Fireworks Pasta Salad in a white bowl at a picnic

Fireworks Pasta Salad

This Fireworks Pasta Salad adds kick to an updated classic. Make it the night before a gathering and let the flavors really come together for a spicy twist on macaroni salad!

Fireworks Pasta Salad in a white bowl at a picnic
Fireworks Pasta Salad

This Fireworks Pasta Salad adds kick to an updated classic. Make it the night before a gathering and let the flavors really come together for a spicy twist on macaroni salad!

Unearthed from the depths of this blog is this little gem of a recipe. A simple pasta salad that kept popping up in my Pinterest feed, reminding me of a time long ago, when I gave quirky titles to my recipes (and posts!), to an old friend’s pickle business long gone, and when my photography was clearly in need of inspiration (and skill). I realized that you couldn’t even print the recipe on my old post, which is a shame, because this macaroni salad truly is meant to be made.

Fireworks Pasta Salad in a white bowl at a picnic

So, why is it called Fireworks Pasta Salad? Well, I originally made it in time for the 4th of July in 2011, giving the classic macaroni salad a fiery twist with a batch of delicious spicy dill pickles and an extra dose of heat in the dressing. Each bite is like fireworks, and I’ve decided to keep the name, because it truly does live up to each flavorful bite.

Tubetti pasta for Fireworks Pasta Salad

Chopped celery on a cutting board surrounded by other ingredients for Fireworks Pasta Salad

With Memorial Day just ahead — the gateway to summer-long grilling and picnics — I thought you might want to add this pasta salad to your celebration arsenal! You can’t have a barbecue without a salad, and this one, with its crunch and spice, will add some pop to your table.

Mayonnaise, mustard, and spices in a glass bowl with a whisk - a tangy dressing for Fireworks Pasta Salad

Spicy pickles and roasted red peppers - ingredients for Fireworks Pasta Salad

Fireworks Pasta Salad in a white bowl on a wooden cutting board

What I love most about this pasta salad is that you can make a huge batch in advance of your parties, and the flavors improve over time. And it goes so well with all the favorite barbecue and picnic fare! I hope you get a chance to try it!

Fireworks Pasta Salad in a white bowl at a barbecue

Note: This post first appeared July 1, 2011. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated content and photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.

Fireworks Pasta Salad in a white bowl at a picnic

If you love this Fireworks Pasta Salad, be sure to check out these other vegetarian summer salads:

Buffalo Ranch Grilled Potato Salad
Summer Corn and Barley Salad
Chickpea Salad
Summer Wheat Berry Salad with Stone Fruits and Goat Cheese
Southwestern Potato Salad
Grilled Corn and Poblano Salad
Summer Corn and Nectarine Tabbouleh

Fireworks Pasta Salad

This version of a macaroni salad adds kick to an updated classic. Make it the night before a gathering and let the flavors really come together for a spicy twist on macaroni salad.
Fireworks Pasta Salad in a white bowl at a picnic
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5 from 4 votes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 370kcal


  • 16 ounces tubetti pasta
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped drained spicy dill pickles
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion or 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 12- ounce jars roasted peppers drained and sliced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • handful cilantro chopped
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, lime juice, sugar, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Stir in the tubetti pasta, pickles, celery, red onion, roasted peppers, green onions, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Refrigerate until well chilled before serving.



If you’re looking for a good spicy dill pickle to use in this recipe, try Hot & Spicy Dill Pickle Chips from Trader Joe’s.
Adapted from Modern Macaroni Salad, Bon Appétit, July 1999 via Epicurious.


Calories: 370kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 1199mg | Potassium: 298mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 570IU | Vitamin C: 24.3mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1.6mg
Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see! Tag @kitchconfidante on Instagram and hashtag it #kitchenconfidante


Recipe Rating

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  1. Debb Vincent

    5 stars
    This went over very well with last summer’s camping group. I’ll definitely bring it again!

  2. Dina

    5 stars
    Delicious dish! I just made this for the 4th and everyone loved it. I couldn’t find spicy dill pickles so used regular. It was kid friendly but still had a little heat.

    • Liren Baker

      I am SOOO happy to hear that, Dina!! And glad that everyone was able to enjoy it! It’s definitely good with regular pickles, too! ☺️

  3. Asha Shivakumar

    What a lovely looking crowd pleaser, this is such lovely looking one. So glad you took a break, and back with pretty pics.

  4. Kita

    I wasnt a huge fan of cold noodles until recently (I know, Im a weirdo). I’m just learning to dig pasta salads but I love the ingredients in this one. It would knock the socks of my familys mayo and noodle salads!

  5. Susan

    Yum! That looks amazing! I cannot tell you how much I love pasta salad, its my favorite part of summer. Can’t wait to try this!

  6. Stephanie

    This pasta salad looks so, so good. My mouth is literally watering, and I wish I had a spoon that could jump through my computer screen. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Liren

      Hi Cerina – I’m so glad! Thanks for dropping by to let me know, I really hope you enjoyed it!

  7. Ann

    What a clever salad! I love the idea of spicy pickles and roasted red peppers! It’s a winner! Congratulations on making Food Buzz Top 9!

  8. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom

    The eaters in my house love pasta salad with a vinaigrette dressing so I never get to make the mayo kind. You recipe reminds me so much of picnics and summer holidays from my childhood. I would always look forward to setting a scoop of it when we attended family events.

  9. Joy

    I absolutely love the colors of your salad, indeed it would start up fireworks in any household :)

  10. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    This is some pasta salad, Liren! Yowza! Love the heat that’s in here. I could see this being wildly addictive… something you can’t resist taking thirds or fourths of.

  11. denise @ quickies on the dinner table

    Hi Liren :) Thanks for visiting! I must be notorious around the web now, for my numerous disappearing acts LOL I have been juggling a couple of projects and have had time for little else, so my short break in Tokyo was a heavenly respite from my recent hectic routine.

    Well, what can I say about this gorgeous cracker of a salad? Summer perfection and what a flavour profile :o LOVE IT!!!!

  12. Priscilla - She's Cookin'

    Yes, we missed you and can’t wait to see more stunning photos from Mauai! I’ve been wondering if I could pickle zucchini, since my garden is producing them en masse. A cool and creamy pasta salad is delicious with all the grilled fare happening this weekend. Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend, Liren!

  13. Sasha @ The Procrastobaker

    ooo ive been looking for some more good pasta salad recipes lately and this fits the bill perfectly! something a little different to the plain old mayo-mix too, will hopefully get to try it out very soon :)

  14. Xai

    whenever somebody brings macaroni salad, i always compare it to the one my grandma used to make. i haven’t had it in forever but it’s taste is quite distinct. i guess it’s more nostalgia than anything else, but this one looks like it could challenge what my grandma used to make, sans the memories. i am very excited to try this out :) happy fourth!!!

  15. Monet

    I’m always looking for recipes that can feed a crowd. This looks so good! Thank you for sharing yet another tasty meal. This was a lovely way to end my week. I hope you have a beautiful weekend and a happy 4th of July!

  16. Liz

    What a delightfully delicious pasta salad! I’d love a couple servings or more this weekend :)

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