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Pasta Salad with Shredded Carrots

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This easy summer Pasta Salad with Shredded Carrots and a light, paprika-spiked lemon and mayonnaise sauce is a family favorite, filled with all the flavors of summer at grandma’s. This foolproof macaroni salad is also great for making ahead, so it will quickly become your go-to recipe for potlucks, barbecues and family gatherings.

pasta salad with shredded carrots in a blue and white bowl

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You might not think that this recipe for Pasta Salad with Shredded Carrots is up to much. It’s a simple and easy pasta salad, you say. Made with just macaroni or other small pasta shapes, mayonnaise, shredded carrots and some seasonings. Something to suit everyone.

And you would be right, it is.

But to me, every bite is so much more.

pasta salad with shredded carrots in a green and white bowl on a backyard patio table

To me, a mere taste transports me back to those endless, sunburnt, childhood days of summer.

At grandma’s house.

Everything was exciting and new and different… at grandma’s house.

There was always a scorching summer sun… on that side of the mountains.

The gravel lanes were dusty and intriguing… to a child of suburbia.

Trees reached to the sky in endless orchards groves… and forever grassy meadows.

picture of a summer orchard

Skippers were unheard of and somewhat scary insects that hopped irrigation ditches along the rocky roads in grandma’s town.

And if we were lucky… we could catch them in our hands for a few seconds before skipping away.

A slipper insect sitting in water.

Cousins became everyday playmates and complicit adventurers in the childhood games of summer; hopscotch, tree climbing, grasshopper catching, mudpie making, and fellow actors in our endless summer plays.

Legs kicking water from the lake sitting on a deck.

And picnics. It wouldn’t be summer without picnics… at grandma’s house.

In my memory, there were always two kinds of salads. Potato salad and pasta salad. Perhaps they were the only ones I liked.

Through the years the pasta salad of my memory has morphed and adapted and changed. I think it may have been my mom who added the carrots.

While I’ve never had a recipe for this summer pasta salad I begin craving in early June, this is close.

So close that with every delicious, perfect bite, I travel back in time to those glorious days of summer… at grandma’s house.

A park by the lake in summertime with a stone bench for picnicking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this ahead?

Yes this can be made ahead, but it is one of those rare pasta salads that is just as delicious served immediately.

Can I add any other veggies?

Of course – chopped bell peppers would be particularly good here – this is an easily customizable recipe.

What pasta shape should I use?

I use ditalini, but any small, soup-sized pasta shape would work well. You can of course make this with larger shapes, but the recipe won’t stretch as far.

Summer Easy Pasta Salad with Shredded Carrots

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Easy Pasta Salad with Shredded Carrots

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  • Author: Stephanie Wilson
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 810 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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Just like Grandma used to make, this easy summer pasta salad is perfect for cookouts, picnics and patio dining. A nostalgic dish that’s just as delicious today as it was those long ago summers.


Units Scale
  • 1 lb small tube-shaped pasta
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • chopped fresh parsley
  • paprika


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, shred the carrots.
  2. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, and salt until creamy and thoroughly mixed.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, and drain. Add the shredded carrots and combine. Fold in the mayonnaise dressing, transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with chopped fresh parsley and, like Grandma always did, sprinkle with paprika. Serve immediately.


I like to use Ditalini in this recipe, but any small tube pasta shape will do.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Cuisine: American

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