Make-Ahead Gluten Free Macaroni Salad & Pasta Test

So many new gluten-free dieters fail at making macaroni salad in advance. However, if you use the proper macaroni, it is easy to do. Check out the recipe and the chart of which gluten free pasta came out shining in a make-ahead macaroni salad test. My recipe testers love the flavor and textures in this recipe, too!

Make-Ahead Macaroni Salad Pasta Test

One of my cookbook recipe testers, Monika Bradley, tested several brands of gluten free macaroni for this recipe. She and her mother both have celiac disease.

Per Monika, the different varieties of pasta were cooked following the directions on each box, on the soft side. Then the pasta was cooled to room temperature before combining with the macaroni salad dressing. Then they were all refrigerated for 24 hours before sampling.

Monika added, ‚ÄúStrangely, the two pasta brands that scored the highest and lowest both listed exactly the same ingredients on the box.‚ÄĚ


BrandIngredientsScore (10 = excellent)Notes
Mueller's GF ElbowsCorn Flour, Rice Flour10Stayed soft, best texture
Tinkyada GF PenneBrown Rice, Rice Bran7Al Dente but ok, good texture
Ancient Harvest GF Quinoa PenneCorn Flour, Quinoa Flour6Firmer but still ok, a bit gritty
Ronzoni GF PenneWhite Rice Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Corn Flour, Quinoa Flour3Too hard when cold
Barilla GF PenneCorn Flour, Rice Flour1Way too hard, tossed it out!

Note: This is another recipe from my upcoming cookbook, ¬†Carla’s Best 125 Gluten-Free Recipes.

Update July 21, 2020:


Mueller’s GF Elbow: Corn flour, rice flour, mono and diglycerides

Tinkyada Elbow: Stone-ground brown rice, rice bran, water

Ancient Harvest Elbows: Organic corn flour, organic quinoa flour

Ronzoni Elbow: white rice, brown rice, corn, quinoa

Barilla Elbow: Corn flour, rice flour, mono and diglycerides

Make-Ahead Gluten Free Macaroni Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Makes 6 servings

Make-Ahead Gluten Free Macaroni Salad

A gluten free macaroni salad recipe that you can make in advance and avoid that chewy, hard texture. Learn the brand that stood out in one recipe tester's test.


    For the Salad:
  • 2 cups dry gluten-free pasta (not rice-based*) (spiral, penne, elbow), cooked, rinsed, and drained
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped or minced red onion, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs,¬†finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper¬†(optional) (red is sweeter)
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Combine the pasta, celery, onion, and parsley, as well as egg and bell pepper, if using, in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, mustard, and Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately, at room temperature, or store covered in the refrigerator.


*Rice-based gluten-free pasta hardens when refrigerated. Instead, use pasta made from corn and other gluten-free grains to make macaroni salad in advance. Another brand to consider is Heartland, which is made of Corn Flour, Rice Flour, Mono and Diglycerides. However, if you are highly sensitive to gluten, avoid this brand as they process wheat products in their facility.

I use a fork to mash the hard boiled eggs. Kids usually prefer it this way, as most do not enjoy the texture of the egg whites.

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