Macro Friendly Macaroni Salad With Greek Yogurt

published: May 21, 2023

updated: October 25, 2023

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Summer is here, which means it's time to break out the barbecue grill and enjoy the warm weather with family and friends. One of the best things about summer gatherings is the food, but it's important to choose healthy options that won't leave you feeling weighed down. That's where this healthy macaroni salad recipe comes in – it's the perfect dish to bring to a barbecue or enjoy as a light summer meal.

What makes this macaroni salad healthy? It's all about the Greek yogurt. Instead of solely using mayonnaise, this recipe uses creamy and tangy Greek yogurt, which adds a satisfying texture without the added fat and calories. Plus, it's high in protein, making it a great option for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. This salad is also packed with fresh veggies, like crunchy cucumbers and red bell pepper, making it a colorful and nutritious addition to any summer spread.

Traditional macaroni salad (Kroger brand) is 340 calories, 20g fat, 35g carbs, and 4g of protein for a ⅔ cup serving. For one cup, our recipe has 197 calories, 4.7g fat, 26.4g carbs, and 8.9g protein. Plus, since we are using chickpea pasta, there is about 7g of fiber per serving, compared to the traditional macaroni salad only having 1g of fiber. 

Not only is this healthy macaroni salad good for you, but it's also easy to make and customize to your liking. Feel free to add in some grilled chicken or shrimp for an extra protein boost, or swap out the veggies to suit your tastes. You can even make it ahead of time and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors meld together. So, whether you're hosting a backyard barbecue or just looking for a refreshing summer meal, this healthy macaroni salad is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.


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3 Reasons Why You Will Love This High-Protein Macro Friendly Macaroni Salad With Greek Yogurt Recipe

lightened mac salad with greek yogurt
  1. Healthier option: This salad uses Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, making it lower in fat and calories while still maintaining a creamy and tangy flavor. Plus, it's packed with fresh vegetables, making it a nutritious and satisfying meal option.
  1. Perfect for summer gatherings: With its colorful and fresh ingredients, this healthy macaroni salad is a perfect addition to any summer gathering, from backyard barbecues to picnics at the park. It's easy to make and can be customized to suit any taste preferences. Plus, it can be made ahead of time and chilled in the fridge, making it a convenient and refreshing meal option for hot summer days.
  1. Versatile and customizable: Another reason why readers will love this healthy macaroni salad recipe is its versatility. The recipe can be easily customized with different vegetables, protein options, or seasonings to suit individual tastes. Whether you're a fan of spicy flavors or prefer a milder taste, you can adjust the recipe to suit your preferences. Plus, with its use of Greek yogurt, this salad is a great option for those who follow a vegetarian or low-fat diet.

You may also love our macro friendly greek yogurt chicken salad recipe!

Ingredients

  • Elbow macaroni: You can never go wrong with pasta! I used Simple Truth chickpea pasta to pump up the protein and fiber content. Choose whole wheat for added nutrient benefits or gluten-free pasta if desired. 
  • Greek yogurt: Make sure to use plain, unsweetened greek yogurt. I love the brand Fage for a creamy, non fat option.
  • Light mayo: Traditional macaroni salad uses mayo solely for the dressing. I opted for a small amount of light mayo to keep a similar taste!
  • Vinegar: This will add a tangy flavor to the dressing. You can use either apple cider or white vinegar. 
  • Dijon mustard: This will add a mild spice and creaminess to the dressing.
  • Sugar: In this recipe, we use a sweetener to balance out the acidity in the dressing. I used Splenda. You may use your preferred sweetener such as honey or regular, granulated sugar. 
  • Vegetables: I used a combination of red peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. You can use any combination of vegetables you like! 
  • Red onion: This will add a mild flavor and some crunch to the salad.
  • Fresh parsley: This will add freshness and flavor to the salad.
  • Salt and pepper: Add more or less depending on your taste preference.
all ingredients for lightened mac salad

Kitchen Tools Required

  • Large pot 
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Large bowl
  • Fork
  • Wooden spoon

