Hawaiian Macaroni Salad mixes perfectly cooked macaroni pasta into a creamy mayonnaise dressing filled with grated carrots and onions. It’s the perfect side dish for summer potlucks, cookouts, picnics, and so much more!
Soft-cooked noodles covered in a creamy mayo dressing – macaroni salad is probably my favorite summer side dish, but Hawaiian macaroni salad is the BEST.
Cheap and filling, it’s the perfect side for salty-sweet barbequed meats like shredded pulled pork or bbq chicken, thanks to the simple, creamy, slightly sweet, and tangy mayo-based dressing.
What is Hawaiian Plate Lunch?
In Hawaii, Hawaiian macaroni salad is traditionally served as part of a “plate lunch,” which usually includes a scoop of white rice and a protein like yummy teriyaki chicken, Kalua pork, or loco moco (a hamburger patty served with gravy and a fried egg).
How to Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
1. Cook the pasta – Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is cooked and soft but not mushy. Drain and rinse with lukewarm water.
2. Immediately toss the warm pasta with apple cider vinegar.
3. Prepare the dressing – Mix the mayonnaise, milk, sugar, salt, and pepper until well combined.
4. Combine the veggies and dressing in a large mixing bowl. Toss until the veggies are completely coated.
5. Mix the warm macaroni with the creamy mayo dressing and gently mix to combine.
6. Season to taste – Add additional mayonnaise or milk for a creamier Hawaiian mac salad. Season with salt and black pepper, if desired.
- Onion – the onion should be a fine dice. If you prefer a less crunchy salad, feel free to grate the onion using a cheese grater or pulse it in a small food processor.
- Refrigerate before serving – Allow at least an hour for the flavors of the dressing to really penetrate the pasta. Even better, prepare the salad the night before and let it refrigerate overnight.
- Toss while the pasta is still warm – Once the vinegar has been added to the cooked pasta, immediately toss it with the creamy dressing. The pasta will better absorb the flavors of the dressing if it is mixed together while the pasta is still warm.
- Optional add-ins – Peas, canned tuna, SPAM, imitation crab, tobiko, ‘ulu (breadfruit), hard-boiled eggs, and kamaboko (fishcake).
What to Serve with Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Hawaiian Chicken
- Kalua Chicken
- Teriyaki Chicken
- Loco Moco
- BBQ Chicken
- Fried Chicken
- Poke Bowls
- Huli Huli Chicken
Storage and Leftovers
Transfer leftover salad to an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. The salad will dry out a bit as it sits, so you might want to stir in a bit of mayonnaise or milk before serving.
Freezing is not recommended.
More Pasta Salad Recipes,
- Asian Pasta Salad
- Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Loaded Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad
- Autumn Apple Pasta Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
If you try making this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- 1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1½ cup mayonnaise - more if needed
- ¾ cup whole milk - more if needed
- 1 tablespoon sugar - granulated or brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt - plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper - plus more to taste
- 2 carrots - grated (approx. 1 cup once it's grated)
- 2 ribs celery - diced (approx. ½ cup once it's been diced)
- 1 small yellow onion - grated or finely diced (approx. ½ cup)
- Cook the pasta until soft but not mushy. Drain in a colander, then rinse briefly with lukewarm water to prevent that pasta from cooking further. Immediately drizzle with the apple cider vinegar and toss to coat.
- Mix the mayonnaise, milk, sugar, salt, and pepper until well combined.
- Add the carrots, celery, and onion to the creamy mayo dressing and stir until the vegetables are coated with the dressing.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the bowl and gently mix until combined and evenly coated.
- Add additional mayo, if desired, and season with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)