Best Macaroni Salad at the Grocery Store, According to Our Taste Test

The best store-bought macaroni salad should taste just as special as it did the first time you tried macaroni salad as a kid—probably outside, at a barbecue, surrounded by loving family and friends. (And at least one crying baby. There’s always a crying baby.) It should carry a comforting sweetness contrasted with a lively tang. It should be refreshingly cold on a hot summer’s day and remind you of the holy trinity of all cookout flavors: mayo, mustard, pickle. 

I’ll be honest with you, reader, despite that incredibly touching scenario I just laid out, I haven’t always loved macaroni salad. Growing up, I couldn’t understand the appeal of something I loved (plain pasta) mixed with something that tasted so strong (like vinegar, mustard, and corn syrup). To me, it tasted backwards. Something cold that should be hot. Something overpowering that should be mild. My taste buds have thankfully evolved since then. Now I would go to war defending the best macaroni salad—but still, I’m a harsh critic. My hope is that this ranking of the best store-bought macaroni salad will speak to all of you: mayo-lovers, vinegar-haters, and everyone in between.


Best Mustard Flavor

Freshness Guaranteed Deviled Egg

Mustard kings and queens, allow me to bend the knee and humbly offer a gilded platter of Freshness Guaranteed Devilled Egg macaroni salad for your palace feast. Hailing from the kingdom of Walmart, this may not be the absolute best deviled egg macaroni salad we tried, but it is certainly the  most mustard-forward. The sauce is creamy and tantalizingly tangy, mixed with classic elbow mac and bits of egg white and celery to keep the texture interesting.

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Most Nostalgic

Freshness Guaranteed Macaroni Salad (Classic)

Still hailing from the Kingdom of Walmart, this classic version is exactly what you would expect from a grocery store macaroni salad. A strong sweetness, chopped veggies, not as tangy as the deviled egg macaroni salad but just as creamy. Out of all the mac salads we tried, this one tastes closest to homemade. We’d recommend adding a sprinkle of salt to really bring out the flavors and balance the sweet. 

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Noodle

First Street Twirl

We accidentally ordered two of First Street’s Twirl Macaroni Salad from Smart & Final, and as a result, lost an entire refrigerator shelf to a pair of giant pasta tubs. At twice the cost of other brands on this list, First Street offers about four times the amount of some of the best macaroni salad. So, really, if you want bang for your buck, this is the best store-bought macaroni salad you can buy. The sauce is very pickle and sweet-relish forward, with a creamy consistency and minimal amount of chopped veggies. Normally, we’d be on the hunt for more veggies for an added crunch, but First Street knows that the twirl pasta is the real MVP here. Don’t get me wrong, classic elbow mac has a special place in our hearts—but something about the shape of twirl pasta makes every spoonful more addicting than the last. It’s a unique and interesting flair to an otherwise simple and budget-friendly macaroni salad.

Credit: Liv Averett / Smart & Final

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Devilled Egg

Reser’s Fine Foods Deviled Egg

Reser’s Fine Foods delivers the best deviled egg macaroni salad on the market. This store-bought mac salad tastes fresh—in large part due to the inclusion of fresh dill, but also thanks to every other bold flavor component that went into the recipe. The mustard is kicky. The thick wedges of egg white taste like your grandma just hard-boiled and peeled them. It’s not just the best deviled egg macaroni salad, it’s the best macaroni salad with egg thanks to those wedges. It’s an egg lover’s dream. And maybe I’m too nice, giving 10/10 sporks to the two best macaroni salads on this fairly short list, but the entire Sporked taste-testing team raved about this deviled egg macaroni salad. 

Credit: Liv Averett / Ralphs

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Best of the Best

Signature Select Mac Salad

Signature Select’s Macaroni Salad is store-bought macaroni salad trying and succeeding to be restaurant-quality macaroni salad. It’s simple and elegant, with a muted acidity and beautifully balanced sauce. Whereas our #2 has a bold flavor and heavier sauce consistency, Signature Select’s classic macaroni salad (the brand from Albertsons) is refreshingly light and bright. Boasting zero high fructose corn syrup and no artificial flavors, I’d chalk up the tastiness to its clean ingredients and plentiful mix of chopped celery and red bell pepper. Hands down, this is the best macaroni salad ever for people who don’t tend to like macaroni salad—and for people who absolutely love it. 

Credit: Liv Averett / Albertsons

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Other Macaroni Salad We Tried: Reser’s Fine Foods Macaroni Salad, Freshness Guaranteed Amish Macaroni Salad, First Street Macaroni Salad, Kroger Traditional Macaroni Salad


About the Author

Ariana Losch

Ariana Losch is a Sporked contributor, webcomic writer, java junkie, and bad TV enthusiast. She only ever feels at peace laying out on a beach like a kebab, roasting in the sun; sadly, she can never move back to Florida, her home state, because there simply isn’t enough good Mediterranean food. You can find her overstaying her welcome at just about every LA coffee shop, working on a screenplay and avoiding all eye contact. (She is embarrassed to be there, please leave her alone.)

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  • The problem with this list is that these items are regional. None of those listed products are available anywhere in my area. Potato and Macaroni salad arent typically something that is made by a mainstream company. They’re made locally, 9 times out of 10 IN the store that you are buying them from. So this list doesnt really help anyone that lives outside of LA.

    Reply
    • NinjAsylum is absolutely correct! Typical, with this site, no *common* brands are tested! Walmart is the only site available in my rejoin, and most of us would give no better than 5 “sporks” for that.

      Reply