How to Make Lightened Up Macaroni Salad With Greek Yogurt

  1. Prep your vegetables: dice the cucumbers, red bell pepper, and red onion. Shred the carrots if needed.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, light mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.
  4. Add the cooked macaroni, diced cucumbers, diced red bell pepper, diced red onion, shredded carrots, and chopped parsley to the bowl. Mix well until everything is evenly coated with the dressing.
  5. Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Serve chilled and enjoy!
mixing ingredients in large bowl
chopped up veggies
mac salad and chopped veggies

Swaps or Alternatives

Here are some swaps and alternatives you can make to customize this healthy macaroni salad recipe:

  • Pasta: You can swap out the elbow macaroni for other types of pasta, such as penne, fusilli, or rotini. You can also use gluten-free pasta or whole wheat pasta for a healthier option.
  • Greek yogurt: If you're not a fan of Greek yogurt, you can use plain or flavored regular yogurt instead. You can also use sour cream or a combination of sour cream and Greek yogurt for a tangy flavor.
  • Vegetables: You can use different vegetables or add more vegetables to the salad, such as yellow bell peppers, celery, zucchini, or corn. You can also use different types of tomatoes, such as grape tomatoes or Roma tomatoes.
  • Herbs: You can use different herbs, such as basil, cilantro, or dill, for a different flavor.

Quick Tip(s)

Here are some quick tips to make this healthy macaroni salad recipe::

  • Cook the pasta al dente: Make sure to cook the pasta until it's al dente, which means it's cooked but still firm to the bite. This will prevent the pasta from becoming mushy when mixed with the dressing and vegetables.
  • Rinse the pasta with cold water: After cooking the pasta, rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down quickly. This will prevent the pasta from getting overcooked and sticking together.
  • Adjust the seasoning: Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can add more salt, pepper, or vinegar to suit your taste preferences.
  • Serve chilled: This healthy macaroni salad is best served chilled. You can refrigerate it for up to 2-3 days, but make sure to store it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out.

FAQ’s

Here are some frequently asked questions:

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this recipe ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Make sure to give it a good stir before serving.

Can I use regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt?

Yes, you can use regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, but keep in mind that it may not be as thick and creamy as Greek yogurt. You can also use a combination of sour cream and regular yogurt for a tangy flavor.

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Absolutely, you can use a different type of pasta, such as penne, fusilli, or rotini. You can also use gluten-free or whole wheat pasta for a healthier option.

Can I add meat to this salad?

Of course! You can add cooked chicken, shrimp, or tofu to this salad for an extra protein boost. Just make sure to add it after mixing the pasta with the dressing and vegetables.

Can I freeze this salad?

Unfortunately, this salad is not suitable for freezing as the texture and taste may change when thawed.

Macros & Nutrition Information

Serving Size: ⅙ of recipe (~1 cup)

MacrosNutrition
Calories197
Protein8.9g
Carbs26.4g
Fat4.7g

Macro Friendly Lightened Up Macaroni Salad

Jessie Hulsey
Packed with crunchy vegetables and a tangy dressing, this salad is perfect for summer barbecues or as a quick and easy side dish. This recipe swaps the traditional mayonnaise dressing with a creamy Greek yogurt base, adding a protein-packed twist to the classic dish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 197 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Large Pot
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Large bowl
  • 1 Fork
  • 1 Wooden spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp vinegar, apple cider or white
  • 1 tbsp sugar substitute
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup diced cucumbers
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Prep your vegetables: dice the cucumbers, red bell pepper, and red onion. Shred the carrots if needed.
  • In a large pot, cook the macaroni according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, light mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.
  • Add the cooked macaroni, diced cucumbers, diced red bell pepper, diced red onion, shredded carrots, and chopped parsley to the bowl. Mix well until everything is evenly coated with the dressing.
  • Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • Serve chilled and enjoy!

Notes

  • After cooking the pasta, rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down quickly. This will prevent the pasta from getting overcooked and sticking together.
  • Nutrition information may vary depending on brands and ingredients used.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 197kcalCarbohydrates: 26.4gProtein: 8.9gFat: 4.7g
Keyword high protein, macro friendly
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About the author, Jessie Hulsey

Jessie is a recipe creator and registered dietitian consultant, specializing in weight management, healthy aging, and behavioral nutrition in Atlanta, GA. To lean into her creative side, she loves all aspects of recipe development and food photography. When not working, you can find Jessie at the dog park with her husband and pup, playing in her garden, and scoping out new restaurants!

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