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Macaroni Ham Salad

A delicious Macaroni Ham Salad loaded with ham, macaroni pasta, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and cheddar cheese, tossed in a creamy tangy homemade dressing.

This macaroni salad with ham is easy to make and is loaded with texture and bold flavors. It makes for such a light and tasty meal or as a side dish to bring to a potluck, cookout, bbq or just something to serve to a larger crowd.

A large bowl of macaroni ham salad combined with bell peppers, celery and carrots

Macaroni Salad with Ham

Macaroni Ham Salad is one of my favorite pasta salads to make as the weather gets warmer, and spring and summer approaches. I just love its gorgeous textures and big beautiful flavors.

We love making our macaroni ham salad especially after making Pineapple Baked Ham, and using leftover ham for this recipe.

That tangy dressing along with the ham, pasta, and veggies – seriously so good! I can’t get enough of the vinegar dressing combined with the flavorful and smoky ham.

And of course you don’t have to wait until after a ham dinner to make a ham macaroni salad! You can totally buy good quality ham to make this delicious pasta salad dish, or even use sandwich ham you have on hand.

A few more things to know about this awesome macaroni ham salad recipe:

  • ready under 30 minutes – minimal prep and cook time. This is a simple and quick recipe!
  • make it ahead of time – this is one of those dishes you can make it a day or two ahead of time and just let it sit in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve, which makes it so convenient!
  • great party dish – it can be served warm, room temperature or cold…which means it can stay out for a while and taste good regardless.
  • versatile – swamp out certain meats or veggies for another…it’s totally customizable! For more ideas, scroll down to the ‘Variation and Substitution’ section.
A bowl of macaroni ham salad tossed in creamy dressing


Here are the ingredients you will need to make macaroni ham salad:

  • Pasta – I used elbow macaroni for this recipe. Feel free to use any short pasta. Whole wheat or grain free pasta works great too.
  • Ham – I purchased a delicious ready-to-eat ham from Costco. I then cubed it so that it would be in a similar size as the elbow macaroni. Leftover ham is perfect for this as well.
  • Carrots, bell peppers, and celery – these veggies not only add wonderful flavors and a lovely crunch, but also beautiful color! I cubed the veggies to be a somewhat similar size to the ham and macaroni.
  • Cheddar cheese – yet another flavor, color, and texture. I purchased a block of cheddar cheese and cubed it just as the ham and veggies. You could use shredded cheese if you would like to reduce the cubing up of ingredients.
Ingredients in separate bowls: macaroni, celery, ham, carrots, bell peppers

As for the dressing, here is what you will need:

  • Mayo – the dressing is primarily mayonnaise-based.
  • Yellow mustard – in a pinch dijon mustard can be used as well.
  • Apple cider vinegar – brings a nice, subtle tanginess to the mayo-based dressing. White vinegar can also be used instead.
  • Sweet pickled relish – these ingredients are barely noticed in the overall dish, but they play an important role in balancing out all the the tanginess from the mustard and apple cider vinegar.
  • granulated sugar – the sweetness from the sugar also helps balance out the creamy and tangy flavors.
  • Salt & pepper –used to open up the flavors of macaroni pasta salad

How to make macaroni ham salad

This simple ham macaroni salad recipe takes about 30 minutes to whip together (since we are repurposing leftover ham, you are not cooking the ham, just cubing it!), and requires a few short steps.

Prepare pasta

Bring water in a large pot to boil. Boil macaroni pasta based on package instructions. When you cook pasta, don’t forget to salt the water (the only time the water gets into the pasta so add that salt!). It will give your pasta so much more flavor.

When it is done, drain water and set pasta aside.

Toss in olive oil if pasta will be sitting for a while to avoid getting stuck together.

Make the Dressing

Start by making the dressing which will be used to ‘marinate’ our ham macaroni salad. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients – mayo, yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, granulated sugar, sweet pickle relish, salt and black pepper.

Set aside and let the flavors come together.

