Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad (Ensalada de Coditos) is the perfect side dish to bring to any holiday potluck or family picnic. Cold salad with macaroni (Ensalada fria de Coditos), ham (we use leftover Smoked Ham), green olives and hard boiled eggs combine for a killer pasta salad recipe. While similar to American macaroni salad, this pasta salad with mayo takes it to the next level.
Our other Puerto Rican favorite, Ensalada de Coditos, and Creamy Dill Pickle Pasta Salad are two other great cold macaroni salad recipes to make and share with friends and family. It really makes a delicious dish at Christmas dinner!
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How To Make Ensalada de Coditos
Here’s how to make Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad (Como hacer ensalada de códitos).
- Make The Hard Boiled Eggs – Use your favorite method. We always make Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs. They’re hands off and the easiest to peel. Some peeps boil the eggs with the pasta, when making cold pasta salad, but we’re not fans of this method.
- Make The Macaroni – Boil the elbow macaroni (pasta de coditos) in salted water to al dente, according to the packages instructions. Strain and immediately toss with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and cool for at least an hour.
- Prep The Rest of The Ingredients – While the macaroni is cooking, chop the rest of the ingredients and set aside until the elbow pasta has cooled.
- Stir, Taste and Repeat – Once the elbow pasta is chilled, mix in all the ingredients, taste and adjust as needed. It may need a bit more salt, olive brine or mayo! That’s the best part of Ensalada de Coditos – you can adapt it to your taste.
Ensalada de Coditos Ingredients
These are the basic traditional ingredients to make Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad (Ensalada de Coditos Receta); keep reading to find variations you may love: Elbow macaroni, light olive oil, diced ham, red onion, red bell pepper, mayonnaise, green olives, olive brine, hard boiled eggs and salt.
Elbow Pasta Recipes
Here are a few popular variations of Ensalada de Coditos:
Ensalada de Coditos (Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad)
The Ensalada de Coditos pasta salad recipe below is the Puerto Rican version. It’s loaded with green olives and hard boiled eggs.
Macaroni Salad With Tuna (Ensalada de Coditos y Atún)
Throw a can of drained tuna fish in the mix to make it Macaroni Salad with Tuna.
Macaroni Salad with Ham (Ensalada de Coditos con Jamón)
You’re looking at it. You can either pick up a fresh slab of ham at the grocery store or use leftover ham. We find making Pasta Salad with Mayo is the BEST use of leftover ham after the holiday’s.
Macaroni Salad with Chicken (Ensalada de Coditos con Pollo)
Swap out the ham with shredded or diced chicken. Chicken doesn’t add as much flavor as ham, so you may need to add a bit more of the other ingredients, including salt.
Mexican Pasta Salad (Ensalada de Coditos Mexicano)
Mexican Macaroni Salad is served at many siestas, fiestas and Quinceañeras. Serve it with Instant Pot Carnitas, Carne Asada Recipe or Carne Asada Tacos for a complete meal. To make this version, just add in 1/4 cup Mexican Sour Cream and a cup of canned veggies (think carrots, peas and corn). Pickled Jalapeños would also be a great addition.
Looking to make a spam pasta salad? Replace equal parts of the ham with spam. You can also throw in pineapple to make it a Hawaiian Spam Pasta Salad.
Vegetarian Pasta Salad
Omit the meat all together, but pump up the other ingredients.
Macaroni Salad Without Mayo
Not a mayo fan? Have no fear. Replace the mayonnaise with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), and 2 teaspoons of yellow or dijon mustard.
More Flavorful Additions To Consider Adding
To amp up your cold salad, consider adding any of the below ingredients to take this side dish to the next level.
Many of these ingredients can also be used to make Halloween Pasta Salad.
Puerto Rican Pasta Salad vs. Classic Macaroni Salad
Olives are the main difference between Ensalada de Coditos and Classic Macaroni Salad. Both are made with elbow macaroni, creamy mayonnaise, onions and often eggs, but the yellow mustard, vinegar and pickles in classic American Macaroni Salad aren’t found in the Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad. The vinegar and pickles are replaced with briny olives. Both have mayonnaise focus dressing. Duke’s mayonnaise is what we use for our macaroni salad.
Ensalada de Coditos Recipe Notes & Tips
- Use Instant Pot Bone Broth or Vegetable Stock instead of water to amp up the flavor of the macaroni.
- Use a large stockpot, dutch oven or large bowl. Once the noodles puff up and you try and add the ingredients, you’ll wish you had more room!
- This creamy elbow pasta salad gets better with age. Try and make it 24 hours in advance for the best flavor.
- Pasta does suck up the dressing as it cools. You may need to add a bit of extra mayo if you find you need a bit more creaminess.
- Make sure you cool the cooked pasta before adding the mayonnaise to it. If you add cold mayonnaise to hot pasta it can separate. Yuck.
- Use mayonnaise that you enjoy the flavor of and one that lists oil as the first ingredient. Some list water as the first ingredient and it won’t mix well.
- Another great Dominican recipe perfect for the holiday season is Sancocho Domincano.
How Long Can You Keep Macaroni Salad?
This delicious salad salad keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. As it’s a pasta salad with mayo, you’ll need to toss it if it stays outside for more than a few hours.
Can You Freeze Ensalada de Coditos?
Negative. Don’t even try it. Mayonnaise does not freeze well. This side dish cuisine is best when consumed within 3 days.
What To Serve Ensalada de Coditos With
What Drinks Pair With Macaroni Salad
Wine – Un-oaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling
Beer – Brown Ale, dry pear cider or even a Michelada would be killer!
Ensalada de Coditos (Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad)
- 1 Lb Elbow Macaroni
- 2 Tbsp Light Olive Oil ((*Note 1))
- 8 oz Diced Ham or Spam ((*Note 2))
- 1 Medium Red Onion, Grated ((*Note 3))
- ½ Cup Red Bell Pepper
- ¾ Cup Mayonnaise ((*Note 4))
- ¼ Cup Chopped Green Olives
- 1-3 tbsp Green Olive Brine (To Taste) ((*Note 5))
- 5 Hard Boiled Eggs, Shelled and Diced ((*Note 6))
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 1 Cup Cubed Cheddar Cheese ((*Note 7))
- Make hard boiled eggs, in your preferred method, and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the elbow pasta and cook to al dente, according to the instructions on the box. Do not over cook.
- While the pasta is cooking, chop the ham, eggs, bell pepper and olives and grate the onion. Set aside.
- Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse under cold water. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and immediately toss with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour in the refrigerator.
- Once chilled, add the rest of the ingredients (except the eggs) and mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Gently fold in the hard-boiled egg before covering and refrigerating for a minimum of one hour.