Copycat Kraft Macaroni Salad – a recipe for those who miss the discontinued boxed macaroni salad mix from Kraft. This recipe replicates the garlic and herb flavours and adds a little fresh red pepper too.
This copycat Kraft Macaroni Salad recipe was one that I decided to develop because of some chatter from folks on Facebook. They were lamenting the fact that they could no longer find the Kraft brand Macaroni Salad boxed mix on their supermarket shelves. The box came with the uncooked dry macaroni pasta and a little packet of seasoning mix that was stirred into mayonnaise or jarred salad dressing like Miracle Whip.
This particular macaroni salad was a bit of a contentious one in our clan during family get togethers. My sister Brenda loved it and served it often when inviting us over for Christmas leftovers. I always preferred our standard family recipe which I always made for a Traditional Newfoundland Cold Plate after many holiday occasions throughout the year.
For the most part, I am a from-scratch kind of cook and rarely use any kind of boxed mixes for anything. Still, looking at a couple of discussion forums and even on The Kraft Facebook Page, it is clear that many folks did indeed love it. With that in mind, I set myself the challenge to replicate the garlic herb flavours in the salad from memory…and I think I came pretty close to the flavour that I recall.
The flavour that I remember was an intense, garlic-herb, ranch dressing sort of taste. The garlic flavour in the dry seasoning packet was obviously powdered garlic and I think that was what divided most opinion on this pasta salad. I’ve started with a base amount for this recipe but you can always adjust it to your taste.
For a bit of a mellower garlic flavour, I’d suggest making the salad dressing a day ahead of time using very finely minced fresh garlic. The day of sitting in the fridge can let the garlic flavour mellow and meld with the other flavours nicely. Come to think of it, if you have the time, that’s not a bad idea to try if you are using garlic powder too.
Looking at the photos online of the Kraft Macaroni Salad box, there appear to be red flecks in the mix as well. Since there is no real spicy heat in the salad that I recall, I don’t believe them to be chilli flakes but perhaps dried pimento or red pepper. I’ve added fresh diced red pepper to the recipe for a little added sweetness, colour and texture. I hope you enjoy it.
By the way, if you are wondering about that delicious looking baked ham in the background, you can find the incredibly simple recipe and instructions for Dijon & Brown Sugar Glazed Ham here.
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- 3 cups uncooked macaroni
- 1 cup salad dressing (See Recipe Notes)
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp onion powder
- 3/4 tsp powdered garlic (or 2 cloves very finely minced garlic)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1/2 cup red pepper finely diced
Cook the macaroni in salted water for about 12 minutes or until just al dente. You don't want to overcook the macaroni because your salad will be too mushy. The macaroni will continue to absorb moisture from the salad dressing, so a tiny bit underdone would be far preferable to overdone.
Rinse the cooked macaroni in a colander and allow to drain well for several minutes.
While the macaroni is draining, add all the other ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk together well.
Transfer the drained macaroni to the large mixing bowl with the dressing and mix well until all of the macaroni pieces are well coated.
Transfer to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
SALAD DRESSING: Most potato and pasta salads call for salad dressing which is the jarred, spoonable type dressing, like Kraft Miracle Whip which looks much like mayonnaise. If you want to make a substitute using mayonnaise, simply mix together 1 cup mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 rounded tablespoon of white sugar and a dash of paprika. Stir well and let stand for 5 minutes before stirring again and using in the recipe.