Whisking together ingredients for creamy mayo based dressing

Bring together pasta salad

In a large bowl, bring together bell peppers, carrots, celery, cubed ham and macaroni pasta.

Then, add dressing to macaroni ham salad and give it a good toss!

I love making my macaroni ham salad with just the right amount of dressing so that each bite is coated with flavor, but not overpowered by it.

However, if you prefer a lighter or heavier dressing, simply adjust accordingly!

Dressing in a large bowl of ham, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and cubed cheese.

Transfer macaroni ham salad into a serving bowl and if desired, let it chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator so that the flavors come together.

You can also serve immediately, or let it chill for longer. Macaroni ham salad is pretty versatile and can be served warm, in room temperature, or cold.

If you ask me what’s my preferred way of enjoying macaroni ham salad…I personally like it chilled and cold so that the flavors come together.

Digging into a bowl of macaroni ham pasta salad with a white spoon

Variations and Modifications

Here are other and ways to make this macaroni ham salad that taste just as great!

  • Pasta: use a pasta such as bow tie pasta, penne pasta, fusilli pasta, or ditalini pasta
  • Ham: feel free to use other flavors of ham such as honey ham, spiral ham, or a different type of leftover ham. Cooked bacon, Canadian bacon, or prosciutto can be used as well.
  • Veggies: red onions, pickles, jalapeño peppers, corn, or chopped pickles cucumbers taste great in my ham macaroni salad as well!
  • Spice it up: feel free to add a little heat to your Macaroni Ham Salad with a dash of red pepper flakes or a bit of your favorite hot sauce.

Tips and Tricks

  • Do not rinse pasta: When pasta is cooked, drain water and let it rest. Do not rinse pasta with cold water to avoid rinsing away the starch from pasta. To keep pasta from sticking together while it rest, toss in olive oil instead.
  • Chill your salad: If you have time, allow your salad to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This allows all the flavors to meld together.
  • Use quality ham: Make sure to use good quality, flavorful ham for this recipe. The ham is one of the stars of the dish, so it’s worth it to invest in a good cut. It does make a difference!
  • Experiment with additional ingredients: Try adding some additional ingredients like olives, pickles, or even some chopped hard boiled eggs. Make this macaroni salad your own!
Closeup of a bowl of macaroni pasta salad tossed with ham and veggies

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?

Absolutely. While macaroni is traditional, you can certainly use other short pasta shapes like bow tie, fusilli or penne.

What type of ham works best for this salad?

A thicker cut of ham works best as it’s more substantial. However, any type of ham will work.

Can I make this macaroni ham salad head of time?

Yes, you can prepare this salad up to 2 days in advance. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Can I substitute the mayonnaise with something else?

Greek yogurt or sour cream can be used instead of mayonnaise.

Can I freeze Macaroni Ham Salad?

It’s not recommended to freeze this salad as the mayonnaise-based dressing might separate when thawed, affecting the texture.

DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍

More Side Dishes

A large colorful bowl of macaroni ham salad

Macaroni Ham Salad

Macaroni Ham Salad is a refreshing and light summer pasta salad loaded with ham, macaroni pasta, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and cheddar cheese, tossed in a creamy tangy homemade dressing.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 24 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 300kcal
Author: MinShien



  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp sweet pickled relish
  • 1 tsp salt plus more for cooking pasta
  • ½ tsp black pepper


  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups ham cubed
  • 1 bell pepper cubed
  • 1 cup carrot cubed
  • 1 cup celery cubed
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese cubed


  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Add a few pinches of salt. Cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions.
  • Once macaroni is cooked, drain the excess water and place into a medium sized bowl.
  • In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Mix until combined. Set aside.
  • Add cubed ham, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and cheddar cheese to the bowl with macaroni. Mix gently to avoid squashing the macaroni pasta.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad. Mix gently making sure to coat the salad with the dressing. Optional: let the pasta salad sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator so that the flavors come together.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 759mg | Potassium: 245mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2714IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Laura Ashley Johnson says:

    5 stars
    This is a picnic essential! We loved all the flavors and textures together!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      I’m so glad to hear that!!