Bring a taste of island tropics with with Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. Creamy and light, it is perfect for cookouts and pitch-ins. This recipe makes plenty to feed a crowd! Tender elbow macaroni, crispy carrots and celery mixed in with a light dressing. This traditional Hawaiian Dish is simple yet delicious!
Why You Will Love Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- UNIQUE – Bring this to your next cookout or pitch in to really wow your friends or guests. From the great State of Hawaii, t’s a little different, but also very familiar!
- EASY – With just a handful of common pantry staples for ingredients, and a couple of minutes to throw together, this recipe is a breeze. Just make sure you give yourself enough time for this recipe to chill out in the fridge before serving.
- DELICIOUS – Tender pasta, crunchy vegetables and the sweet and zesty dressing make this a symphony for your taste buds!
What Is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad?
So, what is a Hawaiian Pasta Salad? This “Hawaiian Mac Salad” is classic dish that has been made for generations down there in the Pacific Ocean. And, no, it doesn’t have ham and pineapple in it. Don’t even ask that question from a Hawaiian, you’d be kicked out of the restaurant. But it’s served A LOT of restaurants and is a common side dish (along with some white rice) on any traditional hawaiian lunch plate you’ll find down there.
What I love about this salad is how simple it is. At it’s basic, it is just Macaroni, Carrots, Mayonnaise, Salt and Pepper. There are a couple things that I think you can get away with adding, and I’ve pushed the envelope a little to add some color, flavor and texture. Most notably, I added some diced celery and green onions. I also made a couple other additions, such as adding a little brown sugar and tossing my macaroni in Apple Cider Vinegar.
What Ingredients Do You Need For Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
For step-by-step instructions, check out the printable recipe card below. But here are the ingredients that you will need to get started:
- ELBOW MACARONI – Cooked, rinsed well and drained. Using Elbow Macaroni is the traditional way to make this, but you can substitute for a different pasta if you really want to.
- APPLE CIDER VINEGAR – Adds a zestiness to this recipe.
- WHOLE MILK – We like whole milk because it gives a creaminess to the pasta salad. But you can go with 2% if you’d like to lighten it up.
- MAYONNAISE – Use light Mayo to shave some calories.
- BROWN SUGAR – Working with the Apple Cider Vinegar, it gives this Macaroni Salad it’s unique flavor.
- GREEN ONIONS – Chopped.
- CELERY – Chopped.
- CARROTS – Peeled and shredded carrots.
- SALT AND BLACK PEPPER – To taste
Storing the Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Store in your refrigerator covered tightly with Saran Wrap or another plastic cling wrap. Or in a tupperware. It should be good in your fridge for up to 5 days.
I wouldn’t freeze this Pasta Salad Recipe. I just don’t think the pasta would hold up very well to being thawed out.
Notes, Tips and Variations
I was so surprised at how delicious this turned out even after just a few, simple and common ingredients. I really wouldn’t tweak this at all. But I do have a couple tips and suggestions:
- Easy But Not Fast– While this recipe is super simple, that doesn’t mean that it’s “quick and fast”. Pasta Salads take at least 2 hours to “set” and have all the flavors infuse with the noodles. I’d actually aim for more than 2 hours if possible. So make sure you are giving yourself time to prepare this side dish.
- Stick With Macaroni?- It seems that the traditional way to make this dish is always been with Elbow Macaroni. So, could substitute a different kind of pasta? Sure, I don’t see why not. I’m not sure if you could legitimately call it a Hawaiian Pasta Salad or not, but who cares? I think a Bow Tie Pasta or Rotini would be delicious!
- Add A Protein? – To make this more of a main dish, you can add diced chicken, ham or even some tuna to this dish.
- Cook The Pasta Thoroughly- As with many Pasta Salad Recipes, you want to make sure your pasta is cooked well enough to stand up to the dressing it will be soaking in for the next couple days. Don’t take it out until it is nice and firm! Rinse it well and drain it before adding it to the recipe.
