An easy Hawaiian macaroni salad recipe is always worth knowing. Not only is this a flavour-packed pasta salad but it also pairs beautifully with so many different dishes. Hawaiian macaroni is of course delicious with Hawaiian flavoured meats such as chicken or pork with Hawaii inspired seasonings but that’s not your only choice. Try it as a simple side with your next grilled steak, or enjoy it as part of your lunch.
Elbow macaroni combines with fresh vegetables as well as a tangy dressing which is both creamy and tangy. This easy salad is colourful and definitely brings a tropical touch of aloha to your dinner plate!
Why You’ll Love Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Simple to prepare: Making a great Hawaiian mac salad is simply a question of cooking the pasta (or maybe you have leftover cooked pasta in which case it’s even simpler!) and mixing in the remaining ingredients.
Versatile: Although this dish pairs wonderfully with Hawaiian style chicken or pork, it’s versatile enough to serve alongside a steak or another favourite protein. You can also use it as a base for a meal, adding chicken, shrimp or another protein, and maybe some more veggies too.
Always in demand: If you’ve never made Hawaiian macaroni salad before, you might not realize just how popular it is. Make this for guests and it will disappear really fast. Don’t be surprised if you are asked for the recipe!
Ingredients for the Best Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe
The star of the dish is elbow macaroni but you can sub any other pasta shape you want. Grated onion and carrot add colour and crunch. As for the dressing, it’s a delicious combination of mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and milk. A pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper finishes the Hawaiian macaroni salad off perfectly.
How to Make Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad
For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.
Cook the pasta: Follow the package directions to cook the macaroni.
Prep the veggies: Shred the carrots and onion.
Combine the pasta and vegetables: Stir the carrots, onion and apple cider vinegar gently into the macaroni, then chill it in the fridge.
Make the dressing: Mix the mayo with the milk and sugar, and some salt and pepper to taste.
The finishing touches: Combine the chilled mac salad with the dressing, adjust seasoning if necessary or add a little milk if needed, then serve right away or keep chilled until you’re ready to serve it.
Substitutions and Variations
You can tweak this easy macaroni salad to your heart’s content. Perhaps you want to use a different type of pasta in place of the macaroni, or you prefer Greek yogurt to the mayo mixture which offers a similar sweet and tangy flavor.
You can sub white vinegar for the apple cider vinegar, or add shredded broccoli, Brussels sprouts or even flaked almond to the grated carrot and onion. Swap green onions for the yellow one or use brown sugar in place of white sugar. You can also choose to omit the sugar altogether.
How about using half macaroni and half potatoes for a potato mac salad? Other optional ingredients you might like to consider include olives, minced dill pickles, celery or chopped hard-boiled eggs.
What to Serve with Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
This pairs beautifully with Hawaiian style BBQ chicken or pork tenderloin. But it’s versatile enough to enjoy with anything, such as smoked meatloaf, grilled fish or ribs. You can also make extra because it’s nice for lunch.
How to Store Authentic Hawaiian Pasta Salad
Store: Keep leftovers (if there are any – there probably won’t be!) in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat within 4 days. You can also keep it in the bowl you served it in if you cover it tightly with cling wrap or aluminum foil.
Freeze: Although you can freeze plain cooked macaroni, this salad doesn’t freeze well because the vegetables will go mushy, and the dressing will separate.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad FAQs
Feel free to prep this no-frills Hawaiian mac salad ahead and just keep it covered and chilled until serving. You could even make it a day ahead.
In Hawaii, macaroni salads are always kept simple. A combination of macaroni, carrot and mayo is a typical side dish in sunny Hawaii. Oh, and putting pineapple in a recipe doesn’t make it Hawaiian. Pineapple chunks have no place in an authentic Hawaiian macaroni salad!
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- 16 Ounces elbow macaroni
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 carrots shredded
- ¼ Cup onion shredded
- 3 Cups mayonnaise
- ⅓ Cup milk
- 1 ½ Teaspoons sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the elbow macaroni and cook it according to the package instructions until it’s tender. This should take about 8-10 minutes.
- While the macaroni is cooking, shred the carrots and onion, set aside.
- Once the macaroni is cooked, drain it well and transfer to a large mixing bowl. While the macaroni is still hot, add the apple cider vinegar, shredded carrots and onions. Combine well but be careful not to smush the noodles as you stir, I usually fold the ingredients together. Cool in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes or until completely cooled.
- While the macaroni is cooling, in a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, milk, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the dressing over the cooled macaroni and combine thoroughly. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, adjusting to your liking.
- You can serve immediately but I prefer to cover the macaroni salad and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This allows the macaroni to absorb some of the dressing and the flavors to meld together.
- Just before serving, check the salad. The macaroni likely would have absorbed a lot of the dressing. If it looks a bit dry, just add a splash of milk and stir until it’s as creamy as you like it.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Perfect for any cookout or Luau, this colourful macaroni salad is a breeze to prepare. It offers crunch, creaminess, and tanginess in every mouthful.
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Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.