Ensalada de Coditos is a traditional Puerto Rican macaroni salad with a zesty, creamy dressing everyone will love. Flavorful, easy-to-make, and perfect for parties or holidays!
The Best Puerto Rican Pasta Salad Recipe!
Who doesn’t love pasta salad, right? There are all kinds of great options out there (Dill Pickle Pasta Salad and Greek Pasta Salad are just a couple of our favorites). But I must admit, I have a real soft spot for Puerto Rican macaroni salad, AKA ensalada de coditos.
This classic dish is made with tender elbow pasta, hard-boiled eggs, and a few simple condiments and seasonings. It’s an extremely simple dish to make, but the taste is anything but boring – ensalada de coditos is a must-have dish at any Puerto Rican holiday spread, barbecue, or party!
This recipe will show you just how to make authentic Puerto Rican ensalada de coditos, with plenty of suggestions for ways to tweak it and jazz it up according to your tastes (just see the Tips and Variations section). I hope you try this easy dish. If you do, I’m sure you’ll love it!
What’s in This Dish?
Ensalada de coditos is made with basic pantry staples that you probably already keep on hand. That makes it easy to pull this dish together anytime, even at the last minute.
- Pasta: Elbow pasta is the traditional choice, but you could use a different shape if needed.
- Mayonnaise: Any mayonnaise that you like is fine. I would avoid the sweet “salad dressing” types, though, since they will change the flavor of the dish pretty dramatically. And if your mayo is already unusually tangy (some are), you may want to reduce the amount of mustard a tiny bit.
- Mustard: Plain yellow mustard is fine, or you could use a different kind like deli mustard if you want to.
- Salt and White Pepper: Black pepper can be substituted if needed.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter, so that I can control the amount of salt in the recipe.
- Onion: For this dish, the onion should be finely grated, not chopped or diced.
- Olive Oil
- Hard Boiled Eggs: Peeled and lightly chopped or mashed.
How to Make Ensalada de Coditos
Making this recipe is so easy – all you have to do is cook the pasta and mix up the dressing. Plus, you can make it up to three days in advance, if needed. Let’s do this!
- Cook the Pasta and Prep the Eggs. Bring a big pot of fairly salty water to boil (I usually add about 2 tablespoons of salt to the water). Check the package directions, and cook the elbow pasta until it’s al dente. While the pasta cooks, peel the eggs and drop them into a bowl. Crush or mash them lightly with a fork, until they’re in small pieces.
- Prepare the Onions and Olive Oil. Next, peel the onion and roughly chop it. Place the pieces in a food processor or blender, and process until finely grated. (You can also use the small holes of a cheese grater for this.)
Make the Dressing. To make the creamy dressing, mix together the mayo, mustard, salt and white pepper to make a smooth sauce.
Butter the Pasta. Once the macaroni noodles are done cooking, drain them well and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and let the heat from the pasta melt the butter while you stir.
Finish the Dish. Scoop the mayonnaise dressing into the pasta bowl, and add the onions and olive oil as well. Mix well to combine, and then fold in the hard boiled egg.
Serve or Chill. You can serve this dish immediately, or (and I recommend this!) refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to get it nice and cold before serving.
Tips and Variations
For such a simple recipe, you can bet that there are lots of easy variations on the classic. Here are just a few ways you can change it up, plus a couple of helpful tips:
- Add Olives: One of the most popular additions to this recipe is sliced manzanilla olives. If you are an olive fan, try stirring in half a cup or so.
- Add Crunch: Celery is my go-to for adding a crispy crunch to pasta salad – about one cup would be perfect for this recipe.
- Cheddar Cheese: Growing up, I remember that some people added small chunks of cheddar cheese to their salad. This isn’t an ingredient that I like in ensalada de coditos, but lots of people love it!
- More Protein: Ham, chicken, tuna… any kind of chopped, cold protein is nice in this salad. Make sure it’s well-seasoned.
- Make Ahead: As I mentioned above, ensalada de coditos can be made up to three days in advance. Just cover it well and store it in the fridge. If it seems dry when you go to serve it, that’s okay – just add a little extra mayo or olive oil, and give it a good stir.
- Chilled Is Best: While it’s fine to serve this as soon as you make it, I really do recommend giving it a good long chill in the fridge first. It’s super refreshing that way!
Ensalada de coditos is definitely a party-and-holiday favorite in Puerto Rico, so I often make it as part f a big barbecue or Christmas meal. Here are a few of my family’s favorite recipes to serve it with:
- Pernil: Pernil is slow-roasted Puerto Rican pork shoulder (or leg), with plenty of garlic and an ultra-flavorful marinade. It takes 12 hours to marinate the pork, and then about five more hours to roast, so it’s definitely something to make for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or another special occasion. Don’t forget the Arroz Con Gandules and homemade Coquito too!
- Flank Steak: Juicy Flank Steak makes a bold and flavorful main course, and goes well with a serving of creamy pasta salad.
- Chicken Tenders: Any kind of barbecue-y dish (even hot dogs and hamburgers) is fabulous with ensalada de coditos, but one of my low-key addictions would be Sticky Chicken Tenders. The sauce is a combo of barbecue, Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and brown sugar… it’s seriously good.
Storing the Leftovers
Leftover ensalada de coditos should be refrigerated in an airtight container, or tightly covered with plastic wrap. It will keep for about three days.
Can I Freeze Ensalada de Coditos?
I do not recommend freezing this dish. The pasta soaks up too much of the sauce and the texture is not the same once thawed again.
Ensalada de Coditos (Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad)
- 16 oz elbow pasta
- 2 cups mayo
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 small white onion, finely grated (approximately ½ cup grated white onion)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
- 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 hardboiled eggs in a small bowl and “mash” them in a bowl with a fork into small pieces. Set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, finely grate the onion and then add the olive oil. Set aside. (You can also finely grate the onion by hand with a cheese grater and then stir to combine with the olive oil.)
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, salt and white pepper, whisking until well combined. Set aside.
- Once pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta and transfer it to a large mixing bowl and add the butter. (The heat from the pasta will melt the butter.) Stir the pasta until butter is melted and is coating the pasta.
- Add the mayo sauce and onion/olive oil mixture to the buttered pasta and mix until well combined. Then fold in the mashed hard boiled egg.
- You can serve it immediately, but I recommend refrigerating it for at least 4 hours before serving.
More Latin Side Dish Recipes
- Arroz Blanco Puertorriqueño
- Pizza Empanadas
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Easy Tostones Recipe
- Cheesy Beef Empanadas
- Maduros (Sweet Plantains)
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