- Apple Cider Vinegar– Some recipes call for this, some don’t. Some use only 2 tbsp and some as much as half a cup. I think our 1/4 cup measurement is the perfect amount. It adds a nice dimension to the flavor and helps the pasta absorb the dressing. Don’t be shy, stir it in right after the pasta is done cooking and is strained.
- Healthy Hawaiian Macaroni Salad?– If you want to shave some calories off, you can substitute the Mayo for Greek Yogurt. It won’t be the same, but it will still work. Or you could do have mayo and half yogurt.
I hope you enjoy this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe. Please let me know how it turns out in the comments below. Enjoy!
MORE PASTA SALAD RECIPES:
LOOKING FOR MORE HAWAIIAN FLAVORS? CHECK OUT OUR HAWAIIAN CHEESECAKE RECIPE!
LOOKING FOR MORE GREAT SUMMER SIDE DISHES? CHECK OUT: 33 SUMMER SIDE DISHES.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- 1 lb Elbow Macaroni
- 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Cup Whole Milk
- 2 Cups Mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 1/2 Cups Celery chopped
- 1 cup Carrots shredded
- 1/4 Cup Green Onions chopped
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- Cook Elbow Macaroni until it is nice and firm, just a tad overdone.
- While pasta is cooking, chop celery, green onions and shred carrots.
- Mix together Mayonnaise, Milk, Brown Sugar, Salt and Pepper.
- Once pasta is cooked and drained, pour into a large bowl and toss with Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Let set for at least 20 minutes and then add Dressing.
- When Pasta cools further to room temperature, add Celery, Carrots and Green Onions.
- Cover and put in refrigerator for at least two hours.
Comments & Reviews
Gloria K Benjamin says
What is so Hawaiian about this recipe? When I hear “Hawaiian” I, automatically, think of pineapple. Maybe add some crushed pineapple… And maraschino cherries…
Did you read my explanation of what a Hawaiian Salad is?
That is just so rude and offensive to assume that because it’s named “Hawaiian Macaroni Salad” there has to be pineapples… and after all the years I’ve lived in Hawaii, I’ve never seen a maraschino cherry in anything. Basically in 3 or 4 sentences, you were disrespectful to an entire culture and ethnicity.
I made this last night, and followed the recipe to a “t” except since I didn’t have any green onions I added chopped Vidalia onion. It turned out great! Even my husband commented on how good it was, and he can be hard to please.
Yay! I’m so glad you both enjoyed it!
Jennie Pearsall says
Can you use sour cream in place of some mayo?
I’ve had plenty of “Hawaiian macaronii/ pastas salads in Hawaii but all of them had potato chunks as well as the Larrie pasta. I thought that is what made it “Hawaiian”???
Patti Page says
I added chopped up Spam to my Hawaiian Pasta Salad recipe!
Was Very good!!
I live 2 blocks from
Hormel Foods in Austin Minnesota, where Spam was 1st produced! We even enjoy our SPAM Museum in Austin!!
That is awesome!
Tina Braden says
I’ve been craving mac salad for awhile now. When I saw your Hawaiian Mac Salad it reminded me of a couple of Hawaiian restaurants that I love in the Fort Walton Beach area. They always have mac salad and it’s so good. Even better made at home. Simple ingredients but with a twist. It is delicious! Maybe even better than moms… shh
Mary O'Daniels says
I am getting ready to cook this macaroni salad it sounds delicious and I live in Fort Walton beach I’m curious we’re getting it from. It’s what’s on the menu. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
Sarah Overholt says
I made this exactly how the recipe said and it looks different than the picture. I don’t think there is enough sauce maybe or the pasta soaked it all up? How would you suggest I proceed?
I’m not sure. Try adding a little more Mayo?
Reserve about a cup of the dressing and add before serving.
Delicious. Huge hit with the family
Dawn Taylor says
Love this recipe 2nd time making it
I made it and ooooohweeee my husband loves it. Thank you so much.