This low carb macaroni salad recipe has that old fashioned flavor you love without the carbs that you don’t! This is the perfect side dish for the warm weather. This recipe is full of celery, olives, onions, and lightly steamed cauliflower covered in a creamy dressing. You won’t miss the high carb pasta because all the good stuff is right here!
For this recipe you’ll need: cauliflower, salad olives, celery, onion, carrots, mayonnaise, Bell pepper, dijon mustard, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and a sugar free sweetener.
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Low carb macaroni salad backstory
I grew up on macaroni salad. It was part of the trifecta of summer macaroni salad, tomato sandwiches, and strawberry shortcake. We had it for dinner at least twice a week. We had it for every summer picnic, barbecue, and holiday and it was all fine with me because I loved the stuff.
And my mother’s macaroni salad was the fiber that legends are made of. Creamy, sweet, tangy, crunchy perfection with the bite from an occasional piece of onion and the buttery bitterness of green olives. No matter how big the bowl was she didn’t experience leftovers for long.
Father’s day I wanted to make macaroni salad. Not because it is something my husband loves (he definitely does not) but because it’s a happy memory for me, tradition, and my son-in-law loves it enough to make him a blood relative. I wanted to make it but, at the same time, I didn’t want to make it because I wasn’t sure I could keep my spoon out of the bowl and that stuff has carbs, y’all. Lots of ’em.
I wondered if cauliflower would work. I mean, it works for everything else, right?
I know. I felt really bad that I was springing cauliflower on ya again. I can hear it now,“Oh, lowcarb-ology It’s a cauliflower blog…”
I promise I have other stuff that doesn’t contain cauliflower and I even have a killer cheesecake but I needed this macaroni salad. I needed it, bad.
I steamed some cauliflower until it as firm but very tender and then I took a spoonful of all the ingredients I was prepping for the real macaroni salad. I mixed it up and tasted it?? eh. It was OK. I put it in an airtight container, stored it in the refrigerator, and finished up what I was doing.
The next day I got it out when everyone got to the house. I wasn’t really thinking about it and took a taste.
I had to check to make sure I had taken a bite of the cauliflower mixture. The cauliflower had soaked up the flavor from the mayonnaise mixture just like the macaroni high carb noodles do. The texture wasn’t quite right but the flavor?
I thought maybe my taste buds were lying to me so I had my friend taste it. She loves my macaroni salad so much that she takes leftovers home for her Breakfast. Yes. Really.
I was sure that she would tell me I was nuts but her eyes got big, and she said, “OMG!”
Only it wasn’t quite like that because she still had the fork in her mouth. Apparently I wasn’t wrong about the flavor of this keto macaroni salad. It really is awesome.
Try it for yourself.
Tips for Low Carb Macaroni Salad Recipe
This is simple keto macaroni salad recipe (but it has no cooked pasta !) and makes a great summer side dish! It does have 8 grams of carbs per healthy serving so make sure to plan well with this yummy side dish.
- Be sure to steam the cauliflower until it’s soft without being mushy. You may have to experiment to get the exact texture you prefer.
- After you’ve mixed it up let it stand at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. If you can cover it and chill it overnight in the refrigerator so much the better.
- The trick to the dressing is plenty of freshly ground pepper.
- You need to taste and adjust the dressing for sweetness as you go – I like mine on the sweet side.
- Even if you don’t use mustard in your regular macaroni salad do use it in this recipe. It needs the extra flavor.
- If you like spice substitute jalapeno for the Bell pepper.
More Great Summer Sides
There are just certain side dishes and pasta salads that I associate with summer meals. They’re usually full of carbs but I’ve adapted some of my favorites to be keto friendly. Try a couple of these low carb pasta salad recipes and let me know what you think.
- German Style Cauliflower – if you like German potato salad, that tangy, warm dish – then you love this version with cauliflower!
- Southwestern Broccoli Salad – is crispy, crunchy and so satisfying.
- Low Carb Potato Salad –All the flavor of old fashioned potato salad, I promise.
- Cilantro Lime Cauli-rice –I love this as a base for a burrito bowl.
- Chipotle Bacon Deviled Eggs – your favorite deviled eggs pumped up a little.
Low Carb Macaroni Salad Recipe
I love macaroni salad next to a cheeseburger on a paper plate with a ice cold diet Dr Pepper on the side in the summertime. What’s your favorite summer side dish?
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars in the comments below.
Low Carb Macaroni Salad (Induction, Phase 1)
- 1 cup raw cauliflower broken into very small pieces
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar free Mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar optional
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
- Stevia or other sweetener to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons of thinly sliced celery
- 1 tablespoon of bell pepper
- 2 teaspoons of chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon of grated carrot
- 3 tablespoons salad olives
- Steam cauliflower until very tender but not mushy..
- Combine mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sweetener and mix well.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Put cauliflower, celery, carrot, onion, peppers, and olives in a bowl.
- Pour mayonnaise mixture over and combine gently.
- Chill overnight or longer.
- Add a little more dressing if necessary before serving.
19 thoughts on “Low Carb Macaroni Salad: Best Keto Summer Side Ever!”
Tomorrow is the 4th of July and I am dying for macaroni salad with my cheeseburger and hot dog but no good on keto. So I tried this recipe with a few tiny tweaks (another dressing besides mayo and a couple other seasonings added) and it WORKS!!! I was afraid I would eat all the dressing out of the bowl before the cauliflower had a chance to cool off a bit! I expect that after it’s in the fridge overnight it will be even better! Woohoo! You saved my Independence Day!
It was a hit in my house including my husband who hates substitutes. Absolutely delicious! So I?m making another batch tonight!!!
So glad you liked it, Janice!
Thank you for this idea. I have been missing nacaroni salad since going low carb. I will be making some this weekend.
🙂 I love this stuff!
I am going to make this for a side dish for Easter lunch. Looks delicious! I noticed you didn’t add olives, which was a staple in my mother’s recipe, so I think I will modify your recipe just slightly to make it more like my childhood favorite. Thank you for sharing.
You must have missed them.. they’re right there at the end of the recipe. You can’t have macaroni salad without olives! 😉
Any chance it would work with Marinara or chili sauce for some “fake spaghetti” or chilli-mac?
Yes.. Take a look at this American Goulash recipe. https://lowcarb-ology.com/low-carb-american-goulash/