I need a good macaroni salad dressing recipe

What I like about store-bought macaroni salad is that it always stays creamy. However, I don’t like the taste.

My homemade dressing using mayonnaise always gets thick and the macaroni sticks together and doesn’t flow freely once it’s chilled.

What are they adding in the market that keeps it creamy? Milk? Oil? Something artificial?

Would love some ideas.

I add milk to my dressing to thin it a bit.

My trick, if you can call it that, is to “dress” the hot pasta with equal parts oil and vinegar and salt/pepper. Toss well, and then let cool enough so you can touch the pasta without burning before adding whatever dressing you use. I very often add my vegetables [if using] while the pasta is still warm.

Do you rinse your pasta well before dressing it? Removing the excess starch will keep it from getting too sticky after refrigeration. I would rinse it well in hot water and then use @smtucker’s trick of dressing it with some oil and vinegar while it’s still warm. That should help a lot, no matter what dressing you ultimately end up using.

Ranch dressing.

The only store bought I ever purchase is Blue Ridge but their dressing is mainly Hellmanns mayo and preservatives. I only buy it once or twice a year so don’t worry about any health consequences; at the price they sell it at Fourth of July it’s like a gift from God! One of my favorite factory salads. But of course they’re not giving away any little secrets on their ingredient label, and I never worked in their factory so hard to say. (I’m assuming you’re not talking about private deli made salads?)

My brine, concocted from the deli I cooked for, is 1 cup mayo (to which I now add yogurt), 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup Heinz white vinegar. I also do a splash of pickle juice (an old deli trick!) and a couple of Tbsp of sugar or honey for that sweet and sour flavor. Another big “secret” is soaking the undercooked macaroni in some milk before dressing it.

But if you don’t live in the NY area, this German style concoction may not be what you’re looking for either. You probably should say what region you’re from.

I’ve made a sh*t ton of macaroni salad over the years and I have never had the problem you are explaining. If not sealed well the top layer might become dry, but never noodles sticking together. I cook my pasta, normally elbows, then once cooked I immediately chill in cold water, both to stop cooking and to cool because I will generally mix by spoon and or hand. I only use mayo, no oil or vinegar in macaroni salad along with the other ingredients.
(salt - pepper - parsley - celery chopped fine - carrots chopped fine - sweet gerkin pickles chopped fine - pickle juice added to taste - green olives chopped fine) I love using the sweet pickles and green olives for a sweet and salty balanced taste you don’t normally find in macaroni salads.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr