked macaroni for salad.

When it’s done, drain it and drizzle it with a tiny amount of olive oil so the pasta doesn’t stick together.

How to make the dressing for this macaroni salad

When it comes to the mayo, I really encourage you to try to make your own if you can. Homemade mayo is leaps and bounds above any store-bought version I’ve tried. But, store-bought is fine in a pinch!

Spicy salad dressing for macaroni salad.

The mayo should be a light coat on the macaroni. The macaroni should, at no point, be floating.

What’s nice about homemade mayo is that it’s so flavorful that you can get away with using a lot less of it.

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and it should be just enough to coat the pasta. If you are really worried about it, you can add the dressing in batches, but my recipe should be just enough dressing to hold ingredients together. 

The Veggies

I like to pack in a lot of veggies in my pasta salad. Good fresh crunchy ones are the way to go. You can use almost any vegetable that you like really. I went with a few of my favorites, but honestly I change it every time I make macaroni salad.

The key to fresh veggies in a salad like this is to try to get them all basically uniform. Take your time dicing (it’s good practice). The last thing you want is to get a big chunk of red onion or something.

Crunchy Veg added to macaroni salad.

They should all be roughly the same size regardless of what veggies you are using.

Other vegetable ideas?! Try shredded carrots, minced celery, or chopped cherry tomatoes. 

Oh. And don’t forget the Sriracha!

Basically just stir all this stuff together!

When it comes to the chili sauce, start light. I’d recommend about two tablespoons. Then stir it and taste it. I used about three in my version, but like I said, I have a problem.

Also, keep in mind that the salad will get spicier if you let it sit overnight.

This spicy macaroni salad is perfect for a picnic or for lunch.

Pile it high and deep!

I’m generally not a huge macaroni salad fan, but I could almost eat my weight in this stuff.

Watch out for that rooster though. He’s a spicy one!

Spicy Macaroni Salad in a white bowl.

Storing Spicy Macaroni Salad

This macaroni salad keeps beautifully and actually gets better after a day or two in the fridge. It does get a bit spicier (I think) as it sits so keep that in mind if you are making it in advance.

You can always add more spice later if you find it to be too bland!

My Spicy Macaroni Salad Recipe

Spicy Macaroni Salad

Spicy Macaroni Salad

Macaroni and flavorful veggies mixed with homemade mayonnaise and spicy Sriracha sauce. The perfect picnic side!
3.49 from 37 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Salad, Side Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings


  • 12 ounces macaroni cooked *al dente
  • ½ small red onion minced
  • 1 red pepper minced
  • 1 Anaheim or poblano pepper, minced
  • Cup mayonnaise homemade mayo is best
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil


  • Cook macaroni al dente.  Drain and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Stir to make sure it isn’t sticking.
  • Dice veggies to an equal size.
  • Add veggies to macaroni along with mayo and chili sauce.
  • Start with a small amount of mayo and sauce and work up to the desired amount.  Taste frequently.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Keeps in the fridge for 4 or 5 days without a problem.


Serving: 1bowlCalories: 294kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 6gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 231mgPotassium: 146mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 483IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Macaroni Salad, Picnic Recipes

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Here are a few other great BBQ side dishes:

12 Responses to “Spicy Macaroni Salad” Leave a comment

  1. Using a related ingredient list, mac and cheese (from-scratch or yummy Stouffer's) can be made brilliant with the addition of a pint of well-drained fresh salsa embellished with a dash or two of the Rooster. Bake it up, a quick broil of the top, with or without fresh buttered breadcrumbs, and you're on you're way to pasta Nirvana.

  2. I'm a macaroni fan from way back and this looks great!! I've been reading your posts re: scratch mayo and for some reason I'm afraid to make it…what if its awful, what if its this or that…I could come up with a million excuses. It seems sooo easy. I quess maybe in a previous life homemade mayo was my demise…

    1. From one scaredy cat to another, I have to tell you, I tried that homemade mayo recipe the other day to put on this salad. I was nervous but it was really straightforward, and I paid attention to the cautionary words of only adding a few drops at a time, until my arm was going to fall off… and it was worth it. Hope you have a good experience with it too!

  3. My only problem is that the rest of my family doesn't like sriracha except in very small amounts. I love the stuff and would use it in more applications like this and more of it too.
    My recent post Grilled Big Mac

  4. I made this the other night and fell madly in love. THANK you! I totally agree about the scary awfulness of too much mayo in a macaroni salad. With the added spice of the sriracha to cut the richness, the light coating of mayo was really perfect in this one. Great idea, SO yummy.
    My recent post Peas with Eggs and Chorizo

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