Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad (Ensalada De Coditos) is a delicious side dish that’s typically served at parties and other gatherings. It’s a great make ahead recipe that’s even better on day 2!
My mom’s Puerto Rican macaroni salad is a family gem, it’s absolutely her most requested dish whenever we host a family gathering. Unlike American style macaroni salads, Puerto Rican ensalada de coditos is not sweet. Instead, we use mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard and olive juice to create a tangy dressing that’s the perfect foil to rich dishes that this salad is typically served with, like pernil or carne guisada. This recipe is a great make ahead dish, I actually recommend making it the day before you plan to serve it, just so that the flavors can really meld and shine.
What’s the origin of Puerto Rican macaroni salad?
I’ve tried to find information about how this recipe showed up on the island but our culinary history is hard to find. My best guess is that this is a fusion dish that came about after Puerto Rico became a U.S. terrority. As we do with most things, Puerto Rican have added their own flair to this traditional American macaroni salad by swapping out the relish for olive/olive juice/vinegar, which are classic Spanish ingredients and gives the dish a nice zing.
What Ingredients Are In Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad?
These are the key ingredients for Puerto Rican macaroni salad:
- Elbow macaroni
- Olive juice or vinegar
- Red bell peppers or pimentos
- Hardboiled eggs
- Diced ham or spam
- Cubed up cheddar cheese or queso de papa
- Sliced olives
- Canned tuna
What to serve with Puerto Rican macaroni salad?
This is a popular recipe that is often made for holidays and parties, so I like serving it family style with other popular Puerto Rican party recipes like:
- Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
- Puerto Rican Pinchos De Pollo (Chicken Kabobs)
- Puerto Rican Pernil (Roast Pork Shoulder)
- Carne Guisada (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)
- Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew) Includes Slow Cooker Version!
- Ropa Vieja (Shredded Beef) Sliders
- Pollo Asado (Citrus Marinated Grilled Chicken)
Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad
Macaroni Salad Ingredients
- 16 oz cooked elbow pasta
- 4 hard boiled eggs diced finely
- 1/2 cup red bell peppers or fancy pimentos, chopped also known as pimiento morrón
- ½ cup chopped red onion
Mayonnaise Dressing Ingredients
- 1 cup cooked deli ham or Spam diced finely
- 2 cups mayo
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive juice or white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt or adobo seasoning season to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Optional Add Ins
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano optional
- 2 teaspoons pimento juice optional
- 1/2 cup diced mild cheddar cheese optional
- 1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced optional
In a large pot, cook pasta in well-salted water (I usually add about 2 tablespoons of salt to the water) according to package directions, until al-dente.
While pasta is cooking, place the hard-boiled eggs in a small bowl and mash them in a bowl with a fork into small pieces. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, olive juice, salt and pepper, whisking until well combined. Set aside.
Once pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta. Add the pasta into a large mixing bowl and add the olive oil. Stir the pasta to coat it with the olive oil. s coating the pasta.
Add the mayo dressing and mix until well combined. Then fold in the mashed hard-boiled egg, peppers, onions and ham.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before serving.