Make this creamy, comforting Hawaiian macaroni salad in just 15 minutes using basic pantry ingredients. Serve this traditional mayonnaise-based salad for potlucks or picnics.
If you like to get more Salad recipes, here are some of my other favorites – Cucumber Avocado Salad, Som Tam Salad, Cranberry Chicken Salad, Ramen Noodle Salad, Malaysian Mango Salad, and Broccoli Apple Salad.
About This Recipe
Hawaiian macaroni salad is a traditional salad served in Hawaiian BBQ restaurants serving plate lunches and in Luau. This creamy salad has a mayonnaise-based dressing and is perfect to make as a side dish for summer cookouts, picnics, potlucks, and brunches.
This authentic Hawaiian mac salad comes together in just 15 minutes. Just cook the macaroni and mix with other ingredients in a big bowl and you are done.
Hawaiian mac salad is creamy, slightly sweet, tangy, and crunchy from all the veggies added to it. You can add pineapple, grilled chicken, or cooked shrimp to this salad for a variation.
While making Hawaiian-style macaroni salad, I like to slightly overcook the macaroni, as it blends in really well with the mayonnaise. This salad is all about a good mayonnaise, so do not substitute it with a miracle whip. Use the best quality mayonnaise and see the difference it makes to your recipe.
This Hawaiian Mac Salad is,
- Super easy & unique
- Sweet & tangy
- Perfect to serve as a side dish
- Best served cold
Macaroni – Elbow macaroni is boiled as per the packet instructions. I like to sightly overcook it as it blends well with the creamy mayo.
Apple Cider Vinegar – This boiled pasta is mixed with apple cider vinegar, which adds a nice tang to this pasta. Add the vinegar when the pasta is still hot, it absorbs the flavor better.
Mayonnaise – This is the key ingredient of this salad. Use full-fat mayo for the best Hawaiian Mac Salad ever. Do not substitute it with the miracle whip. It’s a big no!
Milk – A little milk is also added, to avoid drying out of the pasta.
Vegetables – Carrot is peeled, shredded, and then add into the creamy pasta. Along with a nice crunch, it adds to the color of the pasta salad.
Another one that is added to this salad is celery, which gives it a nice distinct savory flavor.
Onion – Along with carrot, we will also add finely chopped onions for extra crunch and taste. You can use any onion, either red onions or white onions.
Salt, Sugar, and Pepper – Finally, finish up the salad by adding salt and pepper for extra taste. Also, add in sugar for slight sweetness, but it is completely optional.
How to make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad?
Start by cooking 1 lb pasta 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. Drain all the water and add it to a large mixing bowl.
Mix the cooked pasta with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Mixing the vinegar with warm pasta helps in better absorption.
Mix 2 cups of mayonnaise, ¼ cup milk, 2 tsp sugar, 1 cup shredded carrots, ¼ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup chopped celery, salt, and pepper to taste in another medium size mixing bowl.
Pour the dressing over the cooled pasta and mix well.
Chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are worried about the amount of mayonnaise used in this Hawaiian mac salad, you can use Greek yogurt instead. It won’t taste the same as mayo but it still tastes good. You can use half and half greek yogurt and mayo too in this recipe.
To make it vegan, you can use vegan mayonnaise instead of normal mayonnaise and almond milk or cashew milk instead of dairy milk. All the other ingredients used in this salad are vegan-friendly.
Pro Tips By Neha
I like to slightly overcook the pasta for this salad. You can cook it al dente too.
Mayonnaise is the key ingredient in this Hawaiian mac salad, therefore make sure you opt for a good quality one.
This salad tastes better when refrigerated, so make sure you chill it for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.
Add in milk to make it extra creamy, otherwise it tastes dry.
You can add fresh crab, cooked chicken or shrimp, pineapple, relish, ham, etc to this salad for a variation.
This Hawaiian mac salad tastes even better the next day, therefore I prepare and store it in the fridge.
It will last for 3 days in the fridge when stored in an air-tight container. Do not keep it outside at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it will go bad.
If you feel, it has become a little dry, add in some more milk and give it a mix. Use a rubber spatula and fold gently to avoid tearing of macaroni.
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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- salt (to taste)
- pepper (to taste)
- Start by cooking 1 lb pasta 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. Drain all the water and add it to a large mixing bowl.
- Mix the cooked pasta with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Mixing the vinegar with warm pasta helps in better absorption.
- Mix 2 cups of mayonnaise, ¼ cup milk, 2 tsp sugar, 1 cup shredded carrots, ¼ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup chopped celery, salt, and pepper to taste in another medium size mixing bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the cooled pasta and mix well.
- Chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving.