Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Easy Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

I used to watch my mom make this many years ago, and I was amazed by how simple and easy something so delicious could be. The key ingredient? Pickle juice. No vinegar, just dill pickle juice straight from the jar.

Actually, mom used to make the dressing in the jar. When there were just enough pickles left for the salad, she’d remove those and pour out some of the juice, leaving just the amount she wanted for the dressing. Then she’d spoon the mayo, mustard, sugar, and seasonings into the jar with the juice, stir it all up, and there it was: the best macaroni salad dressing I’ve had to this day.

Over the years, I’ve made the salad dozens of times but have never measured the ingredients. Of course, I had to do measurements for this recipe, so if they seem a little peculiar, it’s simply because that’s what they turned out to be.

There aren’t many ingredients and they certainly aren’t fancy, but this may be one of the most scrumptious mac salads you’ve ever tasted. Thanks, mom.

Salad Ingredients
Makes 6-8 side portions


For the Dressing
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp dill pickle juice
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
  • 6 oz dry macaroni (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 2 small hardboiled eggs, finely chopped
Chopped Ingredients

For the Dressing
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl (or a pickle jar).
Ingredients Ready to Combine 
Mac Salad Dressing
For the Salad
  1. Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water until al dente, 7-8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Add the dressing to the salad, stirring well to combine.
Ready for Dressing 
Dressing Stirred In 
Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Stir again before serving.

Easy Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad


  1. I am making this on Saturday for my Pride Picnic! Sounds just like the recipe my mom made and can't wait to make it!

  2. Fantastic, David! I hope you love it…and that it brings back memories. Thank you.