Dolly Parton’s Secret Ingredient for the Best-Ever Macaroni Salad

Cookout season is in full swing, which means it's time for burgers, hot dogs and all the summer sidescoleslaw, potato salad, baked beans and one of our all-time favorites, pasta salad. The great thing about pasta salad is that it's fast and easy and can be customized to include whatever ingredients and flavors your guests are into.

But as much as we like to play around with our pasta salad, it's also fun to be reminded of classic combinations, like an old-school macaroni salad. There's something super comforting about the combination of elbow macaroni and a tangy-sweet dressing. When we were nosing around for macaroni salad inspiration, we found a recipe from the 1989 Dollywood cookbook via a YouTube video from Amanda Keller from Journey with the Kellers. As always, Dolly has taken a classic recipe and made it her own with a few key tweaks. Here's what you need to know to make the dish at your house.

Related: Dolly Parton’s Secret Ingredient for the Best-Ever Coleslaw

There are a fair amount of mix-ins in this recipe, including diced cucumber, diced green pepper, grated onion, sweet pickle relish and chopped hard-boiled eggs. But what really made us take note was the dressing for this macaroni salad.

Many macaroni salads are simply dressed with mayonnaise maybe cut with a bit of vinegar, but in this Dolly recipe the dressing is a combination of mayonnaise, sour cream and quite a bit of milk. The sour cream adds a nice tang to the rich mayo and the milk helps create a thin but not too thin dressing so you avoided the dreaded gloppy macaroni salad. The mayo-sour cream-milk trio creates something like a ranch dressing base, just without the classic herbs.

Once you make the dressing, you pour it over the cooked pasta that's been tossed with the mix-ins (except for the hard-boiled eggs), then you gently fold in the eggs and let the salad sit in the fridge overnight. As the pasta salad chills, the pasta will absorb all of the creamy, tangy dressing, making sure that when you serve it it's perfectly dressed. Bring on the burgers!

Related: Dolly Parton’s Secret Ingredient for the Best-Ever Potato Salad

The country star is also a star in the kitchen. Here are a few other Dolly side recipes you might want to try.

Dolly Parton's Skillet Cornbread
Dolly Parton's Famous Biscuits
Dolly Parton's Chicken and Dumplings
Dolly Parton's Walnut Pie

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