Low Carb Macaroni Salad: Best Keto Summer Side Ever!

Low carb macaroni salad recipe has that old fashioned flavor you love without the carbs that you don’t! This keto friendly summer side dish is full of celery, olives, onions, and lightly steamed cauliflower covered in a creamy dressing – you won’t miss the macaroni because all the good stuff is right here! This post updated from the original June 2013 version for better reader experience. 

For this recipe you’ll need: cauliflower, salad olives, celery, onion, carrots, mayonnaise, Bell pepper, dijon mustard, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, sweetener

a plate of low carb macaroni salad with a fork nearby

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 is 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…”

macaroni salad with cauliflower 2

I promise I have other stuff that does not 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 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…

cauliflower macaroni salad

I had to check to make sure I had taken a bite of the cauliflower mixture and not the real stuff. The cauliflower had soaked up the flavor from the mayonnaise mixture just like the macaroni does. The texture wasn’t quite right but the flavor?

Amazing.

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. 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. It really is awesome.

Try it for yourself.

Closeup of low carb macaroni salad on a plate with a white lace napkin
Now you can have your favorite macaroni salad on low carb eating plans!

Tips for Low Carb Macaroni Salad Recipe

This is an easy recipe and makes a great summer 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.

You may need…

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A steamer makes it easy to steam vegetables to just the right texture.

More Great Summer Sides

There are just certain side dishes 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 and let me know what you think.

Low Carb Macaroni Salad Recipe

Serving of low carb macaroni salad made with cauliflower on a vintage plate. a serving dish is in the background.
You’ll love this easy “macaroni” salad for summer suppers!

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.

Print

Low Carb Macaroni Salad (Induction, Phase 1)

The flavor of summer - macaroni salad with only about 5 net carbs per serving. Perfect for serving alongside hot dogs and hamburgers.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 80kcal
Author Marye

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

It is imperative that this sits overnight or longer in order for the flavor to develop.

Nutrition

Calories: 80kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 485mg | Potassium: 361mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 990IU | Vitamin C: 59.1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Last Updated 10/21/2019

19 Responses to “Low Carb Macaroni Salad: Best Keto Summer Side Ever!”

  1. The veggies that go into a Macaroni Salad are subjective and to be honest I thought I had all the veggies listed but I didn’t. So I basically just through in what I always do into a Mac Salad except for cauliflower instead of ‘roni noodles and then made the dressing as written w/the vinegar because I love vinegar and tang! It’s chilling in my fridge but I had to taste the dressing. OMG it was amazing. If it soaks into the cauliflower like it would into noodles I have a new go to “macaroni” salad dressing. Seriously scrumptious. Is there nothing you can’t make delicious, Marye?

    Reply
  2. Liver.

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  3. […] Low Carb Macaroni Salad | Low Carb-ology […]

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  4. […] Macaroni Salad […]

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  5. Wow! That’s all I’ve got to say! I am seriously blown away with this dish. I live Hawaii. Mac salad is a staple here and I was jones’n hard for it. But it is a no-no with my recommitted LC mission. Seriously, thank you for posting this. 🙂

    Reply
    • 🙂 you’re welcome! So glad you like it!

  6. This sounds amazing and I can’t hardly wait to make it!! Thank you so much for this recipe!!

    Reply
    • Let me know what you think! I love it!

  7. Thank you for posting the recipe for one serving. I don’t know about you but when I make even a small batch of fauxtato salad, I end up eating the whole batch by the end of the day. I simply have no control over it and since I’m the only one that will eat these culinary delights, I’m done for.. Now I can enjoy the recipe without abusing my carb counts!

    Reply
    • Thanks Janet. I am the only one in my family that low carbs so I figured there were others who just needed one or two servings. 🙂 Glad I was right.

  8. Any chance it would work with Marinara or chili sauce for some “fake spaghetti” or chilli-mac?

    Reply
  9. 5 stars
    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.

    Reply
    • You must have missed them.. they’re right there at the end of the recipe. You can’t have macaroni salad without olives! 😉

  10. Thank you for this idea. I have been missing nacaroni salad since going low carb. I will be making some this weekend.

    Reply
    • 🙂 I love this stuff!

  11. 5 stars
    It was a hit in my house including my husband who hates substitutes. Absolutely delicious! So I’m making another batch tonight!!!

    Reply
    • So glad you liked it, Janice!

  12. 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!

    Reply

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