Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

5 from 1 vote

Make this creamy, comforting, Traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad at home using a few pantry ingredients. Serve this mayonnaise-based salad for potlucks, BBQs, or picnics.

Here are a few more salad recipes: Malaysian Mango Salad, Gochujang Cucumber Salad, and Amish Broccoli Salad.

Traditional Hawaiian macaroni salad served in a bowl.
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About Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad is a traditional cold salad served at Hawaiian BBQ restaurants serving Hawaiian plate lunches and in Luau. It is creamy, slightly sweet, tangy, and crunchy, all at the same time.

This creamy salad has a mayonnaise-based dressing and is perfect for making as a side dish for family gatherings, summer cookouts, picnics, potlucks, BBQs, and brunches.

It comes together in under 30 minutes of active working time using a handful of ingredients.

The classic Hawaiian Mac Salad is macaroni noodles, shredded carrots, real mayonnaise, milk, salt, and pepper. You can add a few other ingredients to the basic recipe for added taste and texture.

Also, unlike the popular belief that any Hawaiian must have pineapple and ham, the traditional Hawaiian salad recipe doesn’t add these two ingredients.

Ingredients

Hawaiian macaroni salad ingredients 1
Hawaiian macaroni salad ingredients 2

Macaroni – This salad is traditionally made using elbow macaroni. You can use any pasta of your choice. Penne, farfelle etc works great.

Apple Cider Vinegar – Vinegar gives a nice tang to this pasta salad.

Mayonnaise – This is the crucial ingredient of this salad. Use full-fat mayo for the best Hawaiian Mac Salad. Do not substitute it with the miracle whip—it’s a big no!

Vegetables – You will need carrots, onions, and celery.

Others – You will also need whole milk, salt, sugar, and freshly cracked black pepper.

Granulated sugar can be replaced with brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup.

Although not traditional, add chopped pineapple, grilled chicken, crispy bacon, ham, or cooked shrimp to this salad for a variation of Hawaiian pasta salad.

Green onions, chopped hard-boiled eggs, etc., can also be added to this creamy pasta salad.

How To Make Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad

Preparation

Start by cooking 10 oz (300 g) macaroni pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Just make sure to overcook it just a little bit. Do not overcook too much; otherwise, the salad will become mushy.

While the pasta is cooking, shred the carrots using a box grater or cut them into juliennes using a julienne peeler.

Chop the onions and celery ribs.

Gather the remaining ingredients.

Make The Pasta Salad

Drain all the water and add the cooked pasta to a large bowl.

Mix the hot pasta with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Set it aside.

Tip – Mixing the vinegar with warm pasta helps in better absorption.

Adding apple cider vinegar to cooked pasta.

Whisk together the following ingredients in another medium size mixing bowl.

  • 1 and ½ cups of full-fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Mayo, milk and spice powder added to a bowl.
Mixed well.

Add the following ingredients over the pasta and toss until the macaroni is well coated with the dressing.

  • 1 cup of shredded or julienned carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped celery ribs
  • creamy dressing
Carrots, onions, celery and dressing poured over the pasta.

Chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving.

Ready Hawaiian macaroni salad.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make a healthy version of a classic Hawaiian style macaroni salad recipe?

If you are worried about the amount of mayonnaise used in this Hawaiian mac salad, you can replace it with Greek yogurt. It won’t taste the same as mayo, but it tastes good. You can also use half and half Greek yogurt and mayonnaise.

How to make vegan Hawaiian mac salad?

To make it vegan, you can use vegan mayonnaise instead of regular mayo and almond or cashew milk instead of dairy milk. All the other ingredients in this salad are vegan-friendly.

Pro Tips By Neha

I like to slightly overcook the pasta for this salad recipe. It absorbs the mayo better.

Add the vinegar when the pasta is still hot; it absorbs the flavor better.

This salad tastes better when refrigerated, so chill it for at least 2 hours before serving.

Add fresh crab, cooked chicken or shrimp, pineapple, relish, ham, etc., to this Hawaiian-style macaroni salad for a variation.

If the salad has become a little dry, add more milk and mix it. Use a rubber spatula and fold gently to avoid tearing the macaroni.

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Make this creamy, comforting, Traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad at home using a few pantry ingredients. Serve this mayonnaise-based salad for potlucks, BBQs, or picnics (vegetarian).
5 from 1 vote

Traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe

Make this creamy, comforting, Traditional Hawaiian Mac Salad at home using a few pantry ingredients. Serve this mayonnaise-based salad for potlucks, BBQs, or picnics.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients 

  • 10 ounces dried elbow macaroni pasta (300 g)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 and ½ cups full-fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded or julienned carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped celery ribs
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Instructions 

  • Start by cooking macaroni pasta according to the package directions. Just make sure to overcook it just a little bit. Do not overcook too much; otherwise, the salad will become mushy.
  • Drain all the water and add the cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix the hot pasta with apple cider vinegar. Set it aside.
  • Tip – Mixing the vinegar with warm pasta helps in better absorption.
  • Whisk together mayonnaise, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, sugar, salt, and black pepper in another medium size mixing bowl.
  • Add carrots, onions, celery, and salad dressing over the pasta and toss until the macaroni is well coated.
  • Chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Although not traditional, you can add chopped pineapple, grilled chicken, fresh crab, crispy bacon, ham, relish, or cooked shrimp to this salad for a variation.
This salad tastes better when refrigerated, so make sure you chill it for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 812kcal, Carbohydrates: 62g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 57g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 502mg, Potassium: 288mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 3648IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 44mg, Iron: 1mg
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